Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

All Power To The Roof!
May 15, 2013

 

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All the regulatory hurdles have been cleared, the power company is happy, and just a few minutes ago I finally turned on the solar panels on the roof.

My little bit to save the world.

Okay, I don’t believe that either. But at least I’m doing something and I can feel better about that as the biospheric Titanic breaks and sinks.

Yowsah!

By the way, the company is Sungevity, out in California. Very easy to work with. Tell ‘em Ric Gerace from Cape Cod sent you.

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Corona Virus, Chinese Flu Run Wild
May 13, 2013

750 Million Dead, No End In Sight

Scientists: “No cure yet”

New York, Chicago, L.A., World Capitols Shut Down

How about that?

It could happen.

A couple of microscopic, inanimate bits of protein could actually save the world from the plague of humanity that’s brought the biosphere to the abyss of destruction.

Considering that we came from some bits of amino acids, proteins, microstuff, way back when, we could be looking at the ultimate ironic justice. 

Yeah. We could. How about that?

Election 2012: A Choice? Not A Chance!
May 25, 2012

I read yesterday about Obama’s pushing for drilling in the Arctic, facilitating Shell’s lust to pollute up there.

What a choice for November! A corporate stooge in Obama, a pandering corporate acolyte in Romney.

Any chance we had to mitigate global warming or to protect the environment from our rape of it died with these two corporate pigs.

Bend over and kiss your biosphere goodbye, everyone.

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The Real Skinny On Climate Change Not In U.S. Media But Guess Where…
June 23, 2011

Here’s a piece that pulls no punches on climate change/global warming, and you won’t find it in the American media with its happytalk airheads and so-called objective reporting and its vast wasteland of useless trivia and trivialization of virtually everything.

Nope, not on Fox or MSNBC or CNN or ABC or CBS or anything like those, except maybe over at Current where Olbermann now resides. Not in the New York Times or the other top tier American newspapers.

Nope, you have to go far afield, have to go among the people our politicians, wholly owned whores of the fossil fuel and war industries, have demonized and slaughtered.

Go read it over at Aljazeera. You might learn something. Probably not something you’ll get real thrilled about learning though. It’s a real kick in the head. Or punch in the face. Too bad the Washington crowd of inbreeders won’t ever read it. Not that they would pay attention even if they did take time off from whoring for the Koch brothers and their fascisti crowd.

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Faster And Faster We All Go Round, And All Fall Down
June 20, 2011

I’ve long held that the scientific predictions regarding global warming leading to climate change run way behind the reality. An article at Common Dreams makes the same claim regarding what’s happening in the oceans as a result of human action.

It’s kind of pointless, of course, because the fools running the various countries, particularly the fools in Washington, D.C. running the United States, don’t listen to scientists who know what they’re talking about. They only listen to political donors and ignorant talking monkeys on the political right and in the corporate penthouses.

The oceans are dying, and where they go we go.

Enjoy your fish dinner. Tomorrow you die of hunger.

Ring around the rosy
A pocketful of posies
"Ashes, Ashes"
We all fall down!

That innocent-sounding rhyme was all about the Black Plague.

At least there were survivors to write commemorative rhymes.

Cockroaches and rats don’t write poetry.

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Mourning Joplin
May 25, 2011

Before and after…

 

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Cato Institute and Forbes Magazine: Deceit Incorporated
May 9, 2011

What follows is an article from the April 25, 2011 issue of Forbes magazine, written by two Senior Fellows of the conservative Cato Institute. I’ve commented paragraph by paragraph as an instructive exercise in identifying deceptive rhetoric as used by conservatives. This particular piece is, I feel, an excellent example of sloppy and shallow thinking parading as serious thought under the aegis of a respected, if suspect, conservative think tank, and a magazine devoted to little more than making money and reducing government to nothing more than a tool of the corporations.

[The article text is indented.]

The Green Energy Economy Reconsidered
Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren,

The last we saw such an economy was in the 13th century.

