Thursday, July 01, 2010

Kill, Baby, Kill-- or PeacePower?

Will our codependent addiction to oil and militarism kill us before we decide to change? This is becoming a more open and futurefright question daily. Michael Klare, arguably the world's expert on this intertwined inquiry, is realistic and therefore pessimistic. Deepwater Horizon is unfathomably disastrous and yet is only the warm-up throat-clearing moment as we rush after oil that is left in our precious Earth, oil that is now guarded by hostile geology, hostile environmental conditions, and hostile regimes. Easy oil is all gone. The price for oil in the future will include many more wars and spills. Future? The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is prelude and our pathetic dependence will preclude our survival. We need intervention and treatment. No one will do it except us, civil society in civil resistance to Death by Oil.

From the wellsprings of al Qa'ida in Saudi Arabia to the insurgency of the Niger Delta, grassroots indigenous opposition to oil corporations and their despoliation is now at a high pitch and only growing. War will be a concomitant to oil extraction as people continue to tire of theft, corporate interference with governance, and ruination of their environments.

Oil in and offshore Alaska is predicated upon the ruination of that environment. Conditions on land and offshore are both environmentally hostile and vulnerable, with weather that makes Deepwater Horizon efforts look easy. No platform, even built on an artificial island, can withstand collision with the massive icebergs that are calving off melting Arctic icecaps. Few watercraft can navigate and the thousands of watercraft trying more or less vainly to stop the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would not be capable of any help.

Prevention is predicated upon finding and developing other sources of energy now. Solar is by far the best bet. The deserts of the planet are perfect platforms for placement of vast solar arrays that would provide power for electric heat, electric vehicles, and virtually all other current energy needs. Wind--really a derivative of solar, since the sun's heat creates the temperature differentials that produce wind--is the best and immediately available second source.

Needs, not greeds.

The days of eating breakfast from the four corners of the planet are done. If you wish fresh mangoes, move to Sri Lanka. Lettuce in January? Learn to grow it in your living room. Humankind evolved from eating local and we will once again do so.

We will see how the end of oil shipping produces new hybrid power for oceanic vessels--time to rediscover sails and fit out ships with solar cells that charge batteries alongside windchargers. No more cheap shoes/toys/shirts/gadgets etc. from China--unless you live there or near there.

The first major step is conservation. Reduce what we produce and cut consumption.

The second major step is manufacturing and installing alternatives we know how to make that fit well into our grid. Photovoltaics are nothing new and we simply need to shift quickly to mass production. We can bail out Wall Street and maintain 1,000 foreign military bases and fight wars in two, three, or four countries? Stop that and go solar electric--vehicles and indoor climate control. Let Wall Street catch up and let the people of the Middle East and Central Asia and Africa and South America decide their own affairs. Our role as global tough guy is so over. The steroids have are killing us and we need to heal or die. Developing solar, wind, and electric vehicles will create for more jobs than shooting people and building bombs.

The third major step is research, testing, and development of new carbon-free, nonradiological technologies to gather and distribute electricity and make hyper-efficient use of it. Within this major step are the immediate bridges to an infrastructure that will sustain society--many recharging stations, for instance. If we would stop the daily contracts for $hundreds of millions to weapons makers and pour a fraction of that into a new exploration of technology to help humankind live well on a healing planet, we would have a far longer species life expectancy.

Our choice. Civil society will make that choice or it won't be made. The failure of corporations and politicians is complete, total and irredeemable. Only we can fix this by taking responsibility for our collective future. We make those choices daily and doing nothing is a choice for extinction. Choose life. All power to the peaceful.

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