Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Building a Bridge to the 19th Century

So... I'm feeling a little unambitious so I'm going to fall back on the old "expand on a comment you made on another blog" gambit. This time, it's a comment I made at Vixen Strangely's blog. VS, who is not to be confused with VS (can't have enough VS's in your blogroll), posted on Romney's flip-flop on the coal industry. Recently, Mitt, in rather asinine fashion, accused President Obama of (wait for it... wait for it) waging a "War on Coal". Shya, how can Obama wage a War on Christmas if he doesn't wage a war on the very coal which will be placed in the stockings of naughty children?

First off, coal production is up in Ohio, so Obama is not hampering the coal industry in any way. More importantly, Obama should be waging a war on coal. Coal extraction is destructive to the environment and dangerous to workers. The burning of coal releases toxins into the environment and contributes to climate change. As Gene Wolfe put it in a passage I've quoted here before:


"That's coal smoke, the technology of the Nineteenth Century brought into the Twenty-First and hard at work. They could have conquered the solar system and harnessed the sun, but they did this instead, because there was no fun involved. Their great-grandfathers had done it, and they knew it would work."


Fossil fuels should be regarded as energy start-up capital, the basic pool of relatively easily obtained energy sources which can allow us to make the transition to renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, tidal, biomass, biofuels, hydroelectric, and geothermal. Once again, Gene Wolfe is the go-to guy here, referring to our inaction on the environment as the do nothing future, the one in which humanity clings to its old home, the continents of Earth, and waits for the money to run out.

We've known that reliance on fossil fuels was a problem since the 1970's but Carter was ridiculed for asking people to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater and Reagan ripped the solar panels from the White House roof. We've had an ass-backwards energy policy for the past thirty-odd years and still fucking idiots are wasting time and resources making sure that nothing is done.

Mitt Romney's energy policy is basically the Bain Capital model of energy policy- use up all the resources you have until you've extracted all the value out of your "investment" at the expense of its long-term prospects... the one hitch is that, when you've burned through (literally) all of your fossil fuel "startup capital", there's no possibility of a bailout.

7 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Mitt Romney's energy policy is basically the Bain Capital model of energy policy- use up all the resources you have until you've extracted all the value out of your "investment" at the expense of its long-term prospects...

That's America's energy policy! In fact, it's most of our policies.
~

Helmut Monotreme said...

If we would have spent all of the money on the two most recent imperial misadventures on fusion research, renewable energy and infrastructure, we'd be at the point where we could tell the oil producing countries of the world "no thanks, you can drink that shit, we don't need it."

mikey said...

Once the wealthy and the corporations of America figured out it was a realtively simple two-step process to take control of the political power, it was done quickly and remarkably quietly. They converted the existing democratic electoral system to one based on money rather than one based on votes and then had their designated politicians exploit the gaping weaknesses in an obsolete boondoggle of an eighteenth century system of governance to "harden" that system against any process that might allow the people to take back their democracy.

Now we're seeing the full implementation of their plan - and it's somewhat surprising that it's as short-term and unsustainable as it is, but we can be sure they crunched the numbers and believe that a process that allows for a steep decline in economic growth, infrastructure maintenance and investment is the one that optimizes their profits. It certainly does appear that they plan on squeezing it for all the wealth they can get and walking away...

Helmut Monotreme said...

Mikey I think the fossilized old farts that are making the most money off of the current situation figure the wheels won't come off until a year or two after they are dead.

paleotectonics said...

It's always short-term thinking, the immediate greatest return to stockholders, nownownow. The entrepreneurs of the past always played the long game. The dammit GOP has played a very successful 40 yr long game and have made incredible returns - we are down to fighting for exceptions allowing a woman to choose an abortion, putting the safety net on the bargaining table for short term preservation of just the status quo. I don't get where modern business can see the advantage realized by long term strategies, trade some return now for a potential future fortune? Hell, the market is a gamble in the first place - go for broke, man...

paleotectonics said...

"modern business CAN'T", goddammit...

Substance McGravitas said...

It's always short-term thinking, the immediate greatest return to stockholders, nownownow.

You're irresponsible if you don't blow up the world for a quarterly gain!