Drill, baby, drill

In 2008 and 2009 there was a series of oil spills in the same area. The company responsible, Shell, claimed that 40 000 gallons of oil were released. It turns out that the actual figure is closer to 10 million gallons.

That’s like saying you had a quiet gathering at home with 4 people when actually you rented the town hall and invited 1000 people for a raucous get-together. You’d think someone would notice.

Well of course, the people who lived there noticed, but they were far from the media’s glare, and there weren’t that many camera phones around. So the spills, one of the most devastating oil spills the world has ever seen, remained forgotten.

The place was Ogoniland, a land devastated by the discovery of oil and looted by the military dictatorship and the oil companies. The 2008 and 2009 spills destroyed the waters of the area and the livelihood of the Bodo community, who mostly relied on fishing. In one year a community who’d sustained themselves in the area for many generations were plunged into poverty.

Now, three years later, Shell has admitted liability, and will most likely be forced to pay compensation. That hardly qualifies as good news – it’s too late for the community. Plunged into a poverty which will probably take generations to undo, forced to scrap amongst themselves for compensation payouts and left with a devastated land, while Shell barely notices the difference to its profits.

But whereas in the past, the news would never have got out, or at best many years later, now atrocities and disasters are being brought to daylight more quickly, wherever in the world they occur.

Our earth and all living on it are suffering, but the symptoms are visible to all.

New this week
There’s lots new this week. Acai berry is a fruit from the acai palm, and is an important renewable crop from the Amazon. Wild harvesting in the Amazon protects the forest and acai has been used to reforest degraded areas. Unfortunately the plant has been over-hyped and is subject to all sorts of misleading claims internationally, but that’s not its fault! It comes in dried powder form, a beautiful dark purply colour, and adds a wonderful flavour to smoothies.

Mesquite, also called white carob, is one of the earliest known foods from the Americas. The pods are ground and used as a medicinal tea, and as flour, although I’ve only tried it (inevitably) in smoothies, where it adds a distinctive sweet, slightly nutty taste. Mesquite contains 17%, making it an excellent source of protein, higher than many nuts and seeds.

Bloublommetjieskloof are also offering a new product for cleaning teeth – a toothpaste pad made from sage, peppermint and coconut.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za