PBS on Oil Companies Windfall Profits

November 2, 2022

Saudi Aramco – 42 billion dollar profit in one quarter. Exxon 20 billion.

War is good business.


3 Responses to “PBS on Oil Companies Windfall Profits”

  1. jimbills Says:

    I have an NYT subscription, but most of the time I wonder why I do. There’s very little original or groundbreaking there to justify the cost to me. But, every once in a while, there is something there that isn’t found anywhere else.

    Here is an article by David Wallace Wells that is a superb summary of the state of climate change politics and predictions. I’ll try to quote some key parts in a while. It’s a very long read, but very worth it if you can:

    • jimbills Says:

      ‘Now, with the world already 1.2 degrees hotter, scientists believe that warming this century will most likely fall between two or three degrees. (A United Nations report released this week ahead of the COP27 climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, confirmed that range.) A little lower is possible, with much more concerted action; a little higher, too, with slower action and bad climate luck. Those numbers may sound abstract, but what they suggest is this: Thanks to astonishing declines in the price of renewables, a truly global political mobilization, a clearer picture of the energy future and serious policy focus from world leaders, we have cut expected warming almost in half in just five years.’ ….

      ‘Since 2010, the cost of solar power and lithium-battery technology has fallen by more than 85 percent, the cost of wind power by more than 55 percent. The International Energy Agency recently predicted that solar power would become “the cheapest source of electricity in history,” and a report by Carbon Tracker found that 90 percent of the global population lives in places where new renewable power would be cheaper than new dirty power. The price of gas was under $3 per gallon in 2010, which means these decreases are the equivalent of seeing gas-station signs today advertising prices of under 50 cents a gallon.’ ….

      ‘What will the world look like at two degrees? There will be extreme weather even more intense and much more frequent. Disruption and upheaval, at some scale, at nearly every level, from the microbial to the geopolitical. Suffering and injustice for hundreds of millions of people, because the benefits of industrial activity have accumulated in parts of the world that will also be spared the worst of its consequences. Innovation, too, including down paths hard to imagine today, and some new prosperity, if less than would have been expected in the absence of warming. Normalization of larger and more costly disasters, and perhaps an exhaustion of empathy in the face of devastation in the global south, leading to the kind of sociopathic distance that enables parlor-game conversations like this one.

      At two degrees, in many parts of the world, floods that used to hit once a century would come every single year, and those that came once a century would be beyond all historical experience. Wildfire risk would grow, and wildfire smoke, too. (The number of people exposed to extreme smoke days in the American West has already grown 27-fold in the last decade.) Extreme heat events could grow more than three times more likely, globally, and the effects would be uneven: In India, by the end of the century, there would be 30 times as many severe heat waves as today, according to one estimate. Ninety-three times as many people would be exposed there to dangerous heat.

      This is what now counts as progress.’ ….

      ‘The author and activist Bill McKibben worries that although the transition is accelerating to once-unimaginable speeds, it still won’t come fast enough. “The danger is that you have a world that runs on sun and wind but is still an essentially broken planet.”’ ….

      ‘“Two degrees is a lot better than four degrees,” says the climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, one of those who delivered now-legendary warnings about the risks of warming to the U.S. Senate in 1988. “And one-and-a-half degrees is even better than two degrees. But none of those levels means there’s nothing to do.” ….

      ‘“You’re not going to just recover the way we think of recovery now,” Oppenheimer says. “You have to either be living in a totally different situation, which accepts something close to perpetual flooding in some places, or you fulfill the dreams some people have about adaptation, where the regularity of life is just totally different. The very structure of infrastructure and manufacturing, it’s all different.”’ ….

      ‘“Westerners take it for granted that people in the global south, if they’re badly hit by some climate-change event, will attack fossil fuels,” says the Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh, also the author of several piercing meditations on the injustices of warming. “But that’s a complete fantasy. In the global south, everybody understands that energy access is the difference between poverty and not poverty. Nobody sees fossil fuels as the basic problem. They see the West’s profligate use of fossil fuels as the basic problem.”

      “Throughout this whole crisis in Pakistan, have you heard of anyone talking about attacking fossil fuels? No — it’s laughable to even ask. Everything I see being mentioned about Pakistan is about reparations, it’s about global inequality, it’s about historic government injustices. It’s not at all about fossil fuels. This is one of the really big divides between the global south and the global north,” Ghosh says. “If people are going to attack anything — let’s say in Pakistan or India after a heat wave or some other catastrophic event — it won’t be the fossil-fuel infrastructure. It will be the consulates of the rich countries, just as it’s been over many other things in the past.”’ ….

      ‘Two degrees is not inevitable; both better and worse outcomes are possible. Most recent analyses project paths forward from current policy about half a degree warmer, meaning much more must be done to meet that goal, and even more to keep the world below the two-degree threshold — as was promised under the Paris agreement. (Because of delay and inaction, even the I.P.C.C. scenario designed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees now predicts we’ll trespass it as soon as the next decade.) And because decarbonization might stall and the climate may prove more sensitive than expected, temperatures above three degrees, though less likely than they recently seemed, remain possible, too.

      Overall emissions have not yet begun to decline, and it’s a long way from peak down to zero, making all these changes to expectations mostly notional, for now — a different set of lines being drawn naïvely on a whiteboard and waiting to be made real.’

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