Solar Power isn't Feasible!

Solar Power isn't Feasible!
This cartoon was on the cover of the book "SolarGas" by David Hoye. It echoes the Sharp Solar slogan "Last time I checked nobody owned the sun!"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mother Courage to Mother Earth:"Global Warming is not a problem..."

Global warming is not a problem.

So says Mother Courage to Mother Earth and all her "worthy" citizens.

Neither are rockslides, hurricanes, earthquakes, sea-level changes, tsunamis, brush fires, epidemic diseases, shortages of clean water, fuel, or food.  Ditto for radiation and toxic waste.

None of these "environmental" problems are anything to worry about. Not if you are worthy. If you are part of the chosen, elect few. The blessed but anything but meek.  The elite.

Global warming is not a problem.

Not if you have Airforce One at your disposal, like George Bush.  Not if you have so many homes in secure and beautiful parts of the world that you can't even remember how many you can take refuge in, like John McCain.  Not if you are wealthy enough to be able to "go with the flow" and move on to "higher ground" and "greener pastures" when one area "goes bad" or "gets used up".  Ask any swarm of locusts (or the invading aliens in "Independence Day").   As Ronald Reagan famously said when asked if the destruction of our environment was anything to worry about, "h-we-y-ll,  the scientists tell me, man will adapt...".

Yeah Ron.  "THE MAN" will adapt. If you've got money and connections there's plenty of pleasant resorts to go to when disaster strikes. It's the rest of us John Does and Jane Does out here who have nowhere to run.  But I guess we can't expect the filthy rich to understand our plight, can we?

When I am following the words of Jesus Christ, our Savior, I can not really blame the greedy, callous "ruling crass" for being callously indifferent to the plight of others.  Christ even asked God to "forgive them... for they know not what they do."  So I am hardly in a position to judge.

On a good day.

When I am feeling generous.

Today I'm feeling pissed.

Another tragedy has struck America in the form of Hurricane Ike.  With global warming we can expect ever more of these disasters.  People have sustained enormous material and financial and emotional losses, some are injured and  dead, vast numbers are without electricity.  What does our commander in chief do?  He uses the opportunity to suspend EPA rules that we put in place to prohibit the import of dirty gasoline from foreign countries.  He doesn't ask other parts of the state to deliver fuel to the hardest hit areas.  He doesn't  tap into our strategic reserves, pledging to get us through the crisis and then restock them when the Texas refineries are operating again.

He certainly doesn't prepare to send in solar gen-sets (like the solar cubes now being sent to Iraq)  that can get lights and power up and running within a few hours and depend on no shipping of filthy and dangerous fuels.   Instead he pledges to send in a whole bunch of gasoline and diesel powered generators and uses the crisis to set a precedent for dismantling the few protections we have against being flooded not by storm waters but  by health hazardous cheap gasoline.

See Bush talk about his plan here: 

Why?  Could this be how he plans to bring about a sudden "reduction" in the price of gasoline at the pump to make it look as though his administration can solve the domestic problems facing the nation?
At the very least,  if it can't bring the price down, his policy destructive act looks like a desperate bid to keep the price from going up again while our refineries are putting themselves back together, so that people don't suddenly realize that the current Republican-party policy of keeping us addicted to oil lurks behind both the causes of these alarmingly frequent extreme whether events AND the terrible symptoms caused when the storms knock out our refineries. We should have weaned ourselves off of dependence on oil refineries long long ago.  Certainly after Katrina we should have started building a diverse portfolio of renewables so aggressively that the return of electricity to the Texas coast would have merely awaited the passing of the clouds (hell, with T. Boone Pickens plan, we wouldn't even wait for the sun to come out again -- the strong winds after the hurricane would bring us a good dose of windpower!)

No, Bush's response to the crisis is opportunistic.

Another surge in oil prices caused by the greenhouse effect  and our dependency on vulnerable oil infrastructure might just tip voters toward candidates who truly intend to break our addiction to fossil fuels.

So what does our commander in chief do?  He gives the green light for more dependency on foreign oil -- and this time he allows in the filthy kind that makes the air of places like Cairo, Egypt unbreathable and causes over 10,000 deaths every year there from respiratory illness while causing an average IQ drop of 4 points because of lead (yes, Cairo still uses leaded gasoline! And so might you again with the EPA rules broken!)

