The defence of land and water rights by the indigenous peoples of Standing Rock, USA from the government supported (and probably illegal) construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is important for all of us. The connections with our current global predicament -environmental, social and political- are many. While Obama halting the construction helps the brave souls of Standing Rock, it removes the spotlight from the rotten soul of our business-focussed greedified governments which can once again operate in the dark.
How are we all like Standing Rock? What can we learn?
1- Violence Against Peace
The often violent approach of the oil and government personnel in the face of peaceful resistance is a potent sign. Those in power understand they’re on the wrong side of the table, so must fight to avoid serious discussion: they would lose the argument without a chance. Wherever peaceful protest is violently suppressed, or violence is in any way stimulated by government representatives or their supporters beware: it is an unmistakable sign the government is on the tyrant's side.
The fact that the Norwegian Bank (DNB) has just pulled out of direct investment in the xxxDAP and is pulling out of indirect investment for fear of being implicated in the perpetrated human rights abuses illustrates how serious things are. UN observers are onsite but not listened to.
These situations occur elsewhere too (e.g. in the UK), so perhaps we could recognise it next time.
2-Oil Against Water
There is a universal understanding that water will be the scarcest of life's essentials in the near future -in many places it already is. Water is far more important than energy, but also above food -partly due to the water requirement of food production. In the battle of oil (or in fact anything) against water, for the sake of humanity, water must take priority and win. Whether the financial interests involved consider the risk small (as with shale gas) or not (as with xxDAP ) is irrelevant: at the current time any risk is too great.
When concerns about drinking water, now or in the future, are expressed take heed: there’s big money in the game, it could easily win, and you’ll not be able to quench your thirst tomorrow. Side with water, always.
3-Carbon Fuel Infrastructure
With Climate Change as it is, progressing more rapidly than before and more carbon fuels in production already than we can burn, new carbon fuel infrastructure is the road to destruction and humanitarian and ecological disaster through Climate Change. There is no time to wait and see. Most concerning is that the world's nations know this and have publicly stated so: emissions need to be down to zero by 2070. At the same time the oil companies predict, also publicly, that humans will double their emissions by 2040 and in doing so blatantly base their share and asset values on the earth's destruction. This disconnect between oil companies' "business as usual" scenario, which we seem to accept, and the global understanding that the opposite must be -and can be- done is too bizarre a plot for a comic strip. Yet most people miss this paradox and pretend all is well.
Any new carbon fuel infrastructure spells destruction.
4-What To Do?
Each time I ask myself this question new answers come up. That’s because there are so many things which can be done, which individuals can do, each and every one of us. By considering the climate and carbon emissions with each thing we do each day, we can make a change. That's at home, at work, and with friends or family.
Talk and Act: Talk about it with everyone -don't forget politicians and business people- and then Act wherever you can by wasting less, growing more, consuming less, getting outside more, and supporting others like the Sioux at Standing Rock, with money or actions of support.
It is your future these brave people are standing for.
Get out there and make a difference; the more people joining, the better the change.
Erik is a physicist, ocean sailor, petroleum engineer, climate change student, and public speaker and writer.