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August 17, 2009


By: John Caruso

Two entirely unrelated articles for your consideration.  First, "Study Finds Big Storms on a 1,000-Year Rise":

The North Atlantic Ocean has spawned more hurricanes and tropical storms over the last decade than it has since a similarly stormy period 1,000 years ago, according to a new study. [...]

The study's lead author, climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, said finding a reliable way to reconstruct centuries of past hurricane activity could help scientists tease out whether future climate change will alter storm patterns.

Next, "Oil lobby to fund campaign against Obama's climate change strategy":

The US oil and gas lobby are planning to stage public events to give the appearance of a groundswell of public opinion against legislation that is key to Barack Obama's climate change strategy, according to campaigners.

A key lobbying group will bankroll and organise 20 ''energy citizen'' rallies in 20 states. In an email obtained by Greenpeace, Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), outlined what he called a "sensitive" plan to stage events during the August congressional recess to put a "human face" on opposition to climate and energy reform. [...]

The API strategy also extends to a PR drive. Gerard cites polls to test the effectiveness of its arguments against climate change legislation. It offers up the "energy citizen" rallies as ready-made events, noting that allies – which include manufacturing and farm alliances as well as 400 oil and gas member organisations – will have to do little more than turn up.

"API will provide the up-front resources," the email said. "This includes contracting with a highly experienced events management company that has produced successful rallies for presidential campaigns."

As I pondered this second article, I thought: what if in some parallel universe we were facing a similar global threat, but with the difference that this threat could only be resolved in a way that promised to be massively profitable to the oil companies?  Maybe the only practical solution to this planetary crisis (known on parallel Earth as "global flensing") was to release far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through increased usage of fossil fuels.

Imagine the American Petroleum Institute financing "energy citizen" rallies calling on politicians in Washington to pass mandatory SUV-ownership laws in order to counter global flensing and create jobs.  Imagine endlessly repeated TV commercials with Chevron spokespeople telling you that if you really love the planet, you'll a) stop taking the bus to work and b) call your representatives to demand that they take action to recarbonize the atmosphere.  Imagine high-priced PR firms sending lobbyists to Capitol Hill to guarantee that corporate emissions minimums would be mandatory rather than voluntary.  Imagine oil company CEOs fanning out on Sunday talk shows to demand swift, binding government regulation to address this dire threat.  And finally, imagine comprehensive global flensing legislation, backed by every oil company in the country, sailing through Congress in 1997—rather than some pathetic set of half-measures limping along (and under withering attack) over a decade later.

(Fun, isn't it?  And beyond the oil companies: imagine the Clinton administration backing the Kyoto Flensing Protocol to the hilt—even going so far as to insert a controversial clause mandating lower gas mileage in all new school bus-size SUVs.  Imagine hoards of angry conservatives screaming that it's our patriotic duty to drive any distance over 75 feet.  Imagine dozens of leftist global flensing skeptics signing a letter claiming the whole thing is a hoax cooked up by the oil companies, but being mocked—when they weren't being ignored—by the corporate media.  And imagine the problem being resolved so quickly that some people would wonder if there'd ever really been anything to worry about.)

That's life in the parallel universe.  Unfortunately, in this universe the only obvious way to address the global threat we face has the entirely unacceptable side effect of reducing the profits of the most powerful corporations on the planet.  And next to that, what is the continued existence of human civilization as we know it?  Not much, apparently.

Oh well; just our bad luck for ending up in a reality whose existential threat has such an unfortunate profit distribution.  But while we're fighting over the last few cockroaches and waiting for another mega-typhoon to put us out of our misery, we can at least console ourselves with the thought that in maybe half of the other parallel universes out there, everything turns out just peachy.

WILL THIS PRE-PLAGIARISM NEVER CEASE?  Ralph Nader often says that "If the oil companies owned the sun, we'd have solar by now."  I really wish he'd stop stealing my bits before I make them up, since people may get the crazy notion that it's me copying him and not the other way around.

