Petrochemical dream or nightmare?

So we took the grandchildren to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which we’d much enjoyed in previous years, particularly to see the new Wiess Energy Hall.

What a spectacular set of exhibits this provides, summarising all you might know or wish to know about the oil and petrochemical industries. Many working models and explanations keep young and old engaged and interested for hours. What a monument to the wonderful creative spirit that has engaged humanity for a century and mostly created the modern world, with its variety of fuels, chemicals, plastics…

If you want to know about different types of oil rigs, the fracking revolution, oil pipelines, and much more, this is the place to go. Maps show the incredible scales of operations in the US.

There are even sections on nuclear power and renewable energy sources, albeit at a lower level than the obviously dominant petrochemicals.

Sadly, there are things it does not tell you, issues it does not address – like how this petrochemical dream is running into the buffers.

It does not tell you about the global warming and climate change that is being caused, nor of the suppression of knowledge of this by those who first knew – the oil industry.

It does not tell you how the land and sea are becoming increasingly polluted with all those plastics, not to mention the regular oil spillages, escaping methane, frack-caused earthquakes,…

It does not tell you how the very soil we grow our crops on is being denatured by those chemical fertilisers.

It does not tell how insects, birds, vegetation, mammals, fish are all being depleted, species destroyed at an alarming rate as the chemicals and plastics spread around the environment and the industrial scale enabled destroys the intimate spaces of nature.

It does not tell how human populations have been subjugated and their politics subverted by the imperative for this energy.

It does not tell how the earth cries out at this painfully rapid change, and is harnessing its resources for survival, ensured by its wonderful yet frightful variability – the heatwaves, coldwaves, biblical rainfalls and fires and floods, hurricanes, typhoons, thunders and lightnings…

In short, like most human endeavours, this industry’s continued prevalence contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction, which it resists to the death throes. But why would all those so-generous oil industry related sponsors of this exhibition in the oil capital wish to tell that story?

Featured image shows one of the exhibits: “Energy City,” a 2,500-square-foot 3-D landscape representing Houston, the surrounding Gulf coastal waters and the terrain of southeast and central Texas, aiming to bring to life the energy value chain.

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3 thoughts on “Petrochemical dream or nightmare?

  1. The most profoundly disturbing exhibit in this exhibition was an interactive drawing of a house, with different rooms. You were invited to tap on objects in each room to discover what they were made of. All of them, except the organic, living house plants, contained petrochemical products or by-products. Clothes in the wardrobe really hit home. We’re walking around in plastic and petrochemical infused outfits unless we insist on natural fibres like cotton or wool. And even then these will have been made using technology connected to petrochemicals. There’s no escaping from this but we can choose to live more consciously in what we buy and what we use, choosing with awareness. Three year old grandson was more impressed by a projected pattern of a grid of squares on the floor and this had more interest for him than any of the big whizz hands on exhibits. Impressive as they were – the model of Houston was superb – I rather enjoyed seeing his choice of something more simple!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We are reached a frightening time in the “western” world where we have adopted technological marvels and conveniences without anyone (or enough people) of influence questioning the ethical and sustainable impacts. How to rein it in, especially when money talks. Not easily, it would appear.

    Liked by 1 person

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