Random postings, links, and whatnotisms that interest one Adam Ballah, proprietor of little here or there.
September 2, 2012
The five biggest oil companies have made more than $1 trillion in profits since the millennium – there’s simply too much money to be made on oil and gas and coal to go chasing after zephyrs and sunbeams.
Much of that profit stems from a single historical accident: Alone among businesses, the fossil-fuel industry is allowed to dump its main waste, carbon dioxide, for free. Nobody else gets that break – if you own a restaurant, you have to pay someone to cart away your trash, since piling it in the street would breed rats. But the fossil-fuel industry is different, and for sound historical reasons: Until a quarter-century ago, almost no one knew that CO2 was dangerous. But now that we understand that carbon is heating the planet and acidifying the oceans, its price becomes the central issue.
If you put a price on carbon, through a direct tax or other methods, it would enlist markets in the fight against global warming. Once Exxon has to pay for the damage its carbon is doing to the atmosphere, the price of its products would rise. Consumers would get a strong signal to use less fossil fuel – every time they stopped at the pump, they’d be reminded that you don’t need a semimilitary vehicle to go to the grocery store. The economic playing field would now be a level one for nonpolluting energy sources. And you could do it all without bankrupting citizens – a so-called “fee-and-dividend” scheme would put a hefty tax on coal and gas and oil, then simply divide up the proceeds, sending everyone in the country a check each month for their share of the added costs of carbon. By switching to cleaner energy sources, most people would actually come out ahead.
From Bill McKibbon’s important article in Rolling Stone; more here.
"One barrel of oil yields as much energy as twenty-five thousand hours of human manual labor—more than a decade of human labor per barrel. The average American uses twenty-five barrels each year, which is like finding three hundred years of free labor annually. And that’s just the oil; there’s coal and gas, too."
McKibben - Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, p. 27. (via writingcapital)
It doesn’t just stop with oil, though. Here are 24 other things you might be mindlessly spending your money on.
Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones writes about a trove of new photographs documenting the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which released nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.
In the midst of the disaster, BP and its contractors did everything they could to keep people from seeing the scale of the disaster. But new photos released Monday offer some new insight to just how grim the Gulf became for sea life.The images were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request that Greenpeace filed back in August 2010, asking for any communication related to endangered and threatened Gulf species. Now, many months later, Greenpeace received a response from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that included more than 100 photos from the spill, including many of critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles dead and covered in oil.
Canada has threatened a trade war with European Union over the bloc’s plan to label oil from Alberta’s vast tar sands as highly polluting, the Guardian can reveal, before a key vote in Brussels on 23 February…
The unveiling of Canada’s threats is the latest in a series of recent embarrassing revelations. On 12 February, the occurrence of a secret strategy “retreat” in London in 2011 was discovered. High-level officials discussed the “critical” issue of winning the tar sands argument in the EU, to “mitigate the impact on the Canadian brand” and to protect the “huge investments from the likes of Shell, BP, Total and Statoil”…
Colin Baines, toxic fuels campaign manager at the Co-operative, said: “There is a wealth of independent science stating that tar sands fuels emit significantly more carbon than conventional oil, no matter how many briefings Canada gives claiming otherwise.” The EU proposal is to label tar sands oil as causing 22% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil on average. The increase results from the energy needed to blast the bitumen from the bedrock and refine it.
Baines added: “The Canadian government’s aggressive lobbying and attempted intimidation of the EU is making it look increasingly desperate. But its threat of a WTO challenge faces one massive problem: tar sands oil is not a ‘like product’ with crude oil so no unlawful discrimination exists under WTO. The EU must adhere to the science and penalise the higher emissions.”…
Tim DeChristopher is the only person to have been named an Utne Reader visionary while in prison: He’s serving a two-year sentence for disrupting a federal oil and gas lease auction in Utah in an act of environmental protest.
One reason we nominated DeChristopher as a visionary is because he became a hugely inspirational figure to other environmentalists as he wrote and spoke about his principled act of civil disobedience right up until he was led to his cell. But make no mistake: He is in prison mainly because he dared to continue speaking out.