It is a relief and miracle that news reports coming in say that yesterday's crude oil explosion in West Virginia has come without a single fatality. But the derailing of a train carrying 100 tankers of oil is, without a doubt, going to cost us exponentially.
Eye witnesses reported huge fireballs of explosions rising up into the air, continuing even 10 hours after the derailment. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes, and several water treatment plants have been shut down, meaning that around 2,000 people are at risk of loosing water service. It is unquestionably going to be a logistical nightmare.
But the impact goes far beyond the unfortunate people living locally. Oil spills are undoubtedly one of the worst environmental disasters that humans impact on our planet. Take, for example, the Horizon Deep Water spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which threatened eight US National Parks and had over 6,800 dead animals collected as a result (including 6,104 birds, 609 sea turtles and 100 dolphins). Three years after patches of tar balls were still being reported almost daily from Alabama and Florida Panhandle beaches. It could be decades before the area fully recovers, if it ever does. This recent spill might not be to the same scale, but it's impact will no doubt be a disaster for the local wildlife.
The extraction and burning of oil alone is an enormous issue; responsible for the destruction of huge areas of pristine wilderness, the velocity of climate change and the cause of an enormous number of deaths due to the fighting and war it's wealth brings.
The real rub for me is that we have the ability to change, but we're doing nothing about it. We have a huge variety of other sustainable resources that we're not investing the time and money in that we should. Solar Power, Wind Farms, Biofuel and, dare I say it, Nuclear Power, are all far more sustainable resources that, with real time and investment, could wipe out the necessity of oil in a matter of years. It's time that we push for a change, demand that real investment is made... Because at the end of the day, it's our entire existence that is at stake.
I'll leave this post with a video of one resource I really believe could have a great impact with the right investment. What do you think?