George Monbiot writes today in Alternet: “It doesn’t matter how many windmills or solar panels or nuclear plants you build if you are not simultaneously retiring fossil fuel production. We need a global programme whose purpose is to leave most coal and oil and gas reserves in the ground, while developing new sources of power and reducing the amazing amount of energy we waste.”
In short, if we don’t stop taking petroleum materials out of the ground, our efforts at alternative energy amount to tilting at windmills. It is not climate change that is our nemesis, but a catastrophic climate collapse. He admits that individual members of governments across the world concede the facts of the problem, but their governments take no meaningful action. In the very moments they publicly bemoan their dependence on fossil fuel, they foster and concede to the corporations that contribute most to the horrific risk indicated by the recent IPCC report.
Immense changes are already in progress. Left to continue unabated, Thom Hartman, also on Alternet, wrote on September 26th, “… hundreds of millions of people will be displaced, will starve, and will die. It means wars … famines … raging forest fires and the death of grasslands. [It will bring] acidification of our oceans and destruction of … ecosystems. … we stand on the edge of tipping points that hurtle [us] toward extinction.”
A typical denialist response will be that this is a scare tactic foisted by people who want to ruin the world economy and dispossess our “most successful” classes of people. How sad, to hear people shrivel up and turn inward to defend their own status and property instead of helping to preserve the world we have known , in which we came to exist.
Looking out at the world, considering companies like TransCanada, Exxon-Mobile, BP, Valero, Chevron and others, there appears to be such heavy investment in inertia as to prevent significant change in any meaningful time frame. Our world is not equipped to make comprehensive and binding decisions and execute them quickly. Our little efforts, so far, at sustainability, are mere rearrangements of deck chairs on the Titanic. Let the band play on, but we haven’t got enough boats clear, and we’re sinking inexorably. There is no way to equip and stock your own life-yacht, even if you’re the Koch brothers. We’re all going down together.
Our optimistic hullabaloo about electric cars verges on silliness, however well meant. The electric grids are fed by carbon, with only a tiny fraction from wind and water or new-tech intelligence. Until the grids are powered largely by alternative means, an interim generation of hybrid cars is much more sensible than a leap straight into totally electric transportation. Otherwise, we turn on the pumps full speed to pull seawater straight into the Titanic’s hold, to make her sink even more quickly!