Costs Of Fossil Fuels
By Rand Clifford
01 May, 2007
(Part Two of the series:
Perspectives On Our Changing Climate)
U.S. News and World Report Senior
writer Michael Barone recently returned from Venus, where runaway greenhouse
effect from an atmosphere that’s mostly carbon dioxide keeps surface
temperatures averaging about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (Ryabov, 2000).
Venusian religious leaders and politicians are sweating out final details
of an Official Proclamation questioning the effects of carbon dioxide
on climate. They still have a lot of work to do before issuing an Official
Assessment of Blame, which is why Barone hurried back to Earth for a
running start on blaming Al Gore for our own climate dilemma. Seems
Gore has been twisting science, and history (2007). Of course things
are warming, concedes Barone—but that’s just how the planet
works. Change has always been the name of the game. And while climatologists
concur that our runaway carbon emissions are to blame for current unprecedented
warming, Barone insists that "scientists" are confused about
what is natural warming, and what is caused by human activity. Stepping
up the heat, Barone likens Gore to an Old Testament prophet ranting
that we gotta quit sinning, that scientists with views diverging from
his own oughta be squished, and that scientific inquiry must be replaced
with faith. Prophet Gore wants to stop economic growth, thereby consigning
millions in the developing world to miserable poverty. But Gore’s
most vile transgression is that he is a pampered and much-praised baby
boomer so infatuated with himself that all "past history"
is irrelevant. Mr. Barone, I’m not sure what other kinds of history
there are...but anyway, such transgression is where they drew the line
on Venus. You have returned just in time.
Writers paid handsomely for
smug and smarmy screeds about how what is happening is kinda like, sort
of, like, not really happening—paid to wrap tight in stars and
stripes and cherry-picked "science" and pontificate about
things scientific while having no clue about what science actually is,
inciting flocks of subordinate parrots to propagate puerile nonsense;
having to endure such wastage of editorial space better used to convey
substance and meaning, that’s probably the cheapest hidden cost
of oil. More wretched than some of the other costs, perhaps, or at least
more annoying; then at the other end of the costs spectrum, the invasion
and occupation of Iraq.
Those same writers parroted:
Weapons of Mass Destruction! Mushroom clouds! Saddam Hussein—if
we don’t take him out he’ll be all over us with more 9-11s—and
Even Worse! Well, their old nemesis, Reality, deflated that approach,
so we inflated with such nobility as to be willing to make whatever
sacrifices, pay whatever costs involved in bestowing freedom and democracy
upon the good people of Iraq. We were in it for the Iraqis! Operation
Iraqi Liberation, O.I.L.—OOPS! That pesky truth tries to wriggle
out every time we let our propaganda slip. O.E.F., now that sounds much
better, Operation Enduring Freedom. And that endured as our "mission"
for quite a while, until Congressional Democrats with their current
majority started puffing warm air about pseudo timetables for quasi
troop withdrawals. So once again, we have a new "mission",
as Bush revealed in his recent address to the National Cattlemen’s
Beef Association, 90 percent of whose political contributions go to
Republican candidates. The Decider mooed: "If we leave Iraq before
the job is done, the enemy will follow us here" (Bush, 2007). That’s
why parrots are suddenly parroting a steady stream of "If we don’t
git ‘em there, they’ll come and git us here!" Still,
no matter how it’s hidden, that pesky truth of why we invaded
and occupy Iraq won’t go away: We simply MUST control their oil.
That’s why our mission continues to be so variously spelled out,
why our government is yet to officially describe exactly what Victory
in Iraq IS. Why don’t we admit to being simple imperial plunderers,
since most of the world and certainly the Iraqis clearly see the truth?
Cheney revealed the goal
of the war in a speech while still the CEO of Halliburton in 1999. To
his own question of "Where is the oil going to come from to slake
the world’s ever-growing thirst," Cheney answered, "The
Middle East, with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest
cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies." The "Cheney
Energy Task Force" had all eyes firmly fixed on The Prize back
at the beginning of 2001. Along with Ken Lay of Enron and a cadre of
Oil Men, they knew the only way to start describing victory was "Iraqi
Oil Secured"; a main reason the White House has appealed clear
to Cheney’s duck hunting buddy on the Supreme Court to keep all
aspects of the meeting secret.
When Bush handed the keys
of American Foreign Policy to Cheney and his neocons, The Prize had
long been darling of their quest for "full spectrum" domination
of world affairs, a.k.a., "Global Hegemony". Those billions
of barrels, cheapest oil on the planet to extract, new reserves still
being discovered...there is no limit to the spending of other peoples’
money, or sacrifice of other peoples’ lives, to get The Prize.
And no limit to the lies.
