Friday 7th of October 2022

fooling around with buckshots…..

President Joe Biden first came under pressure to declare a national climate emergency last week after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) withdrew his support for climate legislation and killed a bill that promised to bolster renewable energy and electric cars in order to cut carbon emissions.

Manchin, a centrist, has made millions from the coal industry but stated his reasoning for not supporting the bill was that the climate package would worsen current inflation.

Critics have called Manchin a “walking conflict of interest”, as well as a “modern-day villain” who is “willing to see the world burn as long as it benefits his near-term investment portfolio” for his decision to withdraw his support of the climate change legislation.

The Supreme Court of the United States' conservative majority also stunted Biden’s climate change proposals last week by ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to regulate the amount of carbon emissions a power plant produces. The decision was deemed a setback for public health by Charlotte Roscoe, a research fellow at Harvard’s School of Public Health.

The ruling has set back Biden’s climate goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by the year 2050.

Despite the numerous setbacks—or perhaps rallied by them—Biden may be readying himself to announce a climate emergency, said Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. By doing so he may be able to push forward his climate bill which Manchin, who is often seen as an unpredictable swing vote between the two parties, shot down.

On Wednesday Biden also announced a $2.3 billion plan to build infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather and natural disasters caused by climate change. The ceaseless threat of Climate Change came to a head this week when more than 90 million people in the United States were under heat warnings and at least 2,000 people in Western Europe died due to extreme heatwaves sweeping the globe.

Biden already pledged to use his executive power to take action following Manchin’s take-down of his climate bill. If he chooses to declare a climate emergency he may be able to funnel federal investments towards renewable energy, while stopping fossil fuel leases and encouraging manufacturers to focus on renewable energy technologies such as batteries for electric cars.

Biden has yet to declare a climate emergency despite pressure from Democrats and environmentalists who would like to see him take such action. Though Kerry is confident the president will use “every tool available to him” to address climate change, including his presidential powers.

 

“There should be an alarm in the White House that reads, ‘In case of congressional inertia, declare a climate emergency,’” said Daniel Weiss, an environmental activist. “Our ferocious Western wildfires, record drought and unprecedented European heat wave are more than enough signals that we don’t have the luxury of pollution procrastination.”

 

Biden could also involve the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, says Dan Farber, who is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. This would give him the power to impose sanctions on both individuals and countries if they attempted to traffic fossil fuels into the United States.

“It’s about time this president and his administration call this crisis what it is: an emergency,” said John Paul Mejia, a spokesperson for the the Sunrise Movement, a "youth movement working to stop the climate crisis", according to his website.

 

“Of course, there is worry that it’s all bark and no bite. But social movements and allies across the country won’t let this just be rhetoric,” added Mejia.

 

However, declaring a climate emergency is not an action in itself, and even then if Biden were to use his presidential powers as opposed to the legislative route, those decisions may be flimsy when legally challenged later down the road.

“It’s not a silver bullet, but it provides some additional buckshot,” said Michael Gerrard, a professor at Columbia Law School.

 

READ MORE:

https://sputniknews.com/20220725/john-kerry-biden-is-considering-declaring-a-climate-emergency--1097756926.html

 

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no fire extinguisher…..

 

Joe Biden’s Own Staff Are Now Saying He’s Not Doing Enough on Climate Change
JULIA ROCK 
DAVID SIROTA

 

 

President Joe Biden’s surrender on climate policy amid the intensifying crisis has prompted his own agency experts to sound a rare public alarm about their boss’s retreat, according to a letter being circulated throughout the administration and Capitol Hill.

The letter to Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — provided to the Lever by a House Democratic staffer — is initialed by 165 staffers at federal health and environmental agencies and more than eighty congressional offices. They are demanding the president use more aggressive tactics to pass his long-promised climate agenda through the Senate.

“President Biden, you have an exigent responsibility to reduce suffering all over the world, and the power and skills to do so, but time is running out,” says the letter, which is now being circulated throughout the administration for more signatures. “You are the president of the United States of America at a pivotal moment in the history of the world. All that we ask is that you do everything in your power. We’ve done our part. We implore you to do yours.”

The letter was provided to the Lever by Saul Levin, a House Democratic staffer and coordinator of the Congressional Progressive Staff Association Climate Working Group. The officials signed the letter anonymously with their initials, to protect against political retribution. Another House Democratic staffer confirmed that the letter was being circulated to government officials for their signatures.

