As the world continues to warm, serious action must be taken in order to prevent oil from being pumped out of the ground and burned into the atmosphere. As the coup in Venezuela progresses, we must understand the international motives and its potential environmental consequences. As of 2014, Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserve in the world at 300.9 billion barrels. This overwhelming amount of oil is approximately 18 percent of the known global oil reserves, and is equal to the amount of oil in Iraq and Iran combined. It is also about six times larger than the known proven oil reserves of the United States.
With an environmental perspective in mind, the mainstream media’s unwavering positive coverage in support of the coup begins to make a bit more sense. Looking to the past, an analysis done by the group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) revealed that approximately 71 percent of coverage on the Iraq war was in favor of the invasion while only three percent of media coverage was anti-war, with the rest remaining neutral. This overwhelming media skew generated popular support for a war that was designed to give control over the Middle Eastern oil reserves to the United States. This motive became clear only after the invasion, and since then, various people including Chuck Hagel, the former secretary of defense, have explicitly claimed things like: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.”
Once again, the mainstream media is working in line with American policy to generate popular support for a conflict that is significantly fueled by a desire for control over global oil. In an interview, the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza stated, “I am sure that if in Venezuela we only had bananas, none of this intervention would be happening. But we have oil. We have gas.”
It becomes clear that history is repeating itself in a new hemisphere. This time, however, the consequences may be even more grave when seen in conjunction with climate change.
If the United States wants to shift away from oil as an energy source, which it must do quickly if it wishes to stop the damaging consequences of climate change, it must stop engaging in international conflict with the intent of acquiring control over more oil. The coup in Venezuela, if successful, will give the United States significant access to the oil reserves in Venezuela, and will thus hinder efforts by those attempting to switch away from oil to cleaner alternatives. Environmentalists must oppose the coup in Venezuela and tell those that represent us that we do not support the recognition of Juan Guiadó. If they refuse to listen then we must join those who have begun taking to the streets in protest of this act. U.S. history clearly shows that we have made mistakes in our attempts to gain control over oil, and today we must protest to guarantee that the same does not happen in Venezuela.