Why we must roll back Wal-Mart and other fossil fuelled big box stores
By Toban Black at Sep 09, 2008
A speech that I read at a September 6th rally against Wal-Mart
a September 6th rally against Wal-Mart. (I since have touched it up a little).
I’m Toban. I’m an organizer in Post-Carbon London (Ontario), and I’m a Phd student.
There are many important grounds to roll back Wal-Mart and other companies like Wal-Mart (because of unacceptable and even outrageous exploitation of workers, and many other problems), but today I’ll be raising issues surrounding fossil fuel consumption that we focus on in Post-Carbon London.
Basically, we promote alternatives to fossil fuel usage and dependencies --
through alternative energy sources (such as solar power), through improved energy efficiencies (in home appliances, in some cases), and -- most importantly -- through changes to our way of life. Rejecting big box stores and big box shopping is one way to challenge the fossil fuel consumption in our lives today.
Above all, Post-Carbon London raises fossil fuel issues in response to global warming, and oil & gas depletion (including world “peak oil”). This oil peak -- this present or soon-to-come challenge of worldwide peak oil -- will entail skyrocketing gasoline and natural gas prices, and many other related problems (including rising electricity costs, and increasing poverty). Given smog, given ongoing oil spills, and given the incredibly unjust distribution of fossil fuel profits in and around state and commercial enterprises -- as well as numerous other grounds for concern about fossil fuel consumption -- we must cut our ties to these carbon fuels.
Yet, Wal-Mart and companies like Wal-Mart have been driving up the fossil fuel consumption in various ways as their operations have been expanding.
Wal-Mart is a leading importer of overseas products. Over two-thirds of Wal-Mart’s inventory is imported from China -- where factories are fuelled by coal (and dirtier coal at that) -- far more than other energy sources. These products then are shipped to Canada and other countries in oil-fuelled vehicles.
Yet, all of these fossil fuels are burned to sell poor quality ‘goods’ which are considered to be relatively disposable. When these items are replaced, more fossil fuels are burned up, and further pollution is spewed out.
And shoppers usually reach stores like Wal-Mart by car (or van, or truck) -- because these stores are on the outskirts of cities (and other areas where people live), and because of the one-stop-shopping at these stores (where customers buy clothing, appliances, and a wide range of other items during separate trips). Buses and other alternatives to cars also are inadequate and otherwise discouraged. In Post-Carbon London we aren’t completely opposed to cars (or vans, or trucks), but we do object to fossil fuelled automobiles -- that is, the gasoline-fuelled vehicles that generally are driven today. (We also object to electric cars, air cars, and hydrogen cars, in a society that is a long, long, long way from generating adequate electricity, air, or hydrogen for car drivers without significantly relying on coal and other fossil fuels –- which we may prove to be necessary to fuel so many vehicles.) The cars on the road also are not as efficient as they could be, and drivers usually are very wasteful (as cars are driven with one or two people in them, for instance).
Given various forms of fossil fuel consumption behind companies like Wal-Mart, these big box stores are driving us toward more rapid global warming, and toward even more rapid depletion of the more affordable and accessible oil & gas supplies.
In these and other ways, Wal-Mart has been leading a lowering of standards. But we shouldn’t settle "for less” -- which is what Wal-Mart is selling.
So let’s take a stand. Let’s "roll back" and "roll" away Wal-Mart and other big box stores.
From here you can reach a poem and two more speeches that were read at the rally -
I'm planning to post a longer version of the above writing.
Here are two other relevant rally speeches I've written and presented over the past year -
- "Imperialism and fossil fuels"
- "Social and environmental problems and opportunities"