It seems everyone has their own way of interpreting the latest projections from the IPCC on climate change. The main points are repeated, restated, and as climate campaigners like to note– unambiguous rejection of fossil fuels. Indeed, as projected in many quarters before the fact, the emissions we are dealing with have been speeding up. These are all new, damning facts.
There are other projections as well. The level of energy-change required to deal with the climate crisis is spelled out, painstakingly, in both terms of reductions in emissions but not without replacing the level of fossil fuel energy with wind, solar and other renewables.
By noting the continued growth of emissions in the last decade– a decade of major economic collapse in the United States and Europe—it might seem that economies fueled by fossil fuel domination tend to have little ambition to do anything about climate change. What do we have instead?
The last decade has seen the emergence of tar sands from Canada, and now spreading virus like around the planet. The two mislabeled as “oil shale” cousins of tar sands– fracked ‘tight oil’ and kerogen-based synthetic (or mock) oil– have emerged and are threatening to reshape global energy markets ever further. Fracking for oil has had two perverse impacts not spoken of as commonly as the damage to water caused by extraction.
When fracking began to explore and explode its way across the lower forty-eight it released serious new levels of methane into the atmosphere and simultaneously lots of new oil money into the oil-dominated power structures. Neither situation can be afforded and they advance hand in hand.
With the increase in emissions also comes the increase in denial of other facts– namely, peak oil. The term is not even bandied about any longer. It ought to. In geological terms of time, fracking may add a blink of a gnats eye to the life span of the fossil fuel era for humanity, but not much more than that.
What peak oil predicts follows on the same patterns that come from any recovery method of any substance. This is even explained as simply as spilling a liter of juice all over the floor and trying to clean it up. At first, getting a large amount of juice is extremely easy– you just stick the mop in the middle of the floor and go. And while you are slowing down your recovery rate as the main puddle disappears, you may see a temporary spike in over-all juice collection by moving the fridge out of the way. The reason, however, you moved the fridge to get the juice under it is that the bulk of the rest was already accounted for.
Or think instead, if you want, of collecting the berries on a prickly bush. When you get gloves to allow you to reach further and further into the bush– are the good berries already gone? Of course they are.
New recovery methods are not yielding new oil fields that can now be recovered with new technology at a rate that exceeds the current levels of consumption globally. The exhaustion or decline of old fields continues unabated, while in the wake of frackings’ methane leaks people have forgotten the terminal decline of fossil fuels.
Why does this matter so strongly? Because the IPCC has also made recommendations towards green energy, and the funding of nonsense technology such as carbon capture and sequestration, among others. Calling for the strengthening of biomass, technology and various schemes that are supposedly to alleviate the worst impacts of climate is truly frightening.
Can people who are pushing heavily on green energy to come from solar, hydro or wind sources ask themselves: Do we really want to create a class of people who are to the air, water and sun what the executives of oil and gas are to the planet now?
Green energy, again, is needed people believe, because a capitalist way of life is not necessarily inevitable, but it is so entrenched that we have no time to try and create a better society in one fell swoop. We need to simply get the carbon emissions to stop, and then when we have breathing room, dealing with these other ‘issues’ can begin.
I don’t want to address this morally. I find this argument repugnant, and it primarily comes from people whose lot in life can afford to conceptualize social justice as a luxury expense, whereas climate mitigation is simple survival.
I’ll address it in practical terms by describing it in a nut shell. The owners of the oil and gas industries– people like Stephen Harper, Dick Cheney or their friends– are to be left alone, to walk the earth, and the system they used to ride to power, make incredible fortunes and that justifies their very existence as political players rather than reviled anti-humans, and the corporate structures that they have used to build the Halliburtons and the SNC Lavalins are not going to be called into question, either.
Privatization of parcels of land will continue into the future, to be used as resources and the goal will continue to be the escalation of profit and growth. To build more homes, acquire more land, to expand the development footprint.
This should not be challenged, but instead– rewarded: Let us create new industries where selling the energy that comes from the air, the water and the sun make new millionaires.
All of this is occurring right at the time where– the proof is in the fracking– the oil and gas economy that runs imperialist structures are beginning to suffer terminal entropy. Oil is, when supremely easy to obtain– free energy; fracking is not free and the days of the entire superstructures ability to even run are essentially just as limited as they ever were.
The latest mad dashes of the dying energy superstructure are on dead legs.
Here are proposals that the IPCC, while proposing what amounts to taxpayer subsidized industries of capital domination to be created, could not make:
Confiscate the assets of the oil industries and immediately turn that capital into hiring the work force from these industries into a crash course attempt to carry out remediation. Go on an offensive against the capital domination of oil and gas, not of bad policy.
In sum, the current proposals talk about capitalist solutions, and never note the industrial capitalist nature of the problem: If we continue to live in a society that declares that (energy) corporations are human beings, then as has been noted before– then they must be served the death penalty.
The terms of the IPCC report on the current situation for the climate is clear– The bleak nature of the prognosis requires a sober thought: The people who created this mess, who profit from it, and are the same people who started wars in Iraq, Libya, Sudan… and have done so for oil. There are entire mercenary companies out there, working now as the very occupation in Iraq has itself been privatized.
These are the people who are going to suddenly give up this same control, because we influence people well with good talk about the climate science?
Do we really think that capital can be left to dictate the terms of struggle left? Can we think of something a little more inspiring than privatization of salmon spawning rivers, or the creation of a solar bourgeoisie?