2022 08 01
xxxx 08 01
Published on GAT.ST - read German Version here
"While Europe shivers, Americans make gas campfires at 30 degrees. "
Sandra Ward, Focus.de
WE are standing at the edge of a black surface that cuts through the landscape. Actually, the tour should start here, but apart from US and a sign saying "Museum of non-renewable energy", there is nothing far and wide. The only things WE see are rocks and rock formations and the black monster that snakes through the landscape. WE are a little restless from waiting, when a dust cloud appears on the horizon, which is getting bigger and bigger. Anxiously WE take a few steps back and hide behind a rock as a precaution. The dust cloud takes on a terrifying shape, accompanied by an unbearable noise. A humming and rattling that gets louder and louder as the cloud grows. WE are not sure what is approaching us. Not sure, but full of curiosity, WE peek out from behind the stones. As the cloud gets closer WE recognize what it is. From a far distance, it looks like a black head sitting on top of a huge dust body. But as it gets closer, silhouettes of two dark figures emerge that appear to be riding on top of something.
With a thunderous noise and screeching, the figures suddenly stop in front of us. The dust cloud sweeps over them and as the haze settles - sudden silence.
Slowly, but casually, the creatures move towards US. Simultaneously, a scratchy digital voice is heard, "Hi, we're Wyatt and Billy, your guides for today."
Relieved, WE awaken from our state of shock. They introduce themselves as digital replicas of the protagonists from the movie Easy Rider. How absurd - to make a museum whose theme is the destruction and exploitation of the planet by fossil fuels with a road movie theme.
WE are now also forced into the enjoyment of this celebrated freedom. With deafening noise we roar along the black monster - the Route 66, as we learn. As we glide through the landscape, the constant rattling of the engines in our ears, we can understand what the attraction was to move through the world like this. Unfortunately, it is incomprehensible to US how this false sense of freedom and the greed of the individual could be placed above the impact on the population as a whole. The route WE are currently on passed through numerous different regions and ecosystems. With thousands of vehicles moving along the roads, none of this beauty and difference of the earth was preserved for US.
But the destruction of the environment was only the end result of numerous problems created by the oil industry. At our first stop in what was then Los Angeles, or rather above the largest oil field in America, we enter a closed-down gas station. It is sealed off from the outside world by a glass cube - or, to be more precise, it still exists at all because of it. Outside the glass there is nothing but sand, stones and an unbearable heat. In this first station, we learn the direct and concrete effects of the pumping stations that operated in LA. After oil stopped flowing, the operators simply left them behind without sealing them up. Bordering residential areas were exposed to a high health risk and immense costs remained for which no one felt responsible. The profit was skimmed off and the operators were not interested in what was left behind. The only people affected were those who had no voice with which to make themselves heard or who did not have sufficient resources to escape the situation. The companies, as in most cases, did not care about the people as long as enough profit flowed into their pockets. Moreover, those who earned the most could choose their environment and relocate according to environmental conditions. The situation was different for the thousands of people who suffered from the effects of exhaust fumes and global warming. In California, forest fires raged and what was left is now poking out of the sand around us sporadically. Burnt remains and ruins of a city that produced exactly these futuristic and hopeless scenarios for the masses in movies. Seemingly not shocking enough.
In Los Angeles, however, people were still doing well compared to other regions of the world, as we learn in the next stops of our tour. Many countries, some of which were among the richest in the world, officially sold their raw materials at knock-down prices or granted concessions in absurd constructs to enrich private individuals. The profiteers were global corporations, the rulers of these states, their relatives or people from their direct environment. As soon as attention was drawn to these abuses, they did not shy away from literally burying protests.
Numerous conflicts, corruption and wars are part of the history of fossil fuels. Like the wheels of the machines we sit on, the mill of exploitation around raw materials kept turning, exploiting the ground it was on down to the last drop of oil, the last diamond, and the last particle of lithium. Everywhere their fingers could reach, the whole hand dug into the ground and ripped out everything they could grab.
What remained were destroyed countries, people and chaos.
This is only a fraction of what WE experience on our tour. Along our way, every gas station or oil refinery shows the horrors, abuses and evils that "black gold" brought.
Infinite, as our drive along Route 66, the extent of the devastation appears to US.
Easy Rider (1969)
LA Curbed - Los Angeles Drill Sites
LA Times - The toxic legacy of old oil wells
Tom Burgis - Der Fluch des Reichtums
The Red Deal - The Red Nation