Climate crisis Call to Action, 4-7-7
© Brian O'Leary, Ph.D, www.brianoleary.com
It is Easter weekend, a time of reflection on the possible crucifixion of our beloved Gaia and the haunting uncertainty about whether or not we can reverse our destructive practices and help her come to life again. It also comes at a time when I am compiling much information for my coming speeches and for a new book to help give context to where we are headed in the climate crisis.
My intent is to explore the potential of new, clean, cheap, decentralized (and suppressed) energy sources to solve the problem. By new energy, we mean energy from the vacuum (“zero-point”), cold fusion, advanced hydrogen and water chemistries and any other technology which could provide a breakthrough, whether acknowledged or not acknowledged by mainstream science. A small R&D effort might be all that is needed to ignite a new energy age.
Out of self-interest, politicians and big businesses are doing everything they can to avoid the real solutions that could save our planet from a climate catastrophe. Yet we have the innovative solutions if only we look and act!
Regarding the fossil fuels, “clean coal” is not clean. Nor is oil and natural gas. Nor will supplies last very long. Nor will carbon-trading that grants the elite the right to pollute. Nor will it help much to sequester carbon dioxide emissions into big subterranean domes or to throw particles into the atmosphere to try to offset greenhouse emissions. Terror-forming Gaia through such macroengineering manipulations would only forestall our day of reckoning at the table of her Last Supper, of our Last Supper.
It’s too late to go for band-aids. Climate scientists are telling us that we must curb greenhouse gase emissions up to 90%, maybe more, by 2050 to even begin to reverse climate change. About 87% of all our worldwide energy use comes from burning fossil fuels. That practice alone contributes almost 100% of the input to this human-created global warming.
Among the few who care or dare to look at the new energy option, some argue that new or decentralized energy would be bad for business, that it would stifle economic growth which depends so much on the continuity and expansion of the existing energy sector, to which we are so addicted. True, we are talking about supplanting the first and only multitrillion dollar annual spending enterprise in human history, we are talking about awakening to a new economic agenda on a global level.
We cannot go any longer as we have and continue to cave in to the desires and rationalizations of those who stand to benefit the most or speak the loudest. Our priorities are grossly askew. Some climate scientists give us a maximum of ten years to take drastic action. Do we not want to overcome all the posturing and inertia, and demand that we exercise the precautionary principle? Couldn’t we base our actions on scientific truth?
The first obvious step toward averting climate catastrophe is to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and replace them with more efficient and cleaner energy sources drawn from a wide range of possibilities. But don’t be deceived by what is now being proposed as replacements.
For example, the recent biofuel hype represents a nonsolution, Harvesting and incinerating biomass will destroy the rainforests, bitterly compete with agriculture, increase poverty and famine in the South, and in the end, inject even more CO2 into the atmosphere through slash-and-burn deforestation and desertifying the Earth's greatest carbon sinks. Or wipe out most species in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and many other countries. A biofuel infrustructure also significantly depends on fossil fuels. Even short of all that, one SUV tankful of biofuel could feed a person for one year.
Bush's and General Motors's much-touted hydrogen fuel cells are neither clean nor cheap. It takes more energy to cleanly produce the hydrogen than you get out of it!
The also-touted nuclear power renaissance should never happen: it’s too expensive, too vulnerable, too centralized, too radioactive, too much doomsday weapons potential. We don’t even know how to dispose of the high-level radioactive waste, which we must leave to untold future generations! So the only choices presented to the public seem to be petro-fascism, nuclear-fascism, or inappropriate-fuels-fascism.
On the other hand, conventional renewables like existing solar energy, hydropower and wind power are getting largely ignored. They’re mostly old technologies whose contribution is only 7% of the global total, with not much room for growth in the present atmosphere (for example, the U.S. Dept. of Energy has projected no change to that modest share through 2030 while we burn more fossil fuels than ever). The U.S. National Renewable Energy Labs stumble along on a measly annual budget of $200 million for conventional renewables. The Department of Energy is living a fantasy.
Granted, these sources are materials-land-and-capital intensive, diffuse and intermittent, but at least those plus improved efficiency are a reasonable step short of new energy. But breakthroughs in vacuum energy, cold fusion, advanced hydrogen and even cheap solar photovoltaic technologies could solve the climate problem very quickly. However, these technologies need our support to be able to lead to practical devices.
Our avoidance of the real issues sometimes reminds me of self-important Medieval clerics pondering how many angels could fit on the head of a pin or which witches and heretics to burn, while the world enters the darkness of plague and violence. Or Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Or King Louis and Marie Antoinette feeling all is well in their palace in the face of an imminent revolution. Or the stunned staff of the early-twentieth-century aristocrats rearranging the deck chairs of the Titanic. Or Hitler in his final bunker plotting his next invasion.
Or the denials of the impending “inconvenient truths” of our own perilous situation. Under media and political fire, Al Gore has well-articulated the climate crisis. But there is a second, more politically incorrect question to ask: do we have the courage to act on real solutions? As almost always, most establishment scientists, in order to preserve their grants and careers, deny the truth of new energy.
