Last Tuesday I went with some friends to watch a documentary about fracking in the United States and the effect it has in human life and natural ecosystems, namely in water. The documentary title is ‘Unearthed’ and the director is Jolynn Minnaar, a South African storyteller and activist for people’s rights.
The documentary is very well done and one of the most impressive features I found was the sensitiveness to human suffering and the way it is portrayed, with extreme gentleness and humanity. It is so common nowadays to see human suffering neglected and reduced to statistics and numbers, mere stories with no face and with no name, that this was to me a stunning characteristic. People behind numbers, life stories behind economic ‘development’.
Fracking is nowadays being done by Shell in the United States and most probably very soon also in South Africa. This method is used to extract gas and is highly disruptive of the environment with a huge impact in people and animal’s lives. Yet, Shell manage to sell it with a sort of innocence, highlighting the economic ‘development’ it might bring to the area where fracking will take place. It does not stop to surprise me the nonchalance with which corporate companies sell their shit, by simple ignoring half of the picture and only showing what will attract people, that is, job opportunities and money.
But the true is that in the long run there is no money that may pay for all the mess created by fracking, namely water pollution, disease, loss of beloved and destruction of landscape and ecosystems.
The use of lies and language manipulation are two of the strategies that companies like Shell use to allure people into their malignant ‘development’ plans. And when these do not work they simply make use of money to convince people not to tell their story or to sell their lands. And the worse is that governments are the first to support all this to happen by putting in place tricky laws. Not to mention the fact that corporate companies often finance political parties, with the obvious consequence that whenever in power these parties will not have the capacity (nor the interest) to stop this kind of destruction to happen.
I am glad this documentary is out there to raise awareness and build knowledge. I am convinced documentaries have a strong role to play in society transformation, as their use of storytelling is very attractive and captivating, being able to catch people’s attention. The next step is action! What is that you could do to change something in your surrounding?!