​​“Our house is on fire, and Manchin burned the stairs. Democratic leaders are walking away,” Levin told the Lever. “We cannot. We must test the fire escape, find the fire extinguisher, tie some sheets together if we have to: Our lives depend on it.”

Levin was referring to Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) once again proclaiming that he was walking away from negotiations on $375 billion in clean energy tax credits. It also follows Biden declining to declare a climate emergency, which would allow him to institute a ban on crude oil exports, halt fossil fuel imports, and block investments in fossil fuel projects, among other things.

Echoing the letter, Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) told the Lever: “President Biden must declare a climate emergency now. This is the time we need a moonshot for renewable energy.”

This unusual action from staffers at Biden’s own agencies spotlights the high stakes of the moment — the window of opportunity to pass climate legislation under a Democratic trifecta may be coming to an end, and it could be years before massive investments in clean energy become possible again.

The letter calls on Biden to “immediately declare a climate emergency and end fossil fuel extraction on federal lands. Then, and most importantly, you must intervene in stalled Senate negotiations.”

While the average age of a US senator is sixty-four, and Biden is seventy-nine, the average staffer is much younger — and will live through the consequences of their bosses’ inaction.

Specifically, the staffers are calling on Biden to send a public letter to Manchin giving him two options.

“The first option must be for Senator Manchin to vote to pass the House Build Back Better climate justice provisions by the end of July, as part of a reconciliation package,” the staffers wrote. “The second must represent a bold and creative alternative that Senator Manchin understands to be much worse. For example, you and Senator Schumer could strip Senator Manchin of his Chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, shut down the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project, eliminate the use of mountaintop removal and coal burning, and establish stringent water and air pollution standards.”

This message to Biden comes two weeks after congressional staffers first sent a letter to Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanding they reach a deal to pass the clean energy tax credits, first reported by CNN.

Just days after they sent that letter, Manchin told Democratic leadership, after weeks of negotiations, he would not support a reconciliation package that included climate spending. He soon hedged, saying he would potentially support a broader package after the August recess if inflation seems to be abating.

Manchin’s concerns about inflation should ring hollow: there is overwhelming consensus among economists that subsidizing clean energy would actually reduce inflation by making energy cheaper for consumers.

Summarizing academic testimony to lawmakers, climate reporter David Wallace-Wells noted in a recent column that “the public health costs of air pollution [are] so high that a total decarbonization would entirely pay for itself through the public health benefits alone. You don’t even need to consider climate, in other words, for decarbonization to make sense, even according to the strictest cost-benefit analysis.”

On the other hand, Manchin is a millionaire who has made his fortune in coal and has taken more campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry than any other senator. Every year, Manchin receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from a coal brokerage that he founded and which his son now runs.

After Manchin’s declaration imperiling the climate spending, Biden urged Democratic congressional leadership to move ahead with a much smaller spending package that would only include an extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies and a prescription drug price negotiation provision.

Last Wednesday, Schumer confirmed that the Senate would move forward with the health care–only reconciliation bill, saying they would make a renewed push for climate spending after July’s inflation numbers are published. “There is always a second reconciliation bill available to us,” he told E&E News.

Other senators have been less willing to give up on a climate package.

“We’re much closer to a climate deal than people realize,” Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) tweeted after Schumer announced the Senate would proceed with a health care–only package. “Let’s not throw in the towel just yet.”

But, by publishing this letter, staffers are telling the public that Biden and Schumer have given up too early, especially when the stakes are so high.

 

READ MORE:

https://jacobin.com/2022/07/joe-biden-administration-staff-letter-climate-change-legislation

 

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fires and floods…...

 

FROM CHRIS HEDGES

 

The past week has seen record-breaking heat waves across Europe. Wildfires have ripped through Spain, Portugal and France. London’s fire brigade experienced its busiest day since World War II. The U.K. saw its hottest day on record of 104.54 Fahrenheit. In China, more than a dozen cities issued the “highest possible heat warning” this weekend with over 900 million people in China enduring a scorching heat wave along with severe flooding and landslides across large swathes of southern China. Dozens of people have died. Millions of Chinese have been displaced. Economic losses run into the billions of yuan. Droughts, which have destroyed crops, killed livestock and forced many to flee their homes, are creating a potential famine in the Horn of Africa. More than 100 million people in the United States are under heat alerts in more than two dozen states from temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s and low 100s. Wildfires have destroyed thousands of acres in California. More than 73 percent of New Mexico is suffering from an “extreme” or “severe” drought. Thousands of people had to flee from a fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park on Saturday and 2,000 homes and businesses lost power. 