As a result, the scientists who should know better form an unwitting alliance with the polluters, in spite of abundant evidence to the contrary. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s look at the unlikely premise that the skeptics are right, that the treasured “laws” of an existing materialistic physics cannot ever again be broken, that “perpetual motion” is perpetually poppycock, and that today’s technologies or minor modifications of them are all that is available. Shouldn’t we still give innovative energy research a try? Or are these scientists too afraid to be cast among the heretics?
New energy heresy now eclipses human-caused climate crisis heresy, based on my experience to date. I have seen many successful new energy experiments worldwide, but these courageous pioneers get next to no support; in fact many have been threatened, assassinated or have had their equipment confiscated or destroyed. The denials of new energy are based on the appearance of nonexistence rather than reality, and this social dynamic of non-credibility of the new has been with us throughout history.
The climate scientists have gone out on a limb to make their point. Finally, they are being heard. New energy requires going out on that limb even further, but its consideration must also be taken seriously in the face of our global crisis. But this time, we don’t have years to gradually build a consensus.
By default, the leading spokespeople answer no, there can be no significant role for outside-the-box energy innovation in the near or more distant future. This paralysis of paradigm is one of the greatest betrayals, whether by commission or by omission. Neither existing “ science” nor “economics” can admit of the possibility of developing really good and lasting solutions to the energy-climate crisis. So again we have given our power and destiny away to those institutions which are literally destroying us. In the broader sense we are all responsible for contributing to humanity’s war on nature.
Most importantly, we must put the power of policy and planning back into the hands of the global commons rather than the likes of U.S. vice president Dick Cheney's infamous secret energy task force which loves to hatch wars for oil and line the pockets of big business. Short of replacing the oil warriors, business-as-usual won’t work either. We are on the threshold of the biggest change or disaster in recorded human history because of human neglect and greed.
So the powers-that-be resist the new paradigm solutions at every turn, because of the enormous pressure exerted by the energy-auto-financial-media-military complex through their political contributions—especially in the U.S. The politicians are not only unduly influenced by these monstrous human creations, they express (or feign) ignorance of the real solutions. No one wants to take responsibility to manage the pains of transition. They are not even close to addressing the answers which are still politically incorrect but scientifically the only way to go.
When U.S Rep. Dennis Kucinich first expressed interest in drafting a new energy bill and then declared it must be “technology-neutral” I once again gave up on Washington and its numerous vested interests. I support him in his other policies but this one may have been too hot for him to handle. Politics is about the art of the possible, within a context of consensual reality, not of an urgent scientific reality.
If new and innovative energy can get on the agenda only on the coattails of the existing renewables, so be it. But to deny and ignore it entirely could lead to global catastrophe. As of April, 2007, no bill yet introduced to a climate-crisis-conscious U.S. Congress or California legislature so much as includes any mention or support for new energy research. In fact, the U.S. Patent Office expressly prohibits new energy patent applications as if this research were the thinking of crackpot heretics unfit to participate in the public process.
It seems the only sensible thing that we can do in the short-term is to:
impeach and bring to justice Bush-Cheney and other leaders who are committing mass genocide, ecocide, and human rights violations while obstructing those solutions we so desperately need;
tax the living daylights out of the polluting Goliath corporations (in a revenue-neutral way), following the partial successes of Europe;
support the necessary R&D for clean innovative energy of all kinds Apollo-style, leaving no stone unturned (R&D investments of less than one day of spending at the Pentagon or a few hours of incinerating hydrocarbons could get us going);
come together as a global community to embrace the truth, reconcile ourselves with ourselves and with nature; and
develop an action plan for transition to a carbon-free, nonpolluting, peace economy and a sustainable environment.
Who in the public spotlight is willing to take this stand? Or could we not create new spotlights for more independent, realistic and visionary thinkers willing to stand up to the polluters? Shouldn’t we bring in new blood whom we could truly trust to lead us to make the needed changes? Could we not do this while restoring the integrity of constitutional and international law?
The most important point here is that we have a physically real problem which demands physically real solutions…and so far few of us are able to express these solutions without being drowned out by the chorus of distracting hubris presented to us by those in power and by loud and ignorant critics. More than ever, we need a new energy revolution. And soon!
What it all comes down to, dear reader, is that we may have but two extreme approaches to our future: (1) stoke the voracious appetite of a military-industrial elite, intent on waging war on nature and ourselves, thereby destroying our environment and our freedoms, or (2) develop clean energy and sustainable biospheric practices under responsible democratic control. Which will it be? Will you join us in stepping up to the challenge?
Dr. Brian O’Leary is professor of natural philosophy at the University of Philosophical Research. His distinguished forty-year professional career at leading universities and in the U.S. government have focused on atmospheric science and the assessment of energy technologies. He is author of Re-Inheriting the Earth.
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