What are BP hiding?

One thing I have not explored as of yet is the ever-increasing rate of energy the growing population uses. The longer we live and the more people that consume the planet the more energy is needed to fund our iPhone batteries and our 15-minute hot showers on those cold winter mornings. Surely all that energy use must be having some effect on environmental welfare? I decided to investigate the top 5 most environmentally detrimental energy companies in the world, it may (or may not) surprise you to find out the our very own British Petroleum (BP) ranked number 4. 

Now, you may look at that green and yellow logo and assume – as I have always done – that must be an environmentally friendly company! Yet, here you can see how appropriate colour placement can allow our natural association ability to deceive us. The colour and word green is so closely associated with the protection of the planet (Green Peace is one of the most famous charities that is looking to protect the planet). Yet it just so happens that BP have a green logo and layout on their website, Coincidence? I think not. It seems to me as though they are attempting to hide their Deepwater horizon oil spill that was labeled the ‘largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry’ and also killed 11 people; perhaps it was their refinery explosion in Texas and Ohio in 2006 that killed 15 people that they want to conceal, or maybe it was the 530,000 pounds of chemicals that was leaked in to Texas city air that they’d rather people not know about.  

Whatever it is that BP are trying to brush under the rug, with 74,500 employees and operations in 72 countries they appear to be an extremely vast and profitable company so they’re clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. I’ll leave the link to an article I read so you can find out what the other 4 worst energy companies on the planet are:

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Fracking isn’t all that promising

As our population grows and our energy sources decrease so comes the time when we feel the need to find more energy – a more recent development globally is that of fracking. fracking is when water, sand and chemicals are blasted through drilled wells in the ground at high pressures in order to fracture (this is where the term ‘fracking’ comes from) the rocks underneath which in turn releases natural gases and in some cases, oil.

This may seem like a perfectly plausible way of obtaining new natural energy, and in some ways it does have it’s positives. It has the ability to create more jobs, the energy bills in the US (where fracking is big) have been substantially reduced and it can also provide sources of energy for long periods of time, but with any damage that is done to our planet it also comes with repercussions.

In 2011, when a fracking well was set up in Blackpool by a company called Cuadrilla, the process was halted due to small earth tremors as a result of fracking. Obviously this is extremely dangerous and, quite frankly, worrying to think about; definitely a good thing that Cuadrilla decided to suspend the process – although who’s to say they won’t give it another go, there is money to be made after all! On top of this man made natural disaster, there is potential that the cancer-causing chemicals that are used in the process could be released into the atmosphere and taint any nearby water reserves. So not only do we get minor earthquakes, it could also potentially cause cancer – fracking isn’t really sounding all that promising if I’m being perfectly honest!

Reports from a woman in North Texas, who lived close to drilling sites claimed she experienced nosebleeds, nausea and headaches when the drilling began. On top of this, a  town named Barnhart in Texas claimed that the fracking was the reason that their town ran out of water. The question we have to ask ourselves here is obvious, are cheap oil and gas prices and more jobs worth the health and potentially lives of some of the human population?

Speaking to a friend of mine, Reece Thornley, who has a degree in wildlife and conservation biology and who has always been an activist for environmental welfare; I wanted to know how his peaceful protest in the Lancashire fracking project had been received by both the company Cuadrilla and the police, he claimed:

“I myself have been victim of excessive police force when I was arrested by 2 police officers for refusing to give up my lawful right to peacefully protest in the central reservation of the road. As a result, I was dragged off the road in front of oncoming lorries  by force, where I was then shoved into a thorny hedge with my whole body and face pressed into vegetation cutting into my arms and cheeks, where one exclaimed ‘that will fucking teach you for not doing as your told you cunt’. When I pushed back because they were hurting me, they dragged me to the floor and double locked my arms using an illegal pressure point on my hand before kneeing me in my back to make me fall to the ground where they then pushed my face into the ground. All the time my fellow protesters, or protectors as they prefer to be called, screamed blue murder! They then had to ask their superior officer what offence I had committed (because I had done nothing wrong), to which I was done for with ‘obstruction of the highway’, spent hours in a squalid cell, an charged due to appear in court on may the 5th.”