It is not as if we were not warned. It is not as if we lacked scientific evidence. It is not as if we could not see the steady ecological degeneration and species extinction. And yet, we did not act. The result will be mass death with victims dwarfing the murderous rampages of fascism, Stalinism and Mao Zedong’s China combined. The desperate response is to burn more coal, especially with the soaring cost of natural gas and oil, and extend the life of nuclear power plants to sustain the economy and produce cool air. It is a self-defeating response. Joe Biden has approved more new oil drilling permits than Donald Trump. Once the power outages begin, as in India, the heat waves will exact a grim toll. 

“Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires,” U.N Secretary General António Guterres told ministers from 40 countries meeting to discuss the climate crisis on July 18. “No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.”

“We have a choice,” he added. “Collective action or collective suicide.”

The Anthropocene Age – the age of humans, which has caused extinctions of plant and animal species and the pollution of the soil, air and oceans – is accelerating. Sea levels are rising three times faster than predicted. The arctic ice is vanishing at rates that were unforeseen. Even if we stop carbon emissions today – we have already reached 419 parts per million – carbon dioxide concentrations will continue to climb to as high as 550 ppm because of heat trapped in the oceans. Global temperatures, even in the most optimistic of scenarios, will rise for at least another century. This assumes we confront this crisis. The earth is becoming inhospitable to most life.

The average global temperature has risen by about 1.1 Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. We are approaching a tipping point of 2 degrees Celsius when the biosphere will become so degraded nothing can save us. 

The ruling class for decades denied the reality of the climate crisis or acknowledged the crisis and did nothing. We sleepwalked into catastrophe. Record heat wavesMonster droughtsShifts in rainfall patterns. Declining crop yields. The melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers resulting in sea level riseFloodingWildfiresPandemics. The breakdown of supply chainsMass migrationsExpanding deserts. The acidification of the oceans that extinguishes sea life, the food source for billions of people. Feedback loops will see one environmental catastrophe worsen another environmental catastrophe. The breakdown will be nonlinear. These are the harbingers of the future. 

Social coercion and the rule of law will disintegrate. This is taking place in many parts of the global south. A ruthless security and surveillance apparatus, along with heavily militarized police, will turn industrial nations into climate fortresses to keep out refugees and prevent uprisings by an increasingly desperate public. The ruling oligarchs will retreat to protected compounds where they will have access to services and amenities, including food, water and medical care, denied to the rest of us. 

Voting, lobbying, petitioning, donating to environmental lobby groups, divestment campaigns and protesting to force the global ruling class to address the climate catastrophe proved no more effective than scrofula victims’ superstitious appeals to Henry VIII to cure them with a royal touch. In 1900 the burning of fossil fuel – mostly coal – produced about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. That number had risen threefold by 1950. Today the level is 20 times higher than the 1900 figure. During the last 60 years the increase in CO2 was an estimated 100 times faster than what the earth experienced during the transition from the last ice age. 

The last time the earth’s temperature rose 4 degrees Celsius, the polar ice caps did not exist and the seas were hundreds of feet above their current levels. 

You can watch my two-part interview with Roger Hallam, the co-founder of the resistance group Extinction Rebellion, on the climate emergency here and here.

There are three mathematical models for the future: a massive die-off of perhaps 70 percent of the human population and then an uneasy stabilization; extinction of humans and most other species; an immediate and radical reconfiguration of human society to protect the biosphere. This third scenario is dependent on an immediate halt to the production and consumption of fossil fuels, converting to a plant-based diet to end the animal agriculture industry – almost as large a contributor to greenhouse gasses as the fossil fuel industry – greening the deserts and restoring rainforests. 

We knew for decades what harnessing a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum would do to the climateAs early as the 1930s British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar suggested that increased CO2 was warming the planet. In the late 1970s into the 1980s, scientists at companies such as Exxon and Shell determined that the burning of fossil fuels was contributing to rising global temperature. 

“[T]here is concern among some scientific groups that once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible and little could be done to correct the situation in the short term,” a 1982 internal briefing for Exxon’s management noted.

