On Wednesday, September 27, 2006, representatives from oil-impacted communities in Nigeria and Micronesia met with Ford officials to ask the company to sign a pledge to help end America’s oil addiction by building vastly more fuel-efficient vehicles. The community leaders were shocked that not only would they not sign the pledge but that Ford has no plans to set targets for improving fuel economy.
Ben Namakin of the Pacific Island of Micronesia explained to Ford that his homeland is sinking under rising sea levels associated with global warming. Research released earlier this week by NASA revealed that human-made greenhouse gases have caused the Earth’s temperature to reach its highest level since the last ice age, 12,000 years ago. The temperature increase has led to the rapid melting of arctic ice caps, which in turn has caused sea levels to rise in the western Pacific Ocean around Micronesia. Ford’s industry-worst record on greenhouse gas emissions has contributed to the global climate change problem.
“Can you imagine seeing your home sinking?” said Namakin, a youth climate change leader with the Conservation Society of Pohnpei. “Kiribati, where I grew up, is only two to three meters high. We are already experiencing coastal erosion, contaminated drinking water, and landslides that killed people in Micronesia. If no action is taken by those automakers who keep America addicted to oil and exacerbate the effects of global warming all over the world, my home will be gone in the next 25 years.”
Also at the meeting was Omoyele Sowore of Nigeria. Human rights groups estimate that in the last 10 years, military factions acting on behalf of multinational oil companies have killed more than 2,000 people in the Niger Delta. “Ford cars and trucks guzzle more than 1.8 million gallons of oil every day. Ford needs to commit to being an industry leader in fuel economy, or assume at least some of the responsibility for the death of my people,” said Sowore.
“We hope that Ford’s new CEO, Alan Mulally, will make good on the promises of his predecessor to build a Ford for the future,” said Mike Hudema, a member of the Jumpstart Ford coalition and director of the Independence from Oil campaign at Global Exchange. Nile Malloy of Rainforest Action Network added: “Ford’s current financial woes and layoffs are the direct result of its failure to invest in innovative, fuel efficient technology. We can only hope that the leadership at Ford will start listening to the voices of those suffering around the world from oil-related problems. The health of the company and the planet depends on establishing freedom from oil.”
How would you push Ford to make even Bolder Moves? In our continous efforts in drawing the connections to global climate change, human rights, job layoffs, and solutions to our oil addiction, we are ramping up Oil Addiction Anonymous groups across the country. If we can change the debate, maybe we can really move the auto industry forward.