Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tech Can Fight Against Climate Change by Patrick Thibodeau

I’m glad the Senate killed the Keystone pipeline. The only thing exploitation of tar sands will do is to increase the severity of climate change.

James Hansen, the NASA climate scientist, in his book Storms of My Grandchildren, warned of a "Venus syndrome,” or runaway climate change so extreme that it leaves the planet overheated and dead.  He argued that if the world burns tar sands and tar shale, “I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.”

That’s Hansen’s warning.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe he is right or wrong. The question is really about the amount of risk we want to pass on to future generations.

Climate change is happening. It will make life miserable for our children, grandchildren and their offspring. But there is little meaningful debate about it in Washington.  The country is locked in a weird paralysis and lethargy on the issue, thanks, in no small part, to the ability of the fossil fuel industry to run a campaign of distraction.

The relentless advertising about how the U.S. can create “one million new jobs” by expanding fossil fuel development skips over the fact that it involves blowing up mountains in West Virginia, digging up tar sands, more offshore drilling, and pumping a lot more carbon into atmosphere. These are the acts of an increasingly desperate civilization unwilling to recognize its resource constraints.

The fossil fuel lobby controls the agenda in Washington. They’ll win on Keystone eventually; this Senate vote Thursday is just about waiting until the election is over. That will be the future unless the country begins to understand the alternatives to Keystone.

These alternatives go beyond wind power or solar energy. It’s about something much more fundamental.

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