So You Don’t Have To

Clamoring for a worldwide tracking survey on consumer choice and the environment? National Geographic sort’ve answers the bell with their Greendex. This kind of fix offers the needed splitting of the hair that at once tells who is ‘out front’ on being green and makes a mockery out of the entire endeavor. The more Going Green plays itself out, the more it looks like an utter construct of the planetary forces of pillage.

This is to say that, despite the colorful graphics and trappings of informing us, sustainability issues are better laid out between the lines. Because as a matter of scorecards that presuppose how we can/will maintain what we are doing with little tweaks here and there, the issue is a non-starter. Because we can’t.

Take, for example this article from Harper’s, on the life of an oil fixer. When you realize the energy conundrum as a puzzle the key to which is hiding or losing a few integral pieces, then the puzzle can come to make some sense.

Africa has remained the main focus of Calil’s operations, but he now does business around the globe. In addition to operations in Russia and the Middle East, he owned a Houston-based firm called Nautilus, which obtained oil and gas concessions in South America and Central Asia. He sold Nautilus to Ocean Energy, which subsequently was bought by Devon Energy, now the largest U.S.-based independent oil and gas producer. Calil also won a gas concession in Brazil, which he later sold to Enron. “When buying and selling oil concessions, you’re dependent on your skills and knowledge, but you’re also very much dependent on the goodwill of the local government, from presidents to ministers,” Calil told me. “You end up building a political network to a) build up the business and b) protect it.”

But this isn’t about accrued personal wealth, conspiracy theories or geo-political middlemen. It’s primarily about a $2 trillion dollar-a-year industry that has a few good years left in it, that fully expects us all to play out the string right up until then end. The place that we’re left then is really of no concern to the countries, companies and individuals involved. They know we’re afraid of the dark, much less walking in it and God forbid bumping into each other, and so don’t need to do much to frighten us – just offer a bit of increasingly expensive relief from perceived oppressions upon our time, livelihoods and general ability to move about freely. These sacred activities uninfringed is precisely where we have agreed the bar should be set.

Just try to eat well or lower your carbon footprint within that set of constraints. And one odd thing: with consuming personal space set as your idea of freedom, anything else will feel like prison. To think/act otherwise, you’d need to being playing by a completely different set of rules, with a different ball, even.

And if/when you hear any mishigas about who killed the electric car or canned the trolley, just remember the suspects are playing a completely different game than anyone concerned about a sustainable, blue planet.