Today I woke up and saw the following video of a pipeline explosion in Central Mexico. It broke my heart and left me feeling worried because we drove through that region very recently. The theft of gasoline was already making headlines and impacting Mexicans in the area…
Earlier this month (January 2019) we were driving through Mexico from Austin to Acapulco and suddenly found ourselves unable to find gasoline. We drove by eight gas stations with no gasoline before we contacted friends alerting them we were concerned. A google search found only one article that indicated a crackdown on gasoline theft was taking place, and that the Mexican Government had taken over the Pemex distribution centers to oversee distribution and put and end to the theft.
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The result was gasoline shortages through central and northern Mexico. As we drove we began to once again see stations with gasoline, but the lines reached over 100 cars long. We found a station with about fifty people in line and turned our car off each time we inched forward to make sure we would have enough gas to get to the next station if this one ran out while we were in line.
You can see Paolo walking up ahead to make sure there was gas being pumped here. We had a bad feeling and left for another pump that had a similar number of cars. Thankfully we had enough gasoline to get back to Acapulco, but we saw MANY cars dead on the road, or in the parking lot of gas stations. It was intense. I continued to read about the situation and discovered that massive gasoline theft has been taking place in Mexico, the pipelines had been tapped and gasoline trucks hijacked.
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Pipeline Explosion in Central Mexico
Flash forward to today – I see the news that one of the pipelines has exploded, caused environmental damage that no one will be able to comprehend immediately. So far the death toll is at 66. What is most heartbreaking to me is that the NYTimes reported there were families with buckets and containers trying to grab their share of free gasoline when the explosion happened. No reports of children injured have been found by my initial searches.
I think the biggest concern here is the environmental implication. Our society is so hungry for oil that people are stooping to very dangerous behaviors in order to get it for free. What is the cost?
I found a list by the Wilderness Society that chronicles 7 ways drilling for oils is dangerous to our planet – this is of course not comprehensive:
1. Disruption of wildlife migration routes and habitats from noise pollution, traffic and fences
2. Oil spills on land and offshore drilling sites
3. Landscape changes from well pads and roads
4. Oil and gas infrastructure and traffic spoil peaceful settings for visitors
5. Haze, toxic chemicals and dust pollute the air and water
6. Machinery, gas flares and light pollution disrupt scenic views and clear night skies
7. Dangerous methane emissions contribute to climate change
What are your thoughts about this situation? What can we do to make our society and culture less dependent on oil? Can we do anything? Should we?