Shocking to think that someone could be a victim of police brutality, simply for peacefully attempting to stop not only environmental damage, but also a potentially life threatening way of sourcing new energy. If you want to read the rest of Reece’s report, here it is: fracking-for-Georgia and as usual any relevant links I have found that may be of interest:

Overfishing, the worst of the worst.

As our population, the human race grows, it’s time to ask ourselves the question…  What about the declining population of other species’?

I’m talking specifically about fish (yes, it’s another post on the ocean), but the rapid decline of the fish population holds probably the most shocking figures. The first account of overfishing was known to be in the early 19th century, we almost wiped out the whale population because we needed their blubber for oil lamps. Since then, let me tell you, it’s only got worse.

As it stands, we’re currently pulling about 90-100 million tons of fish from the oceans every year and of those 90-100 millions as many as 40% are thrown back into the water, dead. Obviously, you can see why there might be a cause for concern – think of the waste! We’re just killing fish and then throwing them back into the ocean, no wonder ¾ of the world’s fisheries have pretty much collapsed!

It appears to me that the oceans and overfishing doesn’t seem to get as much media coverage as animal rights or climate change for example, maybe this is because we can’t necessarily see the physical damage being done. Maybe it’s because fish aren’t cute or fluffy and they’re not really seen as intelligent beings. But, as I referenced in my last post – the oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface, so if they are being exploited and depleted, it will affect us in a very real way.

The main problem really started in the mid 20th century, when industrial fishing began. Industrial fishing is how most of the fish in our food industry are caught, huge ships that are able to stay out at sea for up to six months at a time using advanced technology to track and capture fish. PETA claims “Commercial fishing is cruelty to animals on a colossal scale, killing hundreds of billions of animals worldwide every year—far more than any other industry.” So there you have it, overfishing is the worst of the worst.  Since industrial fishing began, the large fish population has been reduced by 90%, that’s right, there is only 10% of the large fish population left in the ocean. This may seem shocking, but what I find more shocking is the predictions being made for the future. According to scientists by the year 2048, we will have fishless oceans. That’s 31 years away, the same amount of time away as the year 1986 – it just doesn’t seem real. Yet, as most people will probably agree, science is probably one of the most real sources of evidence we can get, and these claims are made by science. It’s time to wake up, smell the sea air and start ethically and sustainably sourcing fish – either that or just stop eating them all together. As usual, I will put any relevant links in case anyone is interested in reading more information about overfishing.

71% of the Earth’s surface is about to go pear shaped

The oceans are the single most important aspect of the well being of earth and all of the life forms that live on it. We see it as a vast, mysterious and somewhat beautiful thing. You may not necessarily relate climate change or population growth to the ocean, there are no visible effects, out of sight out of mind so to speak. But since the industrial revolution (as I referenced earlier as one of the most important times in regards to population growth) greenhouse gases as a result of man’s actions have risen by 25%. This is partly due to the over farming of cows (AKA one of the main producers of Methane gases) and also due to the amount of cars, trains, planes and boats that are constantly whizzing around our planet.

But what has greenhouse gases and population growth actually got to do with the ocean? Well, due to the rising global temperature because of the ever-growing greenhouse gas emissions this has created a rising temperature in sea levels as well. Rising sea temperatures are extremely detrimental to not only the oceans well being but also that of the planet’s, see the ocean makes up about 71% of the earth’s surface. So as you can imagine if that goes pear shaped, then so does pretty much everything else. Rising sea temperatures along with pollution have alone destroyed 50% of all coral reefs, which is extremely damaging to the ocean’s life forms as coral reefs support a quarter of all marine life. It homes many different fish (think Finding Nemo) and on top of that it’s breathtakingly beautiful to see – not that I’ve ever seen it, hopefully it won’t ALL be destroyed before I get the chance. On top of this, rising sea temperatures also, dramatically affects a very important link in the food chain called Krill; Krill feeds mammals such as penguins and seals, which in turn would create a food shortage for higher predators. So just forget all of those cute penguin videos on Facebook, they will be a thing of the distant past if we carry on the way we’re going. According to The National Geographic “The only way to reduce ocean temperatures is to dramatically reign in our emission of greenhouse gases. However, even if we immediately dropped carbon dioxide emissions to zero, the gases we’ve already released would take decades or longer to dissipate.” Basically, we need to start reducing carbon emissions, like, now.

