Petroleum is undeniably the lifeblood of the modern economy, but the finite quantities and poisonous consequences of continued use make its long-term future a literal impossibility. The Center for Career Development has invited Janeen Judah, a prominent member of Chevron, to proclaim all there is to love about the oil industry. She touts the “Big Risk. Big Reward. Big Money” of the oil industry, though she will no doubt neglect to mention that these risks are taken and fortunes made at the expense of the health and well-being of vulnerable populations and ecosystems worldwide.
We as Rice students will have a choice upon graduation: put our skills and energy towards responsibly contributing to society, or perpetuate and enlarge the unsustainable behemoths that desecrate resources and incessantly lobby for control of our government. For reference, of 167 oil companies, Chevron is the 4th largest spender when it comes to lobbying for political favors, passing off over 112 million dollars to lobbyists in the past decade alone. According to a recent survey, 3/4ths of millennials would take a pay cut to work at a responsible company — a mindset we should embrace and encourage, not undermine.
To love the oil industry is to belittle the plight of staggering numbers of climate refugees, to ignore the pleas of the people of Ecuador where Chevron has escaped legal custody of thousands of unlined toxic waste pits, to harden your heart to the sight of oil slicks smothering entire coastlines, marine creatures and people’s livelihoods, and to sit smugly in the security of an executive office and know the externalities of your business will pass uncontested onto the people and planet they will hurt. Ms. Judah may love the oil industry, but this is not the kind of passion that we believe should be invited, nor encouraged.
To be clear, we at the Environmental Club understand the importance of fossil fuels in today’s industry and appreciate the strides Chevron has made toward corporate social and environmental responsibility. While we would not deny the role oil plays and would welcome a talk on the diverse and evolving role that different types of energy will play, we do not condone her message of loving the oil industry for the money made and risks taken at others’ expense.
Regardless of consequences to your health, you may smoke as many cigarettes as you want. Regardless of the effects on your family’s finances, you may gamble as much as you desire. And regardless of the influence to impressionable children, it is your prerogative whether or not to expose them to carcinogenic and destructive lifestyles. But to instill an insidious disposition to something as harmful and destabilizing to future generations as fossil fuels