Way to go America, you done fucked this goat rodeo. On election night I was vaguely aware of the fact that some percentage of America voiced their dissatisfaction with the symptoms of this modern life by knowingly and voluntarily voting for more of the cause.
The morning after election night, while taking A-bear to school, I listened to someone opine that this election cycle was not an election on the issues of the day, but a referendum on the performance of the President and his policies. If that’s truly the case then the election results are an indication of what a colossal pack of idiots we all must be. This piece by Jon Talton of the Seattle Times I think correctly lays blame for much of what has gone before and cogently uses that data to paint an accurate picture of what we should now expect. And this as if the economy and its woes were the only issue on America’s rather large plate of problems.
My problem with the midterm election results has less to do with the economics of our collective plight and more to do with the long term geophysical impacts our national politics will present to my kids. Sure, I’m not going to enjoy the next two years of a self-righteous political majority claiming a mandate to do whatever the fuck they want, but my chief concerns are the long term consequences of all the poorly informed, near-sighted, and repressive decisions they will ram through the political process. This scares the poop out of me.
The International Energy Agency warns that if we do not get our emissions under control by a rather terrifying 2017, our fossil fuel economy will “lock-in” extremely dangerous warming. “The energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed” in our carbon budget for limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius—“ leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly.” This assumes, probably accurately, that governments would be unwilling to force the closure of still-profitable power plants and factories. As Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, bluntly put it: “The door to reach two degrees is about to close. In 2017 it will be closed forever.” In short, we have reached what some activists have started calling “Decade Zero” of the climate crisis: we either change now or we lose our chance. 29
Klein, Naomi (2014-09-16). This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (pp. 23-24). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
For the moment, I imagine that the door to maintain a climate with some passing resemblance to the Holocene has just closed. What we’ll call “limited climate change”, an Earth with only 2° C average increase in global average temperature, would still be a challenge to endure. Given the results of this latest cluster event of pea brained foolishness I think the United States of America just voted to crap on even this tiny concession to their own children. Our heartland is heartless.
Karl Marx was right, capitalism will fail, but wrong about the reason. We should begin by acknowledging where we’re at. Last year, while everyone was arguing about some distracting and meaningless scandal, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management leased some 800,000 acres for tar sands extraction. To put this in perspective that’s a great deal of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The Green River Formation, the Bitumen fossil remnants of an ancient, shallow inland sea, will be brought to the surface, processed and spat into the atmosphere. The fuse to this carbon bomb was lit while the the prevailing elected head of the Bureau had some power to prevent or delay such action. How big and scary is this climate forcing already underway going to be now that this friction has been removed? Consider this quote from Taylor McKinnon in this 2013 Esquire piece FORGET KEYSTONE. TAR SANDS DRILLING IS ON IN UTAH.
These lands may hold more recoverable oil than has been used so far in human history — 3 trillion barrels, according to a U.S. government report. They also contain two to seven times the oil — and potential green house gas emissions — as Alberta’s tar sands and could set off a “carbon bomb” that would hasten climate change, said McKinnon.
This is why I relish the anxieties of my youth. How much easier it would have been to die in a nuclear armageddon. Gone in an instant, leaving nothing but a shadow. But no, Capitalism won’t end because of the violent dissatisfaction of the proletariat. The remaining socio-economic model co-opted any meaningful resistance communist doctrine might allow. Capitalism will end itself, slowly killing the planet that plays host to its exponential madness.
And to those that will invariably suggest something regrettable, like handing the GOP both bits of congress is somehow nothing to worry about or might actually be a good thing, let me cut you off at the pass. Even in our former political situation we’ve made increasingly less headway toward a sustainable, nay livable, future than is outlined by the most modest of non-binding national or international agreements to which we’re signatory. Humanity was losing ground while there was still some resistance within our body of our government capable of adding friction.
Now what? We can plan on the worst of the worst assuming seats of power. Senator James “I’m a fucktard” Inhofe, for instance, is expected to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee beginning next January. Yeah, the poster child of willful ignorance who’s strings are pulled by the same Titans that drilled so many holes in Oklahoma it now has more earthquakes than California. Add Lisa “Drill it till its dry” Murkowski, she will be chairing Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. So tell me again, how is this all going to be okay? Please explain how putting a bunch of madmen in control of climate mitigation policy will help mankind stay below 2° C?
So, while I sit here enjoying my last bits of easy energy and privilege at the expense of my grand kids, I feel precariously perched on the edge of something horrible. I am not optimistic knowing that it is very likely I will witness significant climate forcings in my lifetime. I am not optimistic that the rest of you fuckers will wake up or even acknowledge the reality of our situations. It’s likely already too late. I’m not even optimistic that cogent economic arguments based on cheap, sustainable and clean energy can prevail against the institutional inertia of the fossil fuel industry. Solar has already reached grid parity with all fossil fuels and while there is growth in that market, any carbon offsets achieved have already been rendered irrelevant by way of All of the Above energy policy.
Instead I’m looking for a way out, I am searching for a way to limit my exposure. I’m doing this with an increasingly sick heart, because, lets face facts, this shit is depressing. I want, very desperately, to live a mindful life of compassion and in some way atone for my past transgressions. Yet, I feel constantly swept away by a flood of human behavior in the aggregate; “normalize or die” should be mankind’s motto. Harden your heart, duck march with the rest of us, all the important decisions have already been made.
If you can’t tell I’m more than a little upset by this turn of events. My trust in humanity has been once again violated, you guys are so disappointing.