Delight Springs

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Real value

We take time out today to consider free speech on campus.

Then, our next hopeful turn with Tim Flannery is to a post-peak future of declining oil dependency. We don't have to wait for it to run out, to turn down the spigots. Building retrofits, hybridization and electrification, housing densification, new rail, light rail, are bicycle-friendly infrastructure will all contribute to dialing down demand.

Natural gas, long touted as the indispensable transitional bridge to a renewable future, is looking increasingly less attractive as better alternatives come on line faster than predicted. "Solar is anticipated by some to be globally competitive with coal by 2020." And wind turbines, far from blotting the landscape, look to a lot of us like the surest sign of progress. But of course we all "see what we want to see" as long as we can, so we can expect continuing wind (and solar) resistance.

The big point is, "market-driven increases in global supplies of unconventional natural gas do not discernibly reduce the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions or future climate change." Gas is a bridge too far. We can't trust it to get us where we're going. We're on our way to blasting through our carbon budget and bursting the bubble by 2028. The short-term skimming of profits in a parasitic and dying industry, "a  geriatric with hardened arteries," is criminally short-sighted and (by the terms of the analogy) ethically maleficent. "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage." We may have to sue for malpractice.

In practice that means: divest from the old and invest in the new. Leave coal, oil, and gas in the ground, support high-sustainability companies and practices, buy (green) bonds, and recognize real value. Sun and wind are priceless. It's not too late to stop squandering and start appreciating our most vital life-giving resources.

6 am/7:05, 50/74, 5:56

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