BPF: Wastewater from Oil Drilling is Used to Irrigate Our Crops

Image via Catskill Mountain Keeper

Do you eat potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions or bell peppers? Do you like almonds or pistachios? How about oranges, grapes or pomegranates? Put a little honey in your tea? ….

These are all crops that are grown in Kern County, in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley. ….

In total, Kern County produces over $3.5 billion worth of agricultural products every year, much of it irrigated by wastewater from Chevron’s oil wells.

Chevron insists that that recycled water is safe, and in fact brags about how wastewater from oil development helps agriculture.

But farmers who live and work in the area aren’t so sure. And given the history of the oil and chemical industry’s environmental safety claims, there’s reason for at least concern. – Marc Norton in Chevron and big ag are irrigating crops with oil wastewater

Image via 48 Hills

As we investigate the immense number of ways our planet is in danger, the depth of our interconnectedness and reliance on oil quickly becomes astounding. We can make changes in our consumer behavior – take our cloth bags to the grocery store, buy an electric hybrid Prius, or ride our bikes everywhere – but personal behavior change is not enough when Big Oil and Big Ag are colluding to use what is likely toxic wastewater on the crops we eat. This cannot be good for our bodies, or for the bodies of farmworkers who harvest our food.

I often get flooded with overwhelm at the immensity of our damage to the earth and my terror that we have passed a point of no return for human life to survive on this planet. The first point of practice with environmental destruction and climate change is to just be with the feelings, to face them directly, whatever they are. Sister Jewel from the Order of Interbeing offers a set of practices for facing climate change:

Breathing in, I tenderly hold the suffering in me in response to the climate crisis.
Breathing out, I tenderly hold the collective suffering, including that of the earth. ….

Breathing in, I look deeply to see how I have contributed to our global crisis.
Breathing out, I see the individual and collective ignorance at the root of this destruction. ….

Breathing in, I know I am also part of the solution, and I can contribute to sustainability and social justice.
Breathing out, I see the individual and collective awakening happening all over the world.

– Sr. Jewel, January 2015, Facing Climate Change with Heart via One Earth Sangha

As I move through the overwhelm, my resolve to care for the earth strengthens. In facing my anger and shame at the state of our world, I feel compelled to interrupt the damage I have contributed to. Joanna Macy talks about these as “holding actions” that slow damage to the earth and its inhabitants. This includes legislative work as well as direct actionsblockades, boycotts, general strikes, civil disobedience, and other forms of refusal.

BPF has been strengthening our skills in nonviolent direct action, with a full day direct action training held at the BPF gathering with the Ruckus Society and a meditation blockade to interrupt a conference on police militarization (articlevideo). It’s part of our push to inspire more compassionate confrontation from Buddhist activists on issues like climate change, environmental justice, militarization, and racist policing.

What would help you put your body on the line to stand up for justice and for the planet? 

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