My most recent trip to the Catskills revealed even more frenetic activity than was evident in June. This includes massive infrastructure, especially in the form of pipelines and right-of-way cuts over forested ridges for feeder branches. The new Millenium pipeline, which will run from Corning east then south and eventually to New Jersey is a mammoth 36″ natural gas replacement for a current 12″ line. That’s a 10-fold increase in capacity. Not one well has been drilled in New York State, yet the writing is on the wall.
© 2008 Russell Honicker
What does this sort of approaching resource extraction orgy have to do with the Third World? After all, as a spokesperson for the NYSDEC said, “this isn’t Wyoming; this is New York!” We are the new Third World. Having raped the rest of the world, time to start in earnest at home. Of course there’s a long history of this here: coal, railroads, oil, highways, farming etc.
The so-called economic growth we’ve been experiencing here in the North-and-West has been subsidized by resource extraction over the last 35 years in places like Ecuador, Zambia, Angola, Sudan, East Timor and the like. Murder, authoritarianism, theft, lies, and squalid urban poverty accompany each new “discovery.” Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls this the “Resource Curse.” John Perkins, in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man calls it unofficial U.S. Policy. There was a recent news story about Indian farmers unceremoniously removed from their lands to make way for a new 900 acre Tata plant. This is our real economic engine.
While op-eds to the NYT place the blame for poverty on proponents of biofuels and opponents to Genetically Modified (GM) foods, and praises the efforts of our good friends at the World Bank, the reality is that our wealth has been, and is being stolen from distant parts of the world. We have been exporting poverty to the Third World for decades. While death squads are palatable or at least ignorable in some of these places, somehow the idea of mercenaries in Delaware and Broome Counties seems ridiculous. Nevertheless, residents report that Haliburton and Blackwater have arrived, along with military helicopters performing alarming seismic testing. Exporting poverty is no longer limited to other countries; we’re bringing it to the Catskills and Southern Tier.
Others have made this point before, but our agriculture is now more of a mining operation than anything else. We frack for natural gas to generate nitrogen fertilizer, applied in massive doses to sterile soil as anhydrous ammonia, most of which washes off into the Mississippi and then the Gulf of Mexico, spawning a “dead zone” (one of 150 worldwide) the size of Massachusetts. Phosphate fertilizer is mined in the Caribbean and in Canada. Diesel and Gasoline comes from Canada, Venezuela, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, by way of Port Arthur and Beaumont. The irrigation water is thousands of years old, mined from the once-huge Ogalalla reservoir, which is being rapidly depleted. All that produces starchy corn and soy beans that then act as inputs to other industrial food production processes like livestock, vegetable oils, soft drinks, and yeah, biofuels. It’s hard to find any actual food in our food systems- that is food that comes from rain, soil and sunshine. Rather, it’s all predominantly the end product of “drill, baby, drill.”
Finally, let’s tie this all back to the current global financial crisis, which is immediately a crisis of real estate and foreclosures, a crisis of land. Naturally, it is a crisis of much more. Ultimately, it’s a crisis of dissociation of money power from reality. All the working business models involve slavery, theft, monopoly or addiction.
Okay, that’s pretty negative. In order to end on a positive, a huge Greenerminds Congratulations and Thank You to Maura Harrington, who stared down Royal Dutch Shell last week.
[UPDATE 15:30 EDT] The Guardian Weekly has another success story- native Peruvians protect the Amazon basin.