Thursday, May 6, 2010

Victoria's Green Matters - 6th May

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:  
Drilling for oil is a dangerous business. Drilling for oil at a depth of 18,000 feet is incredibly risky and, yet again, a terrible accident has happened in the Gulf of Mexico, where the Deepwater Horizon oilrig has exploded and eleven people have died.

An environmental disaster is set to occur on the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida and with it the livelihoods of many people who rely on the bounty of the sea for their employment. There have been oil spills close to our own shores from tankers transporting oil. The Torrey Canyon disaster, near the Scilly Isles, was in 1967 and the Amoco Cadiz, near the coast of Brittany, in 1978. No one is immune from the effects of these calamities.

Peak oil has come and gone. Oil that was relatively easy, and therefore cheap, to extract is depleted so now the industry must look to other sources for its supplies. One of these is oil sands in Alberta, Canada. Here, vast amounts of energy, water and chemicals are needed to process the tar deposits. And, for example, excluding oil sands, Shell is using a quarter more energy to find and produce each barrel of oil than it did ten years ago.

With its exploration there is a steady increase in the amount of hazardous and non-hazardous waste produced each year. In 2008 this measured 1.7 million tonnes. In Alberta, large toxic pools have been created which have resulted in the pollution of wildlife and the belief by local people that they are being poisoned. Governments are keen to attract oil companies and taxes and so do not enforce environmental constraints.

This latest disaster is surely yet another warning that we cannot continue to reek havoc with the natural world without suffering in exchange. We are, at last, looking at other ways to produce energy for our society but we should have started many years ago so that we could have weaned ourselves off the need for oil.

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