And all in the name of "helping the victims".  Yeah, right.  Sounds suspiciously like the argument some Egyptian government authorities are using to drive the poor out of the valuable real estate in "rockslide prone" Muqattam hills (see last post), sounds like the argument some American government authorities used after Hurricane Katrina to get poor people (mostly of color) out of prime waterfront realestate in New Orleans where they intend to build floating casinos and hotels.

We've seen this kind of behavior often enough.  Bertolt Brecht created a famous character in one of his plays who epitomizes such opportunistic behavior:  Mother Courage.

Mother Courage, if you remember the play, is an opportunist who, during the long periods of perpetual war, shuttles back and forth from one side of the front to the other, selling things to the soldiers and victims on both sides of the conflict.  She makes herself out to be a philathropist.  She constantly laments the loss of life, the suffering and the horrible costs of war to everybody who will listen, but deep inside is glad every time there is a tragedy, for that is when she makes her big business profits.

And so it is with an American business community and its government stooges who have figured out ways to benefit from every crisis.

Ask yourself why some of the wealthiest companies and politicians continue to deny the dangers of climate change, or of nuclear power and proliferation.

I tender to you that it is because for such wealthy, powerful opportunists there is very little danger.

For the filthy rich and the greedy rich Golbal Warming is not a problem and human suffering often proves to be a great business opportunity (er... not all rich people are like this, I hasten to point out;  I don't want to  alienate all of my wealthy philanthropist friends and neighbors and benefactors and patrons; you know who you are!) 

The attitude of those whom we can call "filthy" rich and "greedy" rich  is like that of George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (or "How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Bomb":) "I'm not saying we won't get our hair mussed up, [but what are we going to lose], 10-20 million [people] tops, depending on the breaks."

  That quote sums up the feeling quite well -- for those who have comfortable ranches on Texas high ground, or  have more houses than they can remember, disasters are merely a bad hair day.  And when they start combing it out, they find incredible opportunities -- a chance to instantly reverse important and hard won government regulations (the Hurricane Ike prompted dismantling of the EPA restrictions on dirty fuels) , a chance to rally the nation into an unnecessary war (the strange linking of Sept. 11th tragedies to control over Iraqi oil and a chance to test new weapons there), the chance to get the poor out of prime real estate (Hurrican Katrina's displacement of people of color and the proposed displacement of the Cairo poor after the rockslide).

I don't know about you, but when I went to see the Biosphere II experiment built by oil tycoon Ed Bass in the Arizona desert (created as an experiment to see if we could survive on the harsh surface of Mars),  and we passed all the posh golf-courses and lush gated communities springing up in the desert along the way, I got a strange feeling:

I began to think that for those with lots of money and power there could never be any  environmental problem worth worrying about.   The earth be damned, I thought, if you can get a rich Arizona presidential candidate into the White House and you can afford to build a bunch of 100 million dollar Biosphere II modules with all the luxuries and comforts you need, sealed off from the threat of Hurricanes, fires, and floods and safe from radioactive fallout, why worry about the rest of the people and creatures out here in Biosphere I?   In fact, if you take your James Bond movies seriously, the real rich supervillains always wanted to destroy the world so they could save it, and start a new Eden.  But of course, you'd have to be some kind of Bible literalist to think that scheme would work.  Scientists know that for a host of reasons (having to do with ecosystem interdynamics and the extinction rates caused by the "island effect" -- see MacArthur and Wilson's classic studies)  Biosphere II experiments will always ultimately fail.  Only religious fanatics who don't understand or believe in evolution would take the risk of letting our planet's ecology get out of control.

And there's no chance of them getting control of the White House, now is there?

So what's to worry about? No problem.


Anonymous said...

It's time for all of us who realize the rape of Mother Earth will continue unabated if we continue to elect the rapists to office to act. We need to put the word out that a vote for the Green Party is a vote to stop the Rape of Mother Earth. It's time for us to educate ourselves and all like-minded individuals on the goals of the Green Party, and how we can help. It is time for us to take back our government by voting Green.

College Term Papers said...

I'm going to work on it...I'll see if I can come up with something... This is really fun.