I read in a Texas magazine that the smell of oil is the smell of money, but that it is also the smell of death. They say it, they think it, the people who live from the refineries, who work and live there, who take their children to the schools in the area. In the refineries, around their metal towers, cancer kills, and it kills beyond a few kilometers, beyond 40 kilometers around.
Bob Marley, about to die, asked his son to come closer and told him: money cannot buy life. Effectively; and oil, neither. That old blues song says it: I asked her for water and she brought me gasoline. But gasoline does not quench thirst; we cannot irrigate the fields with oil. And that is important now that the Sahara is jumping the Strait of Gibraltar.
Young people, leading a new revolution, which started when they were children, switch to a vegan diet, recycle, wear used clothes (circular economy) and buy a hybrid and change light bulbs to LEDs. But the carbon footprint is the scam of the stamp. It is a concept created by the company British Petroleum to divert the pressure placed on the oil multinationals towards the citizens and, as Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times, “You don’t have to change the light bulbs, you have to change the leaders”.
And it is that, you know, when the winds of change blow, some build walls (the petrotyrannies and the multinationals of fossil fuels) and others, mills. You have to build windmills, because the answer is in the wind and the sun; because the sea is a plastic soup (and there are microplastics in the blood of the condor in the Andes and in the food at McDonald’s); because the boats are getting bigger and the fish are getting fewer and smaller; because if deforestation progresses at the current rate (equivalent to 30 football fields per minute) and mosquitoes spread, microbes will have the last word; because those who contribute the least to the climate crisis (countries and people with few resources) are the ones who suffer the most (climate justice); because there are seven million premature deaths a year due to air pollution (breathing clean air has recently been declared a fundamental human right by the UN. Great Maria Neira!) and cancer could be the deadliest disease of this century if we do not stop the crisis; because production equals extinction and “progress” is a concept closer and closer to “cataclysm”. Because we can no longer—we must not—generate energy without awareness!
Millions of people at risk
Writing Viral, I understood the relationship between climate change and health, I understood that the same factors that cause climate change (fossil fuels) harm our health because they poison the air and because deforestation exposes us to viruses. And then, while documenting myself for Blues for a blue planet, I understood that civilization, that beast that exhales CO₂ (if this gas were not transparent we would see a black blanket up there covering the sky), also made us sick. Because the rise in temperatures and extreme phenomena (heat waves, hurricanes, sixth generation fires, “Filomenas”, medicanes, pandemics) could put the lives of millions of people around the world at risk and with increasing frequency, because melting glaciers (think of the Himalayas) will deprive billions of people of drinking water. Soon, like in the Janis Joplin song, we will want to trade our tomorrows for a single yesterday…
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Science has gone, once again, ahead of politics. And politics, once again, harasses scientists, activists and journalists. And it is not that environmentalists (which conservative politicians call watermelons: green on the outside and red on the inside) never receive love postcards, it is that they are ignored, censored, imprisoned and killed (in Russia, in Arab countries, in Venezuela, in Mexico). But no one can murder the truth. Not anymore. Impossible, now that climate change has reached our neighborhoods. Impossible, when Pope Francis writes an encyclical to stop this crisis. The merchants of doubt can no longer prevent us from looking up. The dirty reality is that the hitmen of black gold and its cosmic benefits have turned the atmosphere into a garbage dump. The planet suffers from malignant hyperthermia, the sixth extinction has already begun, and we in Texas and Spain, ordinary citizens, live like this, defenseless and powerless.
Together, humans have faced great famines, natural disasters, slavery, wars, and genocide. Ukraine could lead to a nuclear conflict and the Covid has put the economy in check. Despite all this, humanity is now facing its greatest crisis. And now that a new climate summit is being held in Egypt, we have to ask ourselves if the final examination of the evolution of the human being has begun. That’s why the music that floats in the wind is not a Bob Dylan ballad; it’s more like John Coltrane’s sax and a posthumous song. Pay attention, there it is: the last blues.
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