Michelle, one of our climate campaigners, writes from China...
I have been following the unfolding story of the oil spill in China and have been so moved by the images coming out everyday.
Our team is back in Beijing and the stories they tell us are astounding. The fishermen and people cleaning up the spill with their bare hands, scooping up toxic sludge for a meager payment per barrel, workers stopping to catch their breath as they gasp for air because they are not wearing masks for this dangerous job. These images are the stark reality of life in China the difference of what is possible here versus the US.
The US and China, powerhouses addicted to dirty energy, both have had the worst oil spills in their history at the same time, an eerie coincidence or just the beginning of more to come. Both spills left a wake of devastation but neither country seems to heed this wake up call and move quickly towards action that moves us quickly away from dirty energy.
China at least has concrete plans and big investments in renewable energy, more so than what the US appears to be doing. To me the images of the Chinese people cleaning up the spill with no protection at all - conveys a horrifying notion that these people are expendable, worth the fix for more dirty energy.
The images from the Gulf of Mexico of oil covered sea life, dead or dying, signals another acceptable cost of continuing to depend on this dirty and dangerous energy source. The governments in both countries are underestimating the amounts of oil spilled and consequences on the natural world, both people and animals. In China, this year alone environmental disasters are up by 98%. As oil becomes scarcer we will continue to move to deeper and harder to reach places which means riskier operations and likely increased risks of accidents. It is incredibly sad what this dirty energy addiction is doing to our planet and the life that depends on it.
We can do so much better than this. It's time for an energy revolution!