Monday, February 17, 2020
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Energy Suppliers and Their Brutal Violations of Human Rights: It’s Time...

As the Nigerian protesters' case against Shell and the brutal treatment of peaceful protesters in Texas via TransCanada's encouragement highlight all too well, the planet's biggest energy providers are more than willing to work outside of the law to meet their interests. In Nigeria, peaceful protesters were subjected to violence by the Nigerian government with the alleged encouragement of Royal Dutch Shell PLC. With the eyes of the free world watching in Texas, the police response to peaceful protesters allegedly encouraged by TransCanada was less brutal but no less audacious.

In the latter case, two protesters who handcuffed themselves together on TransCanada's construction equipment "were subjected to choke holds, stress positions in which their free arms were handcuffed, contorted, and then pepper sprayed, burning their skin. They were then tased..." In Nigeria, where much of the world has turned their attention away from, one can only imagine the heightened brutality that peaceful protesters suffered.

The message these companies, and their respective puppet governments, are sending is clear: opposition of any kind will be severely punished. And the weak response by Americans and the international community to these violations of human rights and, in the case of America, some of our basic underlying principles as a country seems to confirm the fact that engaged environmental advocates are seen more as individuals to blame for the violence perpetrated against them, and not the victims of ruthless business and government practices.

Tarring the BP Moment

With the prospect of the BP crisis drawing to a diminished level of angst, there's no reason to relax. There are Nigerian oil spills, 62 underground coal fires in China, Haitian deforestation, the shrinking Aral Sea, and the Eastern Garbage Patch. All decades of cumulative environmental destruction.

These are the big, sexy ones, but there are thousands of others. Just one example: we have managed to contaminate the entire world with polychlorinated biphenyls aka PCBs. The whole world. We are redefining survival of the fittest (or so we think) through genetic engineering. This is a new twist on "fittest." Want an uplifting documentary? Try The World According to Monsanto and then feel guiltless about serving your child that next glass of milk.

Jefferson believed in a natural aristocracy. Nature has time and takes its time in allowing success to percolate. We are not the final arbiter. But we affect the outcome, despite the denial.