BOOM: North America’s Explosive Oil-By-Rail Problem

On July 6, 2013, a train hauling two million gallons of crude oil exploded in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people. It took two days to put out the fire and devastated the small community.

That catastrophe had its origin in America. For five years, a boom in oil production has been taking place in the Bakkan Shale region of North Dakota. Oil from the Bakkan is transported across the U.S. and Canada by rail to refineries on the coasts – it was one of these trains that derailed in Lac-Megantic.

The sharp increase in domestic oil production has created jobs, decreased economic vulnerability to turmoil in the Middle East, and lowered prices of gasoline and home heating oil.

But there’s another side to this story.

In “Boom,” a joint investigation by The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News, they explore how the boom in oil has resulted in highly volatile crude oil being sent over aging, often defective rails in vulnerable railcars.

Rail accidents involving oil trains have been on the rise. But industry and regulators have been slow react. Will it take another Lac-Megantic to make America’s towns and cities safer?

Building Social Capital With A One Planet Economy

An economy that demands infinite growth is not compatible with the one planet we have.

Humans are eating away at our own life support systems at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years by degrading land and freshwater systems, emitting greenhouse gases and releasing vast amounts of agricultural chemicals into the environment.

Two major new studies by an international team of researchers have pinpointed the key factors that ensure a livable planet for humans, with stark results. They found that the changes over the last 60 years are unprecedented in the previous 10,000 years, a period in which the world has had a relatively stable climate and human civilizations have advanced significantly.

Carbon dioxide levels of 395.5 parts per million are at historic highs, while loss of biosphere integrity is resulting in species becoming extinct at a rate more than 100 times faster than the previous norm.

Since 1950 urban populations have increased seven-fold, primary energy use has soared by a factor of five, while the amount of fertilizer used is now eight times higher and the amount of nitrogen entering the oceans has quadrupled.

All of these changes are shifting Earth into a “new state” that is becoming less hospitable to human life. This research is clearly pointing to a direct link between the current economic system and our environmental problems.

So what are the alternatives?

The Art of Economics (and may it one day become an art) needs a new story and a new language that doesn’t require us to choose between self and others, work and aliveness, our own lives and the lives of fellow humans or the health of the planet. A language that has the potential to re-frame the story, re-educate our thinking and get us back on the side of community, on the side of the earth and on the side of life.

The following is a great video on one possible happier and more sustainable future were human civilization is living in harmony worth the planet and having a better quality of life at the same time.

What would your dream society look like?

A Journey Into Deeper Understanding

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers