Moving on from Cheap and Plenty

Waste – where does it all come from, where does it all go? In a closed system (Earth), a little of it goes everywhere and all of it goes nowhere. We ‘deal’ with waste by putting it out of view, all the while we make more stuff, want more stuff, buy more stuff, sell more stuff, invent fake stuff to buy and sell, even if it’s a ponzi scheme [Narrator: It’s a ponzi scheme].

Now comes the lament that the good days of cheap goods and easy access to them is coming to an end. It is but a scare tactic. And from the perspective of waste – and not only that – were those days so good? The ethos, such as it is, of disposable _____ (goods, culture, food) creates a self-fulfilling emptiness. We could argue that cultivation of these seeds of despair have bloomed and blossomed, and as we feast upon them, they only serve to further famish. Why? What’s the mystery? From wanting nothing issues the inability to figure out what is wanted, what is meaning, what’s it’s all for. As the noted philosopher Jethro Bodine reminds us, “naught from naught equals naught.”

We shudder at the very thought of empty shelves or infringements on long commutes, when fewer shelves and shorter drives represent a signal turn for the better. But gladly to rush into the arms of division and destruction only to maintain the misery fix, we’re only the worse and will fight to keep it.

These failings are ours, but within them lay great tools of rebuilding – not more new things, but better new selves. All of our many advantages were not achieved just to make money off of money, but to make music – whether that means actual notes and tones to you or not – to enjoy and enjoin.

How to channel the urge to exploit? Realize every instance of the act reserves a double portion for the actor and we won’t need to worry with saving the Earth (closed system) when we get serious about saving ourselves.

Two good shoes and all.

Green Opposition

Keystone-PipelineIt is enough to say that economics and environmental opposition have made building the Keystone XL Pipeline impractical. What this outcome may portend for the fates of other fossil fuels as the economics change may bare a little more fleshing out:

The company behind the Keystone XL pipeline has asked the US government to put its review of the controversial project on hold.

TransCanada says the pause is necessary while it negotiates with Nebraska over the pipeline’s route through the state.

The move came as a surprise as TransCanada executives have pushed hard to get approval.

Environmental groups oppose the 1,179-mile (1,897km) pipeline, saying it will increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Maybe they’re pulling it until President Carson can approve the travesty project. But perhaps the reckoning is that neither version of green opposition is sufficient to turn the tide against an legacy energy source – that the power of both and maybe every meaning of green is necessary to make the difference

Sum Zero

Guardian_KXLdepotThis reads like a cartoon manual for an evil PR firm:

The company behind the Keystone XL project is engaged in a “perpetual campaign” that would involve putting “intelligent” pressure on opponents and mobilising public support for an entirely Canadian alternative, bypassing Barack Obama and pipeline opposition in the US.

Hours before a Senate vote to force US approval of the Keystone pipeline, the industry playbook to squash opposition to the alternative has been exposed in documents made available to the Guardian.

Strategy documents drafted by the public relations giant Edelman for TransCanada Corporation – which is behind both Keystone and the proposed alternative – offer a rare inside glimpse of the extensive public relations, lobbying, and online and on-the-ground efforts undertaken for pipeline projects. The plans call, among other things, for mobilising 35,000 supporters.

So, in the face of the Senate vote, TransCanada is mobilising [sic] support for an alternate route for the pipeline. They’re going to play offense, strike first, and ‘neutralize risk before it is leveled.’ I’m not even sure I want to know what that means. But this whole thing has been catapulted far beyond merely Green issues, environmental concerns or even energy independence rhetoric – those are just for window dressing at this point. Can corporations do what they want, damn the consequences, or not? That the is principle on which this rests. Even political support in the U.S. for the pipelines seems to rest not on its benefits but on one party’s ability to jam something unwanted down the country’s throat most important aquifer.

And this is nice, from further down in the article:

They advise: “Add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources,” and warn: “We cannot allow our opponents to have a free pass. They will use every piece of information they can find to attack TransCanada and this project.”

Recruiting allies to deliver the pro-pipeline message is critical, Edelman says in the documents. “Third-party voices must also be identified, recruited and heard to build an echo chamber of aligned voices.”

Most certainly! Echo chambers are just darling this time of year.

Image: A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, last week. Photograph: Andrew Cullen/Reuters, via

The Way We Transport the Stuff is Not the Problem

It’s, well, amusing is not the right word but, fatuous how some might think that since trains have accidents and barges can spill oil into large rivers, that it somehow recommends a pipeline as the best way to transport crude oil:

The spill occurred on Saturday when a barge carrying oil crashed into a tugboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Authorities closed the stretch of river on Sunday and still can’t say exactly how much oil was spilled, though a light sheen of oil is being reported. No injuries were reported from the crash.

In St. Charles Parish, public drinking water intakes along the Mississippi were closed as a precaution, but a news release Sunday assured the public that the water supply “remains safe” in the parish. As of Sunday night, the closure was stalling 16 vessels waiting to go downriver and 10 waiting to go upriver.

Keystone XL lurks as an epic, grand scale, Spielberg-meets-Ridley-Scott-on-the-steppes-featuring-Russell-Crowe-As-Tom-Hanks environmental disaster waiting to happen. TransCanada’s track record is already a Spotify favorite. Yes, that’s right.

As always, it’s the problem that’s the problem.


Choice of Words

We all make these choices constantly, but the terms and context of the way people describe certain things always bares some unpacking.

Example: Canada’s natural resources minister, Joe Oliver, in Washington, D.C., trying to drum up support for the Keystone XL pipeline and criticizing NASA’s James Hansen for the dramatic terms he uses to frame opposition to the project

In Oliver’s view, however, the scientist has had no business to keep speaking out as he has. “He was the one who said four years ago that if we go ahead with development of the oil sands it’s game over for the planet,” Oliver told the audience at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “Well, this is exaggerated rhetoric. It’s frankly nonsense. I don’t know why he said it but he should be ashamed of having said it.”

It’s not clear why Oliver was so vehement. The minister launched his attack on Hansen just 48 hours after a report from the Environmental Protection Agency essentially reaffirmed the climate scientist’s concerns about the development of the tar sands.

Emphasis mine, and the words before the quote are the Guardian‘s, but this whole idea about whose business it is to do what is, um… interesting. People opposed to the further opening of yet another carbon spigot, one that could also accidentally poison the aquifer beneath the world’s breadbasket, have no business using vehement rhetoric to emphasize their opposition. But fossil oil interests are perfectly within their rights when they assure the public that this project will create jobs, is environmentally sound and will decrease gas prices.

All of these claims are demonstrably false. What’s really revealing and worth looking into is why the First Nations are opposed to the pipeline – after all, it would be much easier for TransCanada, and closer to China, if they just went west with tar sands crude to Vancouver.

As much as we are surrounded by euphemism and Orwellian doublespeak, people still reveal just what they mean by the words they use.