“It’s inevitable, there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m so tired of that word inevitable.” —Wendell Berry

In this video from the Arlington Public Library, Wendell Berry (who reads his poems in our current show “Land, Life, and the Poetry of Creatures”) brings his wisdom to thinking about the current oil spill. When an audience member asks him to expound upon his previous comments about “cheap oil” allowing people in the U.S. to “live in a certain way,” Berry responds:

“When we talk about these characteristics, that happen to be characteristics of good agriculture — diversity, versatility, recognition, and acceptance of appropriate limits or getting the scale right, and local adaptation — those ideas, it seems to me, put us in reach of work that we can do. To assume that all experiences like that oil well can only be handled by experts at great expense is a mistake, I think.”

Share Your Reflection



Berry is so right about the need for us...me...to look at my personal relationship to and responsibility for this catastrophe...

We want and consume, taking in, like the planet is only air for our hungry lungs....Berry has the kindest wisdom. "Inevitable" is irresponsible and lazy....

You can say that again, Wendell Berry. They're going to start fracking in Southern Illinois between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers on two earthquake fault zones.Above ground, we are currently experiencing an extreme drought. My neighbors have been to the county board meetings. They've spoken with the Governor's aides. No one will take responsibility for slowing down the process. We created a group to raise awareness of the problems, but it's a difficult row to hoe. Here's the results of what our protests have accomplished so far.

Here's what's happening on my neighbors farms.

Tabitha Tripp, Union County

I live south of Liz and all the others here, in the outskirts of Union County with my partner and two kids. We live on 180 acres family farm. In total we have four wells we are worried about.

We spent 10 years building our home ourselves.

My children are the fifth generation to live on that land....

as long as we have well water.

There are seventeen other family wells on our road.

Union county is in a severe drought, currently 16” below normal. It’s the second driest on record.

The neighbor next door has lost calves, the other neighbor down the road is hauling water for his cattle- he never has before.

The corn and hay fields have dried up..

The nearest place to buy water in bulk for our family...18 miles one way.

I live downstream. I live the furtherest south out of all these friends.

My well water is recharged with the rain and surface water from the counties north of me- where the fracking is slated to begin. Any large removal of water, or contamination of the aquifers, surface spills of processed frack water, or pollution---it all effects our wells downstream.

Not only do we lack water to share with the fracking industry, the potential of contamination that the industry brings is too great a risk to our delicate communities.

Adding another complex layer of fossil fuel industry to the overburdened, overworked and underpaid state employees of IEPA, PHD and DNR is absurd. We need to halt these permits and get that moratorium in place before we create a mess we can’t clean up.

I have already met several people who’s water quality has been compromised.

In White county, there’s Steve Combs, Mr. Weasel, Mr Pilkington, and a person who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of loosing their job at a refinery.

Their water samples tested high in conductivity. Known failure of a nearby disposal well is the suspected cause.

But because they own private water wells the IEPA, refers them to PHD, who refers them to IDNR who then refers them to Office of Mines and Minerals, who then refers them back to PHD who then sends them back to OMM- in short no help.

It is several hundred dollars (that they don’t have) to get their water thoroughly tested for what ever the oil and gas companies have already injected into the nearby disposal wells which has made the well water highly corrosive and unsuitable for drinking.

Dwayne Felty of Hamilton County, recently brought a 40 acre farm with his life savings, and moved in July 1. On July 12 the conventional oil well on his farm, blew up.

After the fire department extinguished the fire, he was interrogated by the police and accused of lighting the match and causing the explosion. The methane gas is building in this low lying area- he is afraid that any day- it will blow up. again. We need help- You have no protections if you own a well and have no municipal water source. there is no one to protect us.

We need protection.

We need help.


The Eiffel Tower is sealed every seven years with 60 tons of paint. That’s why it’s still there. Everyone understands why. All steel rusts. So why are we burying steel pipes, filling them with billions of gallons of poisoned water, putting them under thousands of pounds of pressure, and expecting everything to work out to our advantage? All steel rusts. Doesn’t that single fact unhinge all the fracking science? Not to mention that natural is gas is the dirtiest fossil fuel when it comes to emitting methane in the atmosphere. Scientists agree that once the atmosphere hits CO2 concentrations of 450 ppm within 30 years “really bad things will start to happen including more dangerous storms, prolonged droughts, torrential rains and coastal flooding.”

When the industry talks to you about fracking, ask them to explain how they fix the problems that come up … like rusty pipes filled with millions of gallons of toxic waste, under pressure, and underground. Ask them who is going to check the steel pipes in a few generations when all the fracking money is gone and the pipes are still down there in the dark getting rustier and rustier and rustier. Don’t be fooled. They are going to hand this problem back to you and you’re the one who will have to find the solution. Not them. They’re in it for the money and if you’ll sell your water cheap, they’ll certainly take that to the bank.

Humans have never had this much power before–to poison billions of gallons of water at a time. Water has never been taken out of the hydrological cycle before. Water has never been used one more time and thrown “away” before. This is not the kind of change I’m willing to make.

June 2013 was the 340th consecutive month of above-average global temperatures

Here's another recent story along those lines

“The world has quietly transitioned into a situation where water, not land, has emerged as the principal constraint on expanding food supplies.”

"Brown warned that many other countries may be on the verge of declining harvests."

Check out these Mollewide Plate Tectonics Maps showing global paleogeography for the past 600 million years. This is the playing field you should be considering when you start storing billions of gallons of poisoned water for eternity.

"... Federal agencies have a critical role to play in helping the nation to understand our risks and to prepare for climate impacts. And sector-wide vulnerability assessments are a piece of the puzzle that helps decision-makers at all levels, from home-owners to CEOs to local planners."

Which leads us to the most important point: Water that gets fracked can never be cleaned up and used again. Fracking is the largest engineering projects humans have ever attempted. The scope is immense. The scale in terms of time, resources, and (catastrophic) results makes me wonder how any company make promises regarding fracking.

Louis W. Allstadt, an executive vice president of Mobil Oil who ran the company's exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere works against the fracking industry in his retirement. He describes the scale of the fracking problems we face:

"The industry actually has a lot of very smart people working for it. As long as the box that they're working in is manageable, they can do a very good job. I think that what you've got in fracking is 'How do we work in a box this big,' narrowly defining the problem, [he holds his hands a foot apart in front of him] when you're really working in a huge box [he stretches his arms out wide] The real box is as big as the globe and the atmosphere. And they're not seeing the consequences of moving outside the small box that they're working in."

"... Society has to solve the problems by dealing with global warming - building levees around the cities, things like that. Obama is feeding into that, saying we have to strengthen the infrastructure. Basically what the industry is doing is unloading all the costs of what it's been doing onto the public. Just go out and build miles and miles of levees around New York City and build drainage systems and things like that. Obama is saying the same thing. We'll go on producing natural gas and keep the cost low by having the taxpayers pick up the cost of dealing with the consequences of global warming. Obama proposed some very positive steps toward developing alternative energies but he is not addressing the impact that methane has on global warming.

... I think we have wasted a lot of time that should have gone into seriously looking into and developing alternative energies. And we need to stop wasting that time and get going on it. But the difficult part is that the industry talks about, well, this is a bridge fuel [that] will carry us until alternatives [are developed] but nobody is building them. It's not a bridge unless you build the foundations for a bridge on the other side, and nobody's building it."