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Conscious Oil

What if there was a spirit of oil? What would it see?

Emily Johns’ collection of pictures was exhibited at the University of Wales, Trinity St David in Carmarthen on 6 May. The event was hosted by the chaplaincy. The planning was undertaken by chaplain Ainsley Griffiths, the well known bardic poet Mererid Hopwood, Jeni Williams, poet and tutor at the University of Wales, Amnesty International and myself.

Mererid Hopwood read, in Welsh and in English, a moving poem she had composed for the occasion. Oghpgho Okpako from the Niger Delta gave a presentation on the catastrophic destruction wreaked both on the human population and on the natural environment there as a result of the Shell oil spill. Rob Parry from the Wildlife Trust offered a presentation on the work the trust is doing to preserve different species of wildlife in Wales. Presentations were also made by professor Judith Marquand, Gerry Gold and David Marquand about the need to develop a sustainable economics and to promote social attitudes that include consideration for the planet, for its diversity of peoples, cultures, and environments.

In between talks and presentations the choir, Côr Gobaith, contributed beautiful performances of song, interpreting different aspects of the message of these pictures.

For me, the event was deeply moving and inspiring. Emily Johns had entrusted me with the task of exhibiting the pictures around Wales. To ensure they achieved maximum impact I had given much thought to human exploitation of oil. This has changed markedly from its discovery in Iraq, where it bubbled up from the sandy soil and was believed to have almost sacred properties for healing and soothing of tired skin and hands, to the present day when one of its by-products, plastic, litters the oceans of this planet and is entering the food chain of sea birds and fish with disastrous consequences.

Most people now know and accept that, given the current level of CO2 emissions, it is extremely unlikely that human agencies will be able to cap global temperature rise at two degrees above pre-industrial levels. This means, for example, that Bangladesh is likely to be under water. Africa will suffer horrendous droughts. In Britain, huge areas of Kent and East Anglia will probably be under water; London will flood. And all because of our addiction to “cheap” energy and particularly burning oil.

I confess I find it hard to understand why we appear to have such little regard for the future survival of our own kind, our own children, that we are prepared to sacrifice their futures to the small bunch of profit-hungry capitalists who currently run this planet.

Diana Marquand is organising showings of Conscious Oil in Wales. If you would like to host the exhibition contact her on: 01994 484 480 or www.consciousoil.org

Topics: Culture