Thursday, May 5, 2016

Whether We Like It or Not

An article in the NY Times titled Blistered Earth: How Capitalism is Destroying the Planet.... just kidding, it's actually titled :Exxon Mobile Backs Fuel Cell Effort- and it is quite telling. It explains how Exxon Mobile, under investigation for its morally bankrupt business model, now has a keen interest in Carbon Capture and Sequestration aka "Clean Coal". A big promoter of this imaginary technology ( besides the coal companies and Montana politicians) is Emily Carter ,director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton. Which is basically an astro-turf front group for Exxon with a veneer of elite academic legitimacy. Emily insists: "We are going to be burning fossil fuels for the vast majority of our electricity for some time to come WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT." In other words, it is out of our control, Market Forces will dictate. This is echoed by the CEO of the fuel cell corporation who says: "When you can make it affordable with private capital, everyone wins." So what are these magical forces that decide when something is "affordable"? Well part of the force is real force, as in, the threat of violence. Then there is the force of ideological hegemony, cultural dominance and influence. Then there is that subtle coercion of dependency; depending on a paycheck, depending on a line of credit, depending on infra-structure so that "everyone wins". But of course not everyone wins and this is the other threat hanging over everyone's head. On a side note, old Pat Buchanan was interviewed on NPR this morning and basked in the glory of his redemption. All those years as the kooky outsider, the insurgent, and now he could tell the Republican establishment to kiss his white ass (and he handed the interviewer her white ass as well) All he had to say was : "Look, it's democracy in action! Trump speaks a language all these people understand!" The language of obscene jouissance.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Just Transition Blues

With the Break Free protesters confronting the fossil fuel industry, the workers with those relatively good production jobs are being asked a familiar old labor question: which side are you on? We are told by the rosy Blue/Green Alliance optimists that "jobs versus the environment" is not a real question, that with a little managerial planning, we can painlessly move workers from dirty energy jobs into clean energy ones. Some even present this as the promise of economic stimulus and growth. But the average refinery worker has a right to be skeptical. They know all too well how capitalism works and how it treats workers. But the question here is: why exactly is it up to to the climate change movement to find jobs for these folks? We aren't threatening their jobs, the science is. We are just the messengers,those forced to deliver the bad news because their politician friends and union bosses are too cowardly. And personally, I would have more sympathy if these same workers hadn't been sticking their heads in the sand for the last decade, pretending the problem away. Or worse, actively distorting the issue so that we lost valuable time when a easy "transition" might have been more possible. Now we are out of time. Oops. The US government will relocate people living on a Louisiana island that is being inundated by salt water to the tune of 1 billion dollars of tax money. The fossil fuel industry profits from destroying their home, the Ted Cruz taxpayers buy them new ones. So this subsidizing scam is why that fossil fuel worker keeps his good job but this only happens in rich countries. Millions of less fortunate people (and workers) around the globe will suffer so the American worker can have his "just transition". But this relocation is just the tip of the melting iceberg. Coastal cities are all planning trillions of dollars worth of dikes and canals and pumps because that's how capitalism works. Pumps will be a growth industry and economists will say GDP is rising with the inexorable tide.