We All Know it: Fossil Fuels Lead to War. Time to Move on.

September 30, 2019

60 Minutes has aired new footage of the recent attack on Saudi Oil facilities, which took out 5 percent of the global supply in minutes.

It seems like Captain Obvious to belabor at this point, but clearly our continued dependence on fossil fuels keeps the world always on the edge of war, and siphons huge resources to defend or grab increasingly scarce resources.
We simply can’t afford this any longer.

In the US, facilities such as refineries, and large, central power plants make tempting targets for terrorists, hackers, or just vulnerability for increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

I spoke to retired Marine General Richard Zilmer about the security implications of a distributed grid. In addition, I interviewed local officials here in central Michigan, who get it that a modernized transmission system, with widely distributed nodes of energy production, transmission and storage, is inherently more secure, stable, and advantageous for local communities.

Below, Energy expert Jeremy Rifkin reviews the big picture of the energy revolution now well underway.


16 Responses to “We All Know it: Fossil Fuels Lead to War. Time to Move on.”

  1. doldrom Says:

    @Rifkin The Netherland now has a legal obligation (upheld by the constitutional court against the government) to tackl climate change. There is some multi-lateral agreement about a climate plan with several prongs (more residential solar, getting rid of fossil fuel heating in houses, refurbishing energy standards in housing, transportation, downsizing agriculture and its footprint, etc.).

    Unfortunately, the idea that the economic “profit” and ecological “cost” priorities are in competition is as alive as ever. The one thing they will not consider (as politically unrealistic) is the one measure proposed by experts for 4 decades now, which is a carbon dividend. That is, a tax on emitted and embedded carbon which is fiscally neutral and of which the revenues are distributed per capita. Such a fee would take carbon out of the realm of an economic externality (confronting our grandchildren with a pretty near infinite bill) and price the costs in now, unleashing all the forces of the market to gradually weaning ourselves from carbon, and tilting the playing field ever so slightly at a favourable pitch against carbon imbalance.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      “The one thing they will not consider (as politically unrealistic) is the one measure proposed by experts…”

      A carbon price isn’t even close to being the only thing “they” won’t consider, although regardless of what Republicans say, they won’t consider it. An emergency climate mobilization or Green New Deal is the only umbrella under which we can solve the climate crisis at this point. That’s a thousand times less likely to be “considered” by “them”–if by them you mean Republicans or corporate duopolists.

      The best and most up to date science–aka the experts–says that if we don’t eliminate fossil fuels, chemical industrial agriculture and deforestation in less than 10 years, we’ll face rapidly and exponentially rising chances of utter collapse of global civilization. A price on carbon will not accomplish anything remotely close to that in anything remotely close to that amount of time. It may, as part of a Green New Deal, help sweep up any crumbs left by more serious, immediate, and effective policies. To implement any solutions at all we will have to remove Republicans and corporate Democrats from power and replace them with progressives willing to do what’s necessary. Please stop pushing for halfway measures and help the revolution that that will take.

      • doldrom Says:

        There are not Republicans or Democrats in the Netherlands. A lot of things have been considered (not all accepted or implemented to the degree which some would like). That is also why I mention multilateral support (in the USA one would speak of bipartisan), because almost all parties support significant parts of the proposals..

        However, a carbon dividend has been declared outside the band-width of the discussions and policy re-calibrations that have been going on. One of the reasons often given is that people want to see an EU-wide introduction of any such measure.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Rifkin is not talking about the Netherlands except as one example of one part of one solution, which is an infinitesimal part of the problem. He’s talking about the world. Which means he’s talking largely about the US. In the US there are Republicans, who will not now or ever allow a carbon price or any other solution to the dire ecological crisis, regardless of what they say. As long as they have power there will be no climate solutions of any kind in the US or any part of the world they can influence. The Netherlands lags behind most of Europe in reducing fossil fuels so there seems to be some similar problem there.

          This includes inadequate solutions like a carbon price. It’s at least 20 years too late for that as the only or even main solution; a full emergency climate mobilization is required now, in the US and everywhere else. Now, we need to nationalize fossil fuel, agro-chemical and banking corporations to shut them down in coordination with immediately replacing the fuels with efficiency, wiser lives and clean safe renewable energy; we need to transform chemical-industrial agriculture into small-scale low-meat organic permaculture; replace for-profit banks with publicly owned banks with a legal and moral obligation to society more than shareholders; radically equalize politically and economically; and over the longer term, solve the psychological condition/s that are the cause of all our problems.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Unfortunately for your argument, there is no good evidence that any carbon tax has had any success at all.

      The NREL on the supposed success of carbon taxes:

      OTOH, we know that RE subsidies work.

      • doldrom Says:

        I have no doubt RE subsidies work, especially when applied to feeder/reverse-metering guarantees, which are not a target for the large utilities, e.g., in Spain and many US States. Applied to reverse-metering, they are akin to the tilting of the playing field that I mentioned, rather than the government getting involved in all the details.

