Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tarred with the same brush

Flowing longer than the Mississippi, the Niger River has, over hundreds and hundreds of years, created a vast delta at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf of Guinea.

Once the Niger Delta was rich with plant and animal life that in turn enriched the people living in the region. Great mangroves towered in swamps teeming with shrimp and crab. Local women supported themselves by gathering mollusks and shellfish. Fishermen could fill their skiffs close to home.

Now fishermen must row further and further out to sea. Now nothing living moves in a black and brown world dotted with dead mangroves. No birds sing. Children swim in the polluted estuary. They watch the giant flares of burning natural gas that waste a potential resource and pollute the skies.

What happened? Oil, exploited carelessly – not just for several months, but for fifty years. The New York Times reported that: “The oil spews from rusted and aging pipes, unchecked by what analysts say is ineffectual or collusive regulation, and abetted by deficient maintenance and sabotage.”

Those working for the foreign oil companies arm themselves with machine guns to fend off those who protest the degradation of life with their own weapons.

And the world does nothing.

We should look closely at what has happened, and is happening, to the Niger Delta. It is the future of the Mississippi River Delta, and of the Gulf of Mexico. UNLESS we who exploit the planet’s resources begin to do so carefully, prudently – with appropriate safeguards.

Not just in major waterways. Everywhere. Carrying cloth bags to the grocery store. Planting trees. Bicycling to work. Using metal water bottles. It’s all part of the same process, the same attitude.

Nearly 40 years ago, Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax – a very unsubtle fable about the destruction of a pristine land brimming with Truffula trees, Swomee-Swans, Bar-ba-loots, and Humming Fish. All these wonders were destroyed by the Once-ler who exploited the trees over the objection of their guardian, the Lorax. When the whole environment lay in waste, the greedy but remorseful Once-ler told the little boy who asked, “UNLESS someone like you...cares a whole awful lot...nothing is going to get better...It's not."

Apparently, this is still true.

1 comment:

  1. It sad this seems to be the case. We do need to do something and soon.

    Thoughts in Progress