Alternative Fuel and Transportation

Published on June 10th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Why Don’t We Care About Thousands of Other Oil Spills?

About 300 oils spills a year occur in the Niger Delta. In fact, a large one from an ExxonMobil pipe occurred on May 10th, 2010. Have you heard of it?

You probably haven’t heard of it because there is practically no US or European coverage of it. Just as there is practically no coverage of the hundreds of other oil spills there every year. The question is, why?

Image Credit: Jenn Farr Oil from an oil spill in the Niger Delta (8 months after the spill)

Oil from an oil spill in the Niger Delta (8 months after the spill)

“If this (the BP spill) were in the Niger Delta, no one would be batting an eyelid,” said Holly Pattenden, African oil analyst at consultancy Business Monitor International. “They have these kinds of oil spills in Nigeria all the time.”

I would guess that we don’t pay attention to these oil spills (or the media doesn’t) because: 1) if they happen so frequently, what is the “news”? — it would be essentially the same story everyday for years upon years; 2) they are far away and, perhaps, less dramatic than wars or extreme natural disasters that (sometimes) attract more interantional attention; 3) they are in a place of very little emotional concern to most people in the US or Europe.

These oil spills still cause massive environmental, economic and emotional damage, though. And, if given proper light, bring to the forefront the horrendous results of our dependence on oil (especially for transportation purposes).

“We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe, said of an oil spill from a few years ago. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”

“Oil spills are a regular occurrence in Nigeria, about 300 a year, it is estimated over the past 50 years about 1.5 million tons have been dumped in the Delta, equivalent to the Gulf War oil spill (the largest spill on record) or 50+ Exxon Valdez.” MetaFilter reports.

Without a major change in how our society is run, meaning a major reduction in our addiction to oil, things will never change, though. In fact, the prediction is that things will get worse. “Major spills are likely to increase in the coming years as the industry strives to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond,” an industry insider has said.

Do your part: jump on a bike, public transit or even a skateboard next time you need to go somewhere.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

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