* First posted 5/12/2018
We have become far too willing to gamble with things that are precious and irreplaceable.
Multiply by two the possible risks of a project. Divide by two the expected benefits. Folk proverb
While the oil era reaches its end, Greece decided to invest in oil drilling. Almost 1/3 of the country has been divided in plots and is gradualy leased to oil companies. Have we even wondered what would really happen if we transform our mountains and seas to oil extraction fields?
Before the research and extraction of hydrocarbons in Greece, as everywhere else, the preparation of necessary studies such as SMP (Strategic Environmental Impact Study) and ISS (Initial Status Studies) precede, in order to document the existing status of the area and the possible environmental and socio-economic effects that could arrise from the activities.
Although the studies are reassuring, some of their points cause us great concern. What are our conclusions from these studies? First of all, we don’t know much. All the studies, regarding the present state, highlight the lack of knowledge and scientific data relating to the ecosystems that surround us and the conditions that prevail in them, however we take as granted that this can be overlooked.
Regarding the socio-economics, the main argument is that the whole project takes place aiming at our economic development, with many promices for great economic benefits for the local communities, Greece’s dept repayment etc. It is characteristic that the SMP of Arta-Preveza states how bad the scenario of not proceeding to oil extraction will be, because the residents of the area besides loosing the economic benefits will also develop psychological problems because the will be left undeveloped! Strangely, before the Greek state decided to proceed in oil drilling, most studies were proposing that sustainable development respecting Greece’s natural advantages (natural environment, biodiversity, culture, etc.) was the way to go. Now the Greek state supports the obsurd scenario that in the same plots we can have sustainable development and hydrocarbons industry at the same time!
Regarding the environment, all the studies conducted, whether they refer to sea or land plots, talk about minimum risks and dangers, almost no concequenses, low sensitivity of the ecosystems, always in normal conditions. They are so sure that everything will work correctly, that the danger of an accident is so low that they don’t even concider possible scenarios of an accident and its concequences. Still if we examine such a case even very vaguely, we can understand that the risk we are undertaking is great. In the SMP for the Ionian we read: “even with the most scrupulus designs, studies and implementation of correct procedures and appropriate trainning of personel, the following accidents could happen:
• fuel, petroleum, gas, chemical and dangerous substances dumping,
• oil or gas drill blowout,
• fires (in the facilities or surrounding area),
• unexpected loss of the facility and sudden cessasion of functioning
• natural dissasters and their concequenses in the facilities, for example, floods, earthquakes and
• war or sabotage”
What will be threatened in the above cases? The water, air, soil, seas, ecosystems, biodiversity, everything that is valuable and necessery for our life and welfare. So we wonder, is it worth it to take such a risk?
How wise is it to trust the companies that claim that they have safe technology nowdays? As Naomi Klein very aptly states in her latest book, the Deep Horizon accident proved that those who believe that have harnessed nature, act like they know, but they don’t. There we also read: The company trying to explain why there were no systems to act efficiently after the blast of Deepwater Horizon, Steve Rinehart of BP stated that “I don’t think anyone predicted the conditions we are dealing with now”.
Worth watching :
Days before this talk in TED, journalist Naomi Klein was on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, looking at the catastrophic results of BP's risky pursuit of oil. Our societies have become addicted to extreme risk in finding new energy, new financial instruments and more ... and too often, we're left to clean up a mess afterward. Klein's question: What's the backup plan?
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the New York Times and international bestsellers, No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (2017), This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism(2007) and No Logo (2000).