Everywhere on this earth we have plundered, blasted, torn, drilled, stripped and otherwise devastated “beautiful, quiet, complicated” landscapes that sustained us for millennia. Add destruction of the other two life support systems, water and air, and we dig our own graves.
North Dakota oil drill pads. Photo: National Parks Conservation Association
One such fragile landscape is the badlands region of North Dakota. Unfortunately it’s also the centre of the decade-long Bakken shale oil boom. In The cradle of conservation, a touching – literally, touching – account in Earth Island Journal, conservation writer Taylor Brorby revisits the state where he grew up, and wonders what might still be recovered here after the boom has died.
As in the northern Alberta tar sands, enormous profits have been extracted here, and incalculable harm done. Now oil prices have plummeted, but still, with lavish government subsidies the plunder goes on. So does resistance on the ground. One way or another, eventually the plunder – or the oil – must come to an end. And as in any disaster, those who remain will recover what they can.
For further insight into the nature, value and recovery of living landscapes, check out Bold Scientists, here. Scroll down to chapter 3, A dialogue with the world.