Entries Tagged 'Peak Oil' ↓
December 14th, 2011 — Collapse, Economy, General, Peak Oil
Ron Paul stands for a lot of things that I think are nutty, like his untried libertarian utopian ideas. Under normal circumstances, I would never consider urging my American neighbours to vote for a libertarian.
These are not normal circumstances.
The US has reached a point of political-economic crisis – you cannot separate the two – and as a result the responses are limited and non-ideal. In a crisis you must take decisive action or events may overwhelm you – they may anyway, as a crisis is by definition somewhere between bordering on chaos and all-out anarchy.
At this point, the urgent need is to neutralize the power of corporations and the rich over the US government or nothing else will matter. Yes, climate change, peak oil, the current depression, and so on are all serious crises. The sad fact is that they all exist to the extent they do largely because of corruption in the United States government.
Until this corruption is rooted out, there is little chance of serious action on climate, on oil dependency, or of the US and world economy recovering. If you disagree with me, please show me what President Obama has done that will make a real difference with these crises.
You can trade an Obama for a Romney/Gingrich/whoever and things will get worse faster, but either way the crises we face will not be addressed.
Ron Paul has some scary ideas and libertarianism is untried utopian lunacy, but because of the extent of the corruption in the US government, he’s the only candidate who has a chance of stopping the American slide – and they’re going to drag a lot of us with them – into a police-state plutarchy.
I don’t say this lightly; electing Ron Paul is potentially a dangerous step but far less dangerous than hoping for change from Obama or any of the other Republican candidates. Ron Paul is anti-empire, anti-police-state, and pro-Constitution, which Americans desperately need to remember matters before it’s too late.
August 1st, 2011 — Climate Change, Collapse, Economy, Peak Oil
The US ‘debt ceiling deal’ simply reinforces that, for sensible people, Obama is definitely not ‘the guy’ we hoped he would be. And never was. Way back when first elected, he appointed Steven Chu as his Energy Secretary, and one of the first things Chu said was that California was running out of water and agriculture there couldn’t last much longer – and the cities were in big trouble, too. He was muzzled after that. That was an ominous sign that Obama was not much more tolerant of truth than Bush II.
Since then, of course, Obama has greatly expanded the unconstitutional presidential powers that Bush II had no right taking in the first place, and it’s been one cave-in after another. In fact, it seems clear to me that Obama is not so much caving in to the radical right but seems…fine with much of what they propose. How else to describe all his pre-emptive capitulations?
Obama started with health care, which was a huge and, to me anyway, obvious blunder. In the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, after the Clintons failed with their health care initiative, Obama goes with health care instead of jobs. The ultimate bill ended up being virtually identical to one proposed by Republicans some years earlier.
He should have started with jobs and cleaning up Wall Street and lobbying in general, but instead appointed half of Goldman Sachs as his financial advisors. It’s no surprise the US in in big fiscal shit now; he didn’t plunge the toilet first. He should have started with energy independence, which would have put people back to work and spent taxpayer dollars on green energy projects that reduced US dependence on foreign oil.
Definitely things are coming to a head. This latest US debt ceiling deal just punts the problem down the road a few months. I think we’re going to see a realignment of world power as companies and countries try to decouple themselves from the US, which is now more clearly than ever headed toward fiscal disaster. It probably won’t be immediate, and a lot of countries are much more heavily tied to the US than they would like to be, but you can see it coming when the ratings agencies are seriously threatening to downgrade the US credit rating. There must be enormous pressure on them NOT to do so, but they’re talking openly about it as if the US were Greece. And it has actually been happening, as companies relocate head offices and assets overseas, as are the rich.
The crises are coming so thick and fast that there is no time to deal with one before the next hits, from the Murdoch scandals to the US debt issue, from climate change to oil depletion, from middle eastern uprisings to continuing recession in the US. The problems are systemic, and I can’t see a change until people in the developed countries take serious action against the powers-that-be. The super-rich have forgotten, don’t realise, or most likely don’t care that the middle class is the foundation of a stable society. At some point, enough Americans will be reduced to poverty with no hope of returning to the middle class, and when people lose hope, leaders lose their heads.
