Invitation to Create a New Civilization

(and to fight the one based on oil)

By Oilwatch International (a network of civil society organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America)

[Published in November/December 2005, 25th Anniversary Issue of Earth First! Journal -- The Radical Environmental Journal]

Never before have the limits of the current development model based on hydrocarbons been seen so clearly. Never have the relationships between oil and the networks of power that control the world been so clearly understood. Never have the relationships between oil and the principal causes of misery which afflict humanity been so evident.

Behind the worst wars of the last century and the current, Behind the waste of industrial, economic and financial resources, Behind the instability and impoverishment of many nations, Behind innumerable state coups, dictatorships and manipulations of democracy, Behind the age-old exploitation of workers, Behind the most dangerous chemical industries, Behind the systematic extinction of uncountable indigenous peoples, Behind the contamination of the world's fresh water, the water of the seven seas and the air of our cities, Behind the accumulation of enormous amounts of chemical and plastic wastes, Behind climate change that includes ever more extreme cyclones, floods and hurricanes, Behind the appearance and manifestation of numerous degenerative illnesses and, Behind the extinction of species on planet Earth,

Is Oil.

The 20th century was the century of poisoning and mass death of people and life all over the planet. This poisoning is the product not only of the wastes caused during extraction of oil, oil spills on land and sea and acid rain; it is also the consequence of agrochemicals, persistent pollutants, fuels, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pharmaceuticals, hospital wastes and other components produced from oil. These are being accumulated and dumped on the planet…and they are killing the Land.

We have suffered severe and repeated threats to the sovereignty of our nations due to wars and intrigues caused by oil. The large empires define their economic and military power in relation to their possibilities of obtaining secure access to their coveted black gold, in farflung regions around the globe.

The 20th century created, from its industrial oil bases, a culture founded on a pattern of of addictive energy and material consumption that has poisoned, sickened, crippled and killed hundreds of millions of people, while confronting and exterminating thousands of traditional communities, separating them from their healthy and ecological customs. Only a very few have managed to survive, in a way that is ever more one of isolation, impoverishment and defenselessness.

While this occurred, we have accepted these aggressions as separate nations or communities. Or worse still, we have fought among ourselves: inhabitants of one country against another, people from the North against those from the South, the urban poor against indigenous and peasant people, those ill from consumption against pacifists, those who propose against those who criticize...

Looking at each struggle from a distance, it is difficult not to see the profound connections between them.

The struggle to stay healthy and eat well, the fight for clean sources of energy, the fight for a sustainable and sovereign agriculture, the fight for decontamination and against global warming, the fight against transnational companies that expropriate and evaporate our natural resources, the fight for peace in the world...winning these fights depends to a great extent on our ability to jointly resist the oil industry and the civilization it sustains.

The crisis of the oil civilization has reached its climax. But the way forward to free ourselves from this crisis is hardly being carried out. To the contrary, our exit is delayed while the effects of this crisis increase in a manner which is ever more lethal. It seems evident that the transition into a new civilization requires the diffusion of alternative scientific and environmental technologies for sustainable energy systems -- as well as new economic, political, and cultural mechanisms that will allow the reconstruction of peace and equality among peoples, recover our health, restore our environment, absolve international debt, compensate for the pillaging of the countries of the South, and assure justice and true democracy everywhere.

For us, a clear path is shown by the fight of the peasant, fishing and indigenous communities that face a frontline battle against globalization and neoliberalism--defending their right to live on their lands with autonomy and without physical, cultural or environmental aggressions, even those that are considered "symbols of progress." But we need to listen to each other, so that we may imagine solutions that take into account, in a global form, the problems of us all.

Which are the organizations and networks that could start a positive collaboration in the fight against the oil civilization? Which are the most important local and global movements that we cannot ignore in our efforts? Which are the new initiatives that we could and should invent?

To answer these and other questions, Oilwatch International is inviting sympathetic networks to participate in a joint dialogue of our struggles and launch a global Campaign against the civilization based on oil. We invite you to send your opinions, considerations and ideas that may help consolidate this concept, so that we can create a way forward together. Please send your comments to the International Secretariat of Oilwatch at tegantai@oilwatch.org.ec

[Issued on September 19, 2005 and published in November/December 2005, 25th Anniversary Issue of Earth First! Journal -- The Radical Environmental Journal ]

OILWATCH INTERNATIONAL is a network of civil society organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America that promotes a post petroleum civilization, with its International Secretariat located in Quito, Ecuador. The Oilwatch network was born inspired by the necessity to develop global strategies for communities affected by oil operations, and to support the resistance struggles of communities against those operations. Among the network's functions is the exchange of information regarding oil companies operating in affected countries, about their practices as well as the different resistance movements and international campaigns against specific companies. Oilwatch makes an effort to raise, at the global level, the environmental conscience of humanity, to expose the impacts of oil operations on tropical forests and local populations, and to reveal the relationship between oil activities and the destruction of biodiversity, climate change and unpunished violations of human rights.

