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Prince Harry did not mince his words when speaking out against corporate oil drilling in Africa's Okavango River Basin this week. The Duke of Sussex just released an op-ed in the Washington Post, co-written with Namibian environmental activist, conservationist, and poet, Reinhold Mangundu. The pair advocate against ReconAfrica, "a Canadian oil and gas company that has been granted licenses for exploratory drilling in an area of Namibia and Botswana larger than some European countries."
"We believe this would pillage the ecosystem for potential profit," the opinion piece reads. "Some things in life are best left undisturbed to carry out their purpose as a natural benefit. This is one of them."
The article notes that the Okavango is the main source of water for nearly 1 million Indigenous and local people, and the region's wildlife population, which includes a number of critically endangered species. In its flooding season, the region averages 2.5 trillion gallons of water. The Duke and Mangundu note that, in the past, drilling has used a large amount of water and can leave behind toxic pollutants.
The pair also discuss other possible dangers related to oil extraction, calling attention to mistakes of the past few years. They cite a recent pipeline leak off the coast of Southern California, which left more than 140,000 gallons of oil in the Pacific Ocean, and an incident in July, where an oil company lit the ocean on fire in the Gulf of Mexico.
"There is no way to repair the damage from these kinds of mistakes," the op-ed notes. "Drilling is an outdated gamble that reaps disastrous consequences for many, and incredible riches for a powerful few. It represents a continued investment in fossil fuels instead of renewable energies."
The article concludes by asking the public, and especially leaders and investors, "to stand in solidarity with us, our allies and local communities in advocating a full moratorium on oil and gas development in the region."
"Now, the choice is simple: Either we honor our natural and life-sustaining ecosystems, preserving them for generations to come, or we exploit them on a path to permanent destruction," the Duke and Mangundu wrote. "Will you stand with us?"
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