I am frustrated. And depressed. First of all, the oil spill is just overwhelming. Everything about it. The amount of marine life killed, the wetlands destroyed, and then all of the extra disaster on top of the original disaster. As if all of the oil spilling into the Gulf wasn't bad enough, then they had to go dump in a bunch of toxic dispersants. And when the EPA told them to stop using Corexit, BP basically gave the EPA a middle finger and kept on doing it. Then there's the endangered sea turtles burned, the clean-up workers denied the ability to wear protective gear, and the media kept away from the clean-up, the wimpy six-month moratorium that should have been longer in the first place, and then even THAT getting turned over by a judge who gets his bread buttered by the oil industry.
But that is just the start.
Oh and my actual title is We Are Fucked but the Swearing Police made me change it.
Now if Obama had been a progressive in the first place, which I don't believe he ever was, he might have nominated someone better than Ken Salazar for Secretary of the Interior. And maybe something could have happened to fix MMS before now. But it didn't. Maybe somebody would have noticed that every single oil company had practically identical clean-up plans in case of a spill, and they all included Caribbean walruses and contact info for a dead guy to call in case of an emergency? Maybe somebody, somewhere, would have given a shit about whether the oil companies actually had any technology to prevent spills and to clean them up if they happened.
But the truth came out. The U.S. government loves its oil money too. Recently, one of the news shows I listen to (Rachel, Amy, or Keith) suggested cutting all of the oil subsides we as a nation give to the oil industry. We're in a "PAYGO" (pay as you go) environment in DC right now, which means that nothing gets extra money unless you make a cut or add a tax somewhere else. And I'm highly attuned to sources of money because my own pet bill - the school lunch program - needs BILLIONS more than it's going to get. I was all ears when they brought up cutting oil subsidies. Seems only fair, right? They make more money than god, what do they need subsidies for?
And the answer came back that the U.S. relies on the money it gets from leases paid for by the oil companies. Now, I don't see how cutting subsidies (saving money) will lose us that lease money from the oil companies. The oil's there and they want it. They aren't going to stop drilling tomorrow if we take away their subsidies. Believe me, we could take away an awful lot of money from them before they stop being profitable and can't pay us for leases. But that was the reason given.
I'd bet it as a lot more to do with the fact that the oil companies are some of the top spenders on lobbying in the entire universe. (To find out who spends what on lobbying, go here.) In the first quarter of this year, ConocoPhilips spent over $6.4 mil in lobbying. BP spent $3.5 mil, Exxon Mobil spent nearly $3.4 mil, Chevron spent over $3 mil, and Shell spent nearly $2.3 mil. You can pick a quarter, any year, and they all spend that much or more, depending on what kind of legislation Congress is debating at the time.
It's not just the oil I'm mad about. If it was just the oil, well, maybe we could keep fighting until the politics in this country changed and then get off oil later. I mean, it's gonna run out one of these days, won't it? And then we'll have to get off of it. (And if it runs out before we're ready, it won't be pretty. Cuba found out what that was like in the early '90s. I went there this year and blogged about it to document how they've adapted to life on little oil.)
But it looks like global warming's gonna get us before Peak Oil ever will. And the injustice in that is that the rich countries in the temperate zones (i.e. us) will largely be okay. Oh, we might not have any more American maple syrup, which would be sad, but we'll be okay. Countries in the tropics, by and large poor and developing nations, will be the ones who are hardest hit by changes in climate. They didn't cause it but they'll be the first ones to suffer from it.
So what are we doing about that? Fucking around, mostly. Talking about "clean" coal and nuclear and ethanol, as if they are viable alternatives. (Last month when I visited DC, the ethanol industry - who has signed up Wes Clark as a spokesman - had the Capitol South metro station plastered in ethanol ads.) We talk about cap and trade, we leave major sectors like agriculture out of our climate change bills, the stupid Governor of West Virginia isn't sure it would be in his best personal interest to appoint a Senator ASAP to replace Sen. Byrd.... and on and on it goes. A million reasons why nothing is happening and they all have the same effect. Nothing is happening.
Meanwhile, there are millions of ideas out there on how to solve our problems. About a year ago, I interviewed a guy who invented a plug-in electric hybrid designed so that you only fill it up 4 times a year IN THE MID-90s!!!! And what happened? All the auto-makers and the U.S. Department of Energy saw the car... and they did nothing. A few years later, one of the major automakers asked this guy to make them a prototype of a similar car, which he did. He delivered it to them, they did nothing with it. A full decade ago.
There's a similar story for agriculture. You can grow corn and soy organically, using your same equipment, getting the same or better yield than you do now, AND sell it for organic prices, using up to 2/3 less oil, AND while sequestering carbon into the soil, and yet few farmers do it. There's no incentive for them to do it. In fact, there are a number of disincentives, since your first few years in transition you have decreased yields and since you aren't certified organic yet, you still get paid conventional prices. Plus the infrastructure in place makes it very easy to go with the flow planting GE corn and using fertilizer and herbicides and much harder to be organic or even non-GE. And even harder if you want to grow something other than corn and soy.
We have experts who say we need to change the way we grow our food but make no headlines, and then we have the fuckwits appointed by Obama (like this guy, who came to USDA directly from Monsanto's non-profit) who are for continuing the status quo and exporting it around the world.
It's amazing what a tiny role facts play in the decisions made at the top levels of our government. Colbert said that reality has a well-known liberal bias. Well, I still believe that is true, but our government sure isn't liberal. We've got a Democratic House, Senate, and White House, and there's very little in the way of liberalism actually happening in Washington.
This is more than sad, pathetic, and depressing. It's tragic. We're gonna take ourselves down in flames and take the entire planet down with us, and we probably won't even know it's happening until it's too late.
UPDATE: Normally, as a rule, I read and reply to all comments. I figure that if someone pays me the honor of reading my words, I should read and respond to their comments. But 800 comments? Wow. I think that's a record for me. I'll do my best to read 'em but I want to make my apologies now if that doesn't happen.