Climate Change, Clean Coal, and Dirty Propaganda
In the days preceding the storm of the century, two candidates running for President of the United States strenuously assured voters that they would pump more crude, frack more natural gas, and burn more coal than the other guy. Whether or not an energy policy built on a fossil-fuel paradigm could or could not be sustained wasn’t discussed, at least by Messrs. Obama and Romney, who proudly reiterated their fealty to the oil and mining companies that sign the checks. Virtually every other candidate for President –the ones who weren’t members of the Democratic or Republican crime syndicates, such as Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party — characterized our looming environmental disaster as the biggest threat facing America, not terrorism or the national debt, as the Military-Industrial complex would like us to believe.
To Barry and Mitt and the corporations and rich folks who spent millions and millions and millions of dollars to impress upon voters the righteousness of their viewpoint, the particulates and gasses that we spew in the air are a downer, a bummer, and the more you mention them the more nervous people get about the price of gasoline, which battles the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the win-loss record of the Lakers for the title of America’s Most Fascinating Number. Therefore the phrases “climate change,” “global warming” and “carbon tax” were never mentioned in any of the three televised Money Party infomercials (billed as debates). Considering that both conventions had been affected by tropical storm Isaac, this rhetorical oversight was as absurd and weird as someone describing her recent trip to Syria without mentioning the civil war.
Then, as we’ve been taught by concerned religious leaders, God punished us for our sins. He brought His wrath down upon us – which He’s been doing a lot lately.
In one parallel reality, a horrific weather emergency was occurring. In another parallel reality, our leading candidates assured us they were in favor of all the stuff that creates horrific weather emergencies.
But (an unprecedented amount of) money had been spent and the bets had to be decided; the voting proceeded. Americans, dissuaded by their media minders from considering anyone who couldn’t buy TV time, cast more than 100 million votes for two multi-millionaires whose stated goal was to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them, only more aggressively. Meanwhile, scientists reported that 2012 will be warmest year in the history of the nation, residents of New Jersey returned to homes filled with sand and water, and the New York Times discovered a secret CIA report outlining the cataclysmic challenges the military is sure to confront as the result of climate change.
And that freakish summertime-in-March heat wave? The epic drought that contributed to a 40% rise in grain prices and a record-setting Arctic ice melt? They were not mentioned either, at least not in polite company.
We watched some of the election returns on the increasingly unwatchable CNN. There we learned that the Coal Industry, one of the “sponsors” of the Democrat-Republican debates, really and genuinely cares. Coal cares. How marvelous!
The reason we know Coal cares is because the Coal Industry bought advertising time on CNN to reiterate the cleanliness of their product. The Coal Industry cares because they have a Website called CoalCares.org, where they distribute free inhalers to asthmatic children living within 200 miles of a coal plant, so you know their heart is in the right place. [We think everyone should visit this site, which is a thing of beauty.] And because they care, they’re now mining something called “clean coal,” which according to the scientific consensus, doesn’t actually exist. But at least they care enough to tell us comforting fairy tales.
Romney brayed about being a “big coal guy.” Obama crowed about his “all-of-the-above” approach, with “all” including plenty of clean coal – a substance that Mr. Obama is smart and well-read enough to know doesn’t actually exist. And residents of New England beach towns wondered where they would live.
No one from either sub-brand of the Money Party was brave enough to speak the truth. Which is this: All those untapped reserves of clean coal and domestic oil and Canadian tar sand needs to stay in the ground, where it can’t be burned and converted to airborne carbon.
The world’s best minds – not just Americans – have come to a rough consensus about how much more carbon we can emit into our atmosphere without raising the global temperature another degree, which is the “red line” for survivability. At our current rates of pollution, we’ll blow through the limit around 2027, in around 15 years. If we increase our consumption, particularly of coal, the consequences will be felt even sooner.
Since we the people can’t seem to find elected leaders that offer a salutary alternative to “drill, baby, drill,” it’s nice to know that the Coal Industry cares. Unfortunately, their compassion and empathy aren’t going to provide much succor when God finally decides he’s had enough of this nonsense.