Climate change a ‘no-win’ for Ob-Rom

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Quick — does the following express something finite or infinite?

“I was unaware. Furthermore, I was unaware of my lack of awareness; indeed, I was not aware of being unaware of my lack of awareness and was unaware that I was not aware of being unaware of not being aware.”

Whaddya think? Keep going? No, thank you. Going just that distance with an idea so empty somehow reminded me of something that’s been on my mind quite a bit.

The Keystone XL pipeline.

KXL will bring Canadian tar sands crude (you can use the word, “bitumen,” if ya like) across the United States
(and an important aquifer) down to Gulf Coast refineries.

For a little refresher, Robert Redford’s piece at Huffpost makes for good quick scan.

Some political observers, as well as “Greens,” are asking why challenger Mitt Romney and champ Barack Obama have not discussed global warming. Simple. It is a “no-win” situation for either of them.

Obama and other Democrats already have been blasted for “blocking” Keystone XL. (They didn’t “block” it back in January, although the company was required to reroute and resubmit application). Here’s a little bit of that “no win” from back in March.

We have this wonderful phrase in the United States: “Quick and dirty.” Having read quite a bit on the subject, I think I can safely say that Keystone XL seems to fit the phrase … with the emphasis on the dirty.

Scientists tell us that the single greatest challenge we face is global warming. Also consider the particular diseases associated with petrochemicals. Scraping the barrel for the dirtiest and least cost-effective fuel, heating and processing it with massive amounts of water contaminated in the process, transporting it in pipes that will surely leak … these are some aspects of tar sands extraction.

There are statisticians and medical experts out there somewhere who could come up with estimates as to the number of deaths and serious illnesses tar sands extraction will cause. There is, no doubt, a way to quantify the toll of delaying implementation of renewable – I should say, PEACEFUL, renewable energy.

Now, what fool would argue that oil has not, in the past, brought sudden wealth to some people in this country and been a rich long-term investment in the form of stocks for many more?

Yes, the oil industry retains this mystique – and there are a few people still profiting and attempting to profit from fossil fuels. And sure – there are some drilling jobs out there that pay more than $30 an hour.

Keystone XL and the tar sands doesn’t do that much for the United States, however. Maybe it boosts refinery profits.

What some people would like to see happen is that SHOULD that the profits from fossil fuel ventures should be – and always should have been – invested in solar, hydro, wind and wave power – instead of lining pockets. As well as compensation for the health and environmental victims of fossil fuel use, of course.

Sounds like an ecosocialist paradigm: Fuel is in input and not an output or end product … therefore it shouldn’t be a source of profit. The true capitalist says, “Hey, ANYTHING can be a source of profit, sucker.”

What the Greens are talking about … and have been talking about for some time … is NOT ecosocialism.

Four years ago, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) presented the “Green New Deal,” a global economic initiative that would address environmental issues as well as a financial crisis that, for many people is STILL GOING ON.

Achim Steiner, executive director, UNEP, cited basic ideas like preserving forests –- to return up to a potential $2.5 trillion in benefits to water supply, erosion control, reduction of global warming and air filtration. He also talked about renewable energy sources.
“The new, green economy would provide a new engine of growth, putting the world on the road to prosperity again” … “growing the world economy in a more intelligent, sustainable way.”

Steiner said it was more sensible to invest in preserving forests, peatlands and soils, which naturally absorb carbon dioxide, than destroying them and then developing expensive technology to capture carbon.

If there seemed to be a divergence of paths four years ago – it might have been between a “Green New Deal,” shifting investments to sustainable practices and enterprises, and “Ecosocialism,” with common ownership of the means of production.

Instead of a set of policies guiding our nation and others to sustain economic activity while addressing climate change, food and water issues, etc., a “Green New Deal” has, four years later, become a kind of menu option … in the form of third-party Presidential candidate Jill Stein. It certainly will be no “referendum” because the overwhelming majority of voters have probably never heard of it … nor does the majority understand that it is Stein’s platform.

Some of Europe seemed to the UN’s Green New Deal path … most famously, Germany. The United States and Canada, however, seem to have taken another route … one that goes in the opposite direction.

The United States has endured “the most anti-environmental Congress in history,” as U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman put it.

Click here for a brief editorial from the New York Times.

The newspaper points out, however, the shift from coal to natural gas is bigger than even presidential politics. And it is delaying a shift to renewables. Long-term contracts to supply utility companies such as the Long Island Power Authority with fossil fuels, opposed by the Sierra Club, provide examples. Delaying a transition to renewables will add costs in terms of human health and lives lost. Damage to the environment may be irreversible, extending the health costs far into the future.

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