Oilwatch members include:

Coordinación de Organizaciones Mapuche - ARGENTINA Belice Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) - BELICE Toledo Developement Corporation (TDC) - BELICE Bullet Tree Falls Environmental Club - BELICE FOBOMADE – BOLIVIA FUNDACIÓN SOLÓN – BOLIVIA Projeto Brasil Sustentável e Democrático/Rede Brasileira de Justiça Ambiental - BRASIL GTA / Comision Pastoral de la Tierra - BRASIL Asociación CENSAT Agua Viva – COLOMBIA FUNDACION AGUAVIVA - COLOMBIA Centro de Desarrollo Comunitario - Cabildo Mayor U'Wa - COLOMBIA ORJUWA-T Organización Wayúu Munsurat COLOMBIA OILWATCH COSTA RICA FoE CURAZAO Acción Ecológica – ECUADOR CESTA – EL SALVADOR Madre Selva - GUATEMALA Consejo de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo de Centroamérica (CIDECA) - GUATEMALA Alianza por la vida y la Paz - GUIATEMALA Frente Petenero Contra Represas - GUATEMALA MOVIMIENTO MADRE TIERRA - HONDURAS Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH) - HONDURAS Confederación de Pueblos Autóctonos de Honduras (CONPAH) - HONDURAS ALIANZA VERDE - HONDURAS Federación Indígena Tawahka, (FITH) - HONDURAS Federación de Tribus Xicaque de Yoro (FETRIXY) - HONDURAS Federación Indígena FETRIPH pueblo PECH de Olancho - HONDURAS Casifop - MEXICO Sociedad de Amigos Santo Tomás – MEXICO Centro Humboldt - Oilwatch Mesoamérica - NICARAGUA URACCAN-IREMADES - NICARAGUA Centro de Educación para la Paz y la Justicia (CEDUPAZ) – NICARAGUA CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS INTERNACIONALES - NICARAGUA COIBA - PANAMA ECORED - PANAMA MNJ-PAT - PANAMA SOBREVIVENCIA - PARAGUAY APRODEH - PERÚ CONACAMI - PERÚ Racimos de Ungurahui - PERÚ TOXIC TEXACOWATCH – SURINAM WRM – URUGUAY REDES - URUGUAY Amigransa- Red Alerta Petrolera Orinoco Oilwatch - VENEZUELA Centre Pour l'Environnement et le Développement - CAMERÚN Cadic - CONGO EPOZOP / ASSAILD - CHAD CPPL - Commission Permanente Petrole Locale - CHAD Chadian Association for the defence of Human Rights / LTDH - CHAD RESAPIME SARH GRAMP/TC - CHAD CILONG - CHAD CIAJE - GABON Third World Network - GHANA FoE GHANA LIVANINGO - MOZAMBIQUE Oilwatch Africa – NIGERIA Environmental Rights Action (ERA) - NIGERIA Justice et Paix (of Catholic Church) - REPUBLIC OF CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE) GroundWork – SOUTH AFRICA Earthlife Africa eThekwini – SOUTH AFRICA Earthlife Africa Johannesburg - SOUTH AFRICA Earthlife Africa Cape Town - SOUTH AFRICA Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) - SUDAN Ecograph - AZERBAIJAN UBINIG - BANGLADESH BanglaPraxis - BANGLADESH Community developmnet Library - BANGLADESH PRAYAS - INDIA PAN - INDONESIA JATAM (Jaringan Advokasi Tambang) - INDONESIA FoE MALAYSIA Third World Network - MALAYSIA ActionAid - PAKISTAN Pakistan Institiute of Labour Education and Research - PAKISTAN Center for Environmental Justice - SRI LANKA EarthRights International (ERI) - THAILAND CAIN Campaign for Alternative Industriy Network - THAILAND Burma Issues - THAILAND Study Group for Natural Resource Sustainability - THAILAND Kalayanamitra Council - THAILAND LAOHAMUTUK - TIMOR PERDU-Manokwari - WEST PAPUA CEE Bankwatch Network - GEORGIA Indigenous Oil Campaign Organizer Indigenous Environmental Network - USA


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