There’s oil in them thar hills..
Maybe we should leave it there?
MAUDE BARLOW: Well, at current rate of growth, the tar sands will become, in the quite soon foreseeable future, the worst site of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Enormous amounts of water is being destroyed. They’ve taken down a forest, this boreal forest the size of Greece. And there are children in the downstream First Nations communities with bile duct cancer at the age of four. I mean, it is an absolute horror. And what Americans need to know is that it’s coming to a community near you in the form of this dirty oil, the bitumen actually being piped by pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer to be refined in the Gulf, or there are other pipes now taking it and more to be built to take it to the American side of the Great Lakes. It is corrosive, it’s poison, and it will destroy the water systems if it leaks, which I promise it will.
We also have gas fracking all over North America. This has become just an absolute obsession with people who know about the danger to water, because, of course, what you’re required to do is put massive amounts of chemicals into the water and then steam-blast it into the rock horizontally and to release the gas. And we’re even seeing operations along the Saint Lawrence River, and even the Quebec government has just given operations the OK to explore right within the Saint Lawrence River. And that’s not allowed on the American side, by the way. Usually we say, “Oh, it’s worse on the U.S. side,” but it’s not in this case. It’s worse on the Canadian side.
I think the point here, to make the connection to the rights of nature, is that while our governments make noise about caring about the environment and make—on Earth Day, will all make, you know, strong statements about this, all of their actions belie this, from trade agreements, which we continue massively to promote around the world—the bilaterals, there are close to 3,000 of them now—to these big new CETAs, they’re called, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreements, which are not just national procurement, but sub-national procurement. That’s water systems and roads and mining operations and municipalities and schools. It’s everything. It’s the next level down, where corporations are going to actually be able to dictate the conditions under which local funding is—how you spend your local money and on what values, and be able to stop fair trade bans and that kind of thing. All of that is galloping along. And this is so-called green economy, as it is seen by the powerful in our world, is basically no change, continued unlimited growth, continued unlimited free trade agreements, continued unregulated investment of the type that’s taking place with the land grab in Africa, but with a green technology. So we’ll just substitute that dirty old technology, which of course they’re not, because the tar sands is the dirty old technology, and that’s what they’re building it on. So it’s just language around caring for the earth.
And what we’re trying to say is that if we’re really going to survive as a species, and if the planet is to survive in any condition as we understand it, we have to shift our thinking and stop thinking of ourselves as being above nature and stop thinking of ourselves as having the rights that no other species has or no other form of the earth has. We just have to change. What would the world look like if we could see it differently? Right now, for most environmentalists, the best we ever get is that we negotiate the amount of toxics being dumped into a particular system, or in the tar sands, all we’re—I mean, all we’ve ended up doing is having a series of reports, which just tell us how bad it is, but we haven’t—we have not managed to stop one pipeline. We have not managed to stop one government expansion, one corporate expansion, in the tar sands in all the years we’ve been fighting it. And I don’t see, frankly, Amy, how we’re going to do that, unless we have a mindset change. I really—I think right now it’s just a negotiation about how much of this toxic waste we’re going to allow and dump into our waters and our air and how much genetic damage we’re going to do ….
Please visit Democracy Now to hear the entire interview with Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow and Amy Goodman on the rights of Mother Earth. Earth Day Special April 2011