January 27, 2015

Breaking Free from Oil & Gas Dependency: Why Aren’t We Acting Now?

oil spill bird

Climate change is a wake up call spoken in the language of fires, floods, melting glaciers, droughts, and extinctions.

And it puts us on a tight, unforgiving deadline.

What are we going to do about it? Greenhouse emissions are increasing temperatures and creating extreme weather events.

As Naomi Klein states in her latest book, This Changes Everything:

“…people with strong ‘egalitarian’ and ‘communitarian’ world views (marked by an inclination toward collective action and social justice, concern about inequality, and suspicious of corporate power) overwhelmingly accept the scientific consensus on climate change.”

Yet the global economy continues to be fully reliant upon the burning of fossil fuels, the obvious culprit and cause of climate change. And many of the countries that have emitted least are getting hit by the impacts of climate change first.

What are needed are subsidies for green alternatives with pricey penalties for violations. This can be achieved by removing the subsidies on gas and oil, and by supporting (subsidizing) solar, wind, and tidal forms of energy instead.

New public work programs are needed, but by creating more wind turbines, solar panels, etc. more long lasting employment will be created, whereas such endeavors like the Keystone XL pipeline, though initially employing 2000 workers, will only require 35-50 workers to maintain—unless of course there is an oil spill!

High-density affordable housing and brand-new public transit are needed—and such needs cannot be left to our market economy.

Finally what is needed is a reigning in of the market forces responsible for the climate crisis. Yet there is no way to get cuts in emissions steep or rapid enough to avoid climate chaos and catastrophic scenarios without governmental intervention. This is the only way to minimize damage to ecosystems and to get all wealthy countries to roll out the technologies to replace fossil fuels, cutting carbon at home while helping to launch green transitions throughout the world.

The longer we wait, the more carbon builds up, and the more dramatic is the need to change. Climate change is a cumulative issue. Revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony is needed now.

Our way of life based on the promise of infinite growth cannot be sustained. It is a lethal worldview. The corporate world is stomping all over our natural world. We need to act communally for ecological health and mutual aid. The increasing world poverty in the midst of a smaller world of plenty is unsustainable.

So why are not more liberal and left political parties calling for an end to extreme energy extraction? Why are they not calling for a full transition to renewable economies? Because the political right and the ideology it represents is a formidable barrier to climate progress.

Yet it is from this rich, most powerful industry the world has ever known—the oil and gas industry—that we need to break free!


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Author: Linda Lewis 

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Wikimedia Commons 

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