"Green" energy such as wind, solar and biomass presently constitute only 3.6% of fuel used to generate electricity in the U.S. But if another "I Have a Dream" speech were given at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, it would undoubtedly urge us on to a promised land where renewable energy completely replaced fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Odd choice of image. Why the MLK speech? Why reference that at all, as it is completely unrelated to the topic? The trope of the ‘promised land’ is completely accessible without referencing that speech. This suggests a certain sloppiness of thought, or more darkly, an attempt to inject a note of white supremacy by adopting a sarcastic tone towards ‘promised land’ and the civil rights movement. The authors appear to be using a speech and movement denigrated by the white financial power structure and associating it to the environmental movement, which they are about to trash. They are also using the idea of a ‘dream’, in the sense of something being impractical pie in the sky.

What may be more likely is that the authors simply didn’t give the matter much thought. They needed a ‘promised land’ trope and grabbed an easy one. But it is interesting that they grabbed a racial one that is irrelevant to their topic.

How much will this particular dream cost? Energy expert Vaclav Smil calculates that achieving that goal in a decade–former Vice President Al Gore’s proposal–would incur building costs and write-downs on the order of $4 trillion. Taking a bit more time to reach this promised land would help reduce that price tag a bit, but simply building the requisite generators would cost $2.5 trillion alone.

Who is Vaclav Smil and why should we trust him? According to the authors he is an ‘energy expert’. That may be so, but consider the following from Deep Climate:

Here’s an astonishing segment from a  recent interview with futurist Vaclav Smil, conducted by New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin. Smil claims that there has been “no global warming in the past ten years” and appears to suggest that we can safely ignore the problem of climate change because it won’t hit with “full force” any time soon, and its full impact is as yet unknown.

The authors Taylor and Van Doren found an ‘expert’ whose view contradicts the work of legitimate climatologists, thus supporting the argument they are building. He’s got chops in various areas, but he’s not a climatologist, and apparently is not inclined to believe the overwhelming evidence of climatology in the matter of global warming.

And of course Al Gore is widely accepted among the financial cognoscenti as either a) a joke or b) a dangerous threat to profits. The authors, as we will see, are concerned only with profits, with putting money into their pockets, into the pockets of the already wealthy.

The $4 trillion dollar figure the authors give may be true, or may not. There’s no basis to judge, other than the already suspect word of Smil. But it is also irrelevant.

Let’s assume, however, that we could afford that. Have we ever seen such a "green economy"? Yes we have; in the 13th century.

Ah, peasants. Barons. Lords. Kings. Feudalism. Huts and castles. Serfdom. Ignorance. Bad times.

Also, no electricity. No electronics.

And yet they fed themselves and produced what they needed to live, even to thrive. They lived in complex social structures. They had technology sufficient to their needs.

Their economy was ‘green’ because it was the only economy available, and it worked reasonably well for them. And they adjusted and adapted as needed.

It is misleading to judge the 13th century by our times.

Renewable energy is quite literally the energy of yesterday. Few seem to realize that we abandoned "green" energy centuries ago for five very good reasons.

There was no intentional ‘abandonment’ of ‘green’ energy. There was a gradual evolution from one way of doing things to other ways of doing things. The people learned from experience and adopted ways that worked better for them.

The authors will now go on to list five reasons why humans ‘abandoned’ so-called green energy, as if a decision were made in some council chamber to quit the old ways and adopt the new ways. Perhaps the authors are tricked into such thinking by the way they and their peers normally go about their business – decisions made in boardrooms by a CEO and corporate directors and handed down to the rest of the company from on high.

First, green energy is diffuse, and it takes a tremendous amount of land and material to harness even a little bit of energy. Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment and senior research associate at Rockefeller University, calculates, for instance, that the entire state of Connecticut (that is, if Connecticut were as windy as the southeastern Colorado plains) would need to be devoted to wind turbines to power the city of New York.

Jesse Ausubel, another expert dragooned into the authors’ argument, also has some academic chops. But he is also against green energy:

Renewable does not mean green. That is the claim of Jesse Ausubel of the Rockefeller University in New York. Writing in Inderscience’s International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, Ausubel explains that building enough wind farms, damming enough rivers, and growing enough biomass to meet global energy demands will wreck the environment.

Ausubel has analyzed the amount of energy that each so-called renewable source can produce in terms of Watts of power output per square meter of land disturbed. He also compares the destruction of nature by renewables with the demand for space of nuclear power. "Nuclear energy is green," he claims, "Considered in Watts per square meter, nuclear has astronomical advantages over its competitors."

