Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Battle for the Minds of the Young

Every 16 year old in China is dreaming of owning their own car.
Traffic In Shanghai
AAA estimates that 43.6 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for the Thanksgiving weekend. Of the 43.6 million, 90 percent will drive to Thanksgiving destinations and 7 percent will fly.

When  I awoke today I upped the thermostat to 70 which kicked on the gas fired furnace in my house. I had fried eggs for breakfast cooked over my electric stove. I drove my 20 mpg auto to the market and bought 3 pounds of salmon from Norway. I watched a little of the LSU game on my LCD TV and wrote some of this post on my computer. I did a crossword puzzle under a reading lamp. The weather warmed up and we took the opportunity to visit the beach 8 miles away.  I don't intend to stop any of the above. I wouldn't presume to ask anyone else to either. I was not coerced by any corporation to consume any of the energy that sustained me today.

Bill McKibben and company have been on the road staging events intended to rally troops in a battle against the agents of climate change. They know who the enemy is: "Rogue, Criminal, Fossil Fuel Corporations." 
The following is from their web site
"We’re hitting the road to jumpstart a new movement".
"It’s simple math: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.
This November, Bill McKibben and are hitting the road to build the movement that will change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.
Activists and All-Stars
As he travels the country in a sustainable bus, Bill will be joined by a rotating cast of committed artists, actors, and musicians — each dedicated to spreading the message of the challenge before us. Every event will be a full evening of music, interactive video, and thought-provoking ideas. By the time you leave, you’ll be fired up and equipped with the tools, strategies, and resources you need to take on the fossil fuel industry."

Here is how this tour played out in Boston on Nov 16. 

Short bumper sticker versions of the "Do The Math" show:

We've got one chance left.  Let's not blow it.
Fossil fuel corporations are civilizational criminals.
To hit them where it counts, cut off their money supply.
We're All In This Together.

So who goes, buys tickets to these events, and joins the mob think? Reminiscent of rock and roll concerts to me. 

At the very time they were charging people $10 to get on-board, a kid in Dorchester was whipping his tricked up Scion bT with those flashing  spinners through the Micky D lot. He was looking for his squeeze, to take her to Best Buy for a pre Black Friday sale of a mobile she's been craving.
Naomi Kline, a partner in the Movement,  identified the problem source as "rogue corporations" when interviewed on Bill Moyers show.

How convenient. These hucksters of climate change have identified the bad guys, and they are "them".   I am going to find and share indy sources of counter think. 

An excerpt here:
"There is a crucial and obvious need for a real movement to tackle the climate chaos juggernaut.  But this movement will not be based on math-based reform.  Reform what?  Can we have friendly Capitalism?  Can the very markets that have led us to the brink of the abyss now provide our parachute? McKibben points out that under this system, those with the money have all the power.  Then why are we trying to reform this system?  Why are we not transforming it?
And this brings me to the final trap that McKibben falls into in his Rolling Stone piece: compartmentalization.  Scientists are trained to compartmentalize–to see things in their individual tiny boxes and not connected to anything else.  Geneticists have dangerously perfected this science.  But everything on this planet is connected to everything else on this planet, and as Dr. Smolker points out, if you focus solely on eliminating fossil fuels without changing the underlying system, then very bad things will take their place because it is the system itself that is unsustainable.  It is a system designed to transform “natural capital” and human labor into gargantuan profits for an elite few: the so-called “1%”. Whether its driven by fossil fuels or biofuels or even massive solar and wind installations, the system will continue to devour ecosystems, displace forest-based communities, Indigenous Peoples and subsistence farmers from their lands, crush labor unions and generally make life hell for the vast majority of the world’s peoples.  That is what it does.
To eliminate fossil fuels, you have to transform the system that empowers the fossil fuels industry.  In diversity is strength, any ecologist knows this, and our movements for change are no exception.  The more we understand that the roots of the issues we are fighting are intertwined, the better we can cooperate to change the system driving them.
System Change, Not Climate Change."
Anne Petermann is the Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project.  She has worked for climate justice since 2004, and is a founding member of the Durban Group for Climate Justice, Climate Justice Now! and Climate Justice Action. 

