The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
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Monday, December 12, 2016

COPout22's Catch22: Clean Energy is a Misnomer.

Devon Energy: Houston's flood, made possible by an atmospheric river, was just a hoax.

Hashing out what was thrashed about in COPout22, Sophie Yeo, in an article originally published by Carbon Brief, and posted on, briefly summarizes what was accomplished by the teams from 200 countries burning up more jet fuel to consider how to stop burning up more jet fuel.
Aghast at the election of climate-change-denier Trump to the presidency of the United States, they decided to continue their roadshow nonetheless, since, well, it's only for show anyway. Consequently, most of the time seemed to be spent on discussing where to hold the next conferences, but at some point they had to wonder where the money was coming from to implement all their high-minded ideas.

One of those things needing financing being their salaries and travel/entertainment expenses which resemble those of the Clinton foundation (which they had no problem with, considering they had all assumed, like the media, that said organization was in fact doing such a bang-up job of alleviating the Secretary's financial problems via a facade of humanitarianism). Naturally, they were delighted to find such a ready-made structure to copy in order to fund their own particular sinecures while expressing such heart-felt concern for the fate of the world.

But in our now completely capitalist world, (except Cuba. It's notable that the one country closest to fitting the environmental model needed to cut carbon emissions yet retain a rather modern lifestyle is never ever mentioned at any of these conferences, the fantasy being that the capitalist model, the one that got us into this intractable mess, will somehow serve to extricate us from it ... it however, won't, but better not say that or your place at the conference will be forfeited thereby) where do you suppose the money comes from to 'finance' these projects? The fairest and most expeditious means would be something akin to a carbon tax.

That would be a good thing, but, at least as evidenced here in the US of A, after 8 years with a climate-change-believing president, the price of gasoline is now as low as it's been for the entire century, and Americans are buying internal-combustion-engine-propelled vehicles with a larger carbon footprint than ever, at a faster clip than ever, (undoing all that good work the Bush administration did by jacking the price of oil up so high it crashed the global economy thereby decreasing the carbon footprint of the USA for the first time ... ever), specifically because the price of gas (-oline as well as natural) is so unconscionably low, yet no attempt has ever been made to put as little as a penny tax on said fossil-fuel-derived combustibles. The reason? Without affordable motorized personal transport, there is no modern life as we know it. So people will sell their own children to be able to keep driving ... they, in fact, ARE selling their own children's future for precisely that reason, either because, like Republicans, they deny climate change, or ridiculously call it a hoax (a hoax is by its very nature a conspiracy, making the President-elect of the most powerful economy in the world a conspiracy nut), or, like the Democrats, they are in denial about climate change, a subtle, but very important difference. Those paying attention to COPout22 belonging to the latter, those ignoring it completely, the former.

It has been my argument for some time now that it is actually those in climate change denial who are the more dangerous of the two groups, because those claiming it is a hoax (as demonstrated by Trump's admitting that, "There is some connectivity there") become more ridiculous as time goes on (like Marco Rubio wading out to his car through Miami's flooded streets after giving a speech wherein he called climate change a hoax), while those who don't deny it but are in denial about it, give plausible reasons for their continued blindness. But every mitigating ploy they come up with in order to ameliorate the condition instead exacerbates it as evidenced by the financing schemes that COPout 22 is trying to hammer out.

But all of their finance plans smack of Trudeau-ism:

"Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tried to balance the growth of the oil industry with environmental progress, so while he approved pipelines, he's also approved a national carbon tax".

Note that the attempt being made is not to balance the oil industry with environmental concerns, but to balance the growth of the oil industry. Not its managed decline, or even its stasis, but it's planned growth. And how does he do that? With a national carbon tax, so that the government itself is dependent upon not only the revenues it receives now, but becomes progressively more dependent on these tax receipts as time, and the growth of said industry, funnel more revenues into government coffers, putting the government's stated intentions in direct conflict with their fiduciary outlays. To see where that dynamic is heading, one need merely to recall the Deepwater Horizons disaster of BP's where their executives helicoptered off the exploding platform right before it blew up in their faces. The technology used and the players deploying it were all operating on the edge of a needle point, disregarding dangers, with our government's blessing, as they were right behind them salivating for the tax benefits.