There are two options open to clean up the ‘leader of the free world’: nonviolent protest on the scale of the Civil Rights movement, or…. The super-rich are doing everything they can to destroy any possibility of nonviolent systemic change; they have corrupted the political process through lobbying, they have corrupted the media via Fox News, they have corrupted the public discourse via libertarian/extremist right-wing ‘think tanks’ like the Heritage Foundation and and other lying trash, and they have worked very hard to ensure that alternate loci of power – like unions – are destroyed. No matter what you think of unions, point me to a country with a high standard of living that does not also have a high degree of unionisation – they are few. Especially in the absence of a strong and honest government, unions are a necessary counterbalance to global corporations.
No conspiracy theory is required, although quite obviously scum like the Koch brothers and Murdoch are doing their best to control things. All it requires is many people voting or otherwise putting their short-term self-interest before that of everyone else and you get where the US is now.
I see no possibility of change until a serious crisis comes, and unfortunately that means much worse than the current recession. And when crisis hits and the old ways of organization are questioned and assaulted, the leaders who rise up will determine whether we end up with a better democracy, a more stable society, and a sustainable way of living – or whether things get exponentially worse.
We are nearing a tipping point, I believe, but it is impossible to predict what will be the trigger. It may seem to be something minor, but that’s only because we studiously ignored all the straw previously piled on the camel’s back.
July 20th, 2011 — Peak Oil, Solutions
That should be enough, but the pro-nukers are just not going away. Why should it be enough of a dismissal? Well, if Japan can’t be trusted to safely do nuclear, who the hell can?
Think about it: One of the most technologically advanced countries in the world had a nuclear disaster. If a serious accident like that could happen in Japan, it could happen anywhere. In fact, it already did.*
So why won’t the pro-nukers accept that nuclear power is dangerous and we can’t handle it safely? This seems to be a common progression in discussions with pro-nukers, or as I am coming to think of them, dumbasses:
ME: Because Fukushima, that’s why.
Pro-nuker: It was a perfect storm: an earthquake and a tsunami.
ME: Which you’re saying will never happen again, ever? In earthquake and tsunami-prone Japan? You know, the country that invented the word tsunami?
DA: The design of the reactor was inadequate. Newer models would not have these problems.
~Note the change of argument? DA couldn’t answer so abandoned that argument, though not the belief; he’ll continue to throw it out in future discussions. The problem is that DA holds to nuclear power like a Holy Grail, and he (almost always men) simply ignores contrary evidence.
ME: So you’re guaranteeing that these new designs will never have a dangerous radioactive release? Never, ever, ever? Ever?
DA: No, they can’t. Decent maintenance, proper siting – not close to the coast, for example, and Bob’s your uncle. Never a problem.
DA: Well, statistically, of course, something could happen, but the possibility is remote.
ME: How remote?
DA: Not worth worrying about.
ME: I’m worried. What’s my risk.
DA: Infitesimal. It’s not even measurable.
ME: So, for example, Pakistan, which has nuclear power plants – let’s say Al-Qaeda launches a terrorist assault on one, packs it with fertilizer and blows it to smithereens, steals all the fuel and waste and runs off with it – there’s no risk to anyone from the nuclear part of that? I’m not saying count the people killed in the battle or the explosion, just people endangered from the nuclear material.
DA: Well, that’s a ridiculous scenario.
ME: Have you been following the news on Pakistan?
DA: Well, okay, it’s possible, but that’s in Pakistan and that has nothing to do with developed countries. Politically unstable countries shouldn’t have nuclear energy or weapons.
ME: But they do, dumbass, because people like you seem to think that nuclear energy is the bomb. So to speak.
DA: I don’t agree with selling nuclear technology to politically unstable countries.