It is certainly debatable that nuclear energy is green. One need only examine the wreck of Chernobyl or the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima; or consider the enormous costs of nuclear plants and the vast energy that goes into creating them; or think about the massive problem of dealing with radioactive waste from these plants. Nuclear ‘green’ glows in the dark. Without looking at all the costs of nuclear, and all the dangers of nuclear, Ausubel’s statement about ‘Watts per square meter’ having a huge advantage is meaningless.

While it is true that wind farms take acreage, they are not the only source of renewable energy. Tidal, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric: all are on the table, all are being improved. And while wind turbines are familiar to us as giant towers with three bladed fans, there are other forms and structures being developed that are more efficient and less acreage-intensive.

Second, it is extremely costly. In 2016 President Obama’s own Energy Information Administration estimates that onshore wind (the least expensive of these green energies) will be 80% more expensive than combined cycle, gas-fired electricity. And that doesn’t account for the costs associated with the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new transmission systems that would be necessary to get wind and solar energy–which is generally produced far from where consumers happen to live–to ratepayers.

It is interesting that the authors are willing to consider ‘all the costs’ of a green energy establishment, but ignore all the costs of nuclear energy.

Third, it is unreliable. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine when the energy is needed. We account for that today by having a lot of coal and natural gas generation on "standby" to fire-up when renewables can’t produce. Incidentally, the cost of maintaining this backup generation is likewise never fully accounted for in the cost estimates associated with green energy. But in a world where fossil fuels are a thing of the past, we would be forced–like the peasants of the Dark Age–to rely upon the vagaries of the weather.

It could be said fairly that any specific energy source may not be available all the time. But just as nuclear, coal, oil, and gas sources are available, there are a variety of renewable sources available, as well as fossil back-ups, and new technologies for energy generation are being investigated and developed. It can also be said that the fossil sources are unreliable in terms of availability and cost. Demand for oil is growing rapidly in an unstable global economic and political environment, driving prices up and down (mostly up), and pitting nation against nation in the oil markets. Add to that the decline in fossil fuel stocks – oil in the near term, then coal and gas – and the image of fossil fuel reliability isn’t as pretty as the authors would like us to believe.

Fourth, it is scarce. While wind and sunlight are obviously not scarce, the real estate where those energies are reliably continuous and in economic proximity to ratepayers is scarce.

All humanity can fit into the state of Texas, according to somebody or other who did the math. That leaves a lot of room. But the giveaway to the thinking of these two authors is the phrase ‘economic proximity to ratepayers’. Ultimately, as we will soon see, that is all they care about.

Finally, once the electricity is produced by the sun or wind, it cannot be stored because battery technology is not currently up to the task. Hence, we must immediately "use it or lose it."

That paragraph is bogus from beginning to end. Electricity generation is demand based. When you flip on your light switch, the generators spin a little faster. Flip the switch off, the generator slows down. That’s the simple version. We do not store such generated electricity in batteries now, generally speaking, other than in small rechargeable ones. And electricity produced by sun or wind or any other means is the same as electricity generated by fossil fuels. Electricity is nothing more than the movement of electrons through conducting materials. The source is irrelevant. All electrons are alike.

And battery technology is indeed up to the task of storing generated electricity. Ask any homeowner who has installed solar panels or uses a wind turbine to power his home. The power generated is stored in batteries. These installations are often sufficiently powerful and technologically sophisticated to the point that the homeowner can disconnect entirely from the commercial electrical grid; or he can sell his excess electric power to the commercial grid.

So here the authors are either lying or they are ignorant of the subject they are writing about. That they are not trustworthy is evident here, and nothing else they say should or can be trusted. They expect, however, the reader to take them at their word because of who they represent themselves to be, that is, Senior Fellows at the Cato Institute, a right wing ‘think’ tank. Given the lack of thought in this article, one might be forgiven for thinking that the authors are indeed in the tank for the fossil fuel corporations.

Fossil fuel is everything that green energy is not. It is comparatively cheap. It is reliable; it will burn and produce energy whenever you want it. It is plentiful (we use only a tiny bit of oil in the electricity sector). And you can store fossil fuels until you need them.

