Rachel Crandell Earth Day, April 22, 2001 
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The biophysical stability of the human habitat is dependent on the stability of the functions of natural ecosystems. That just means that plants and creatures, us too, depend on relatively stable temperatures to live in and produce our food. "Destabilization leads the world down the slippery slope of biotic impoverishment." Haiti is an example of a thoroughly impoverished landscape and concomitantly a thoroughly impoverished people. (p.32) Do we want to go there?

Are you aware that much of our fossil fuels are dug, drilled or mined from places were indigenous people are not consulted, and their lands are laid waste and altered for all time? The U'wa Amerindians of Colombia have threatened to all just step off the cliff en masse if Occidental Petroleum drills any further into their tribal lands. That has got to be a desperate posture to assume. Mass genocide. They have seen the results of oil exploitation to neighboring tribes, and they will not endure it. The Cofan, Huaorani, the Secoya and now the Shuar in the Amazon regions of Ecuador have all felt the terrible crush of oil destroying their forests, their homes, their rivers and their hunting grounds. Even on our own US soil the Dineh or Navajo people are watching the underground aquifer be pumped at a rate of 1 billion gallons a year by Peabody Coal so that a slurry for pulverized coal can be piped to a nearby power station in the Mojave Desert. Where water is precious, should our energy demands suck the desert of indigenous people and their pastures dry after we have stolen their land in the first place and now their water?

And that brings us to the desire of some to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ANWR is the undisputed pristine wilderness left in North America. It is the calving ground of a caribou herd that migrates up the Porcupine River from northwest Canada into the northeast corner of Alaska. Indigenous Gwi'chen people whose lives revolve around the caribou would have their culture wrenched from them. When you read that Alaskan natives are in favor of drilling for oil on the coastal plain, they are talking about the Inuit people who gain their livelihood from the Arctic Ocean. Obviously they wouldn't be as concerned about caribou if their living comes from whales. If we all inflated our tires on our cars to reduce friction for maximum efficiency, we would save as much gasoline as we would ever be able to drill for in the ANWR, about 5.4 billion gallons in 50 years. Can't we do that instead? Do we have to destroy yet another culture, a people, a habitat that is irreplaceable for a few extra gallons of oil that we will have to give up on pretty soon when we run out anyway.

I have heard it said that it would be as smart to drill in the ANWR for oil leaving it pock marked and disrupted, and then have to find new fuel eventually anyway when that oil runs out, as it would be to not have enough fuel and decide to burn the Mona Lisa to keep warm and then have to find another fuel anyway. Why not switch now and save the treasures like the ANWR and the Mona Lisa?

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