The Paucity of Paris

Do you agree with the so-called Paris Agreement? I don’t. Apparently I’m in good company. James Hansen, adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies says it’s just “bovine excrement.” (my rendition of his more colloquial descriptor) The 196 signers of the agreement promise they will limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius and work real hard to get it down to the 1.5 degrees necessary to preserve our existence. But it’s all entirely voluntary and there is absolutely no enforcement mechanism. As in none. We know, in order to reach that 1.5 degree level, 80% of the known oil reserves will have to stay in the ground. What are the chances that’s going to happen? I’m very serious here … when all we have at this point are promises from the very people who stand to make trillions over extracting as much of those reserves as they can! The Paris accord says absolutely nothing about reducing production–now or at any time in the future. All it says is that the signatories will do everything they can to reduce emissions. Maybe most telling is the fact that nowhere does the agreement say we will stop exploring for new reserves. I hope you’ll agree this is definitely a problem.

I think it’s just another example of the Corporate State’s power and leverage over most everything that matters these days. (Please click on The Corporate State on the subject line above if that’s a new term to you.) No where in the agreement will you find even the mention of the major threat to the future of our planet, fossil fuels. And the giant corporations (they are people you know) those who will benefit from ever-increasing use of fossil fuels? All of them were well represented. Of course they were. The nation states that devour the insane wealth that comes from their oil reserves were actually seated at the table. Yes. I’m talking about Saudi Arabia, and others.  The real advocates for change, read that “those who really do want to save the planet” were kept outside. The best they could do was carry signs and chant pleas for sanity in this whole sordid affair.

Here’s a very important bit of information that is kept buried on the sidelines. According to science professor at Pace University Chris Williams we have the knowledge, we have all the tools to make the changes necessary. You know what? I think I believe him. He says the challenge is to gain the social and political higher ground to implement the tools. Of course the problem there is the same as existed back in 2003 when many of us ran into the power of the war industry and got nowhere trying to keep us out of Iraq. Their chief lackey was none other than our President who said: “At a time of my own choosing’ we will begin to bomb Baghdad. Almost in the same breath he said we would be doing this to “win the hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people. Crazy I know. He also said the  magnificent “shock and awe” would win the day. Yeah right. We went into Iraq, initially to find Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Then when that didn’t play well with the American public the administration said it was so we wouldn’t have to rely on our domestic oil supply to keep our economy rolling. That actually seemed to satisfy most folks. But the real reason for the Iraq debacle–which continues today–is because war is profitable. Of course oil is too but war is even more profitable.
Ah but I digress; but not really. The reason for Iraq then and the reason for the total impotence of the Paris Agreement are closely wedded. As Tom Cruise said in the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire”: “Show me the money.” That’s how the 1% got there. Those same 100 “wise old white guys” who each make billions from war also make more billions from the fossil fuel industry.
But the people who have the knowledge and the tools weren’t even at the negotiating table in Paris. Saudi Arabia and the fossil fuel lackeys for the Koch Bros were though. I guess we know why don’t we. Chris Williams says one of the key tools would be to stop searching for new supplies. About the several trillion dollars planned for finding new sources of oil and coal he says: “How come we’re not closing down exploration for more fossil fuels?” Why are we not diverting the government subsidized trillions of dollars to produce more of these energy sources?   More importantly why are we not transferring those monies to developing nations so that, as Williams goes on to say “they can skip the whole generation of dirty energy and move on to cleaner energy benefits.” He points out that many third-world countries have skipped laying telephone cables and gone to cell phones, a more advanced technology. In the same way, these countries could “skip the fossil fuel era” by building a wind energy infra-structure which is already competitive with fossil fuel, even with the subsidies.

“We have all the knowledge, we have the technology to make the changes necessary. The only problem is to gain the social and political higher ground to implement the tools” says Williams. Yes. That is definitely a problem. It may be such a big problem that we cannot solve it. But we cannot afford not to!

So. where are we? We are at the place where, if we care about our grandchildren, we need to wholly embrace Mohandas K. Gandhi’s: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Of course we like that saying. But we know that, in order to be the change we will have to become agents for change. And change agents die! Yes.        Well.        Is there a better way to go? Probably not.
I strongly urge you to take a critical look at all the feel-good media following the circus in Paris. Search online for Chris Williams and prepare to learn some things about climate change that you’ve only sensed might be true. But now you will have concrete knowledge working for you. Also another favorite Chris of mine, Chris Hedges speaks eloquently and powerfully on this subject. Maybe you will, as I have, decide to become active in your community, your sphere of influence, and become a change agent. In this work I’ve learned there are few more psychologically and spiritually rewarding things you can do with your life.

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