SoCS: The Four Elements

On my newsfeed, I just saw a story about one of the First Nations equating the US House vote to approve Keystone XL as an act of war. So, I am thinking of the four elements in that context, which includes unconventional fossil fuel extraction side effects..

Water is at risk because of methane migration, the permanent removal of water from the water system, toxicity from the chemicals that are mixed into it and that enter it from underground, and pipeline leaks that damage groundwater and surface waters. Unconventional fossil fuels are very water-intensive at a time when many places are facing water shortages.

Air pollution is caused by both the extraction processes of bitumen aka tar sands oil and by the refining/processing and use of this fossil fuel. The carbon-intensity of the extraction process compounds the problems of the burning of the final product to have an outsized climate change impact.

Earth is disturbed to build the pipeline and that land needs to be kept clear of trees, buildings etc. in perpetuity. The larger earth disturbance is the tar sands area itself, which involves felling old growth forests and massive surface disruption.

Fire represents the burning of the fuel but also one of the greatest dangers of dealing with fossil fuels, the threat of explosion.

The First Nations have been leading the fight against tar sands extraction and transport, both in Canada and the US. Their spiritual connection to Mother Earth and the four elements are an example to all of us who are their allies.

This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. Join us:

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