Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

King Cotton

with 4 comments


I wrote about Bush yesterday, so what the hell, let’s annoy everyone with a global warming post. I mean, the War on Terror and Global Warming are the seminal issues of our time, they should get a lot of attention. Still, after this post I will take a break and get some more science and history posts up. A Civil War Quiz is almost finished for example, and a fun post on lethal elevator accidents. In any event, Global Warming in a second, first I want to expound a bit on yesterday’s post.

What I wanted to expand on, is that it’s time for the left to reach out their hand in friendship to the right. It’s time for America to work together again. Look what’s going on in France now, their new conservative president is appointing leftists to high office. This is called “consensus building.” It is proving fairly popular, though we’ll see how it all comes out in the wash. (And some see it as a cynical ploy.) Lincoln also did this, he appointed many of his political rivals to his cabinet, and the results were often far better than anyone had dared hope, in fact his two greatest critics ended up being two of his greatest allies and assets.

Lincoln’s long gone, and partisan politics if anything is as bad as it has ever been. Bush seems only to appoint people who are slavishly committed to Bush’s own view of the world. Thus his administration has become increasingly isolated and irrelevant from mainstream America. It’s now time for us, conservatives and liberals like, the vast majority of Americans who think we need a new direction to work together. So for my part I apologize again for the times I have (and will again unfortunately in the future) go over the top when I get excited about the Bush Administration. Just remember, I am just as critical of Clinton and the next administration no doubt will earn my unrelenting ire.

Moving right along, I realize a huge part of the problem with the whole global warming debate is that “cotton is king.” By that I mean that the coal and oil industry have so come to dominate the energy sector so that for all practical purposes it has become a “one crop” industry. Not surprising in a way, this stuff is just sitting in the ground in vast quantities, it can be dug up and sold for easy money. Some wag didn’t say “Supertankers are the Spanish galleons of our time” for no reason, it’s an accurate observation.

The problem with being a one crop economy is that people get so focused and committed to that crop that they over invest in it to the exclusion of other promising ideas. Worse, especially today, they put their considerable resources into maintaining the status quo by influencing governments and public opinion. Again, human nature, a small number of people are making staggering amounts of money; why shouldn’t they “invest” in keeping public attitudes and legal policies friendly to continuing to rake in their profits? This is the dark side of capitalism, concentrations of wealth can get so large that when they act against the public interest, the consequences to society as a whole can be very bad.

(As an aside, I don’t even want to hear any remarks about how the oil industry only makes “passbook interest” profits or about all the money they have to invest to make this “modest” return. Get real. Oil/coal is the world’s largest industry, it’s controlled by a tiny fraction of the human race, and their monthly profit is larger than most nation’s annual budgets. They have staggering amounts of money to invest in lobbyists and influencing public opinion, and they do so with great gusto and effectiveness.)

Which leads us to Global Warming and the point I am trying to elaborate on once again. There’s not any question at this point that the planet’s climate is changing alarmingly. The CO2 debate is irrelevant to that, the Holocene, a period of relatively stable global climate that has lasted for approximately 11,000 years appears to be rapidly coming to an end. This is not being alarmist, this is not politics, this is not a liberal plot, this is not a hoax, this is reality. Unless there is some sudden and dramatic change in the world’s climate trends, we are in deep shit in the next few decades. There is more reason to believe every day that a worst case scenario is unfolding as our planet rapidly warms. This is not going to be an investment opportunity, this is going to be a world wide calamity of unprecedented proportions.

And realistically, despite the amazing amount of highly effective propaganda by the cotton, I mean the oil industry, global scientist’s best guess is that pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is a huge part of the problem. Knowing that, there’s every reason to make dramatic cutbacks. The oil industry will manage to survive if the price of oil goes down. America might even be better off if it wasn’t an oil importing nation. (You think?) There are other huge investment opportunities for the oil industry in non polluting alternatives. There’s some wonderful plans afoot in Europe for example to tie all of Europe’s electrical grid together, hook it to Iceland and North Africa, and thus use the abundant geothermal and solar energy in those locations to dramatically lower Europe’s need for coal and oil fired power plants. It’s really not that hard, and saying “Well, why should we do this if China isn’t?” is like saying “Why should I start bailing out our sinking ship if those guys aren’t bailing?”

Why not indeed? Look at what slavish over dependence on the “easy money” of cotton in the American south led to: economic stagnation and ultimately a disastrous war. There was at least one city who put up a statue of a boll weevil after it destroyed their cotton and forced their farmers to diversify…which led to much greater profits. Global warming makes the boll weevil look like a harmless bug, the time to diversify our energy industry is now. For a more detailed look at the unfolding calamity and the realistic solutions being proposed in Europe, I recommend this article.

(The above antique cigar label image is claimed as public domain under US copyright law as it predates 1923. It is also central to illustrating the post and is not being used for profit, thus qualifying as Fair Use under US law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 13, 2007 at 9:44 am

4 Responses

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  1. Hi there

    I long for the post on lethal elevator accidents…
    I can’t explain why.
    The war on global warming and terror gets too much press…Are these topics really important when we can be reinforcing previously unjustifiable anxieties about elevator accidents? Are they???

    (I’ve become a regular reader of your blog…now that you’re not journaling.. it’s pretty damn good!)


    July 13, 2007 at 2:34 pm

  2. Why is it incumbent upon the left to reach out to the right while the right continues to wage war, abuse power and obstruct justice?


    July 13, 2007 at 9:57 pm

  3. That’s not the right, that’s the Bush Administration. :)


    July 13, 2007 at 11:46 pm

  4. Well, if the Republican party wants to dump him they are welcome to support impeachment. And if you mean the non-aligned right, well then hello and well met but what more of a gesture do you want?

    I would gladly work in concert to achieve a few things, and we agree on several that I am aware of; if we have differences we could resolve them by peaceful discussion. Is this not the very idea of democracy?


    July 14, 2007 at 12:16 am

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