Friday, March 15, 2013

Our Very Dangerous Political Leadership

You might as well write off the grandkids right now because every day our political leadership is telling you that they already have.

That could change.   The day might come, probably sooner rather than later if at all, that our political leadership accepts that we can consume just a small fraction of our known fossil fuel reserves and implements policies to leave the great majority of it safely underground, untouched.  It's a longshot but it could happen.  Don't count on it.

Until that day arrives, consider the grandkids toast.

The Guardian's enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, reacts to Japan's recently announced project to mine seabed methane clathrates:

" is the only point that is really worth making. It doesn't matter how many wind turbines you build, or energy-saving lightbulbs you install, or more economical cars you manufacture: unless most of our fossil fuel reserves are declared off-limits they will, sooner or later, be extracted and burned. The question of whether it is sooner or whether it is later makes little difference: we have already identified more underground carbon than we can afford to burn between now and the year 3000.

"Far from agreeing to leave existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground, governments and corporations are spending hundreds of billions prospecting for new reserves, and finding ways to extract ever more exotic forms of buried carbon. Every time they succeed, press reports gush like a Texan oil well in the 1920s."

Look at us.  Our leadership can't wait to get at projected massive oil and gas reserves beneath the Arctic Ocean seabed.   Russia, the United States, Canada - everybody wants at it.   In that can you discern any recognition that we already have far more fossil fuel reserves than we can possibly consume without imperiling our civilization?

We are locked into a mindset of self-destruction and that infects the leadership not only of the Conservatives but also the Liberal Party and the New Democrats.   They all want to chart the same course on fossil fuels.   Every one of them is more than willing to sacrifice the future of your grandkids to reap unearned wealth, to keep the machine ticking over because that's the only economy they understand.

Maybe it would help if you began looking at Harper and Mulcair and Trudeau as crazy people, lunatics, deranged because what other type of leader would do that to future generations, to their own grandkids?   And, if they'll bequeath that future to their grandkids, what do you think they've got in mind for yours?


Owen Gray said...

They don't exactly qualify as the Greatest Generation, do they, Mound?

Dana said...

I've been wondering if self-extinction isn't the inevitable result of consciousness and the opposable thumb.

It wouldn't surprise me, really.

The evolution of technologies that dazzle will certainly always outstrip wisdom and overwhelm caution among species so fascinated by shiny baubles.

I wonder how many times it has happened in the history of the universe. And will happen.

The Mound of Sound said...

No they don't, Owen. I'm coming to think that people like Mulcair and Trudeau who claim they accept the reality of AGW-driven climate change and want to act on it and then turn around and back the most carbon-intensive petroleum on the planet are more dangerous than guys like Harper.

Dana, see if you can get a copy of Jared Diamond's "Collapse." In it the UCLA anthropologist and Pulitzer Prize winning author, canvasses a series of societal collapses and draws some interesting parallels. For example, he shows how complex societies don't decline gradually but collapse quite abruptly. He also shows how complex societies collapse at their very peak, sort of like an over-inflated balloon exploding.

As for the "history of the universe" one theory holds that our chances of encountering intelligent life are greatly diminished by the prospects of self-extinction of those societies in the past. Eventually, if our species survives to travel far enough, we're far more likely to find artifacts of former alien civilizations rather than aliens themselves. That would seem to make sense.

Dana said...

I had "Collapse" several years ago and don't know what happened to it. I'll try and find it - though truth to tell I've read so much anthropology and history over the past few years I'm kind of sated. I'm reading books about food and Iron Age Fantasy now. For example, "Blood, Bones and Butter" by Gabrielle Hamilton. and Book 3 of The Song of Ice and Fire.

Eons ago, when I was a young man hooked on sci-fi, I read a book that was I think by Larry Niven, altho I don't remember the title.

His intrepid space explorers encountered a planet that had a number of enormous, enormous, hanger like structures on it and nothing else.

They eventually were able to enter them and found that there had been successive civilizations on this planet that had ultimately all extinguished themselves in various ways. The first of them had recognized their fate in time to build a monument to themselves and their achievements, including the achievement that wiped them out. All the rest followed suit.

These civilizations never extinguished themselves the same way twice - but they all managed it nonetheless.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah, Dana, it seems that human civilization acts much like the moth drawn to the flame.