For A Few Decades Of Profit And Power…

If you needed more proof of just how much we, our children, and our children’s children are going to get screwed by the Powers That Be as catastrophic climate change comes down the pike, look no further than this myopic message of unaldulterated praise for Big Energy from the hand of Fred Kempe. Kempe is president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, a think-tank paid for by people who build and use tanks with the mission of supporting NATO and American hegemony.

According to IEA projections, the U.S. will overtake  Russia as the world’s top gas producer by 2015 and will pass Saudi  Arabia as the No. 1 global oil producer by 2017. By 2035 the U.S. is  likely to be energy self-sufficient and an exporter of oil and liquefied  natural gas. Experts are only now beginning to absorb a gusher of  geopolitical consequences.

Just when it seemed America’s global influence might be ebbing, the  world’s leading military and economic power was adding unconventional  energy weapons to its arsenal. The Obama administration – confronting  fiscal cliffs, Middle Eastern conflagrations and China’s rise — is only  now beginning to understand how to leverage this energy windfall as the  president shifts his efforts from re-election to historic legacy.

Those who have despaired about American decline – either relative or  absolute — in a world where less democratic and benevolent powers are  rising, now hope for an American comeback. Those less inclined toward  U.S. leadership worry that this fossil-fuel blessing might reverse the  tide toward a more politically humble and environmentally conscious  America.

Kempe wants to talk about the billions of dollars in investment and tax revenues this oil boom will give the US, and about the 3 million jobs it will create. He wants to talk about the US not having to be the gatekeeper in the Gulf any more, and about Arab or Chinese consternation when they realize that fact.

What he doesn’t want to talk about is the basic math of climate change. Hauling all that oil and gas out fo the ground may well be worth $27 trillion to Big Energy, but it means 2,795 gigatons of released carbon, more than enough to take the world past every tipping point and into “extinction event” territory. Kempe doesn’t want to talk about the billions who will die a century from now, the vast cost of international and national insecurity caused by the upheavals cliamte change will bring, or the millions of Americans who will over the next few decades lose their livelihood as the SouthWest dries up for a thousand years.

For the sake of a few decades of profit and power, those in charge of the nation are willing to sacrifice everything that comes afterwards.

Bonus read: 5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried

This post was read 137 times.

About author View all posts

Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Note to choir:

    Forget Peak Oil. Worry about Peak Air. We are likely past the carrying power of air to absorb our oil residues. More oil/fossil fuels are now the problem not any solution.

    Stop digging it. Stop pumping it. Stop refining it. Stop drilling for it. Just say no. Just say stop. And still our planet is cooked unless we can figure out how to wholesale pull co2 out of the air.

  • The 1% (actually the .5%) figures if only a small percentage survive, it will be them and their descendents. They don’t care if the other 99.5% dies. Irony will be when the last survivors realize they too are doomed and that the life forms primitive enough to survive will lack the the ability to appreciate the irony.

  • I’m not for the fracking binge, though my company and line of work stands to make good money from all the fuckups that will come with it. We’re the people you call when your oil pipeline breaks or you realize that you’ve probably contaminated the ground and water around your gas well. (Not my specialty, but associated.) I simply don’t think that the long term costs are worth the short term benefits.

    But what are going to do? Anyone with half a drug-addled brain could see the writing on the pollution stained wall decades ago. We’ve done nothing. And if you understand the numbers, the drift of air quality pollutants from China that make it to the US would alarm you. Sure, we’ve managed to lower our CO2 and associated emissions, by outsourcing them to China and pretending that it’s not a closed system. But then we’ll close down coal plants in the US because they don’t meet ever more stringent emissions standards. All while not having a replacement for generation … not. even. fucking. close.

    I’m unlucky in that i know how much it costs to get that last few pounds of mercury out of a coal plants emissions, and know that it doesn’t matter in the long run unless everyone on the planet stops burning coal/oil/gas or spends a great many millions (nay, billions and billions). The better ROI would be to spend the tens of millions required to filter out those last few pounds of mercury from a US plant’s emissions on helping the rest of the world catch up with basic emissions controls. But that’s not going to happen.

    Just like we’re not going to put our heads together and figure out how to live on a renewable infrastructure. We’re Americans, so at best we’ll chase paltry gas mileage savings that come from fleet numbers that are A. gamed like a motherfucker and B. actually destroy the classes of vehicles that would be more helpful to the total cause. We’ll pat ourselves on the back for buying a brand new car that gets mileage no better than my 22 year old German sports coupe, looks like shit doing it, and has great energy costs to build. Fuck, we won’t even take a few billion dollars and put many thousands to work insulating our overly large, poorly constructed houses. We won’t rebuild a rail system that would take huge numbers of OTR trucks off the road.

    We won’t do any of the things we should. Not the big stuff, not the little stuff. Which only proves to me that we’re just fucking monkeys in the end. We’ll kill ourselves one way or the other, and that’s fine. Climate change will not kill the planet or end life on Earth. Just us and most of the species we know. We deserve it, and everything else will get replaced in some fashion.

  • Hey, no worries! We can make Climate Change work for us! Or so declaims Lewis H. Ziska, a plant physiologist for the Department of Agriculture. Stephanie Searle, a plant physiologist agrees that there may be a bit of a silver lining! Check out the NYT article below for full details!

    Looking to Cities, in Search of Global Warming’s Silver Lining

    New York Times, By Guy Gugliotta, November 26

    Heat, carbon dioxide and air pollution are already having significant effects on trees, plants and crops, and for most plant scientists, the debate over climate change ended long before the arrival of extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy.

    Now, some of those scientists have moved beyond political questions to explore how rising levels of heat and emissions might provide at least some benefits for the planet.

    “There is a lot of emphasis on the mitigation of global warming, and we need that,” said Lewis H. Ziska, a plant physiologist for the Department of Agriculture, who is one of a growing number of scientists studying how plants react to elevated levels of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. At the same time, he added, “we need to think about the tools we have at hand, and how we can use them to make climate change work for us.”

  • Obama fails first climate test by rejecting EU aviation carbon regime

    President disappoints campaigners by signing bill into law that exempts US airlines from European carbon trading scheme

    The Guardian, By Suzanne Goldberg, November 27

    Barack Obama has signed a law excluding US airlines from the European Union’s carbon trading scheme, delivering a blow to campaigners’ hopes for stronger climate action during the president’s second term.

    Environmental campaigners had urged Obama to veto the aviation bill as a sign of his commitment to fighting climate change in his second term.

    The White House said in a statement Obama still saw climate change as a priority but that he disagreed with subjecting US and other foreign airlines to the EU emissions trading scheme.

    “The Obama administration is firmly committed to reducing harmful carbon pollution from civil aviation both domestically and internationally,” a White House statement to reporters said. But “the application of the EU ETS to non-EU air carriers is the wrong way to achieve that objective”.


    The World Wildlife Fund said it was disappointed the bill had passed. “However, there is a silver lining here – the administration has appointed high-level representatives to pursue a global solution for aviation and climate,” WWF said.


    Commercial carriers argued the EU’s carbon tax was unfair because it would require airlines to pay for emissions on the entire transatlantic flight, not just through European air space. The main airline lobby group said it would cost the industry $3.1bn by 2020.

Leave a Reply