Monday, October 27, 2008

Commentary on the piece about oil drilling in Wyoming

In 2004, Earthworks and Oxfam International put out a joint report, Dirty Metals, detailing the human rights abuses and environmental damage caused by the mining industry. One of their contentions was that mining as an industry brought very few economic benefits to the local population.

In Western countries at least, wages for skilled workers in extractive industries can be pretty generous. However, the CNN story I posted last shows that the money might not be worth the environmental degradation and the breakdown in social cohesion.

Furthermore, some day, the oil, gas or minerals will run out and the companies will leave for the next deposit. Both the mining and energy industries can cause significant environmental degradation. The Oxfam report made it clear that mining companies had usually not paid their fair share to clean up after themselves, especially not in the Global South. I'd expect no better of the energy companies.

And what will happen of the boom towns when the minerals or the energy run out? Residents of Michigan should think of Flint and Detroit.

I'm not saying that the world should do without energy. However, unsustainable development is wrong.

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