Mostly true. Except for the ‘comparatively cheap’ part. Fossil fuel can only be considered cheap if one ignores the tremendous costs to the environment – to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the oceans we pollute, the health costs of polluted air and water, the destruction of species and their habitat. Apologists for fossil fuel, generally people who seek or stand to profit from their continued use, will never speak of those costs. If they did, if those costs were honestly factored into the price of using fossil fuels, there would be a wind turbine on every block of every town and city.

Proponents of green energy argue that if the government can put a man on the moon, it can certainly make green energy economically attractive. Well, notice that government was not trying to get a man to the moon profitably, which is more akin to the challenge here. Even before the Obama presidency began, about half the production costs of wind and solar energy were underwritten by the taxpayer to no commercial avail. There’s little reason to think that a more sustained, multi-decade commitment to subsidy would play out any differently. After all, the federal government once promised that nuclear energy was on the cusp of being "too cheap to meter." That was in the 1950s. Sixty-one billion dollars of subsidies and impossible-to-price regulatory preferences later, it’s still the most expensive source of conventional energy on the grid.

But according to the New York Times:

But an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process.

According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.

Not to mention, of course, the subsidies and impossible-to-price regulatory preferences handed to the oil industry.

The same article notes that the oil industry gets tax breaks of $4 billion a year. Undoubtedly some of that money supports the legions of tax lawyers and lobbyists who fight to see that the industry gets more subsidies and pays as little tax as they can convince their bought-and-paid for Congressmen to hand out to them.

It would be instructive to note that the challenge to put a man on the moon was not, as noted, intended to produce a profit. It was a program developed as part of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, a program intended to push American science to the limits by putting men safely and efficiently on the moon.

What our intrepid authors fail to note is the great number of spin-offs from NASA programs, which is a government program, that have produced profits for private companies that benefited from technology and discoveries: 

Applications on Earth of technology needed for space flight have produced thousands of "spinoffs" that contribute to improving national security, the economy, productivity and lifestyle. It is almost impossible to find an area of everyday life that has not been improved by these spinoffs. Collectively, these secondary applications represent a substantial return on the national investment in aerospace research.

The fundamental question that green energy proponents must answer is this: if green energy is so inevitable and such a great investment, why do we need to subsidize it? If and when renewable energy makes economic sense, profit-hungry investors will build all that we need for us without government needing to lift a finger. But if it doesn’t make economic sense, all of the subsidies in the world won’t change that fact.

And here’s the nub of it. Profit. If they can’t make a profit, they won’t do it.

Unfortunately, not doing it condemns the earth, condemns human civilization, condemns virtually all of the current biosphere to end. Not doing it means pouring more carbon and methane into the air and the seas, raising the temperature of the planet to levels that will not sustain complex life.

Perhaps we should have waited for profit-hungry investors to build the atomic bomb; or the interstate highway system; or create the TVA. Those were major felt needs which only the government could manage, yet private companies profited to one degree or another from those projects.

Civilization faces a fatal catastrophe brought on by our ignorant and profligate use of fossil fuels. There is no legitimate debate over the matter. Continue to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses and life on earth, as we know it, will cease. Humanity will end. We are as subject to the laws of physics as the rest of the universe.

Only massive involvement by government, by all governments, has a chance of preventing the disaster. And it can be done, according to the latest report from the IPCC:

Renewable energy could account for almost 80% of the world’s energy supply within four decades – but only if governments pursue the policies needed to promote green power, according to a landmark report published on Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of the world’s leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations, said that if the full range of renewable technologies were deployed, the world could keep greenhouse gas concentrations to less than 450 parts per million, the level scientists have predicted will be the limit of safety beyond which climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible.

And yet all these two writers can see is the need for profit. One must assume, since they know they are writing for people who read Forbes, a magazine for the wealthy, that they have an entire constituency of readers who agree with them.

Apparently none of them can see that to accept the argument Taylor and Van Doren present means an end to profit, an end to greed. Indeed, these two writers present a prescription that undermines completely the very system they are so enamored of.

But beyond the particulars of the argument, it is important to note that failing to critically examine what they say, as so many people do,  can easily lead one to accept their argument as true and an acceptable basis for policy decisions. As we have seen, it is full of distortions, deception, and lies, the tools of the Conservative trade.

None of that is to say that the other side doesn’t use similar tools, though it seems evident over time that the progressive side uses them considerably less often, and generally from a motive to benefit all of society rather than to enrich a small segment.

