Conscious Wales

Letter by Diana Marquand, Carmarthenshire,

In July of this year, following exhibitions in Llangollen and Carmarthen, there was an exhibition of Emily Johns’ prints “Conscious Oil” at the environment centre in Swansea. These pictures have a dramatic impact on most people who see them, and have prompted debate throughout the sustainability movement in South-West Wales.

On 22 July the exhibition was accompanied by talks by Aghogho Okpako on the oil spills in the Niger Delta and the "Wild Law" barrister Polly Higgins on the need for an internationally recognised bill of rights for the earth and a law of ecocide.

This law would particularly affect multi-national corporations, who at present are not governed by laws of social or environmental responsibility and are answerable only to shareholders for whom they have an obligation to make profits. The ecocide law that Polly Higgins is campaigning for would put a legal obligation of environmental responsibility onto the corporations.

Currently, damage to the natural environment continues unchecked and is threatening the lives of all species (including ours) on this planet. One hundred species of life become extinct every day, twenty two million tons of oil are extracted, one hundred million tons of greenhouse gases are emitted, two million tons of toxic waste are dumped into rivers and oceans, one thousand acres of peat bogs are excavated and one hundred and fifty acres of tropical rainforest are cut down. Millions of migratory birds are dying in Canada as oil is extracted from tar sands on land which was once a safe staging post for them in their flights across the globe.

Our earth is becoming like a war zone. We seem to be intent on destroying not only the means of survival of other species of life, but of our own as well, and all because we have become addicted to consumerism and the profit motive.

You can read more about these issues in Polly Higgins’ book Eradicating Ecocide. There will also be further exhibitions of the Conscious Oil pictures.