Friday, November 18, 2016

Why Standing Rock Activism is Even More Urgent than I Realized

Photo attribution:  John Duffy via Wikimedia Creative Commons

For most of my life, as a science-based person, systems thinker and spiritual seeker, my worldview has extended to include the long-term and the subtle, interconnected impacts of any choice we are making as a humanity.  I cannot hold up blinders to those impacts once I know about them. When I do a risk/benefit analysis of tar sands pipelines with the information I have, cautionary flags rise up all over the place.  This is why, when I heard Van Jones recently framing the conflict at Standing Rock in terms of "Water is life. Oil is death," it immediately resonated. 

Energy is a huge sector of human activity, so our energy choices have global and long-term impacts we all should care about. Even if something is sold to us as "clean'" and "safe," we need to make sure we dig a little deeper to find out how clean and safe it really is during extraction, processing, waste and transport. I have, and what oil sands spell to me is death, not only to animals near the waste water trailing ponds, but in many other ways for humanity and planet both. Oil from tar sands comes with huge actual risks at every single step in the extraction, refining, transport and consumption cycle. 

It is convenient to ignore these "hidden" impacts until they begin to affect your daily life personally (which they are doing now as climate disruption, oil-spill contaminated water and rising cancer rates), but I simply don't think that closing our eyes to the bigger, longer picture is a luxury we can afford anymore. 

Industry rhetoric about short term economic and strategic gains for our country or citizens is a way to keep us distracted from asking our important and reasonable questions: Where does the waste go? How long does it take to detoxify? What happens if there is a leak? Will the contaminated water ever be drinkable again? How expensive is the cleanup and who actually pays for it? So to me, Standing Rock is about far more than energy or the environment or even indigenous rights, though all of those matter to me deeply. It is an issue of citizen empowerment for us all. It is an issue of our right to access all of the information and to have our questions answered not after, but well before risks are taken and negative impacts are made. I think we are reaching an "enough is enough" moment when we are sick and tired of being neither informed nor consulted about issues that affect us and our children.  

This week, Robert J. Kennedy Jr. pinpointed what may well be the single most urgent reason we must act immediately to stop DAPL. This information was new to me and I am sure is new to most Americans. The oil companies know that once the huge investment has been made in the pipeline infrastructure, this ensures oil dependency will drag on for a very, very long time. Why? Because the money the banks are investing in DAPL come from stockholders and pension funds - you, me and our neighbors, relatives and friends. Investment of this size by the banks on pensioners' and stockholders' behalf creates a "too big to abandon" financial crash scenario, in essence setting up a situation in the near future where we will need to choose between economic collapse and abandoning oil pipelines. 

Standing with Standing Rock is therefore an urgent and timely imperative before more of our money is invested by the banks. We have seen this tactic before, when an industry shields itself from right action by fashioning itself to be "too big to fail," threatening to take us all down with it unless we offer a taxpayer-funded bailout.  this is economic blackmail, plain and simple. The longer we wait to oppose the pipelines, the less choice we will have for a very, very long time to move toward cleaner, cheaper energy.

The bottom line is that citizens cannot be empowered if we don't have access to all the facts. It is very disturbing to take in this information, and I understand why anyone might rather not. I was once a person who would rather not look. At that time, I preferred to think that companies the mainstream media and governments were independent, honest and had my back. But I can no longer pretend that they are or do. It has taken awhile, but I have gotten over the shock and built up my strength and resolve. 

And now, there are so many more people ready to stand by your side when you are ready to rise up, including me.  So you are never alone. Ample support is always available. 

If you'd prefer to bury your head in the (tar)sand, I get it. Instead of making you my enemy (because I know that you are not), my wish is simply to share information with you to help you to make an informed opinion of your own. For example, if you have not seen what a trailing pond looks like, it is important to take a look. It may well change your life. 

So let's help one another to be more informed and empowered, particularly those who may not have seen or heard this information before. I have faith in us. 

Let's spread information, not fear or division. 
Thank you.

Van Jones speech:  "Water is Life.  Oil is Water:" 

Robert J. Kennedy Jr. at Standing Rock:  The video below is 17 minutes long, and filled with important information, but the key point made in my blog article is made around 16:00.

The video below at around 4:30 in outlines the risks and dangers of fossil fuels, particularly oil sands. Despite the title, I chose this video because it presents the facts and doesn't go overboard with fear-mongering.

Laurie McCammon is an author, speaker and teacher who speaks on issues of citizen empowerment, paradigm shift and women's leadership.  Her book, Enough!  How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word was publshed by Conari Press April, 2016 and is available in paperback and e-book verisons wherever books are sold.  You can learn more about Laurie at

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