We have to read carefully. We have to think about what we are reading, about who is writing what we read, about why they might be writing it, and about their sources.

We can no longer accept information as given. We must think about it. We must analyze. And when we come across pieces like the one analyzed here, we must speak out. To do otherwise is simply to let ourselves die, on more than one level.

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Global Art To Save The Planet? Not Bloody Likely!
November 27, 2010

Common Dreams has a piece from Environment News Service headlined Giant Earth Art Displays Dramatize Climate Urgency.

Bill McKibben’s company, 350 Earth, has put together a bunch of giant arty displays that can be seen from space. They will be photographed and the photographs will somehow encourage the saving of the biosphere.

Lion poop!

Pretty pictures pretty useless.

To quote The Lion’s comment at the site:

All very pretty.

And pretty useless.

How about organizing a thousand informed, intelligent people to hit congressional offices every day to counter the money and people the energy companies are pouring into congressional campaigns?

How about organizing a major attack against the media, to get them to start focusing on climate for real, with real science, day after day after day?

How about organizing major boycotts against polluters?

How about finding dozens of people to hound people like Inhofe and the other deniers everywhere they go, every day?

How about getting some of those billionaires who have profited so handsomely from the Oil Age to pony up serious money to save the biosphere?

Where are the organizers who can put all that together? Until they show up, the pols and the deniers and the wealthy profiteers and the citizenry aren’t really going to take the matter seriously. They’ll not act until their houses flood and they can’t get food because nobody can grow enough.

The people who are screwing over the planet for money don’t give a damn about pretty pictures from space. They’ll be laughing up their sleeves while pouring money and personnel into the places where decisions are made, where lawmakers can be bought and sold, where corruption rules, whether subtle or broad, and the major place the corrupter’s money goes is into the Congress of the United States.

Catastrophic climate change is deadly business. Congress and its wealthy enablers just think of it as business. Pretty pictures won’t change their minds.

Focused action, focused mass action, focused financial action, focused intelligence can make a difference.

Pretty pictures and rock concerts are nothing more than feel-good ego nonsense birthed by a celebrity-worshipping adolescent culture that thinks that Beyoncé, the Pope, and a royal wedding will save the world.

It’s not a celebrity issue and it’s not an intellectual issue, not any more. The time for polite conversation is over, the time for rock concerts is over, the time for pretty pictures is over.

If the climate people don’t get serious, if they don’t turn into a bunch of hardasses, if they don’t play as ugly as the other side, then everybody dies. Sooner rather than later.

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Why Humans Won’t Get Global Warming Right
August 1, 2010

Most intelligent people who can read understand the story of global warming and that it is caused by human actions, viz., we burn lots of carbon fuel which creates lots of carbon dioxide which traps the sun’s heat energy in the biosphere, raising the temperature of air and sea and land and creating the conditions to raise the temperature further faster.

In sum, humans are committing suicide and intend to take most life on the planet with them.

Solutions proposed include cutting the use of fossil fuels and increasing the use of non-polluting energy sources. Naturally we haven’t cut the use of fossil fuels, and are, in fact, using more of them, and the nonpolluting energy sources so far contribute to the problem at the very least in their manufacture.

Most of the humans in positions of power are too stupid, too willfully ignorant, or too politically or economically compromised to actually want to do anything about the problem.

And the problem is not quite so simple as stopping gas emissions.

At the same time as we are pouring out carbon dioxide, we are destroying the oceans through outflows of toxic material and by acidifying the oceans with carbon dioxide. Much life in the ocean cannot adapt to acidification, not as quickly as we are doing it, and will die. The ocean dies, we die.

The people who deny the existence or harm of global warming say cheery things like, “But a warmer planet means more arable land, thus we can feed more people.”

Well, no. Mass food crops don’t do well in warmer temperatures. Whatever land might open up likely won’t replace the land lost to flooding and to desertification. And in point of fact we cannot feed all the people who are alive now. A goodly number of them are starving to death right now, and a larger number go to bed hungry every night. Less arable land, weaker crops, more people: sure, that’s a good solution.

The point is that there are a host of things about global warming that are being discovered, and there aren’t any truly good things coming to light. There are lots of little things the scientists are discovering that suggest that as a species dealing with global warming, humans can’t find their ass with both hands.