The tax will begin at C$10 (USD$7.60) per ton in 2018, rising by C$10 per year until it reaches C$50 in 2022, quintupling the amount of leverage the tar sands operators will have over their government overseers, who will likewise be 5 times more likely to find ways to keep the cesspool of dirty-oil-derived filthy lucre from being depleted. But since Cenovus Energy and Canadian Natural Resources have both announced plans to expand existing projects, adding 50,000 bpd and 40,000 bpd, respectively, the first such expansions since the collapse of oil prices two years ago, indications are net positive that Alberta is ready to pour money into these, the dirtiest oil projects in the world, as it celebrates the OPEC/NOPEC agreement to curtail their production of cleaner-burning, less energy-intensive oil from existing wells.

That's the Catch22 the Copout22 conference never addresses, although it's in play right now, and demonstrated by Canada's plans for increasing their output as OPEC decreases theirs, is that, as the price of oil rises, the amount of it on the world market that is derived from the most polluting and energy-intensive sources rises with it. And as that price rises, it crashes economies that can't operate with such expensive oil prices. Hence, the demand shrinks crashing the price yet again and curtailing the output of the more expensive sources, as the price they can get for it can't cover the costs of extracting, refining. and shipping it. Seesaw economics.

This, together with the uptick in fracking in the USA immediately following the agreement, goes further to show the actual intentions of the world, which, (something the COPout22 attendees seem to have forgotten), is no longer the province of the Sovereign States that pretend they're still relevant, but of the Corporations which those same States have given free rein over what used to be their province. And there is not a single Corporation that has signed any of these moronic agreements, and the probability that they will follow any of them is exactly nil. The Most powerful economic entity on the planet, the US of bloody A, can't even get them to pay the taxes they owe, and yet we all feel coddled in careless complacency by the pronouncement of this council that major corporations will stop doing business as usual, but, back to those taxes again, they can never pay any taxes if their only way of making profits is by turning energy into matter ... ie manufacturing, which, as industry cuts more and more employees, burns more and more fuel to make up with computer-mechanized, fossil-fuel-generated robo-labor what used to be done by carbohydrate-fueled human labor. 

(Now, let's think about this for a second. Henry Ford paid his workers more than his competitors in order to allow them to be able to afford the products he was manufacturing (well, they were manufacturing; he provided the facility that enabled them to do so) creating positive economic feedback, it is therefore simple economics that extracting those humans from the equation, and paying the humans remaining half of the salary their older peers received, means that robotics not only ensures negative economic feedback, but any positive feedback it does provide would, by Ford's logic, and the iron law of supply and demand, mean that the economy would then dictate that the needs of the robots be met first, and only secondarily those of humans. Thus, one would suspect, we should expect the manufacture of robotic, or pilotless, cars: automobiles manufactured by robots to be driven by robots. Soon, it would matter not a whit how much demand for fossil fuels declined among humans, because that slacking off of demand by humans would be more than made up for (is already being made up for) by a concomitant increase in demand by the Brace (an amalgamation of "manufactured Base" and "race") of Robots).

And Canada is just one oil project in one country. You can look at the countries of Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, as well as the US states of Texas, California, Alaska and North Dakota, and see that, based on the loan portfolio's already on their balance sheets, on which future tax revenues, and therefore, pension liabilities, depend, that the COPout 22 conference is a boondoggle, a distraction, a mere sleight-of-hand calculated to ease the anxiety of those who realize global warming is going to make their offspring's future untenable, but ceaselessly, selfishly, inexplicably, keep having more and more children, keep pouring their money into investments to 'save' for a future that isn't possible, because to imagine a future different from the present is, despite humanity's high-flown, overblown vision of itself, beyond its capability.

