Low-skilled fracking jobs, divestment, climate debt and neoliberalism

As the oil and gas fracking industry spreads across a nation, increasingly high school teens are being lured to drop out and take up low-skilled jobs, as demonstrated in a recent research in the US.  The authors of the study warned, “fracking raises the risk that some workers at the bottom of the skills and education ladder may end up being stuck there, because they made bad schooling choices in a rush to be part of the industry“.

Could this be happening in Taranaki – the heartland of the fossil fuel industry in New Zealand? Do we want to sacrifice our youth’s future to such short-term gains and in full knowledge of the social and environmental damages of this industry, volatile oil prices and growing divestment movements?

I wasn’t expecting to be swept up in the biggest divestment movement in history – but the snowball is unstoppable,” said Dan Goss, a campaigner from the University of Warwick. See Fossil Free UK’s a divestment campaign guide. Join 350.org divestment campaigns starting with your own banks and super funds. As divestment takes hold, community reinvestment in local economy, notably community energy, has begun. Be part of it!

For there is a real ethical issue here with further continuing fossil fuel extraction. Developing nations, such as the Polynesian countries, are at risk of losing their territories, their populations, livelihoods and security, because of extreme weather and sea level rise caused by climate change. Many have coined the term – Climate Debt – as developed nations that have benefited economically over the last 200 years by taking the “get rich first, fix the environment later” approach owe  developed nations hugely, for exacerbating climate change and robbing them of opportunities. Read Naomi Klein’s book “This Changes Everything” for more eloquent explanations.

The failure to recognize natural limits and the obsession to growth, driven by neoliberalism, have a lot to answer for our current environmental problems and social injustice. Listen to NZ law professor Jane Kelsey’s interview, offering in-depth analyses of the FIRE economy and positive alternatives.

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