​​​​Pollute Now And Pay Later

Dreamworld Chapter 4 –  Meet the Press talks about Uranium pollution from fracking (fracturing the Earth to extract gas), within the context of Tommy’s battle with Doug Toovey.

The real-life Australian story in this link deals with a similar subject.

Pilliga CSG contamination sparks north coast water fears

To quote that story:

“The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) took almost a year to issue a $1,500 fine to energy company Santos over contamination which included uranium at a level 20 times the Australian drinking water guideline for human health.”

This is discussed a number of times in ‘It’s Our Earth Too’ including a dialogue when Craig is having dinner at Tina’s place, in The Gathering (see extract below)

Fines like this for pollution are way too small.  $1,500 for uranium in the water?  You can be fined $40,000 for keeping a pet rabbit.

Surely such a nominal fine is an incentive to pollute now and pay later, remembering that corporate executives need to keep growing profits as compared with keep making profits (these are two very different things as it gets harder and harder to grow profits EVERY year, so who wants to pay for proper environmental safety when the fines are so small).

The executives aren’t accountable to Nature herself, well not in the short term, so their risk is nominal fines like this, and that’s only if they are caught.

It’s easy to see why they would roll the dice and pollute now and maybe pay later, especially when it will probably be someone else’s problem by then.

The executives need to be personally responsible where companies they run are conducting practices that have been shown to pose grave risks to the environment, our water, and increasingly of earthquakes.

They should only be able to do what is proven safe, not what the public hasn’t proven unsafe. This is called the onus of proof.

There are many reasons companies should have to prove what they do is safe, but one very obvious one (apart from the tendency of greed to corrupt), is that the public don’t have readily available teams of lawyers sitting around ready to fight large corporations, who by the way, do often have teams of lawyers and often they are fighting the same issues all around the world, so they know all the dirty tricks.

This whole idea of pollute now, pay later, and use of aggressive lawyers to defer and reduce amounts payable in the future follows the typical pattern of borrowing from the future.

This is something the collective needs to understand and bring the systems back into balance; otherwise, Mother Nature will do it for us.

Extract from The Gathering,  ‘Dinner at Tina’s’

“You know, call me a hippy or whatever,” said Tommy, “but based on what has happened overseas, fracking seems to involve large untested risks.  In America, they even amended legislation designed to protect water quality so it didn’t apply to fracking.  This seems crazy, especially as we now know that lots of water has been so polluted it is undrinkable and unusable by humans and animals.  Why should we take those same risks?   It’s our future water supply that could be at risk? Why should it even be up to mankind (let alone a small portion thereof) to decide whether Nature gets polluted.”

“If the laws ignore destruction of the Earth, what sort of laws are they?” Tina was pleased to see Tommy arguing passionately for her cause.

“Well if they pollute the land, they’ll be fined,” said Mark smugly.

“What good does that do?” Tommy responded, now on quite a roll, “the pollution has already happened. The people running the company now will probably have already cashed in their shares and left by the time the damage is discovered, if it ever is.   I mean, paying a fine to the Government, is that meant to fix the problem?  The corporations can afford to pay anyway so they might as well just get on with polluting, you know, keep the profits rolling in and pay a fine if they get caught.

“They can also afford to lobby the Governments but who is lobbying on behalf of Nature?  It’s way out of hand, multi-national corporations are now bringing legal challenges to any new laws that limit their dominance.”

“Why should a corporation be able to harm the ‘collective’ of all living things even if they can afford to pay if they are caught?” said Craig building on Tommy’s argument.

Tina was surprised at how mature Craig sounded and he wasn’t done yet.

 

“If they do pollute,” he continued, “why can’t all living things somehow sue the corporation?”

 

“Excellent point,” said Tommy, “why doesn’t Nature have equal standing and rights, after all, we rely on Nature for our survival. We shouldn’t let a few greedy people jeopardize everything.”

 

“Now that’s wisdom. Daddy why doesn’t our law do that?” asked Tina sweetly, feeling that the argument had been won.

 

“I guess nobody ever thought to give rights to Nature, they were more focused on things we can see, measure and cost,” said Mark.

 

“You mean money,” said Tommy.

 

Tina saw her dad deflate in response to this comment. He even appeared to be somewhat ashamed of his profession and she actually felt sorry for him.

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