Because the story that those moneys already garnered and spent years into the future tell is far different than the narrative the signers of those non-enforceable agreements would have you swallow, because they are based on agreements that actually DO have teeth in them, and those teeth are razor-sharp and ever-eager to clamp down and shred to bits any international accord that usurps their legally binding contacts to use the burning of fossil fuel to enable them to dig up more and more of those fossil fuels to then burn even more fossil fuel to deliver that fossil fuel to the place it will be burned, while, simultaneously in country after country, the mindless incineration of human bodies, referred to as cremation, using fossil fuel to burn flesh and bones to ash, continues to be a growth industry, pouring the carbon from billions of people, carbon sequesters, in a steadily increasing arc, into the atmosphere, b/making them instead into carbon pumps. This is only one of many easily halt-able examples, of needlessly venting CO2 into the atmosphere, that, even as we have learned about global warming and its cause, has only increased, with no justification whatsoever, except that we can, helping the global temperature relentlessly do the same: increase.

So as we contemplate the selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA, in full knowledge that he is a known ally of the oil and gas industry, whose also a climate change "skeptic" (ie paid stooge of the hydrocarbon industries), and an expert in helping his unctuous buddies sidestep environmental law and regulation, we should remember these facts and then wonder, what about methane? Because even as the obvious contribution to its sudden rise since 2005 or so is fairly obviously co-incident with the frenetic pace of the growth of fracking in the US, Pruitt has spearheaded a fight against EPA regulations, suing the agency over greenhouse gas rules: The New York Times wrote in a Dec. 2014 article that Pruitt submitted a letter to the EPA, disputing the agency’s calculation about methane emissions from natural gas wells. A letter that was secretly written by lawyers for Devon Energy, demonstrating Pruitt’s close ties to the industry. 

But, with the emphasis on CO2, CH4's dramatic increase in the atmosphere, and most especially in the Arctic, where it bubbles up in long plumes kilometers in breadth, is rarely mentioned, despite its far greater impact on global near-term warming (over a 100-year period, it traps 29 times more heat per mass unit than carbon dioxide). And this increase, although agriculture and animal husbandry are blamed as co-factors, is directly related to the ring of fire that's been lit all along the littoral area of the Arctic Ocean, from Russia, to Alaska, from Norway to Scotland, North Dakota to the Athabasca, these far-flung oil developments vent un-flared methane into the atmosphere where there is no one to either monitor nor complain about such emissions, and a thin atmosphere is ill-equipped to lower escalating levels, since, although uncontrolled build-up of methane in Earth's atmosphere is naturally checked by methane's reaction with hydroxyl radicals formed from singlet oxygen atoms and water vapor, as more and more of those oxygen atoms are bound onto carbon atoms, becoming CO2, the earth's atmosphere contains less available oxygen, so methane stays in the atmosphere longer and at higher concentrations. But this rapidly accumulating gas is not even on the COPout22's agenda, and even if it were, the new EPA appointee, has a pseudo-science partner in the form of Devon energy, to name just one, to spew out false data that's far more accepted than simply denying global warming. Ironic, ain't it? The same people that deny global warming can turn around and say that methane isn't escaping as fast as the EPA (which has nothing to gain by inflating the amount at which it's escaping) says it is, is somehow believed, despite the knowledge that the proponent of the false data-set is a known conspiracy-theory-addled idiot.

I just don't get this. A hoax is, by definition, a conspiracy. In any other realm, conspiracy theorists are dismissed (admittedly ofttimes unadvisedly) as irrelevant tin-foil-hat crackpots. But in the realm of climate science, they can and do regularly get appointed to high government offices, responsible for making decisions that impact the future of the entire world. In this context, holding conferences that jet people around the globe to pretend they are "doing something" to ameliorate the problem their own mindset enables, is pure hokum, and should be called out as such. Get Exxon/Mobil/ Devon, all the nationalized oil companies, including Rosneft, to this table and then perhaps something concrete will get hammered out, but until then, or unless that happens, this is just a sideshow; a circus to keep us entertained while our world is burned to a cinder.

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