        I know of no real examples of a carbon dividend scheme that one could evaluate. Almost all such schemes have devolved into trading carbon credits or taxes or rebates or whatever in speculative markets with derivatives. In the EU in particular, there is a massive replacement of coal by bio-mass, a distortion brought on by such rules, even though it is arguable whether burning imported wood chips deserves the label “renewable”.

        If you know an example of a country-wide policy that puts a fee on emitted and embedded carbon in a fiscally neutral way and redistributes the revenue, please post. I know that some Cdn provinces have intoduced similar schemes, but am not familiar with the details.

  2. doldrom Says:

    @MBS film. MBS states that Saudi is a big country which needs 360° defense. The fact is they do not need to defend all that empty desert, just the critical infrastructure. They obviously failed completely. Don’t even have radar tracks of the incoming threats. MBS states that the attack was from Iran, and that Iran is acting out of stupidity. Even if it were Iran, have they not proved how vulnerable Saudi is to relatively cheap and modest means? And for the record, there is no proof of Iran as the agent. Houthi rebels have consistently insisted they had help from inside the kingdom, and many experts agree that targeting and launch were probably undertaken from within kingdom.

  3. doldrom Says:

    @Vulnerability. It is not only fossil fuels that make us vulnerable. Every modern society is order of magnitude more vulnerable than ever. Just-in-time distribution of goods which are often globally sourced (even food), every aspect of life (including money) completely at the mercy of computer glitches (and thus power glitches).

    Modern complex society is vulnerable to such an extent that we should swear off all illusions about waging and winning wars. Our biggest problems are not about conquest anymore: we are too interdependant to even contemplate military solutions anymore, and we are better off sticking those resources into energy research and renewal.

    The American military know this: They dropped special anti-grid munitions in Baghdad and Aleppo to cripple the grid (especially large transformer stations), leading to a multi-year crippling of drinking water provisions, and launching a crisis for civil society in all services, including hygiene, disease, etc. It is a little disingenuous to call a drone strike or cyber mischief acts of war/terrorism, because the US has launched thousands of drone strikes in about 37 countries and routinely uses cyber space as a battle ground.

  4. J4Zonian Says:

    Energy transitions are usually slow. Here’s why the clean energy transition might be faster.
    Energy is becoming a software business.

    and while we’re appreciating David Roberts:
    This is an emergency, damn it.
    Green New Deal critics are missing the bigger picture.

    The Green New Deal and the case against incremental climate policy
    The only way Democrats can hope to pass climate legislation is by radically shaking up the status quo balance of powers.

  5. Gingerbaker Says:

    …”widely distributed nodes of energy production, transmission and storage, is inherently more secure, …”

    What could be more secure than a nuclear power plant, sitting serenely under a hardened dome of highly-reinforced concrete as thick as the Gates of Mordor and as tough as a Grade C eye-of-the-round steak?


    I’m not sure which I am more sick and tired of hearing about – the Kardashian family or the benefits of “distributed” energy.

    We need large un-“distributed” energy sources too. They have real benefits as well. Maybe somebody somewhere might talk about them?

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Why oh why won’t major investors help us build those hardened domes surrounded by spokes of major transmission lines?

  6. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    You have absolutely no idea how vulnerable those solar panels and windmills make us! People will be invading our country to steal the power off of our grids!!! Billions will have to be spent on our military defense and the lives of thousands of American soldiers will be at risk!!!! We won’t even be able to rely on the friendship of the Saudis any more!!!

  7. dumboldguy Says:

    As the world continues to cook, we are still engaged in more navel-gazing than direct action.

    Just finished reading THE ICE AT THE END OF THE WORLD; A JOURNEY INTO GREENLAND’S BURIED PAST AND OUR PERILOUS FUTURE, by Jon Gertner, Random House, 2019. Many rousing tales of how explorers and scientists, past and present have gone to a very inhospitable place (and some didn’t return).

    The book makes clear what we have discovered as well as what we don’t yet fully understand about the Greenland ice sheet. Perhaps the most significant sentence in the whole book is on page 294. Kerry Emanuel is quoted as saying:

    ”Can we find examples in human history of a whole generation consciously doing something for the benefit of more than one generation downstream that doesn’t benefit that generation itself”? (He says he looked far and wide and couldn’t find any).

    And therein lies the dilemma—-what each and every one of us needs to do right now is work to vote Repugnants out of office, get dirty money out of political campaigns, and end lobbying by corporations—-vote for Warren—-she has plans for all that and more.

    PS An aside. As my wife got out of the VAN to go into church last Sunday, someone yelled from behind her “TRUMP IN 2020, YOU OLD HAG”—-presumably because of the WARREN 2020 sticker back there. A youngish female voice.

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