— John Caruso

Posted at August 17, 2009 09:11 PM

Yeah I hate it when that happens.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at August 17, 2009 09:20 PM

I hope you aren't the guy who couldn't see any difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Posted by: Bob at August 17, 2009 09:37 PM

I hope you aren't the guy who couldn't see any difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Posted by: Bob at August 17, 2009 09:37 PM

LAUNCH DRYICE TO THE MOON, sequester carbon dioxide safely and securely for the long term. I would suggest some sort of rail launch system as it will take a LOT of launches. To INSURE job security have the launcher powered by a COAL FIRED powerplant.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 17, 2009 10:18 PM

Bob, who are you talking to?
Bob, who are you talking to?

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at August 17, 2009 10:59 PM

Yes, Al Gore's strong support of the Kyoto Protocol was instrumental in its adoption by the US government.

God bless that man.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at August 17, 2009 11:52 PM

I once worked for a guy who loved to vacation in Yellowstone. He had been many times and would endless discuss how beautiful and special it was. This was in 1988 just before the fires in the park and afterwards he was truly devastated by the destruction.

I foolishly pointed out that the fire was so destructive because humans had prevented the natural fire ecosystem from functioning and that he had had many opportunities to see the park himself and future generations would actually benefit from the fire. He looked at me like I was insane and said "but *I'll* never get to see it again!".

This was my first real up-close interaction with a selfish fucknut Reagan conservative.

Posted by: Jimbo at August 18, 2009 06:30 PM

They should be invited to go skin diving north of Norway to experience this from New Scientist
A bit of blowback extends the dive time.

Posted by: juan mas at August 18, 2009 07:40 PM

They should be invited to go skin diving north of Norway to experience this from New Scientist
A bit of blowback extends the dive time.

Posted by: juan mas at August 18, 2009 07:40 PM

Save the Oocytes,Yeah, Al Gore certainly would've invaded Iraq, killing more people than the Corvair. Bob

Posted by: Bob at August 19, 2009 10:31 AM

Ralph Nader should stop giving the oil companies any ideas.

Posted by: epicurus at August 19, 2009 10:42 AM

My take on Al Gore winning has always been that he would've been blamed for 9/11 and impeached by the Republican congress (impossible? no, it's all in the spin). Leaving Lieberman in charge, who would've neoconned it up just like W did.

Posted by: Cloud at August 19, 2009 01:35 PM

Cloud, You could be right, but only if the Gore administration had failed to stop the attacks. My point is only that we couldn't have done any worse than Bush, and if Nader still can't see that he is an idiot. Bob

Posted by: Bob at August 19, 2009 01:54 PM

Cloud: Gore was basically a neocon until he re-entered personal life, when he became Gore the White. And the legions of Democratic Nader-haters out there are even more immune to that knowledge now than they were in 2000.

Posted by: John Caruso at August 19, 2009 09:39 PM

Some people must have a Google alert on Nader, because the mere mention of the man's name brings them out of the woodwork. "Hey, let's all have an argument about the 2000 election! ... Again!"

Posted by: SteveB at August 19, 2009 09:40 PM

SteveB, Out of the woodwork? Is there any arguement about the 200 election?

Posted by: Bob at August 19, 2009 11:30 PM

No, Bob, you have definitely won the arguement about the 200 election.

Posted by: John Caruso at August 20, 2009 02:40 AM

I didn't vote for the Democrats in 2000, I didn't vote for them in 2004, I didn't vote for them in 2008, and I'm not going to vote for them in 2012. But please, feel free to throw your arguments up against my impenetrable wall of don't-give-a-shit.

Posted by: SteveB at August 20, 2009 08:08 AM

SteveB, Maybe if you did give a shit you wouldn't be covered in it. Jon, Thanks for the correction.Very constructive. In geometry class they'll teach you the difference between parallel and tangent. I'll just crawl back into the woodwork now; it's just too bitchy in here for me.

Posted by: Bob at August 20, 2009 05:39 PM

Gosh, and I said "please", and everything, and now Bob is going away. Some people are just so darn sensitive.

Posted by: SteveB at August 20, 2009 07:20 PM

Yeah, and I even admitted he'd won the arguement. There's just no pleasing some people.

Posted by: John Caruso at August 20, 2009 08:11 PM