Published online 19 February 2012.
Alternet is hosting a piece by Peter Montague which promises a sort of expose on what the US government is really doing about global warming.
One would have to imagine the “global warming non-issue” to be the real secret of the 2012 elections, with one side claiming that global warming “isn’t happening,” and the other side claiming that it is happening but then proposing “it won’t pass Congress” as the non-solution. So it would be only natural to expect the real action on global warming to be occurring outside of public view. Montague’s piece claims that this action is the “Plan of Action” centered around the Global CCS Institute:
Bush-Cheney in 2005 endorsed a plan to bail us out of this mess and we’re still following their script. Back then, the G8 nations, led by the U.S., formally adopted a “Plan of Action.” In it, the G8 (Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the U.S.) committed to building a global infrastructure for “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), which means burying carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ground. Now, seven years later, that infrastructure is being built worldwide. The centerpiece is the Global CCS Institute created in 2009.
Now, the Montague piece focuses largely upon the impact of the carbon capture and storage technology (as well it should), but the piece itself contains a section on how the technology is to be disseminated, which contains a number of interesting links. Check out, for instance, this press release by various “environmentalist” organizations. Note especially this quote:
“Given the world!s current and projected reliance on fossil fuels, CCS is a critical
mitigation technology that can enable faster and deeper emissions reductions,”
said George Peridas of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “While
sustainable solutions – such as energy efficiency and renewable energy – should
be at the forefront, CCS can complement a climate change solutions portfolio
under the right regulatory framework.”
The purpose of environmental organizations, y’know, is not to save the Earth, but rather to create “climate change solutions portfolios” which climate change solutions careerists can use to pursue the real goal — saving capitalism so they can continue their social climbing activities. Note also the discussion of “sustainable solutions — such as energy efficiency and renewable energy.” I have yet to see a promotion of “energy efficiency” that stands a chance against the argument logically laid out by John Bellamy Foster that “energy efficiency” doesn’t do anything for the environment as long as we leave the capitalist system in place. And “renewable energy” will, under capitalism, continue to supplement fossil-fuel burning energy.
Okay, now to the technology, and the alternatives to carbon capture and storage. As Montague points out:
Burying CO2 in the ground is sometimes called “clean coal” but it’s much bigger than just coal. It means capturing CO2 gas from industrial sources like power plants, cement kilns, oil refineries, and garbage incinerators, compressing it into a liquid, and pumping it a mile or more below ground, hoping it will stay there forever. It’s a gigantic experiment, with the future of civilization in the balance.
OK, so this addresses PART of fossil fuel burning. Are we going to put carbon capture and storage technologies on our cars? Or is the government going to buy us all electric cars and pay for the junking of the fossil-fueled ones we currently drive?Montague would like to suggest, first off, that “energy efficiency” counts as some sort of solution to the problem, both impending and current, of global warming. His money quote:
David Goldstein, who won a MacArthur “genius” award, has spelled out the realistic possibilities of efficiency in his book Invisible Energy. Goldstein argues that it would be easy to run the U.S. economy with only half the energy we currently use. Running the economy on only 20 percent of current energy (or even less) would be more difficult, but is doable, Goldstein argues. And he’s not alone. (See also Sovacool, 2008.)
Now, I can’t claim to have read all of Montague’s sources. But here’s the question I’d ask of them: who is going to “run the US economy,” and upon what principles is it to be run? Last I recall, the US economy was run under principles that necessitated “economic growth,” and the maximization of “sales,” and thus the maximization of the consumption of resources. If these principles are to be jettisoned, who is going to jettison them? The US government? Is the US government going to run the economy? The businesses are constrained by the profit motive — they’re not going to do it. The energy businesses are going to spontaneously give up producing fossil fuels? So we are to have an economy with a set amount of yearly energy consumption, not subject to growth. Is this going to be a capitalist economy?At any rate, Montague cites a “letter to Lisa Jackson,” head of the EPA, citing a number of technical concerns with carbon capture and storage. The most important of these concerns appears to me to be the first one in Montague’s list:
A CCS industry large enough to make a real difference in global warming would have to be enormous. Burying one-eighth of global CO2 emissions today would require an infrastructure the size of the global petroleum industry.
In short, then, neither the fossil-fuel industry nor the US government is going to create a carbon capture and storage industry capable of making a difference. Simply put, there are cheaper ways of pretending to do something about global warming. And that’s what’s at stake here — pretending to do something about global warming.To conclude, Montague lays out this audacious statement:
Congress, President Obama, Big Green, and everyone else chasing a slice of the $45 trillion CCS pie are all betting the future of civilization.
There’s a “$45 trillion CCS pie”? Wow! I haven’t found the reference yet.
— In conclusion –Let me go back to my discussion of the “climate change solutions portfolio.” It seems as if the “environmentalists” have all concluded that the solution to our global warming problems is to be social climbers — create a set of CVs filled with symbolic items that can be loaded onto “climate change solutions portfolios,” and hawk those portfolios to prospective employers in the mutual pursuit of climate change solutions careers. But what if that isn’t the solution at all? What if the solution is something more like the Occupy movement? As I suggested in the linked diary:
“Green” solutions to infrastructure problems open up the possibility that Occupy will replace the current, dysfunctional society with a new society based upon hope and open to love.
At any rate, there’s a worlowide conference call in a couple of days called “Occupy The Home,” which will focus upon creating an opening for Occupy for those who can’t go to some prominent public location and live there day and night. Hear you there?