Another example I would like to touch on just briefly is the point of accidental oil spillage. Due to our ever demanding need for more energy, we find big companies constantly going beneath the Ocean’s surface digging for oil and occasionally, there have been oil spillages. I want to reference specifically the most recent oil spill on the gulf of Mexico, 40 miles of the coast of Louisiana in 2010. Labelled ‘The worst environmental disaster in US history’ it killed 11 workers, and it was ruled that 3.2 billion gallons of oil was spilled into the ocean over the course of 87 days. This horrendous spill killed over 3000 Birds, 500 Sea Turtles, 64 Dolphins and since that time Bottlenose Dolphins have been dying at twice the normal rate. From the articles I’ve read that have been released since the spill the damage doesn’t seem to be as bad as expected, although I fear that it’s the unknown damage that will come back to bite us.

As cruel as this sounds, you as a reader, may not necessarily feel that rising sea temperatures have any relevance to you or your life. But bear in mind that currently, the oceans make up 71% of the Earth’s surface and with rising sea temperatures leading to rising sea levels because of melting ice caps, that figure might just increase. Try to keep in mind that we as human beings, were not made to live underwater. As usual, I will post the links to the articles I’ve read in case you’re interested in learning more about the coral reef destruction and the oil spill in 2010.

Wind turbines: can they harm us?

Technology development is something that constantly plays on our minds; when is the new iPhone coming out? What new features will it have? Will the camera have a ‘flawless’ filter? But one thing many people don’t consider is how technology development has played such a huge part in the growth of the human population over the years. The invention of various different types of transport created a new accessibility to work which allowed for a bigger economy and bigger families. Even the creation of technology has in itself created more jobs: computer technicians, engineers, mechanics, plumbers. There is now not a single job in the world that does not interact with technology of some kind – whether it be a sales assistant working on a till or a receptionist inputting data in to a system. We are now so technologically advanced that some of the jobs originally created by technology development have actually been replaced by newer technology development.  But what effect is all of this technology development having on the environment? Furthermore, is all this technology actually reducing the chance of population growth?

A lot of the batteries used in the electronic technology that we produce today are composed of ‘Rare Earth Metals’, which is a group of 17 elements shown in the periodic table below:

These metals are extremely difficult to extract from the earth and often cause large amounts of environmental damage and produce harmful emissions such as Sulfuric Acid, Coal Dust and Solvent Vapours. You may not really understand what these terms mean – to be honest with you, I don’t either – but I do understand the consequences. The flow of toxic waste from this mining process runs in to nearby waters and kills plant life, fish and even rural residents. China is the single biggest supplier of Rare Earth Metals, this is because the metals are sold at cheap prices as environmental safety standards are virtually non-existent. One of the main areas that produces Rare Earth Metals is near the city of Batou, which is 650km north west of Beijing. It may not be surprising to find out that most of the residents who resided in a village near to where the Rare Earth Metals are mined moved away, 7 of them died from cancer and the animals that are still present there have become deformed; there are sheep that have grown two layers of teeth so long that they are unable to close their mouths. Perhaps technology development is actually slowing our population growth after all.

So what technology is it that uses these environment-destroying elements? It may not shock you too much to find out that technology such as smartphones, computers, hard drives and electronic cars all use Rare Earth Metals in their production but one thing I did find quite strange is that rare earth metals are also used in the production of wind turbines. We were all led to believe that wind turbines are a clean source of energy, they don’t damage our environment and yet the very stuff that is used to produce them creates a vast amount of environmental and physical damage to those around it. I’ll leave you with this question, what energy source are we able to use without damaging our planet in some way?