NASA’s Dr. James Hansen told the U.S. Senate in 1988 that the buildup of CO2 and other gasses were behind the rise in heat. 

But by 1989 Exxon, Shell and other fossil fuel corporations decided the risks to their profits from major curbs in fossil fuel extraction and consumption was unacceptable. They invested in heavy lobbying and funding of faux research and propaganda campaigns to discredit the science on the climate emergency.

Christian Parenti in his book Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence quotes from “The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change,” a 2007 report produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security. R. James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, writes in the report’s final section:

In a world that sees two meter sea level rise, with continued flooding ahead, it will take extraordinary effort for the United States, or indeed any country, to look beyond its own salvation. All of the ways in which human beings have dealt with natural disasters in the past…could come together in one conflagration: rage at government’s inability to deal with the abrupt and unpredictable crises; religious fervor, perhaps even a dramatic rise in millennial end-of-day cults; hostility and violence towards migrants and minority groups, at a time of demographic change and increased global migration; intra-and interstate conflict over resources, particularly food and fresh water. Altruism and generosity would likely be blunted.

The profits from fossil fuels, and the lifestyle the burning of fossil fuels afforded to the privileged on the planet, overroad a rational response. The failure is homicidal.

Clive Hamilton in his Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.”

“But accepting intellectually is not the same as accepting emotionally the possibility that the world as we know it is headed for a horrible end,” Hamilton writes. “It’s the same with our own deaths; we all ‘accept’ that we will die, but it is only when death is imminent that we confront the true meaning of our mortality.”

Environmental campaigners, from The Sierra Club to 350.org, woefully misread the global ruling class, believing they could be pressured or convinced to carry out the seismic reconfigurations to halt the descent into a climate hell. These environmental organizations believed in empowering people through hope, even if the hope was based on a lie. They were unable or unwilling to speak the truth. These climate “Pollyannas,” as Hamilton calls them, “adopt the same tactic as doom-mongers, but in reverse. Instead of taking a very small risk of disaster and exaggerating it, they take a very high risk of disaster and minimize it.”

Humans have inhabited cities and states for 6,000 years, “a mere 0.2 percent of the two and a half million years since our first ancestor sharpened a stone,” the anthropologist Ronald Wright notes in A Short History of Progress. The myriad of civilizations built over these 6,000 years have all decayed and collapsed, most through a thoughtless depletion of the natural resources that sustained them. 

The latest iteration of global civilization was dominated by Europeans, who used industrial warfare and genocide to control much of the planet. Europeans and Euro-Americans launched a 500-year-long global rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the earth – as well as killing the indigenous communities, the caretakers of the environment for thousands of years – that stood in the way. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation, accelerated by the Industrial Revolution two and a half centuries ago, has become a curse, a death sentence. 

Anthropologists, including Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies, Charles L. Redman in Human Impact on Ancient Environments and Ronald Wright in A Short History of Progress, have laid out the familiar patterns that lead to systems breakdown. Civilizations, as Tainter writes, are “fragile, impermanent things.” Collapse, he writes, “is a recurrent feature of human societies.”

This time the whole planet will go down. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new peoples to subjugate or new civilizations to replace the old. We will have used up the world’s resources, leaving the planet as desolate as the final days of a denuded Easter Island.

Collapse comes throughout human history to complex societies not long after they reach their period of greatest magnificence and prosperity. 

“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun,” the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr writes in Beyond Tragedy: Essays on the Christian Interpretation of Tragedy.

The very things that cause societies to prosper in the short run, especially new ways to exploit the environment such as the invention of irrigation or use of fossil fuels, lead to disaster in the long run. This is what Wright calls the “progress trap.” 

“We have set in motion an industrial machine of such complexity and such dependence on expansion,” Wright notes, “that we do not know how to make do with less or move to a steady state in terms of our demands on nature.”

The U.S. military, intent on dominating the globe, is the single largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses, according to a report from Brown University. This is the same military that has designated global warming a “threat multiplier” and “an accelerant of instability or conflict.”

