Mr. President, Clean Coal, eh?!

This entry was posted Friday, 7 September, 2012 at 9:21 am

G’damit, how the hell did that happen?!
The Presidents’ acceptance speech was a grand vision (to be expected) and very good at hitting back and the high notes till the point where he said:

“clean coal” and
“unleash 100 billion cubic feet of gas”

There is nothing clean about coal, “it’s a dirty lie,” as the girl next to me at the March on Wall Street South said.  The technology to gasify and liquify and deep well inject the CO2 is decades away and simply not worth the money, when that capital is needed elsewhere.  Natural gas, love the stuff, awesome precursor to the petrochemical industry, and great substitute bridge to shut down coal plants, immediately.  But as the oil and gas industry states in their own internal documents (thank you Josh Fox, The Sky is Pink), nothing can be drilled into the ground without failure and contamination of aquifers and ground water.  9% of the well head casings fail immediately, and all fail eventually.  There are no free lunches with fossil fuels and few in energy systems in general.  What we shove down into wells and into the ground, drilling fluids, hazardous chemicals, CO2, comes back up, right into our water.  And water is a big issue, too much and not enough across the planet, thanks to too much carbon in the atmosphere (you have to love the enormous irony).  Are we crazy??!!  Alternatives have downsides yes, but nothing like these.

At that point I realized he, his speech writers and staff are still “drinking the cool-aid.”  How is it that such bold lies get perpetuated?  His other lies were absolutely minor in comparison.  Not even a nuance of associated problems or the essence of precautionary principle, just the whole tag line was lifted from the fossil fuel industry and dumped into what was a great speech.  Is there anyone who can help our leadership articulate the issues to the American people, balancing of the risks of continued reliance on FF and the upside to alternatives?  He should have added nuclear (which there are some options still viable, like small pebble breeder reactors, that should be left on the table and pursued if we want to avert climate disaster), but Fukishima may have killed that one, at least in the public perceptions eye.  Kudos to him, for he did try to “make it real” the impacts of climate change, but not nearly the degree that the eminent disaster should demand.

Is it laziness to understand the issue, placating the dirty fuel lobby, or do they really think we can continue to pursue drilling and mining without severe costs or impacts?  Granted, switching is years away, but we don’t have years.  We are at catastrophic tipping points.  We think jobs and the sluggishness of the economy are hard on the American people now, just wait, and not long, grant you.  The impacts of climate disruption will be profound, and we will not recognize the planet in a decade.  People and species will die on levels never seen on this planet, not even the great wars will measure up.

It would be nice to have leadership that would directly address the paucity of logic behind our failure to address the fundamentals of why we have not come together as a people over these issues.  This is at the heart of the problem of our political discourse, the failure to perceive the interconnections of life and ecosystems, your life affects my life, we breath the same air, drink the same water, etc.  It is the bottom line and the core to our unity but somehow has become a wedge issue.  And everything else, everything (though we may not want to believe it or does not give us the immediacy to lay down our life in defense) is secondary, and getting this cosmological “house in order” will be the first step and critical to our country and the planets’ future.

Obama has my vote, but unless we reduce the influence of the dirty energy money, and get our heads right, our future as a species is slim to none.  I will be at the phone bank and voter registration table this weekend.

The paucity of hope.