Fossil Fuels And Fresh Air For All

How we dole out energy makes access for all an issue of equality, human and natural rights, and our habitable planet.

Photo by Justin Wei on Unsplash

Fresh air for all, or freedom, must we choose?

While I write this, reports are that in Ottawa, Canada, protestors are spewing diesel pollution, carbon monoxide, and propane in a “Freedom convoy.” They are also blaring their horns, disrupting traffic and business, and by most reports, distressing everyone except their supportive minority.

Further reports acknowledge that similar protests are growing in other cities, not just in Canada, but around the world.

For many people, this is alarming stuff. Our entire system of production, distribution, and Covid restrictions, are involved. (The mayhem is primarily about mask and vax mandates, and demands for freedom). Also, hard to ignore, the very fossil fuels these truckers rely upon are increasingly causing controversy.

That gas and diesel powered vehicles are still emitting pollution while the majority of science and research have confirmed that the floods, fires, and severe storms in Canada — and elsewhere — are reaching alarming levels due to our consumption of green house gases.

Fuel for the world

It begs the question, if we cannot switch over quickly enough to clean energy, and if the populace is going to be torn asunder from political division, how will the world deal with these twin disasters? Our utter dependency on fossil fuels, and their waste products, such as plastic and air pollution, but also the need for a vast majority of people to access water, food, shelter and freedom from being terrorized, is at stake.

Environmental injustice is now well-documented, and understood. We have lead in water in some cities, some regions where air, water, and soil contamination are occupied primarily by BIPOC, places buried under trash, (out of sight out of mind) and places where, increasingly, things like storms, or even a natural seismic event such as happened recently in Tonga, can cause an oil spill in Peru that threatens ecosystems.

Having a supportive biosphere should be our ultimate goal, but right now, political division is hogging center stage. Perhaps the only solution is to make a global movement so massive that it demands greener solutions.

We all need fuel, obviously, and those who have for a century now demanded that this fuel must be green house gas heavy, are beginning to lose their argument. That said, they are still winning domination in the streets, and in our policy making places. Our only “winning” of the carbon crisis conflict is academic. We still subsidize pollution, perhaps precisely because the less well off of the world are the ones to pay.

A massive movement that allies Black Lives Matter, indigenous groups, #Me too, Extinction Rebellion, 350 dot org, and many more, would be the best way to ensure bottom up, side to side, and top down change.

Deforestation in indigenous regions, for example, is a violation of human rights. As is illegal mining, dumping, logging, poaching, over-fishing and trawling.

For those who do not yet understand how a movement about gender, or LGBTQ+, — like #Me too — is relevant, more information is needed on domination hierarchies in general, the lack of choice for impoverished women and girls, (i.e., child marriage and/or marital rape in India) education disparity, and how this leads to human rights abuse.

It is critical that we don’t divide, however, but ally.

And nowhere is alliance more important than in winning the hearts and minds of populists.

Is fresh air a human right?

Tellingly, 2020 was the year of “I can’t breathe.” We were in the Pacific Northwest where fires made air quality intolerable on some days. Then, of course, there was Black Lives Matter, with tear gas sprayed on American citizens. Finally, there was COVID-19, mask mandates, few vaccines at first, and people literally dying from lack of breath.

It is time to connect all of these dots. Each of these issues is not an issue apart, but important signs of human rights in peril. The need to keep our biosphere healthy enough to make breathable oxygen and carbon sinks is more critical than ever before.

How the conflict in Canada will be resolved will be very instructive. Perhaps we also need an enormous education program global in scale that helps all people learn critical thinking skills to arm them against misinformation.

This would have to be non-partisan. We have “fake news” on every side, but crucially, what the media fails to report is most people are still non-extremists.

This should give us hope. We may be able to create a more just, clean, green world (or at least our survivors can) if we realize exactly how everything is connected and no human is an island.

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