For anyone unsure about the
invader’s concern for Iraqi people, two words are ultimately clarifying:
depleted uranium (DU). Our Department of Energy has 100 million tons
of DU, a by-product of the nuclear enrichment process. Disposing of
DU on the battlefield sure is cheaper than disposing it as radioactive
waste. Hardness and density make DU the premier armor-piercing projectile;
radioactivity, and half-life of 4.5 billion years make DU munitions
the ultimate "dirty bombs". Future costs to Iraqis in cancers
and birth defects are incalculable, same for the costs of the massive
contamination of our own troops (Saddam GASSED HIS OWN PEOPLE! We DU
ours...). 350 tons of DU were fired in the first Gulf War. An additional
1800 tons have been used since the 2003 invasion. The Bush administration
likes to talk about the blood-thirsty, maniacal indifference to the
sanctity of human life shown by Iraqis, but could there be any greater
example of this brand of evil than our use of DU munitions not only
in Iraq, but Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, Puerto Rico and elsewhere?
They also belabor the idea that Iraqis have not shown proper gratitude
for all we have done for them. I’m unsure what the protocols of
etiquette dictate regarding gratitude for being invaded, occupied, having
hundreds of thousands of civilians murdered, and having your land, air,
water and gene pool radioactively contaminated for perpetuity—all
simply to steal your resources. But I do know that Americans would surely
run similar gratitude deficits if Iraq invaded America to steal our
resources, and subjected us to such unending horrors as meted out in
Bush’s war for oil.
Actual extent of Big Oil’s influence over American politics is
hard to fathom since they control mainstream media. They cast our oil
war as a crusade of good against evil. They conjure our murder of Iraqis
into noble efforts to bring them freedom. Climate Change becomes a personal
crusade of a fat, pampered rich boy bent on getting elected president
(Reality = again), while earning disdain of "scientists" by
getting some numbers wrong (inches of sea level rise; degrees of temperature
increase; ocean salinity quotients...). They sail through congress bills
for vast corporate welfare even while posting the most obscene profits
in history. And with the White House...they ARE the White House. Their
astronomical influence enables Big Oil to conceal the astronomical True
Costs of oil, lets them keep it from being reflected At The Pump, costs
such as the majority of Climate Change. Costs of vast and comprehensive
pollution from extraction, transportation, refining and distribution
that globally add up to the equivalent of another Exxon Valdez every
few weeks, or worse. Meanwhile, such concentration of power in a single
industry pushes remains of our Constitutional Republic ever deeper into
fascism. Intertwine that with an Industrial Military Complex sucking
up over a trillion dollars of taxpayer money every year, and that gets
us to oil wars, and from Iraq, to Iran. Imagine the costs of keeping
two entire aircraft-carrier battle fleets prowling the Persian Gulf
on alert, fishing for another "Gulf of Tonkin".
So when we pump that $3-a-gallon
(Bitch! & Moan!) gasoline into our tanks, we should keep in mind
that gasoline is in reality the most expensive fuel imaginable—the
most heavily-subsidized commodity in history. We certainly are paying
those subsidies with our tax dollars, regardless of how well they are
cloaked. A trillion dollars so far in Iraq to murder hundreds of thousands
of people that have never harmed nor threatened us. We’re paying
the costs of Climate Change, which, unless oil wars lead to global nuclear
war, will kill like wars never have. We’re paying for all the
pollution. Even future generations are paying dearly for our consumption.
Then we get into costs more difficult to quantify...such as the death
of over 3,000 of our own soldiers, along with the deep and wide stream
of gravely wounded. How can a price tag be put on a million Iraqi lives?
Never-ending effects of DU? Worldwide crash of esteem for America...?
Costs of oil subsidies are virtually limitless, and you and me and all
others like us are paying them, right now. Oil subsidies are simply
political subterfuge to get American taxpayers to pay the true costs
of the world’s most expensive energy so oil folks can stay the
world’s wealthiest people. The pure essence of shame...when it
comes to alternative energies, it boils down to reducing the profits
of an industry that exerts control over most everything in our lives—so
until Big Oil can spread their control over new energy sources, those
sources are just going to have to remain "economically unfeasible".
Since we already have the
technologies to achieve energy independence, how can we tell people
who have lost loved ones in Iraq that alternative fuels are not cost-effective?
Imagine if biomass ethanol were subsidized with just the monetary costs
of the Iraqi invasion and occupation, how competitive it would be. Fossil
fuels could quickly become what they should’ve been wars ago:
Barone, Michael. Gore twists
science, history. Creators Syndicate, March 27, 2007
Bush, George (2007) Bush
delivers remarks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Washington Post (March 28, 2007).
Ryabov, George (2000). Temperature
on the Surface of Venus
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