The Jig is up

The jig is up. Greg Gerritt March 17, 2018

Several years ago observations of the world, and especially the issue of climate change, lead me, and I am sure others through out the world, to the conclusion that if we are to leave a better planet for future generations that we have to stop building any new fossil fuel infrastructure. I came to my stand through simple logic. If you are in a hole (climate change) and you want to get out of the hole (stop the acceleration of climate change) the first thing to do is stop digging. Climate change is already causing major problems. It is clearly linked to fossil fuel usage and usage depends upon the amount of money still going into drilling, mining, and pipelines. If we want to stop the problems, stop building new infrastructure. I started spreading the word when hardly anyone was saying it, but now it has become commonplace to hear the cry. The resistance to any expansion of the fossil fuel industries has become global.

In the last few months I began seeing editorials in newspapers and other opinion pieces complaining about the “do not build anything anywhere movement.” Proud to be a part of that movement when it comes to fossil fuels. Based on what I learned recently, the editorials were the direct result of a campaign begun by the fossil fuel industries to counter act the movement to save the planet and our communities from climate change. The editorials parroted the same lines, same tired arguments. Then recently a new thing popped onto my screen, CERAWeek, a conference begun in the 1980’s originally put on by Cambridge Energy Research Associates that has evolved into one of the big deal conferences among the fossil fuel industry, in fact it calls itself ” the world’s premier energy event.”

This year the CERAWeek conference included Secretary of the Interior Zinke complaining about how many birds are killed by wind turbines ( Zinke left out that by orders of magnitude fewer birds are killed wind turbines than by climate change or cats ) but the BIG new topic was how important it was to counteract the global resistance to fracking and new pipelines and power plants.

Here are a few quotes

“For more than a century oil and gas pipelines were built beneath the United States with nary any notice from the public.
But pipelines executives lamented Wednesday that since the rise of the “Keep it in the Ground” movement, projects were being delayed by a rising tide of protests, litigation and vandalism.
“The level of intensity has ramped up,” Kinder Morgan CEO Steven Kean said Thursday at the CERAWeek energy conference hosted by IHS Markit. “There’s more opponents, and it’s more organized.”
Speaking onstage with fellow pipeline CEOs Kelcy Warren, of Energy Transfer Partners, and Russ Girling, of TransCanada, Kean recounted how a group of environmentalists closed the valves on their pipeline network in the western United States in what appeared to be a coordinated effort across multiple states.”In a move to shore up public opinion, the typically media-shy Warren said he had increased Energy Transfer’s presence on social media platforms.
“There’s lies being told about our company that we have to police,” Warren said. “All of us have to bear that cost.”
The anti-oil movement is already having an impact on development in the United States, Girling said. But he argued it had done little to slow construction on a global level.
“As we have stalled development, others have taken up the slack,” he said. And in other countries, “we’re seeing less care to the environment and human rights.”
Yup, the oil and gas industries are bringing out the big guns to lie to us again. Telling us how fracking does not poison us. Telling us there is no resistance to fracking except in the USA while places all over the world are moving to ban it. The fossil fuel shills tell us how climate change will mean plants will grow faster, how without more gas and oil America will collapse. Lies, Lies, and more lies. But I am very happy that they have started to notice the resistance and realize that it is not going away. First they ignore you, then the ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. Fossil fuels are on their last legs, between climate change and cheaper alternatives, between the lies they tell, and the truth our eyes see, we shall stop the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in its tracks.

I went to a hearing on the RI Global Warming Solutions Act at the RI House Environment Committee in March 15 2018. I listened to the lobbyists for the Chamber of Commerce and a few business associations, the same ones that are anti environment on everything, give us the same old song and dance. These bastions of capitalism ought to know better. They claim to be all about innovation and markets, but the stuff they said was the most retrograde and out of date stuff you could imagine. Sounded just like the stories told about the Clean Air Act, the Clean WaterAct, and even the one about how mandatory seat belts would mean that Americans would not buy cars any longer The law says that by 2035 5% of all the vehicles sold in Rhode Island will have to be electric. The lobbyists said if she wanted to drive to Myrtle Beach she would be worried that she would not be able to charge it. It was pointed out by one of my colleagues that there are at least 1000 charging stations along the I-95 corridor NOW, and I pointed out that by 2035 if trends continue, fast charging electric car stations will be as common as gas stations are today. Fossil fuels are dinosaurs, about to meet their meteor, but the old guard wants to cling to its power. So it complains when we protest and even more when we win. They give business a bad name.

As the storms get crazier, as the Arctic warms, as the droughts cover more places and the wars and famines and displacements grows, the resistance continues to grow. It is becoming more and more obvious that despite an administration in Washington that wants to kill us all so they can have all the money, the resistance is not going away. The oil industry and the other fossil fuel industries, have gone as far as they can and will be defeated. The politicians who do not get how climate change is the existential crisis of our time will be washed away, We shall stand our ground and resist all new fossil fuel infrastructure until we stop the madness.

We need to get to zero carbon emissions in 20 years, as well as rebuild global carbon stocks in the soil and vegetation if we are to prevent runaway climate change. Building infrastructure that lasts 40 or 50 years means emissions for 20 years past the zero hour, or massive costs from stranded assets, things that no one can pay for now, let alone when we finally get the gumption to shut them down. If we build the power plants now they will hang around our necks as a financial albatross. Making it that much harder to move to clean energy.
Five years from now the fossil fuel industries will know they are dinosaurs and on the way to extinction. The political upheaval to get there may be traumatic, and the powerful forces will continue to rail against those seeking to keep the planet healthy, but each storm, each drought and fire cycle, each mass migration away from climatic stressed war zones makes it that much more obvious how big the struggle is. And each local victory, each law suit, each protest and political victory for stopping the fossil fuel expansion running over our communities and our planet, makes it that much more likely that a tipping point shall be reached, and the dinosaur will perish so the new economy can emerge into the light of day, one based on ecological healing, nonviolence, justice, and democracy.