There have been a couple instances over the last few days of climate activists committing acts of vandalism and destruction as a form of protest. It’s happened before. Remember the ELF (Earth Liberation Front) committing arson against car dealerships? In the UK two anti-oil activists poured tomato soup on a Van Gogh painting. A short time later another group visited a grocery store, also in the UK, and proceeded to remove milk from the cooler and pour it on the floor. I guess I can (sort of) intellectually understand the Van Gogh event, even though I completely disagree with the tactic. He’s a world-famous painter and defacing one of his works was certain to draw attention, even if it didn’t create much sympathy for their cause. The pouring out of the milk I don’t understand at all, nor do I really want to do any research to find out if the perpetrators voiced a rationale for their actions. They’re idiots and I don’t have any interest in what they have to say. Pouring out milk that some mother might want to buy so she can feed her kids is not protesting. It’s utterly petty and self-centered. The goal of these activists is, ostensibly, to stop “climate change”, which would, presumably, ensure that everyone on earth lives some sort of climate-utopian better life. What that would actually look like I don’t know, and I’m not sure they do either. The bottom line is if you want to protest something, vandalism and the destruction of property are not the way to convince people your cause is just.
I’m not going to get into the whole ‘is climate change real’ debate here, other than to say I believe it is changing because it always has changed. The simple fact that it’s possible to find fossils of aquatic life on ten-thousand-foot-tall mountains, or the remnants of tropical flora buried under the arctic tundra should be enough to prove that fact. What I do not believe is that driving my car is going to destroy the planet.
So, what were these activists actually protesting? Oil. Among other things. One of the most terribly bad, horrifically evil supervillains, according to climate change activists, is the oil industry. They’ll tell us things like, if we don’t stop drilling, the entire world will look like Mars or the moon in three years. Or something. And exactly how bad are oil companies and the products they produce? Well, I have a bit of experience there, because for six and a half years I actually worked in an oilfield – Kuparuk on Alaska’s North Slope. I can’t speak about other fields and the companies that operate them, but Kuparuk was the most environmentally conscious place I’ve ever been.
Here are just a few examples:
Wildlife has the right of way at all times. Herds of caribou, thousands of them, move through the field each summer. If there is a caribou, or three hundred, on a road blocking traffic, everyone stops. They don’t harass them or blare their horns. Everyone waits until they move. That’s true regardless of what animal might be in the road. I once sat in a pickup truck for fifteen minutes waiting for a red fox to decide it wanted to trot off into the tundra. Interfering with the animals or walking on tundra in summer without permission is punishable by termination.
There are pipelines there that carry all sorts of products other than oil from one facility to another. They’re built on pilings or columns above the ground, and not just a few inches either; many of them are six or eight feet up. I once watched a training video where a biologist explained one of the reasons why they’d been built so far off the ground. It’s so the caribou can walk under them when the snow melts in summer. They actually studied the caribou herds and determined an ideal height for the pipelines.
There is also a full-time spill response team that will respond to a spill like a fire department would to a fire. (Oh, they have one of those too – with huge fire trucks and everything.) Any liquid spill consisting of more than a cup, I mean a measuring cup like you’d find in a drawer in your kitchen, requires notification of the spill response team. I remember one incident in winter when a piece of equipment blew a hydraulic hose. There was a trail of hydraulic fluid droplets that covered an area maybe twenty feet by twenty. A coworker and I spent a half hour out in the sub-zero cold digging those tiny little droplets out of the snow and dumping it in hazmat bags so that it could be taken to a hazardous waste facility for disposal. There was so little hydraulic fluid on the ground that if that had happened on the gravel driveway at my house, I would have ignored it. But not up there. If that spill hadn’t been reported, the management at that facility could have faced serious repercussions, including termination, for not reporting it.
What’s the point of all this? The point is that there are oil companies out there who do it right. Who actually do care about the environment and about the health of their employees. Maybe the anti-oil activists should do a little research about oil companies before they go throwing their lunch on a masterpiece painting.
October 16, 2022
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Mark Sowers, author of works of fiction. He writes fantasy, action/adventure, loves life in Alaska.