Earthworks is expanding our investigative reach and community support of our Energy Field Investigations work internationally, initiating Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) pilots in three countries in the Global South.
Earthworks is not new to documenting pollution outside of the United States using sophisticated optical gas imaging cameras. We have conducted investigations previously in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, England, and Canada. However, this program is the first commitment for more consistent monitoring of major oil & gas projects and support for communities’ resistance to oil & gas industry harms internationally.
In partnership with local communities and non-profit organizations, Earthworks seeks to visually demonstrate the climate and human impacts from methane pollution and other toxic emissions released from the oil and gas operations. This pollution severely affects indigenous and non-indigenous territories, jeopardizing land, water, air quality and way of life.
Methane, an powerful greenhouse gas, traps heat in our atmosphere 86 times more than carbon dioxide, over a 20 year period of time. But it’s not only methane that’s worrisome. Emissions also often include harmful gases like benzene, ethanol, butane, ethylene, ethylbenzene, xylene, hydrogen sulfide, silica dust, nitrogen oxide, and propane. Pollution from existing and expanding oil and gas operations are increasing the likelihood of health impacts such as effects on the nervous system, organ damage (including kidneys, brain, liver, and lungs), and various cancers.
Alarmingly, these harms disproportionately impact the Global South, affecting both indigenous and non-indigenous populations. The lack of awareness in some communities about such pollutants is even more disturbing. And when evidence emerges, many companies put forth bare-minimum technical fixes that frequently don’t amount to genuine long-term solutions to their harms.
Earthworks has long supported social movements in Latin America, advocating for issues such as territorial rights, food sovereignty, and challenging corporate dominance. We aim to collaborate with frontline communities and advocates and help raise awareness about the pollution — and its harms –that we document. Visual data makes a profound impact. “Seeing is believing.” Our past endeavors have shown that such potent visual evidence equips communities to demand their governments heightened responsibility and to take action toward significant health and climate protections.
The quest to address methane pollution through policy is just starting for many nations in the world. The findings from OGI cameras can be a crucial catalyst in strengthening energy transition strategies and diminishing the reliance on fossil fuels and their harms in various nation’s energy portfolios.
Join us as we undertake field investigations in Latin America, into the harms of dirty energy practices and capture stories of the movements of resistance that will inspire the world.