What a totally spurious pro-Keystone pipeline column from Joe Nocera in the New York Times today! He doesn’t even bother to mention the 35,000-plus people who turned out in Washington to protest, focusing instead on “boneheaded” Bill McKibben and James Hansen and others who got themselves arrested at the White House last week as though that were the end of the story of citizen protest of this issue.
He dismisses the idea of a carbon tax on fossil fuel companies as ineffective, arguing, inexplicably, that this would “make expensive tar sands more viable.” Huh? Is anyone fact-checking this columnist, NYT?
“If you really want to eliminate expensive new fossil fuel sources, the best way is to lower the price of oil, which would render them uneconomical.” Anyone follow that logic?
Nocera does not once mention the real reason for the protest against the tar sands extraction, which is the environmental hazards, from toxic waterways to exponential increase in the greenhouse gases causing global heating. If that isn’t an insidious, dishonest omission, I don’t know what would be.
His only mention of climate change is dismissive: “Like it or not, fossil fuels are going to remain the dominant energy source for the foreseeable future, and we are far better off getting our oil from Canada than, say, Venezuela. And the climate change effects of tar sands oil are, all in all, pretty small.”
There are so many things wrong in this sentence I hardly know where to start, and most of my readers probably can do the parsing themselves anyway.
The truth is that if, as Joe would have it, “fossil fuels are going to remain the dominant energy source for the foreseeable future,” then our foreseeable future is going to be very brief.
Yesterday while in DC I went back to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to see the Human Origins exhibit, which is, strangely enough, funded by the climate-change denying billionaire Koch brothers.
Once again I lingered at the opening display, a huge poster depicting the changes in Earth’s climate over the past few hundred thousand years, showing how the swings between extremes of hot and cold forced our ancestors to adapt or die.
The last inch or so of the immense timeline (I’m guessing it’s 12 feet wide) shows the last 10,000 years, the era of homo sapiens. The swings between hot and cold get more jagged as we get closer to the present, with the last hundred years–a mere quarter-inch of the vast scale of human history–showing aggressive upward spikes of heat.
There is no mistaking the message of this chart. We are now in a period of rapidly escalating climate change. If we don’t adapt just as rapidly, a major correction to our population will ensue. Millions, even billions of humans may die off, very much in the “foreseeable future.”
For those left to tell the tale, one thing is for sure: the Keystone Pipeline, rusting and derelict on the western plains, will be a less-than-useless monument to the immense folly of men like Joe Nocera, who thought climate change was just a joke.