The powerlessness many will feel in the face of ecological and economic chaos will unleash further collective delusions, such as fundamentalist beliefs in a god or gods who will come back to earth and save us. The Christian right provides a haven for this magical thinking. Crisis cults spread rapidly among Native American societies in the later part of the 19th century as the buffalo herds and the remaining tribes faced extermination. The Ghost Dance held out the hope that all the horrors of white civilization — the railroads, the murderous cavalry units, the timber merchants, the mine speculators, the hated tribal agencies, the barbed wire, the machine guns, even the white man himself — would disappear. Our psychological hard wiring is no different.

The greatest existential crisis of our time is to at once be willing to accept the bleakness before us and resist. The global ruling class has forfeited its legitimacy and credibility. It must be replaced. This will require sustained mass civil disobedience, such as those mounted by Extinction Rebellion, to drive the global rulers from power. Once the rulers see us as a real threat they will become vicious, even barbaric, in their efforts to cling to their positions of privilege and power. We may not succeed in halting the death march, but let those who come after us, especially our children, say we tried.

 

 

NOTE TO SCHEERPOST READERS FROM CHRIS HEDGES: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

 

 

READ MORE:

https://scheerpost.com/2022/07/25/chris-hedges-the-dawn-of-the-apocalypse/

 

SEE ALSO: 

OF GLOBAL WARMING……...

 

 

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cooking in oil…….

 

By Michael Klare / TomDispatch

 

It may seem hard to believe, but only 15 years ago many of us were talking confidently about “peak oil” — the moment of maximum global oil output after which, with world reserves dwindling, its use would begin an irreversible decline. Then along came hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the very notion of peak oil largely vanished. Instead, some analysts began speaking of “peak oil demand” — a moment, not so far away, when electric vehicle (EV) ownership would be so widespread that the need for petroleum would largely disappear, even if there was still plenty of it to frack or drill. However, in 2020, EVs made up less than 1% of the global light-vehicle fleet and are only expected to reach 20% of the total by 2040. So peak-oil demand remains a distant mirage, leaving us deeply beholden to the tyranny of petroleum, with all its perilous consequences.

For some perspective on this, recall that, in those pre-fracking days at the start of the century, many experts were convinced that world petroleum output would hit a daily peak of perhaps 90 million barrels in 2010, dropping to 70 or 80 million barrels by the end of that decade. In other words, we would have little choice but to begin converting our transportation systems to electricity, pronto. That would have caused a lot of disruption at first, but by now we would be well on our way to a green-energy future, with far less carbon emissions and a slowing pace of global warming.

Now, compare those hopeful scenarios to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). At the moment, world oil production is hoveringat around 100 million barrels daily and is projected to reach 109 million barrels by 2030, 117 million by 2040, and a jaw-dropping 126 million by 2050. So much, in other words, for “peak oil” and a swift transition to green energy.

Why global oil consumption is expected to hit such heights remains a complex tale. Foremost among the key factors, however, has certainly been the introduction of fracking technology, permitting the exploitation of mammoth shale reserves once considered inaccessible. On the demand side, there was (and remains) a worldwide preference — spearheaded by American consumers — for large, gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks. In the developing world, it’s accompanied by an ever-expanding market for diesel-powered trucks and buses. Then there’s the global growth in air travel, sharply increasing the demand for jet fuel. Add to that the relentless efforts by the oil industry itself to deny climate-change science and obstruct global efforts to curb fossil-fuel consumption.

The question now facing us is this: What are the consequences of such a worrisome equation for our future, beginning with the environment?

More Oil Use = More Carbon Emissions = Rising World Temperatures

We all know — at least, those of us who believe in science — that carbon-dioxide emissions are the leading source of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for global warming and the combustion of fossil fuels is responsible for the lion’s share of those CO2 emissions. Scientists have also warned us that, without a sharp and immediate decline in such combustion — aimed at keeping global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era — genuinely catastrophic consequences will ensue. Those will include the complete desertification of the American West (already experiencing the worst drought in 1,200 years) and the flooding of major coastal cities, including New York, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Now consider this: in 2020, oil accounted for more global energy consumption than any other source — approximately 30% — and the EIA projects that, on our present course, it will remain the world’s number-one source of energy, possibly until as late as 2050. Because it’s such a carbon-intensive fuel (though less so than coal), oil was responsible for 34% of global carbon emissions in 2020 and that share is projected to rise to 37% by 2040. At that point, oil combustion will be responsible for the release of 14.7 million metric tons of heat-trapping GHGs into the atmosphere, ensuring even higher average world temperatures.  

