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Just recently we finally got around to watching “Avatar.” Yes, we’re kinda behind the popular cultural curve, we know. Occasionally, however, lagging the curve brings with it some added perspective.

In advance of the film’s release, a flurry of articles portrayed “Avatar” as a Hollywood slam against the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. As the Telegraph put it, “the most expensive piece of anti-American propaganda ever made.” Set against a backdrop of off-world resource extraction.

But watching “Avatar” for the first time in the wake of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion, the ongoing BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and last week’s HBO documentary, “Gasland,” the film looks more like a slam against extraction industries than against American military adventurism. Even with recent confrontations on Grand Isle, LA, the film’s story line about private security contractors run amok now looks like the subplot.

What happens when extraction industries move in and begin offering colored beads to the natives for the right to despoil their land and way of life for what’s under it? What happens is, BP critic Kindra Arnesen believes, the natives are “expendable.”

Twenty-five miners died in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion on April 5. BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, killing eleven and injuring 17 others. The continuing undersea oil spill needs little introduction: fouled beaches, dead sea animals, millions of lives disrupted, local economies and ways of life ruined for generations.

On HBO last week the documentary, “Gasland,” introduced the country to what is happening across the country to homeowners living adjacent to natural gas wells.

In his new film, “Gasland,” filmmaker Josh Fox spotlights the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, a process that extracts natural gas from rock formations.

He started his film after a gas company offered him nearly $100,000 for the rights to drill for natural gas on his property in the Delaware River Basin, along the New York-Pennsylvania border.

Instead of accepting, Fox began investigating.

Fox found fouled well water and toxic gases near drilling locations, including, most dramatically, flammable tap water.

As reported by ABC News, Syracuse University professor Donald Siegel, a hydrogeologist, does not consider hydrofracking inherently dangerous and considers the most recent EPA study on the practice “scientifically sound.” Siegel chalked up the accidents shown in the film to “human and mechanical error.”

How many gas wells do energy companies drill without humans or machinery?

Fox appeared on “The Daily Show” and made his case to host Jon Stewart that hydrofracking remains hazardous in spite of industry assurances.

“So you’re suggesting,” Stewart interjected, “that the energy industry has created a false impression of safety while energy regulators have not done as superb a job. Imagine if something like that happened – God forbid – in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Yeah, imagine if.

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Josh Fox
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Categories : Energy, Environment, National


  1. Blind Faithiness says:

    Maybe the full Avatar experience can be realized on Earth when Afghanistan’s recently publicized mineral deposits, worth an estimated $1 trillion, start getting extracted in large amounts.