African oil news today looks pretty much like any other day: a new paper from the European Centre for Development Policy Management warns that Africa must diversify to save itself from the resource curse. Nigeria is losing $1 billion a month to oil theft. The drilling race in East Africa is amping up and more gas is discovered in Mozambique. Meanwhile heavy flooding has wreaked havoc across West Africa, adding to the list of global extreme weather events.
There’s such a disconnect now between oil and weather stories that one could almost conclude that oil drilling and climate change are unrelated. But fossil fuel extraction and consumption have both immediate and long-term impacts on the the environment and those impacts are amplified across Africa. Most African countries are ill-prepared to deal with both oil spills and extreme weather events. And droughts, floods, coastal erosion and rising food prices will hit poor countries the hardest. Despite all this, there are only a few lonely voices calling to “leave oil in the soil.”
Here’s some sobering news that ought to get the whole world thinking about the insanity of our current drilling boom:
What if you knew that smoking that one last packet of cigarettes was going to give you cancer? Imagine if our understanding of cancer was so precise as to allow doctors to predict with virtual certainty that smoking that particular pack, which you just picked up at the corner store, would definitely be the last straw and cause you to contract life-threatening cancer? Obviously, you would not smoke that pack.
In the world today, global warming is our collective cancer, and despite dire and clear warnings, the oil industry is still smoking away. The best climate science in the world tells us that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. But the amount of new oil production the industry is bringing online over the next eight years is exponentially more than we can afford to burn and stay under two degrees. We simply cannot afford to burn all the oil that the industry is capable of producing over the next few years, and in the long term.
And in the U.S., where the current oil boom, oil consumption and extreme weather intersect, climate change doesn’t even get a mention in the presidential debates.
“I just think it’s irresponsible for our leaders to not address one of the biggest challenges facing our generation,” Phil Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace USA, told Huffington Post on Friday. “It’s one of the biggest security threats we have — it’s a threat to agriculture, it threatens our economy. And to simply not talk about it is one of the biggest failures of our leadership.”