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Articles from the Club Sandwich on the Green Scene

Oil spills are nothing new, yet despite man’s ever greater technological advancement, they continue to occur with sickening regularity and remarkable ease –once punctured or grounded, a tanker will spew sludge over vast tracts of sea and shore, spoiling and killing. In this edition of And In The Green Corner, Paul McCartney expresses his great dissatisfaction and suggests that more can be done to alleviate the problem.

One of my prime concerns is why the human race has become the first animal to soil it’s nest. If you look at the rest of the animal kingdom, you’ll see that animals are very careful about this – wherever they live they keep neat. Even a pig – in natural conditions – will have a messy corner, but it won’t be where he lives. So it seems to me to be the ultimate irony that the most intelligent being on the planet, to which man lays pretty good claim, is also the dumbest, in that we seem so often to ruin what we’ve got, to spoil our nests.

Take oil spills, and in particular the big catastrophe in Alaska, when more than ten million gallons of crude was dumped into the ocean, destroying the frail balance of nature and killing the local wildlife so indiscriminately and unnecessarily. Companies who do this, and transport oil in such quantities, sell their cargo for vast sums of money at it’s ultimate destination, making huge profits. I know, because financial advisers once suggested that it was something in which I could invest. (I didn’t.) So it seems only logical that if they’re making such huge profits, that by now they really ought to have seriously invested in discovering some highly efficient methods of cleaning it up.

These companies are wealthy beyond belief: they must now be made to go for a little less profit and show greater care. If these tankers are allowed to continue sailing the oceans of the world, the oil companies have got to assure us that they can do so safely. It’s almost 25 years since the Torrey Canyon disaster off the English coast – why do these accidents still happen, and why are the consequences always the same?

Saddam Hussein’s deliberate spillage of oil during the Gulf War was particularly shameful – to use a slick as a weapon was a vile deed. Everybody’s heart went out to those cormorants, turtles, and all the other perfectly innocent wildlife that had to die choking amid black sludge. Left to their own devices, these animals have managed very nicely indeed for thousands of years, then suddenly humans come along and foul it up. It was not a tactical military move, it was a criminal act against the whole planet.

If you feel that mere individuals have no say in the matter, that’s not true. We used the World Tour to air such concerns and to promote the people who are out there fighting for a more caring and cleaner world, like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Those who feel strongly about these things must speak out.

We have the vote – we should use it to support a candidate and a government who will take action.

~Paul McCartney

From the Autumn 1991 No 59 Issue of Club Sandwich
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