With CO2 emissions from oil use continuing to rise, there’s zero chance of staying within that 1.5 degrees Celsius limit or of preventing the catastrophic warming of this planet, with all it portends. Think of it this way: the stunning heatwaves experienced so far this year from China to India, Europe to the Horn of Africa, and this country to Brazil are only a mild foretaste of our future.

Oil and the War in Ukraine

Nor are heat waves the only perilous consequence of our still growing reliance on petroleum. Because of its vital role in transportation, industry, and agriculture, oil has always possessed immense geopolitical significance. There have, in fact, been scores of wars and internal conflicts over its ownership — and the colossal revenues it generates. The roots of every recent conflict in the Middle East, for example, can be traced back to such disputes. Despite much speculation about how peak-oil-demand scenarios could theoretically end all that, petroleum continues to shape world political and military affairs in a critical fashion.

To appreciate its enduring influence, just consider the multiple connections between oil and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

To begin with, it’s unlikely that Vladimir Putin would have ever been in a position to order the invasion of another well-armed country if Russia weren’t one of the planet’s top oil producers. Following the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, what remained of the Red Army was in shambles, barely capable of crushing an ethnic insurgency in Chechnya. However, after becoming Russia’s president in 2000, Vladimir Putin imposed state control over much of the nation’s oil and gas industry and used the proceeds from energy exports to finance the rehabilitation and modernization of that military. According to the Energy Information Administration, revenue from oil and natural gas production provided, on average, 43% of the Russian government’s total annual revenue between 2011 and 2020. In other words, it allowed Putin’s forces to build up the vast stocks of the guns, tanks, and missiles that it’s been using so mercilessly in Ukraine.

No less important, after his military’s failure to take Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, Putin would certainly have lacked the ability to continue the fight without the cash he receives every day from foreign oil sales. Although Russian petroleum exports have declined somewhat due to Western sanctions imposed after the war began, Moscow has been able to find clients in Asia — notably China and India — willing to buy up its excess crude oil once destined for Europe. Even if Russia is selling that oil at discounted prices, the undiscounted price has risen so sharply since the war began — with Brent crude, the industry standard, soaring from $80 a barrel in early February to $128 a barrel in March — that Russia is making more money now than when its invasion began. Indeed, economists at the Helsinki-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air have determined that, during the first 100 days of the war, Russia earned approximately $60 billion from its oil exports — more than enough to pay for its ongoing military operations in Ukraine.

To further punish Moscow, the 27 members of the European Union (EU) have agreed to ban all tanker-delivered Russian oil by the end of 2022 and cease its pipeline imports by the end of 2023 (a concession to Viktor Orbán of Hungary, which gets most of its crude oil via a Russian pipeline). This, in turn, would eliminate the monthly $23 billion that EU countries have been spending on those imports, but could, in the process, drive global prices higher yet, an obvious boon to Moscow. Unless China, India, and other non-Western buyers can be persuaded (or somehow compelled) to eliminate Russian imports, oil will continue to finance the war against Ukraine.

Oil, Ukraine, and the Global Inflationary Tsunami

The connections between oil and the war in Ukraine don’t end there. In fact, the two have combined to produce a global crisis unlike any in recent history. Because humanity has become so thoroughly reliant on petroleum products, any significant rise in the price of oil ripples through the global economy, affecting nearly every aspect of industry and commerce. Naturally, transportation takes the biggest hit, with all forms of it — from daily commuting to airline travel — becoming ever more costly. And because we’re so thoroughly dependent on oil-powered machines to grow our crops, any increase in the price of oil also automatically translates into increased food costs — a devastating phenomenon now occurring worldwide, with dire consequences for poor and working people.

The price data tell it all: From 2015 to 2021, Brent crude averaged around $50 to $60 a barrel, helping to spur automobile purchases while keeping inflation rates low. Prices started rising a year ago, driven by growing geopolitical tensions, including sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, as well as internal unrest in Libya and Nigeria — all major oil producers. Nevertheless, the price of crude only reached $75 per barrel as 2021 ended. Once the Ukraine crisis kicked in early this year, however, the price shot up rapidly, reaching $100 per barrel on February 14th and finally stabilizing (if such a word can even be used under the circumstances) at the current rate of approximately $115. This huge price spike, a doubling of the 2015 to 2021 average, has substantially increased travel, food, and shipping costs, only compounding the supply-chain problems sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic and fueling an inflation tsunami.  

