“leading us exuberantly to the precipice”
“an institutional logic that is deeply pathological”
The Real Mad Men Are Not On TeeVee
Last week, I listened to a brilliant talk by Noam Chomsky, in which he employed the metaphor of the Doomsday Clock for the climate crisis.
His analysis highlighted the contrast between public opinion and elite beliefs, and explained how the the policy decisions of governments reflect elite interests while ignoring democratic sentiments.
Pointing to energy industry propaganda in the Wall Street Journal, he ridiculed examples of how the press is helping to “lead us to the precipice”.
That being the case, the attitudes at the top of the [income/wealth] ladder are of very great significance.
These are revealed dramatically in a poll of CEO’s that was released last January at the Davos conference in Switzerland – a conference of “Masters of the Universe” as the business press describes them. By rather ominous coincidence, this was just at the moment when the Doomsday Clock was advanced to 3 minutes to midnight.
The poll revealed that climate change did not merit inclusion among the top 19 risks that concern CEO’s.
Worse still, at the top of their ranking of perceived risks was regulation – that is, the prime method for addressing environmental catastrophe.
Their overriding concern was with growth prospects for their companies. That’s not surprising. Whatever their individual beliefs, in their institutional role the CEO’s are constrained to adopt policies that are designed to pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, in the words of the Doomsday clock declaration. ….
The effects are before our eyes every day, so take last Sunday’s Wall Street Journal as a typical example.
There’s a Week In Review section. It features an article titled: “Fossil Fuels Will Save the World, Really“.
The lead story in the news section is headlined “US Producers Ready New Oil Wave”. The article glories in the thought of what they call an ocean of oil from US shale as American energy companies are poised to unleash a further flood, while they lead us exuberantly to the precipice.
Scientists are well aware that most of the oil must be left in the ground if there’s to be some hope for a decent life for our grandchildren, but who cares as long as there are spectacular profits for tomorrow. ~~~ Noam Chomsky ~~~ Lannan (Santa Fe, NM, March 18, 2015)
I was reminded of Chomsky’s analysis today, particularly the greed and exuberance of the fossil industry and cheerleading by the media.
NJ Spotlight reports today on another gas pipeline expansion:
But the expansion of the natural gas pipeline system has been strongly endorsed by the Christie administration and most business interests. Not only has it delivered big savings for consumers and companies depending on the fuel to heat homes and businesses, it also has helped drive down the price of electricity in a state with some of the highest energy costs in the nation.
The steep drop in natural gas prices — some consumers have seen their heating bills drop by one-third or more — is pushing gas utilities to get access to the cheaper supplies. With tougher environmental rules proposed by the Obama administration, many older coal-fired plants will be retired, replaced by new or expanded natural-gas generation. …
But Droege [Williams] said increased capacity of the compressor station in Mercer County, will not create problems. “You will not even notice it,’’ he said.
Yup, there it is, just like Chomsky said, - American energy companies leading us exuberantly to the precipice.
I submitted the below comment, in what appears to be another futile attempt to inject sanity in the discussion and reframe the perspectives presented in the story:
First of all, the current market price of gas is artificially low – economists agree that it fails to consider “external” environmental, public health, social, and climate change costs.
Those costs are described and quantified in the EPA”s social cost of carbon” – when will we ever see a report on that?
Gas consumers and ratepayers are paying for these costs now, just not in the price of so called “cheap” natural gas – that is a huge lie.
Second, scientists warn that at least 80% of known reserve of fossil fuels must remain in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change – so it is literally insane to be investing in fossil infrastructure instead of efficiency and renewables.
Third, the so called “cheap gas” is undermining the economics of efficiency and renewables and discouraging critically needed investments.
This is perverse – literally.