Images such as these can be found in Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers State. Extracting oil causes underground shifts that allow pockets of natural gas to escape and this gas is lit on a fire as means of eliminating it, causing the gas flares that are in some of these photos. They can burn for months and years, and in some communities families cook with them. In total, there are 50-100 flares across the Delta and some are so large they can be seen from space. The amount of gas burns up could power a large part of the Africa continent if it was harnessed usefully. Local residents are not keen to vent the natural gas because it is so much less valuable than oil.
Globally, oil-related gas flares emit about 390 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, and experts say eliminating global flaring alone would curb more CO2 emissions than all the projects currently registered under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.
For other unforgettable images of the worst damage in the Delta, look at Ed Kashi’s work.
As a native of oil-rich Nigeria, photographer George Osodi says he has seen the devastation, conflict and injustice caused by drilling for the “black gold.” Like many in the Delta State, he feels only a few reap the benefits of the resource.
While Nigerians might not trust outside journalists, Osodi says they trusted him because he was a local. His intimate photographs gave them a voice.
“I want to show the duality of life in the delta region,” he says. “It is amazing how people carry on with their lives, with their daily routines, with a smile against all odds. I want to put a human face on this paradise lost.”
Earlier this month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
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