For example, from Science Daily:

Plants give off water through tiny pores in their leaves, a process called evapotranspiration that cools the plant, just as perspiration cools our bodies. On a hot day, a tree can release tens of gallons of water into the air, acting as a natural air conditioner for its surroundings. The plants absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis through the same pores (called stomata). But when carbon dioxide levels are high, the leaf pores shrink. This causes less water to be released, diminishing the tree’s cooling power.

The warming effects of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas have been known for a long time, says Caldeira. But he and fellow Carnegie scientist Long Cao were concerned that it is not as widely recognized that carbon dioxide also warms our planet by its direct effects on plants. Previous work by Carnegie’s Chris Field and Joe Berry had indicated that the effects were important. "There is no longer any doubt that carbon dioxide decreases evaporative cooling by plants and that this decreased cooling adds to global warming," says Cao. "This effect would cause significant warming even if carbon dioxide were not a greenhouse gas."

Multiply that by a multiplicity of other things we don’t know, or we might suspect but don’t know, or that are just coming into the light, and multiply it again by the refusal of the political establishments around the world to accept the science and act with the strength required, and multiply once more by the corporate interests invested in fossil fuels and continuing corporate attacks against cutting oil and gas and coal out of the human equation, and the future looks grim for life on earth in the current round.

What humans have set in motion is not a mere passing effect, not something that we can make go away with half-measures and half-hearted international meetings. The things in motion cannot be compromised with, cannot be bargained with, cannot be brought to a table in Washington or London or Paris for discussions.

The forces of the laws of physics have been set loose on a planetary scale. It is as if the moon were rolling down on us from the sky. Nothing could stop it.

By the time humans realize that they must act, they will be in a position where they must act drastically, and if they are in that position it will be too late. We currently pour some forty billion tons of carbon dioxide into the biosphere every year, worldwide, and the temperature keeps rising, and rising faster, and the forests die and the oceans die. We are doing virtually nothing to stop what we are doing and to change course to save our lives, to save the biosphere that makes our lives possible, other than blither at each other about it, and all blithering does is put more gas into the air.

If we screw this up, there is no place else to go. If we screw this up, no one will be left to care, and no one in the entire universe will give a damn that we are gone. Life itself won’t care. Earth won’t care. We’re alone in this and only we can fix it. We save ourselves or we and most life here dies. Sooner rather than later.

image

The tiny dot in the upper right quadrant is the earth seen through the outer rings of Saturn. The image in the upper left is a magnified image of the dot. The moon is the little bulge to the upper left of the Earth’s sphere.

That’s all we’ve got. That dot. That bit of nothing.

That’s home. That’s our shack.

Love it. Or die.

We’re dying.

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Reality
June 24, 2010

Pessimism as a writing tool fails. I can’t write politics or environmental material if I am completely pessimistic. If there is no hope for changing the negativities of those two areas, then there is no point in writing about them. Unless to say there is no hope of changing their direction, but how many times can I say that. Once. Or risk repeating myself.

    I rarely write for Grumpy Lion anymore because I see no point in it. I can criticize and point out failures and errors in the subject of a piece, even suggest correctives, but I know as I write that no change will occur, that no one will hear. The politicians will continue to serve the corporations, and the environment will continue to degrade because of the actions of humans. And the two things feed into each other in a spiraling gyre (sorry Bill) that has already passed the point of no return. That the people of the Gulf of Mexico plead that deep water drilling for the oil that now and for future decades destroys their environment, that those people plead for such drilling to continue, demonstrates conclusively the short-sighted stupidity of the human race in the most graphic manner imaginable.

    They cry out, "But we have to put food on the table for our families" as the food stocks are being destroyed, some possibly forever, as the very nursery of those food stocks and the ecosystem that creates the food is destroyed before their very eyes. They cry "But we’ve always worked on oil rigs. We don’t know how to do anything else. We don’t want to do anything else. It’s good money." Any people that stupid deserve the fate of the Gulf. They sold their soul to the oil masters, have done for decades, and now the bill comes due, and they haven’t the will or the imagination or the guts to take another road.