An inflationary tide of this sort can only cause distress and hardship, particularly for less affluent populations across the planet, leading to widespread unrest and public protest. For many, such hardships have only been compounded by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, which has contributed significantly to rising food prices and increasing starvation in already troubled parts of the world. In Sri Lanka, for instance, anger over high food and fuel prices combined with disdain for the country’s inept governing elite sparked weeks of mass protests that culminated in the flight and resignation of that country’s president. Angry protests against high fuel and food prices have swept through other countries as well. Ecuador’s capital, Quito, was paralyzed for a week in late June by just such an upheaval, leaving at least three people dead and nearly 100 wounded.

In the United States, distress over rising food and fuel prices is widely seen as a major liability for President Joe Biden and the Democrats as the 2022 congressional elections approach. The Republicans clearly intend to exploit public anger over soaring inflation and gas prices in their campaigns. In response, Biden, who promised while running for president to make climate change a major White House priority, has recently been scouring the planet for additional sources of petroleum in a desperate drive to lower prices at the gas pump. At home, he released 180 million barrels of oil from the national strategic petroleum reserve, a vast underground reservoir created after the “oil shocks” of the 1970s to provide a cushion against a time like this, and lifted environmental regulations prohibiting the summer use of an ethanol-based blend known as E15, which contributes to smog during warmer months. Abroad, he’s sought to renew contacts with the previously pariah regime of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, once a major oil exporter to the United States. In March, two senior White House officials met with Maduro in what was widely viewed as an attempt to restore those exports.  

In the most controversial expression of this drive, in July the president traveled to Saudi Arabia — the world’s leading oil exporter — to meet its de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. MBS, as he’s known, was viewed by many, including analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency (and Biden himself), as the person ultimately responsible for the October 2018 murder in Turkey of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist.

The president insisted that his principal motives for meeting MBS were to bolster regional defenses against Iran and counter Russian and Chinese influence in the Middle East. “This trip is about once again positioning America in this region for the future,” he told reporters in the Saudi city of Jeddah on July 15th. “We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill.”

But most independent analysts suggest that his primary objective was to secure a Saudi promise to substantially increase that country’s daily oil output — a move they only acceded to after Biden agreed to meet MBS, terminating his pariah status in Washington. According to press accounts, the Saudis did indeed agree to boost their rate of production, but also promised to delay announcing the increase for several weeks to avoid embarrassing Biden.

Ending the Enduring Tyranny of Oil

It’s telling that the “climate” president was so willing to meet the Saudi leader to obtain the short-term political benefit of lower gas prices before American voters go to the polls this November. In truth, though, oil still plays a far deeper role in White House calculations. Although the United States no longer relies on Middle Eastern oil imports for a large share of its own energy needs, many of its allies — as well as China — do. In other words, from a geopolitical perspective, control of the Middle East remains no less important than it did in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Desert Storm, this country’s first Persian Gulf war, or in 2003, when his son, President George W. Bush, invaded Iraq.

Indeed, the government’s own projections suggest that, if anything, by 2050 (yes, that distant year again!), Middle Eastern members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, could actually command a larger share of global crude oil production than they do now. This helps explain Biden’s comments about not leaving a vacuum in the Middle East “for Russia or China to fill.” The same line of reasoning is bound to shape U.S. policy towards other oil-producing areas, including in West Africa, Latin America, and the offshore regions of Asia.

It doesn’t take much imagination to suggest, then, that oil is likely to play a crucial role in American foreign and domestic policies for years to come, despite the hopes of so many of us that declining petroleum demand would foster a green-energy transition. No doubt Joe Biden had every intention of moving us in that direction when he assumed office, but it’s clear that — thank you, Joe Manchin! — he’s been overpowered by the tyranny of oil. Worse yet, those who do the bidding of the fossil-fuel industry, including virtually every Republican in Congress, are determined to perpetuate that tyranny at whatever cost to the planet and its inhabitants.

Overcoming such a global phalanx of oil-industry defenders will require far more political muscle than the environmental camp has yet been able to muster. To save the planet from an all-too-literal hell on earth and protect the lives of billions of its inhabitants — including every child alive today or to be born in the years to come — petroleum tyranny must be resisted with the same ferocity that anti-abortion forces have employed in their campaign to protect (or so they claim) unborn fetuses. We must, like them, work tirelessly to elect like-minded politicians and advance our legislative agenda. Only by fighting to reduce carbon emissions today can we be sure that our children and grandchildren will live in an unscorched, habitable planet.