When Ms Petermann speaks of transformation she doesn't go so far as to describe the impact of what she is thinking. I will. If you cut back or out of the "business"  model of human organization lots of people are going to lose their jobs, others are going to be less rich, and the catechism of growth will be erased.  These facts are understood by the "right" which vehemently opposes any change in status-quo and labels the activity socialist.
The system that underlies the "fossil fuel industry"  she identifies is utterly and totally dependent on consumption. When will we accept responsibility for the creation of the problem, and when will we begin the rather simple process of changing it? Not through mass movements, or political organization, or demonizing the so-called bad guys, but by accepting the simple truth that every drop of oil burned was bought by people like you and me who use it. 

Here is how we use it: The following excerpt gives you some perspective on the generators of CO2 emissions. Energy-Related Emissions: Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions account for more than 80 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. EIA breaks energy use into four end-use sectors (Table 6 below), and emissions from the electric power sector are attributed to the end-use sectors. Growth in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since 1990 has resulted largely from increases associated with electric power generation and transportation fuel use. All other energy-related carbon dioxide emissions (from direct fuel use in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors) have been either flat or declining in recent years (Figure 8 on the right). In 2008, however, emissions from both electric power and transportation fuel use were down—by 2.1 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. Reasons for the long-term growth in electric power and transportation sector emissions include: increased demand for electricity for computers and electronics in homes and offices; strong growth in demand for commercial lighting and cooling; substitution of new electricity-intensive technologies, such as electric arc furnaces for steelmaking, in the industrial sector; and increased demand for transportation services as a result of relatively low fuel prices and robust economic growth in the 1990s and early 2000s. Likewise, the recent declines in emissions from both the transportation and electric power sectors are tied to the economy, with people driving less and consuming less electricity in 2008 than in 2007. Other U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have remained flat or declined, for reasons that include increased efficiencies in heating technologies, declining activity in older “smokestack” industries, and the growth of less energy-intensive industries, such as computers and electronics. 

Let's get more specific.
Concrete Abstract: The cement industry contributes about 5% to global anthropogenic CO2 emissions, making the cement industry an important sector for CO2-emission mitigation strategies. CO2 is emitted from the calcination process of limestone, from combustion of fuels in the kiln, as well as from power generation.

 Are you ready to tell the people of the world that they can't live in solid structures?
 A breakdown of emissions among sources shows that solid, liquid, and gas fuels contributed (for 2000–2004) ≈35%, 36%, and 20%, respectively, to global emissions (Eq. 1). However, this distribution varied strongly among regions: solid (mainly coal) fuels made up a larger and more rapidly growing share of emissions in developing regions (the sum of China, India, D2, and D3) than in developed regions (U.S., EU, Japan, and D1), and the FSU region had a much stronger reliance on gas than the world average.

Ready to tell the people of the world that they can't heat their homes?

The food industry accounts for about 25 % of the total CO2 emissions in the Western World. The CO2 emissions derive from raw materials, production, waste, energy consumption, transport, etc. If the entire value chain is included, emissions from trade, consumption and disposal should be added to the above amount as well. At the same time, consumers, retailers and authorities focus increasingly on resource utilization, ethics and environmental protection.  

Here are some numbers to consider after having just gone through our consumption orgy of Thanksgiving eating.
"This Thanksgiving, Americans will toss a whopping $282 million of uneaten turkey and about 204 million pounds of that turkey meat into the trash, attributing to the $165 billion in uneaten food Americans waste every year."
All of this copy is in consideration of one meal. Which corporation can I blame for this?  

Ready to tell the people of the world they they will starve while we throw away or burn their food for fuel?

 The headlines read; "Sandy is a wakeup call" regarding the effects of climate change. "Do the Math" people refer to Sandy and take the opportunity to demonize the fuel industry as causal agents.

I chose to live on a barrier island in Florida. I now live less than two blocks from an ocean cove on the coast of Maine. I chose to live in harms way. I have been lucky. 

These folks are not so lucky. Who do we demonize for their poor choices? These people are not working on docks moving the world's goods along a string of ports. These people were enjoying the seashore. If Sandy reinforces any message it is that people should not live in the paths of destruction. They do so at their own risk. 

This pic inspires another set of questions not considered by "Do The Math". 
Imagine they win. They deny the industry the money they need to develop the fuel we seem to need. Imagine the gas lines. Imagine the crisis. Imagine the acts of war to restore the fuel stream. 

The battle for Colton, a precious metal used in the making of cell phones, seems to be behind the war in Congo.  

1 comment:

  1. The good news, such as it is, includes the fact that US VMT is down, and has been on the plateau or decline since before the recession. So even "from my cold dead hands" Hummer drivers are generally driving less than they might. ;-) - Zac A