Fossil fuel industry has plan to save itself and put others at risk

Peter Montague and Steve Horn write: Most Americans are now convinced that climate change is real because dramatic evidence keep piling up – searing heat waves, multiyear droughts, record-setting wildfires, unprecedented tornadoes and Biblical floods.

Furthermore, there’s now widespread agreement among scientists that humans are causing these problems by burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), thus emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, which acts like a blanket, warming the planet.

One obvious solution: use fossil fuels far more efficiently (doing the same work with less energy), thus drastically reducing CO2 emissions. Wherever we use lights, heat or motors, we could greatly enhance efficiency.

Furthermore, efficiency could improve quickly – the National Academy of Sciences said recently we could cut the nation’s energy use 20 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030 using technologies that are available and affordable today. David Goldstein has shown how we could cut national energy use more than 80 percent in ten to 20 years, creating many thousands of good jobs while saving trillions of dollars in reduced fuel costs – enough to fund a modern, renewable energy system.

One crucial caveat: the people who would benefit least from efficiency are the purveyors of fossil fuels – they’d sell less product, reducing their profits. For them, efficiency is a threat, not an opportunity.

In response, fossil fuel corporations have devised their own plan to mitigate global warming while burning more and more coal, oil and natural gas. Their plan is called “carbon capture and sequestration,” or CCS, for short.

In a nutshell, the plan would capture CO2 as a gas, pressurize it into a liquid, pipe it to a suitable location and then pump it a mile below ground, hoping it will stay there forever. You may not have heard of it, but the CCS plan is chugging along worldwide. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Fossil fuel industry has plan to save itself and put others at risk

  1. Steve Zerger

    In economic theory, there is a well-established effect called the Jevons paradox, named after 19th Century economist William Stanley Jevons, who demonstrated that technological improvements in the efficiency of coal use actually resulted in an increase in the consumption of coal. This effect has been confirmed by contemoprary research, and it can be seen in the way hybrid vehicle technology has led to an increase in vehicle miles traveled by the owners (as well as its use to simply deliver higher horsepower at the same overall MPG).

    With respect to CCS, it is a “solution” which is preposterous on the face of it, but most people have an overwhelming will to believe in the power of technology to solve any problem and deliver any wish that they might want fulfilled. That is the unquestioned core faith of our time. The fossil fuel industry will get a lot of mileage out of this chimera before people realize what a sham it is.

    The bottom line is that any supposed solution to the inter-related problems of climate change and fossil energy depletion which promises that people will somehow be able to continue merrily along with their high-energy lifestyles is doomed to failure. People are going to get poorer – a lot poorer – whether they are ready or not.

  2. DE Teodoru

    There is a fraudulent theory of capitalism, fraudulent because it basically assumed FREE enterprise and FREE consumer choice decide who succeeds and who fails. In fact, two reasons trump all others for the development of corpoRATism: (1) creation of an artificial individual– the corporation– whom we can blame and sue in court for damages resulting from corporate crimes and/or negligence so that those who got rich on corporate profits can keep their corporate profits and the goodies they bought with these profits and only the property of the corporation can be liquidated to pay for the corporate sin of pollution. We have seen since the last century how this works, where the public is victimized, the corporations go into “bankruptcy” (unless a criminal mind like Cheney or Romney) takes them over, and the officers & investors walk away with the profits from their corporation’s crimes; (2) the public– THROUGH GOVERNMENT– pays in taxes to re-mediate the damage from the corporations’ crimes. Since 1950s Hollywood flooded our movie and TV screens with horror films about how the rich pollute the earth, thus killing people and the planet, for profit…only to try to buy First Class tickets for themselves and their pets on rocketships leaving the doomed planet. So, popular culture has been full of exposure of corporate evils and its consequences. However, Madison Avenue has proven that it can make us into stupid and short sighted hedonic animals much faster and more reliably than education can make us wise foresighted stewards of our progeny’s planet. The SUV is proof of how stupid “junk shopping” can make Americans. We have been conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs to “NEED” an ever accelerating slope of garbage acquisition rather than a steady maintenance level of what we need. The trick was Madison Avenue’s realization that education bores us while novelty excites us and we fear boredom and crave excitement. Since most of us were never trained to excite ourselves, we look to the “media” to keep us from literally dying of boredom. We are to the corporations what our pets are to us: infantalized domesticated animals kept from despairing boredom by new gadgets on which to spend our assets. Whatever else one can say about Steve Jobs, the fact is that he did the same job on us with Apple trinkets that GM did with the SUV: polluting our planet with fabricated need. What does a 7 y/o do with an i-phone? Yet so many have them!

    It is ironic how we went from sending 18 to 22 y/o’s to Vietnam to sending 28 to 50 y/o’s to Iraq and Afghanistan to find Corp-USA oil and gas sources. As Vietnam was going down the crapper, Liberal Hawks (today’s neocons) were claiming that Vietnam is awash in offshore oil, just as they claimed that we need to own Iraq’s oil. So many American sons died in all these wars, one can hardly think that the parents who wouldn’t do the right thing to save their sons would now do anything to save the planet. We have me the enemy and he is us….the dumb assholes who squat and beg like a pet for a new trinket to break our boredom. Anyone who bet the house on trinkets would surely bet the planet on them. The oil corps. know that quite well– as did Exxon in Alaska and BP in the Gulf. We’ll drill baby drill rather than save ourselves because we are MUCH DUMBER than lemmings!

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