Pinkwashing: Fracking Company Teams Up With Susan G. Komen to 'End Breast Cancer Forever'
The answer is the image below, which, as I am writing, is going epidemically viral.
It’s hard to stop staring in utter baffled amazement. Is it some kind of … phallic cyborg?
The opening scene of a yet another sequel to Tremors? (Kevin Bacon! Nevada! Subterranean, worm-like, cross-dressing graboid!)
A sex toy from hell?
In fact, it’s all these things and more. Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer organization in America with more than 100,000 volunteers and partnerships in more than 50 countries, has teamed up with Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oilfield service companies with employees in more than 80 countries. Susan G. Komen hands out pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, and Baker Hughes fracks. So, there you have it: a pink, fracking, drill head.
That’s Susan G. Komen pink, by the way. It’s special. Like John Deere green. And that signature color has been painted by hand on a thousand drill bits, which will soon be shipped by Baker Hughes to well pads all over the world, thus facilitating a thousand fossil fuel extraction projects just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Which is this month. (But please don’t confuse Baker Hughes pink drill bits with Chesapeake Energy’s “even-rigs-can-rally-for-a-cure” pink drill rigs. That was so 2012).
I am not making this up. Read more about the Komen/Baker Hughes frack-for-the-cure effort here. Watch a little promotional video about it here. And then share the contents of your heart with Susan G. Komen headquarters: right over here.
As the story explains, when the pink drill bits are shipped in their boxes (and, yes, the boxes are pink, too), they come packed with information about “breast health facts, breast cancer risk factors and screening tips.”
And exactly whose breast cancer awareness quotient will be bolstered out there on the well pad? Inside the trailers and the trucks? Down on the drilling floor? Up on the derrick?
“The hope is that the roughneck who cracks open that container learns a little more about the disease that afflicts 200,000 women per year.”
Here’s what I’m wagering that roughneck does not learn from the literature shipped with his drill bit this October: I’m betting he does not read about the recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that found dangerous levels of benzene in the urine of workers in the unconventional (aka fracking) oil and gas industry. Benzene is a proven human carcinogen.
According to Bernard Goldstein, MD, toxicologist and former dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, “These workers are at higher risk for leukemia. The longer, the more frequently they do this, the more likely they are to get leukemia particularly if the levels are high.”
In addition to leukemia, benzene is also a suspected cause of, well, breast cancer.
Benzene exposure is known to induce breast cancer in laboratory animals and is modestly associated with breast cancer among women. But the best evidence we have for the benzene-breast cancer link comes from studies of young male workers exposed on the job. Male breast cancer is clearly linked to occupational exposure to benzene.
So, maybe those pamphlets really will come in handy in the man camps.
The carcinogenic dangers of fracking begin at the job site and extend far beyond. They include silica dust (a lung carcinogen); volatile organic air pollutants (linked to lymphoma); radioactive wastes, such as radon and radium (lung and breast cancers again); and drinking water contaminants, such as arsenic and brominated byproducts (both bladder carcinogens). Indeed, cancer hazards are present at every stage of the drilling, fracking, processing, and distribution process.
Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Public Health found higher excess cancer risks in people living within a half-mile of drilling and fracking operations than people living further away.
But I’ll guess that particular study is not packed in the box with the drill bit and the cancer screening tips.
So, here’s a message from me to America’s biggest breast cancer charity:
Susan G. Komen, it’s time to stop taking money from the frackers and come home. Your roots—as well as my own—are in central Illinois. (I grew up near Peoria. And so did the woman named Susan, in whose memory the organization was created. And so did her sister Nancy who founded it).
While your pink drill bits are multiplying on social media, here’s an image from Illinois that’s also enjoying a bit of traction. Take a look: more than 100 people pack a county board meeting last night in objection to plans to drill for oil in McLean County. The signs they hold: “Not one permit.”
“We are looking forward to the next 100 years of working side by side with our customers to continue expanding the limits of oil, gas and alternative energy drilling, completion and production ...”
Those are the hashtags of awareness—enough for this month and all the rest to follow.
All together, it’s the beginning of the cure we’ve been racing after.
Sandra Steingraber, PhD is a biologist, a cancer survivor, and co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York. She is author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, also an award-winning film.
YOU MIGHT ALSO L IKE:
New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.
- Groundbreaking Fossil Shows Prehistoric 15-Foot Reptile Tried to ... ›
- Skull of Smallest Known Dinosaur Found in 99-Million-Year Old Amber ›
- Giant 'Toothed' Birds Flew Over Antarctica 40 Million Years Ago ... ›
- World's Second-Largest Egg Found in Antarctica Probably Hatched ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Pruitt Guts the Clean Power Plan: How Weak Will the New EPA ... ›
- It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan ... ›
- 'Deadly' Clean Power Plan Replacement ›
By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.
- Gorillas in San Diego Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Wildlife Rehabilitators Are Overwhelmed During the Pandemic. In ... ›
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's ... ›
- Utah Mink Becomes First Wild Animal to Test Positive for Coronavirus ›
By Peter Giger
The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
By John R. Platt
The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
- How Biden and Kerry Can Rebuild America's Climate Leadership ... ›
- Biden's EPA Pick Michael Regan Urged to Address Environmental ... ›
- How Joe Biden's Climate Plan Compares to the Green New Deal ... ›