Science, Tech & Environment

The curse of Nigeria's oil

EK says he was drawn to the image of oil refineries in the region burning of waste, a process called flaring: it's like a dragon's mouth with this hot jet of fire spewing out continuously. We have some in the US, wherever there are oil refineries, but I believe Nigeria has the most in the world. It's an environmental tragedy for the region. (One of the things that strike you in your book is the contradictions, such as the women making tapioca.) in this picture of women baking tapioca cakes by the flares, it occurred to me that this has been going on for 40 years. you can feel the heat from the flares and these women are doing this every day. (You talked to lots of people who were there including some people working on behalf of the locals there. let's hear from them.) [Clip: we have witnessed a clear destruction of a sense of community.] (There is a lot of this oil that's coming to the US and if these people in the region aren't benefiting from the oil, who is?) The government. I might point a critical finger at the oil companies who are operating there, but it's the government's reposnsiblity to protect the land and people. (There has been a lot of violence in this area for a while, but one incident involves an activist who was hanged in 1995 by the military government for protesting the actions of Shell Oil. Since then there has been much more violence. Some of that has come about through kidnappings from an organization that is trying to save the locals.) MEND is an organization that exists in the delta or jungles. They're young men who are very frustrated and they've been responsible for shutting down a quarter of the area's oil output. That is significant. (This is one of the reasons that the world is experiencing a rise in oil prices.) MEND gets money through stealing oil. It's a very perverse situation, they have a profit motive as well. (Meanwhile, are the people benefiting?) No. (Has this changed your own consciousness about what energy you use?) Absolutely. On a personal level, I'm a much more strident father, because I get more upset when kids leave lights on. But this is for all of us, we need to realize that these resources are finite.

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