ME: [sigh] You do realise that Pakistan was fairly stable when we sold them the nukes? Political situations change. Terrorists and wars happen. And you do agree that such a terrorist action, followed by what they could do now that they have all this extremely dangerous material – could potentially expose millions of people to dangerous, probably toxic levels of radiation?
DA: Look, it’s far-fetched, and it doesn’t really affect us.
ME: Al-Qaeda having radioactive material doesn’t potentially affect “us”?
DA: It’s too late now, anyway. There are plenty of stable countries that can use the new technology safely.
ME: And how long must those countries remain politically stable, free from the danger of terrorist attacks, and safe from wars? Doesn’t the waste remain radioactive for rather a long time? Like, longer than all of human civilization has been around so far?
DA: It’s safe if stored safely. Yucca mountain…
ME: So you can guarantee that all developed countries that have or will have nuclear power will remain politically stable, free of wars or serious internal problems, for the next 10,000+ years.
DA: Well, of course nobody can guarantee that. That’s a ridiculous requirement.
Responses vary at this point, but most of them come down to either:
- I don’t want to think about that (there’s wilful ignorance kicking in to protect the belief system), or
- I don’t really care about the people who will live here in the future. It’s their problem – we told them it was radioactive. It’s their responsibility to keep the nation and its toxic waste secure, not our responsibility to not produce it in the first place.
And that latter argument, frankly, is pretty damn selfish and a damn poor justification.
So the next time some pro-nuker zealot tries to proselytize the infallible need for nuclear energy, tell him no, because you’re not thoughtful enough or not mature enough to be making those kinds of decisions. Or just say, “Because Fukushima, that’s why.”
* Did you forget about Three Mile Island?
Still not convinced? Need more data? Nuclear delusions: Why nuclear power is not a solution to our energy challenge is an excellent, concise critique of nuclear power.
May 27th, 2011 — Canada, Climate Change, Collapse, Economy, Peak Oil, Solutions, The Way Home
The world oil supply is running down and we have no ready substitutes.
Climate change is happening now – stronger storms, more devastating wildfires, rising sea levels, diseases spreading – the list goes on, and there is every indication that it will continue to worsen.
The US economy, upon which the world economy still depends, is unstable due to corruption at the top, from most Congressmen to presidential advisors all being former bank executives.
Our leaders are not moving quickly enough to protect the economy in general, never mind your or my livelihoods in particular. Some of our leaders are actually doing things to worsen the situation, such as denying the very existence of climate change or ignoring the ever-rising price of oil.
We are facing “interesting times.” The turbulence has begun, and it’s buffeting us from all directions. Have you ever had the experience of going for a walk and, no matter which direction you were going, the wind always seemed to be in your face? That’s what the future is going to feel like for many people.
I could (and have) proposed large-scale responses to the situation, which frankly at this point need to be a WWII-scale mobilization to re-industrialize and re-do our living arrangements to drastically cut oil dependence immediately and, long-term, eliminate pollution of all kinds by moving to a ‘restorative economy.’
But we’re not going to do that in the foreseeable future, are we? Or anything even remotely close. If you take your family’s security seriously, then you will do what you can to buffer yourself against the coming storms. The best way I have seen to do that is Transition Initiative, and you should seriously consider joining (or starting) one in your area.
TI is a completely grassroots, apolitical initiative, and this is what they do:
Transition Network helps communities deal with climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy (peak oil). This process, which we call Transition, aims to create stronger, happier communities.
That’s how we’re going to get through this; by working together in local communities. As the Transition Network site puts it well:
What we are convinced of is this:
- if we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late
- if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little
- but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.
Your level of involvement can be minimal or massive; the choice is yours. Here are some things that local TIs do:
- Teach people how to grow a garden, save seeds, preserve foods
- Educate people by showing documentaries about peak oil, climate change, solutions, and more
- Host online and IRL forums to discuss and learn
- Show people how to insulate their homes or build a solar greenhouse
Like it or not, the world is changing. You can adapt, or not.