Desmond Tutu on Keystone XL

The taste of “success” in our world gone mad is measured in dollars and francs and rupees and yen. Our desire to consume any and everything of perceivable value – to extract every precious stone, every ounce of metal, every drop of oil, every tuna in the ocean, every rhinoceros in the bush – knows no bounds. We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth.

and

We cannot necessarily bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. But we can take steps to reduce its political clout, and hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up the mess.

And the good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch. Young people across the world have already begun to do something about it. The fossil fuel divestment campaign is the fastest growing corporate campaign of its kind in history.

via We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet | Desmond Tutu | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Hope for Peak Oil. Soon.

Things are getting out of hand, when Peak Oil – the end of cheap petroleum – is the only way I can see out of this mess. It would help reduce carbon emissions, and it would help reduce our environmental exposure to plastics and plastic byproducts like Bisphenol-A.

My friend Niran gave a rundown of how pervasive environmental plastics are, and the dangerous side effects of our constant exposure to them. Grey Goo, but as a result of Better Living Through Chemistry™

Very scary stuff. Between the upcoming drop in global carrying capacity, impending spike in fuel prices, and environmental contamination through petroleum products and byproducts, we’re in for an interesting ride over the next 50 years…

I recently got rid of an old plastic table that was sloughing a white powder. I had no idea that was a product of photodegredation of the polymers, and that the white dust wasn’t just annoying but potentially toxic (if not to me, then to the critters that form the base of the planet’s food chain/web). Of course, by “got rid of”, I mean “carted to the landfill, where it continues to photodegrade, but I don’t have to look at it.”

My house is full of (and made of) plastics. My fridge is stocked with it. My water is stored in it. My vitamins encased. There is no part of my home, work, or neighbourhood that is free of plastics (and by extension, petroleum). Very scary to imagine the changes that will be necessary to reduce that, or to adjust to a new way of doing things without the long polymers so cheaply available…

Maximum Carbon Load

There has been much talk and hype about Peak Oil – the fact that the global production of petroleum is about to reach its maximum level, after which it will start to decline until it eventually becomes a scarce resource and we all have to scavenge in landfills for decades-old plastic to recycle.

It may not be as soon as some think. The Saudis are estimating about 4.5 trillion barrels left. Here in Alberta, we’re sitting on an estimated 1 trillion barrels locked in the Athabasca tarsands.

So, Peak Oil may be years or decades away. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. As we’re all happily buying Hummers and Escalades to drive through Raunchy Ronald’s Drive Thru, we’re continuously pumping carbon that had been naturally sequestered deep underground, into the atmosphere. The atmosphere can’t hold all of that carbon without leading to the global warming effects we’re observing now. The real, and more immediate, danger isn’t running out of oil. The danger is in not running out soon enough.

The atmosphere will hit maximum carbon load, and then we’ll have to be spending insane amounts of energy working to pump all of that carbon back into stable reservoirs. Sequestering underwater has me just a little bit nervous.

Here’s the parodox. We may manage to delay Peak Oil, at the cost of accelerating global warming. The irony is, if we’d have hit Peak Oil already, our impact on the environment would already be starting to decelerate (not decrease, just slow down for awhile before beginning to reverse).

Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’re (as a species) smart enough to Do The Right Thing any sooner than we absolutely have to, if then. If there’s oil left to burn (even at $300 per barrel) you’d better believe someone will be ready to burn it. Years from now, students will shake their heads in disbelief when they read about what we did with the limited petroleum resource.

There has been much talk and hype about Peak Oil – the fact that the global production of petroleum is about to reach its maximum level, after which it will start to decline until it eventually becomes a scarce resource and we all have to scavenge in landfills for decades-old plastic to recycle.

It may not be as soon as some think. The Saudis are estimating about 4.5 trillion barrels left. Here in Alberta, we’re sitting on an estimated 1 trillion barrels locked in the Athabasca tarsands.

So, Peak Oil may be years or decades away. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. As we’re all happily buying Hummers and Escalades to drive through Raunchy Ronald’s Drive Thru, we’re continuously pumping carbon that had been naturally sequestered deep underground, into the atmosphere. The atmosphere can’t hold all of that carbon without leading to the global warming effects we’re observing now. The real, and more immediate, danger isn’t running out of oil. The danger is in not running out soon enough.

The atmosphere will hit maximum carbon load, and then we’ll have to be spending insane amounts of energy working to pump all of that carbon back into stable reservoirs. Sequestering underwater has me just a little bit nervous.

Here’s the parodox. We may manage to delay Peak Oil, at the cost of accelerating global warming. The irony is, if we’d have hit Peak Oil already, our impact on the environment would already be starting to decelerate (not decrease, just slow down for awhile before beginning to reverse).

Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’re (as a species) smart enough to Do The Right Thing any sooner than we absolutely have to, if then. If there’s oil left to burn (even at $300 per barrel) you’d better believe someone will be ready to burn it. Years from now, students will shake their heads in disbelief when they read about what we did with the limited petroleum resource.