 

 

Michael T. Klare,

Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is the five-college professor emeritus of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and a senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association. He is the author of 15 books, the latest of which is All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change. He is a founder of the Committee for a Sane U.S.-China Policy.

 

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GUS: THE ONLY SOLUTION TO THE UKRAINE PROBLEM IS TO DIVIDE IT IN TWO COUNTRIES — AS IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE FIRST PLACE: THE GALICIANS IN THE WEST, THE RUSSIANS IN THE EAST. END OF STORY.

See Ireland and England. See Serbia and Croatia.... et cetera......

 

GUSNOTE: I give the date 1929 for the Irish full independence.... as a link between 1922 and 1937....

 

Gus Leonisky

Cartooning since 1951

 

 

FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW..........................

the fine print…...

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

The oil and gas industry, one of the most powerful corporate forces in American politics, has spent more than $200 million over the past year and a half to stop Congress from slashing carbon emissions as evidence of their catastrophic impact — from deadly heatwaves to massive wildfires — continues to accumulate in stunning fashion.

That topline estimate of the fossil fuel industry’s lobbying outlays and congressional election spending in the U.S. was calculated by Climate Power, which provided its findings exclusively to Common Dreams.

Nearly 80 percent of the industry’s campaign donations during the time period examined went to Republican candidates, according to Climate Power, whose analysis draws on data from OpenSecrets.

Until Wednesday night, when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced a surprise deal on climate investments, it looked as if the industry’s influence campaign had fully paid off, having helped crater the Democrats’ sweeping Build Back Better package.

Earlier this month, Manchin — the leading individual recipient of oil and gas industry cash in Congress — informed the Democratic leadership that he would not support moving ahead with renewable energy spending as part of a less ambitious bill, an apparently fatal blow to the hopes of climate action this year and possibly years into the future.

Manchin, for now, appears to have reversed course, striking an agreement with Schumer that contains a historic $369 billion in climate and energy spending, including billions to speed the country’s lagging transition away from fossil fuels. If accepted by all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, the reconciliation bill can pass without GOP support.

Schumer, who said the measure would put the country “on a path to roughly 40 percent emissions reductions by 2030,” announced that he expects a vote on the legislation by next week. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), a key swing vote, has not commented on the deal.

Noreen Nielsen, a senior adviser to Climate Power, told Common Dreams that with the new framework, “a strong signal was sent that deep pockets only go so far.”

But while climate advocates welcomed the proposal overall as a potential game-changer for the environment, they also stressed that the deal is littered with the fingerprints of the oil and gas industry, which — according to Climate Power’s new analysis — has spent $63.5 million on lobbying so far this year.

As part of the agreement, Democratic leaders — including Schumer and President Joe Biden — agreed to reform the regulatory process for pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure in the coming months, a victory for Manchin and his industry backers.

Such reforms could clear the way for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a fracked gas project in West Virginia and Virginia that, if completed, would spew 89,526,651 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere each year.

Jamie Henn, the director of Fossil Free Media, said late Wednesday that it is “incumbent on every green group and climate activist” to “fight like hell to make sure the Mountain Valley Pipeline is never built.”

“No communities should be sacrificed for political gains,” Henn added.

The bill, in its current form, would also mandate oil drilling lease sales off the coast of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Climate Power’s analysis of Big Oil lobbying and the Schumer-Manchin deal came as fossil fuel giants began reporting their profits for the second quarter of 2022.

Early Thursday, Shell announced a record-shattering $11.5 billion in profits for last quarter. ExxonMobil — which is also expected to announce a profit surge — and Chevron are set to report earnings on Friday as the industry continues to exploit Russia’s assault on Ukraine to push up costs for consumers.

According to a study published last week, the global oil and gas industry has raked in nearly $3 billion in profit per day over the past five decades as it has sown disinformation about its central responsibility for the climate crisis and tanked efforts to address destructive warming.

In the words of Aviel Verbruggen, the study’s lead author, those staggering profits have given the fossil fuel industry the ability to “buy every politician” and “every system.”

“I think this happened,” Verbruggen told The Guardian.

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

 

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