Sober reflections on global environmental hazards and damages

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There is no doubt that many oil companies have blood in their hands due to the environmental hazards they have caused, globally. The immediate and long-term effects of those environmental damages cannot be underestimated. From the pollution of the ecosystem (soil, water, sea, air, plant, etc) to hazards to the human, animals, the drilling of oil comes with a huge income and many challenges to the society. Many oil companies have been accused of paying little or no attention to the environmental impacts of their businesses but rather, focusing mainly on the profit that comes out of them. This is hardly a lie. Amongst those oil companies held responsible for the environmental damages across the world, Shell’s name has always featured predominately on the lists of environmental polluters.

Environmental damage caused by oil drilling in Niger Delta

A classic example of the environmental atrocities committed by Shell is visible in the Niger Delta oil-producing region of Nigeria, where the Dutch-British company has been active for decades, making billions of dollars in profit. Yes, billions of dollars at the expense of the future of extinguishing local community. Sadly, the local inhabitants of the Niger Delta are one of the environmentally endangered groups in Nigeria, due to the infamous activities of Shell. They cannot farm on their land. Nor, can they fish on their polluted waters. Visible oil pipes have occupied most of their lands, competing with human beings for space. The oil spill and flammable oil disasters are a common occurrence, which claims hundreds of innocent lives very often. Animals are dying. Plants too are not spared. Local inhabitants are increasingly dying of toxic air. No many social amenities. Schools, hospitals, drinkable water are all a dream. Yet, this is the economic heartbeat of Nigeria, a country which depends economically mainly on its oil from the Niger Delta region of the country to survive. On the other hand, the Shell oil company is drilling billions of dollars in profit from the Niger Delta region. From the Nigerian Niger Delta region to, Amazon, Alaska, the story is the same.

But holding Shell solely responsible for the environmental negligence in Nigeria without pointing an accusing finger on the corrupt leadership of Nigeria is indeed unfair to all the parties affected by the inhuman practice. You may wish to ask yourself a simple but important question: why would Shell commit such unacceptable environmental atrocities in Nigeria, yet it simply cannot do the same in the Netherland and the UK? The answer is simple. It boils down to accountability. The oil company cannot be allowed to undertake such irresponsible and deadly actions in its native countries without being held responsible and severely punished for the actions. Is it the same in Nigeria? That is where the Nigerian element comes in. We are talking about responsibility for actions taken. So the next question is: why did the Nigerian government allow Shell to get away with such an environmental genocide in the Nigerian soil? Does that clearly say much about the level of commitment the Nigerian government has to the lives of its citizens? Many have accused the Nigerian government and some local leaders of the Delta region of Nigeria of turning a blind eye to the deadly activities of Shell after allegedly, collecting kickbacks from the oil giant. Yet others believe that the Anglo-Dutch oil company may have paid millions to improve the social services and living standard of the locals where it operates, however, much of the compensation, many believe, was channeled to the pockets of a few powerful leaders.

Regardless, that does not exonerate Shell from those reckless environmental damages to the locals from where it makes billions of dollars. If Shell (and other environmental polluters) know their actions are deadly to both the environment and human beings and that such criminal acts are illegal and unacceptable in their countries, why would they encourage such unholy actions elsewhere? Doing so exposes the level of oil giants’ double standard and insensitive to the lives of others. Many environmental activists have intensified their struggle to make the oil companies pay more attention to the environment where they operate and where they make their billions. That campaign has started yielding fruits. Recently, Shell is not only acknowledging its shortcomings and previous atrocities, but it has also promised to work diligently towards setting an environmentally accepted standard. This must be praised and encouraged.

Will the Anglo-Dutch oil juggernaut keep to its promise? Will other environmental polluters follow suit? We have only one world; it is our natural duty to sustain it through our actions and policies for our benefits and those of our future generations to come. Some might call it a hoax, but global warming is a reality, which has been scientifically proven. From extreme hot weather, to unbearable snow falls, harsh climate, unexpected tsunami, the Arctic sea ice, visibly diminishes, global sea level is rising, ocean heat content is increasing, humidity is increasing due to warm wind, snowfall melts faster, glaciers are fast melting, air temperature over the land goes on increase. These visible changes are scientifically proved.

At the level of our present environmental damages, we owe our children and the future generation a clear explanation as per what we have done to protect our environment. What would be the explanations of Shell, Sinopec, Saudi Aramco, China National Petroleum Corporation, ExxonMobil, Rosneft, Chevron, Total, Lukoil, BP, Eni and other oil giants, which have in one way or another contributed to the environmental dangers facing mankind?