    On a larger scale, not so dramatic, more slowly, lumbering, as it were, the human race pours greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the atmosphere heats, the oceans heat, and the death of almost everything alive looms, but the people who could change that wring their hands and say, "But if we fix it, if we take the measures required to save the biosphere, including ourselves, from certain destruction, people will lose their jobs." The subtext, of course, is that the politicians will lose their cushy jobs sucking in public dollars and corporate dollars (which are, of course, dollars the public pays for the products the corporations produce).

    There is no genuine will on the part of the human race to face, to address, to solve the problem, even though the means are available. Off Cape Cod, in the ocean, a plan for building a wind farm has been stalled for nine years by people whose entire argument against it boils down to "It will spoil the view." They are willing to die for the view of an empty ocean. They are willing to participate in killing millions just so they can have a view. The most pampered, privileged, immature nation in the world, the nation that uses the most resources, that wreaks the most destruction on the biosphere and on the people of earth, just can’t bring itself to face reality. Its people would rather whine about the view than lift a finger to save themselves and the earth, while its gutless politicians and its enfeebled political system go along with the madness.

    Politicians talk about weaning the nation off of ‘foreign’ oil, but they speak not one word about cutting the use of oil. They have spoken not one word about reducing speed limits on the highways. Not one word about banning the construction and sale of gas-guzzling vehicles. Not one word about heating homes at lower temperatures in the winter. No, the political mantra is ‘Drill at home, drill at home for oil, drill at home for gas, drill in the Arctic for oil, and burn coal’, all the while watching the Gulf of Mexico die in order to feed the stupidity and ego and emotional immaturity of Americans.

    Nor is one word spoken about limiting population growth, about cutting down on the sheer number of humans inhabiting the earth. The happy technologists say, "We can feed billions more. We’ll just tweak a few corn and rice genes. No problem." For a profit, of course, and completely ignoring that we cannot feed the people living on earth today. They speak of a warming earth opening up more land to cultivation, ignoring the land that turns to desert at the same time, while other land is flooded and washed into a dying ocean.

    The current president talks about green jobs and a green economy, but he allocates hundreds of billions of dollars for a useless war on the other side of the world for reasons that, as soon as they drip from his mouth, or from the mouths of all the other politicians who support the Afghanistan idiocy, mark him as a complete fool. Hundreds of billions for a stupid war, and a pittance for the economy at home, a pittance for environmental changes that could well save humanity from its ongoing suicide.  One had only to listen to him yesterday sternly extolling the war, listen to him and know that he has no clue about reality, about what is important and what is not important.

    And so, pessimism. A writer cannot write about these things from such a sense of absolute pessimism. And there is little hope to be found in the citizenry. On the right, the wolves of ignorance and reaction and stupidity scream for a return to something that never existed and that exists today only in their narrow imaginations. On the left, the educated drown any possible movement in a sea of nuance instead of storming the doors of Congress, the halls of corporations, the offices of small-minded politicians. And in the middle, in the middle there is only a vast gaping-mouthed sea of uninformed apprehension and anxiety and an unwillingness to face the deeper reality of existence, because that deeper reality is nothing more than the destruction of civilization and of life itself.

    Humans are arrogant in their stupidity, or stupid in their arrogance. They think they can make a tweak here, a tweak there, and that their boundless optimism and wishful thinking will turn the environment around and all can be as it was. They never stop to consider that the environment does not care, nor that if it did care then humans would be the most hated species on the face of the planet and would be hunted to extinction. But the environment, the biosphere, the laws of physics, there is no caring there, there is no feeling there, no emotion. There is only law and justice. Put in a ton of excess carbon dioxide and the atmosphere will heat in proportion. Put a ton of excess carbon dioxide into the ocean and it will acidify accordingly, destroying the food chain that supports life on earth.

    The best science estimates that if we stopped pouring gasses into the atmosphere now, today, it would be a thousand years before the earth would recover. If you start a boulder rolling downhill, it will keep on going, destroying everything in its mindless path until the acting forces equalize and it stops.

    Consider that the human species has not reduced its activities one bit in all the time that the global warming problem has been realized, that it shows no willingness to do anything other than keep pushing the boulder off the top of the hill, and then, ladies and gentlemen, then try to speak of optimism, realistic optimism, not the wishful thinking that passes for reality among humans.

    There is none of the real thing to be had. It has been bled out of reality just as the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico bleeds death into reality.

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