Ecocidal Tendencies: Some Plants Just Shouldn’t Grow

If you have been following Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) you’ll know there’s a lot of shitty stuff they’re responsible for. Besides the gas explosion in San Bruno they are being fined millions for, and the planned seismic studies that would involve shooting high-decibel sounds into the ocean to map the undersea earthquake faults near the Diablo nuclear power plant they operate (undoubtedly murdering and deafening surrounding sea life), the company is also responsible for killing solar bills, emitting toxic pollution, and generally powering the way to a hotter planet.

Some years ago, PG&E was sent packing after environmental justice groups in San Francisco  helped decommission the plant that operated in the historically lower-class, predominantly minority populated, and all-too-toxic Hunter’s Point/Bayview area—a clear example of environmental racism.

PG&E’s response? Move their toxic plant across the bay to Antioch/Oakley areas, where far less organized opposition is. As if that weren’t bad enough, San Francisco has essentially run an extension cord under the bay to a switching station in order to recoup the lost power—keeping the benefits of the power with none of the adverse health effects that will be more or less limited to the surrounding neighborhoods, schools, and park areas.

In fact, the California Energy Commission has approved a massive power plant expansion all along the bay-delta corridor, in which the approved power plants would leave Antioch with one of the largest concentrations of emissions in the Bay Area, threatening public health, worsening the global climate crisis, and threatening critically endangered species as well. California residential energy demand has been flat since 1980.

One of these species, the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, has declined in the last decades from several thousand to about 30 individuals seen during peak week. The sole food plant for the Lange’s caterpillar is the naked-stemmed buckwheat, a native plant adapted to survive in the nutrient-poor soils found in the Antioch Dunes. The butterfly’s population is dependent on this plant but nitrogen emissions from the power plants are changing the chemical composition of the dune soil, and invasive weeds are now so common that they are crowding out the dune’s indigenous flora and fauna.  The U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service has already determined that nitrogen emissions from power plants near the dunes are “virtually certain” to cause harm to endangered species. 

One group in particular has made it a point to bring attention to the issue: Save the Metalmark! campaign recently held a butterfly kite festival in a nearby park, rallying people to sign up and pledge their support to do crucial restoration work, without which the butterflies (and other endangered species) will likely not survive. 

As human population increases, straining the power grid and thereby “justifying” the need for new plants, it is time we ask ourselves “what are we going to lose as a result?” PG&E operates nuclear power plants as well as gas power plants. These are dangerous, unsustainable processes that cause untold health effects: poisoned water, contaminated soil, polluted air, ruined ecosystems…these effects have real repercussions, including the creation or exacerbation of respiratory illnesses and the loss of untold numbers of wildlife.

Keep in mind we are still reeling from the yet unknown effects of the chevron fire, which recently sent an enormous plume of toxic soot over Richmond before blowing away across countless communities. What is the point? So we can drive to the shitty jobs we hate to “earn a living” so we can buy plastic crap that distracts us from the very real fact we are destroying the planet and poisoning ourselves? At least gas prices are going up as a result. Let’s understand a basic truth: Driving = Emissions = Global Warming = Your Death.

The food we eat is contaminated. The water we drink is contaminated. The social structure we buy into is completely corrupted and we justify this process by saying we are increasing our standard of living. Really. Tell that to the people in the rainforest who have to deal with millions of gallons of Chevron oil that cover huge areas. Civilization is resilient. Even after millions of bombs that shredded its infrastructure during WW2, Europe still came back to be a dominant global force. It is going to take a combination of workers strikes, BDS movements targeting the energy industry, cyber attacks, etc. to shut down the electric grid, with asymmetric attacks and bombardments that are able to physically disrupt the flow of fossil fuels. But unless we do, we will remain in this insane death march until we all are riddled with disease, choking on pollution and killing each other for the last drops of poisoned water–all bought with paychecks given to us by corporations like Chevron and PG&E that are leading the charge in biospheric collapse in the first place. 

I for one am looking forward to the currency collapse in the next 9 months predicted by Max Keiser. Maybe if we have no money to spend, we will finally have no ability to fund the process of consumption, exploitation, and ecocidal tendencies that appear to be a defining characteristic of the American Dream. Until there exists no imperative for us to use fossil fuels, buy plastics, eat toxic foods, and assault the life-support systems and the services they provide—maybe then will we finally have a reason to disengage from this mass dependency we have found ourselves unable to move away from: we will simply be too poor to purchase any of the shit we have been consuming for years since by that time any living system will be so rare and every destructive practice so expensive that only the 1% will be able to afford them.

These power plants are disposable. The health of the planet is not. Local victories can only be made permanent when the ability to wage war against nature is annihilated. So Occupy your local power plant

Besides, what’s the point of dancing at the revolution if there’s no more butterflies left?


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