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Jan 12, 2016

Valuing Fossil Fuel Exports

I'm not going to talk about climate change or America's addiction to oil or even our responsibility to leave our children a livable planet. I'm going to mention a recent single incident  taking my beloved 7th grader Tara to school. 

As soon as the railroad crossing bar comes down in front of my car (and I choose not to launch a heroic Chuck Norris), the costs start to accumulate. I count the 110 cars of a fossil fuel train passing in front of us, each of which seems loaded with the direct costs to me and the people I love. There goes the detention the school gives Tara for being late because it actually disrupts their schedule. There's my boss becoming angry with me, and his company losing 20 minutes of my working time, and my embarrassed before my coworkers. There's 20 minutes of the traffic fumes, the train pollution, the noise, the irritation, the health effects. How do you measure the cost of resulting dirty air on every person and animal in our valley? 

And here comes the worry of next time being a medical emergency, racing Tara to her doctor. Not only does Tara miss the immediate care she deserves, but we have to wait for the slot to open up of some other sucker who misses THEIR appointment because of a train. Meanwhile I have to take emergency time off work, Tara misses half a day of school she has to then make up. I spend my time in the waiting room trying ruminating how of my weekend I'll sacrifice to make up the work I've lost, not to mention the damage to my knees thanking God that in our case this wasn't a life-threatening emergency.

This is the cost of ONE TRIP taking one girl to school. Now multiply this scenario by the number of incidents, and that by the extra number of oil trains we'll have to put up with, and by all of the people in our communities that cross those tracks, and that by the number of communities along the line, and that by the years of this operation. 

But when the oil industry writes out the equation of the amount oil exports will boost the economy and create jobs, they enter this cost as ZERO!

In Tara's assessment, "Excuse me for using this word, but that is shitty math!"

[This is a statement prepared for a press conference on the effects of fossil fuel trains in Montana.]
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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.