Thursday, January 8, 2015

Petroleum Civilization: The Final Chapter (Confusing Life with Death) - 2

Today I want to mention and discuss a classic piece or two in the Guardian.

I think that they are quite useful for revealing the intellectual problem Petroleum Civilization has with looking at ourselves in the mirror.

George Monbiot is spot on in a piece that clearly and unambiguously boils it down to a simple academic solution.

But, at the same time the issue is a very difficult and possibly insurmountable problem from the perspective of a trance state of mind (Choose Your Trances Carefully, 2).

The world's consensus is that we must dismantle Petroleum Civilization, which means that we must leave the reserves of petroleum in the ground:
New research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian
coal and almost all Canadian tar sands

Vast amounts of oil in the Middle East, coal in the US, Australia and China and many other fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground to prevent dangerous climate change, according to the first analysis to identify which existing reserves cannot be burned.

The new work reveals the profound geopolitical and economic implications of tackling global warming for both countries and major companies that are reliant on fossil fuel wealth. It shows trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, including most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas and much potential shale gas, cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit agreed by the world’s nations. Currently, the world is heading for a catastrophic 5C of warming and the deadline to seal a global climate deal comes in December at a crunch UN summit in Paris.
(Guardian). Simple, leave it in the ground so that catastrophe can be avoided, but, then there is this:
At the same time, on another page, that government website exclaims that: "Oil is the lifeblood of America's economy.  Currently, it supplies more than 40% of our total energy demands and more than 99% of the fuel we use in our cars and trucks" (Export Dot Gov).

Another government site (DOE) used to proclaim the same thing (The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil), but for some reason they took it down.

Anyway, the definition of the word "lifeblood" is: "the blood, considered as essential to maintain life" (Dictionary).

Using the word, as the .gov does, makes it sound like the U.S. economy, and hence the nation, is dead without oil.

Meanwhile, and to the contrary, other government and scientific reports indicate that if we keep using "the lifeblood" we will become dead (Are We Riding Out The Sixth Mass Extinction?, The Real Dangers With Microbes & Viruses, Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch - 4).

So, is the notion "oil is lifeblood but using oil is destroying us" a conundrum, a predicament, a paradox, or all three?
(Petroleum Civilization: The Final Chapter (Confusing Life with Death)). Extracting then using the oil that is now in the ground will pollute Petroleum Civilization to death, but not using it will drain the lifeblood from Petroleum Civilization.

The compelling part of the equation is this: since the people of Petroleum Civilization must live on and survive, the exercise is one of giving a blood transfusion to Petroleum Civilization (Do We Need A Blood Transfusion?) so that it becomes Humane Civilization.

Non-polluting fuels are available with which to replace the "lifeblood" that is paradoxically killing us (e.g. A Methanol Economy Way Out of Here, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

A serious glitch is that psychopathic governments do not get this medical information and do not want to go to the doctor, i.e., the danger does not compute with them:
As you read this, a monster of a bill is passing smoothly and quietly through Britain’s parliament. It’s so big and complex, and covers so many topics, that it makes a mockery of democracy.

The infrastructure bill epitomises the rising trend of legislation-stuffing: cramming so many unrelated issues into one bag that parliamentary votes become meaningless. MPs must either accept this great bundle of unrelated measures in its entirety or reject it in its entirety. So laws can pass which no one in their right mind would have voted for.

Bills like this are good places for burying bad news, and this one is a graveyard.

Among its outrageous and scarcely-debated provisions, slipped in by the government some time after parliamentary debates began, is a measure that undermines every claim it has made about preventing dangerous climate change. It is a legal obligation on current and future governments to help trash the world’s atmosphere.

The government already has a legal obligation to do the opposite. The Climate Change Act 2008, supported by all the major parties, commits successive governments to minimise the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Infrastructure Act 2015 will commit successive governments to maximise them.

Needless to say, that’s not quite how it is expressed. The bill obliges governments to produce strategies for “maximising the economic recovery of UK petroleum”: in other words for getting as much oil out of the ground as possible. Oil is extracted to be burnt; burning it releases greenhouse gases; maximising recovery means maximising greenhouse gases.
(George Monbiot, emphasis added; cf. When You Are Governed By Psychopaths - 2). This is the classic "damned if you do and damned if you don't" predicament on steroids.

The problem is academically simple, but the solution is currently unattainable considering our current group-addiction psychology (Carbon Counterattack, How Oil-Qaeda Is Responding to the Anti-Carbon Movement, cf. Phases Of An Empire Freezing To Death - 2).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

The Cost of Freedom is: leaving oil in the ground ...

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young

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