Can we trust what we know?

Many people might argue that the reason for the insane population growth of the past 50 years is due to extensive research in the health and dietary sectors. We now have extensive knowledge on what we should and shouldn’t eat and how most illnesses can be treated, dietary guidelines were set up in 1977 and any illnesses we face can be treated with various different drugs.

Yet taking into account how much research that goes into health and the sheer amount of drugs that are on the market for this, that and the other it seems incredible that there are still huge numbers of people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other life threatening problems. Obviously, everyone knows that eating fried chicken everyday is bad for you and that fruit and vegetables are good for you so why do people continue to do it? Yes, no one can deny, it tastes good. But it also makes you question whether or not people actually know the health implications of the food that they are eating.

So, who comes up with these food guidelines? And who prescribes us the drugs that treat our illnesses? And more importantly do these people have our best health interests at heart or is it simply a money making operation?

Well firstly lets look at the health guidelines that are being promoted, you may be under the impression that scientists come up with these facts, figures and advice yet in reality dietary guidelines are a lot more political than you may think. Not only is it scientists that contribute but also the agriculture department and food industry’s that help produce guidelines, and thinking about it if the food industry has a say in what is advised to eat or not eat then these industries will most likely advise their own products.  The ‘No red meat’ rule has been blatantly pushed out of the guidelines time and time again, even though red and processed meat is known to cause a 17-18% increased risk of colorectal cancers – so can we really trust these guidelines?

Lets hypothetically say yes, we trust these guidelines let’s eat the red meat. Then later on in life we develop breast cancer. But who provides our drugs? That big pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, they will cure our breast cancer. What other drugs are they known to distribute though? A drug called Polisac which increases milk production in cows by 10-15%, but also causes an increase of white blood cells (or pus – yummy!) in the cows udders and is also known to be linked to breast cancer. So the same company that treats us for our condition, also produces the drugs that contributes towards it. And thinking about it, Eli Lilly would no doubt want the food industry to keep purchasing the drug as this would contribute to their profit, and so are probably quite content with the fact that dairy and red meat have not been added to the ‘Shouldn’t eat’ part of the dietary guidelines.

When thinking of ill health it’s important to remember one thing, there’s a lot of profit to be made from it. So who can we trust? Only our own judgements and our own research. I’m not saying never eat KFC again, maybe just consider a little more what it might be doing to your body and who really is wanting you to eat it. I’ll leave the relevant links underneath if you’re interested in learning more about what else big pharmaceutical companies do and what amount of control over dietary guidelines the food industry has.

Kill the infected rodents, or allow the infected rodents to kill us?

The Black Death, a plague which swept over the Planet in the 14th Century that was thought to have been spread by the fleas that live on rats. A disease spread by pests that killed over 20 million people in Europe alone.  Population growth may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of The Black Death, but perhaps population control is (probably not, but I’m going to talk about it anyway).

We as human beings, look at The Plague and see it as a horrifying event in history but was it really so bad? Yes, it killed a lot of people, but just think how much more populated our planet would be if it hadn’t have happened. All I ever hear is people moaning about how there’s too many cars on the road – count yourselves lucky, it could have been millions of times worse! How could we have possibly stopped it from happening anyway? If The Plague happened in the 21st century we would probably have just exterminated all of the rats, as we did in the case of Mad Cows Disease, but why do we value our own lives so much more than theirs? Survival instinct you might say, yet we claim to be rational beings who are able to rise above our instincts in order to make moral choices. In this particular scenario, it’s hard to know the right and wrong – kill the infected rodents, or allow the infected rodents to kill us?

Population control is necessary to every species on the planet, there can be too much a good thing as the saying goes – not that the human race is always a good thing! As our population grows, so comes the time when population control will be necessary to us. Maybe the world will follow in China’s footsteps and adopt a one child policy, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.