In my world, “crude distillation” generally means distilling crude oil into the stuff that quenches the national thirst for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and building blocks for plastic (and a few other things). This video posted at CNN however gives a whole new meaning to “crude” distillation. You really should go watch it, then come back and read the rest of this post.
So I find it very tempting to want to use this as an opportunity to tell a few people that the problems/issues we have are really nothing to worry about when you consider the plight of others in the world. If you look at the oil slicks on the water in this video, why in the world would you think we need to spend resources on cleaning up anymore of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico? Send those resources to Nigeria. Why in the world are you concerned about whether you’ll get a new iThingy for your birthday? These guys might not even get lunch for a few days – IF they live until lunchtime. Really – what ARE you worried about?
I know that’s neither a politically correct nor a practical answer. The safety and health of our own environment is not predicated on the safety and health of others. It’s not okay to put a few people at risk over here just because the working conditions somewhere else are worse. Which is what really bothers me here. The people in this video – they may or may not have a clue about safe operating procedures, and they most certainly recognize the risks of what they are doing (they know others who have died doing this). And they almost certainly believe that this is what they MUST do in order to survive (if indeed they do survive the day). It makes my heart heavy to know that as hard as I try to create safe and healthy workplaces for my peers, and I try to help them understand that they do NOT have to sacrifice their health to make a living, there are places in the world where people do, in fact, have to sacrifice their health – even their lives – to barely make enough money to buy food for their families.
Say a prayer today for these people, and all the children working in factories in India, and migrant workers who are treated like sub-human slaves, and…the list goes on.