Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maryland, my Maryland - Lacrimosa

"Do you not fear Death and all your Sins laid bare?"
- Davy Jones, Pirates II

"Things fall apart and the center cannot hold."
- William Butler Yeats, the Second Coming


Despite the New Age notion that technology is out to kill US, it seems, yet again, that Yankee know-how is providing solutions to the problem of providing clean energy alternatives to help free US from dependency upon fossil fuels. Such a loosening of the deadly coils of burning things - oil, coal, uranium or whatever else that smokes - would permit this country to alter its foreign policy to the point where War is not so easily appealed to as a solution for every problem. Not appealing to War is appealing in and of itself but it would also loosen the grip of lobbyists in Washington who pervert the budget process of the federal government to the extent that we spend more money on blowing things up than all of the rest of the world combined, leaving far too little resources for the social benefit programs like universal health care, quality public education, smart agricultural policy, and the desperate need to rebuild the country's infrastructure before it literally falls into ruin.  All of these changes and the strong economic base on which they depend, can only occur when clean, renewable and inexpensive energy sources are developed and deployed. The key to our national security and rational foreign policy, the key to a strong, well-balanced economy, and the key to a resilient and just social fabric is a sound energy policy. And frankly, it doesn't much matter what the rest of the World does; if the US doesn't get its act together sooner rather than later, then Mother Earth is going to have one helluva time with planetary menopause. And we've all had mothers go through that, haven't we?

As in any revolution beyond our control, several things are happening at once.

By this time, most of US are familiar with the general outlines and consequences of
Global Warming. But what most people don't quite yet understand is that as planetary warming progresses it increases in speed. That's because as the ice that has trapped so many carbon deposits below the surface melts, those trapped gases - in the form of organic peat - release their imprisoned poisons at a faster and faster clip, thus accelerating global temperatures and the resultant havoc caused by more frequent and violent hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, etc.

Rational people will naturally respond to this quickly emerging catastrophe with calls to develop clean sources of energy and do it fast. The Europeons are doing something. The
Germans are even going so far as to install more and more solar paneling systems in a country where it rains everyday. The globe-trotting Saudis and nuclear armed Israelis are cooperating on solar energy plants, just as the Israelis and Turks cooperate in sharing water resources. But what are we doing? What are the Russians doing? What are the Chinese doing?

This is where rationality breaks its head against a brick wall.

Let's start with our 'enemies' and rivals, first, so we can feel better about allocating blame before too much of it lands on US. Well, the Chinese are building coal plants faster than they can have babies. Why are they doing that? Could it be because our invasion of Iraq
has cut down a supply of light, sweet crude Oil from the world's markets, thereby forcing the Chinese to look elsewhere to power their economic expansion, that, by the by, we encourage through the selling of so many US Treasury bonds to them to finance our own debt-laden economic expansion? But I can hear some people now: "Good, let the Chinese choke on their own soot; it's no concern of mine." That might be a wise policy were it not for the fact that one of the ancient powers of Mother Earth - Gaea*, to those on speaking terms with her - is called the Wind. And the Wind is blowing that soot through the prevailing trade winds to guess where? US. Maybe, if we hadn't been so intent upon controlling the second largest oil reserves in the World, the Chinese would be burning Oil instead of Coal. But who knows? People may yearn for the days of the London Fogs and Tuberculosis and other forms of lung disease, which gave rise to stories we all love from Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. Suffering, after all, is a reliable source of great literature.

Fine. The Chinese won't change because they can't change because we won't let them change because we need them to hold our spare change before we spend that change on Changes that might save US.

It's always been the Russians fault, anyway. They're out there selling their cleaner natural gas when it should have been ours to begin with. What the hell was keeping Boris Yeltsin drunk during the 90's and the breakup of Yugoslavia all about, anyways, except to build a natural gas pipeline from the
Caspian basin to Europeon markets that we could control? But the Russians are a little more powerful than the Iraqis and a little more savvy than the Chinese. They knew what we were after in the first place and snatched victory from the maw of defeat at precisely the time they needed to. Good chess players do this all the time. And Gazprom, under Putin's control, is a great chess player.
Which leaves US. Do we really need to depress ourselves further by wading through the litany of environmental sins this country has committed? We all know who we are and what we do. Let's just say the skies don't turn brown by themselves, water has never been set on fire before we started pollutting the Hudson with industrial waste, and mercury levels in fish throughout all our major rivers and bays would not occur were it not for the burning of Coal. And by the way, there is no such thing as "Clean Coal." Pick up a charcoal brisket this Sunday if you don't believe me. We have a lot of work to do because as long as we keep burning fuels the way we do there is no doubt, no doubt, that we will literally kill the Earth. It is very obvious that the United States can change the direction of the World's use of energy such that it is sustainable, less polluting, and reduces the potential of conflict and war over diminishing reserves of fossil fuel. There are all sorts of technological innovations available; we have the money to invest; Americans want to develop these alternatives and have proven more than willing to alter their lifestyles and cut back on their use of energy when necessary.

In that connection I am reminded of 'Kenny (dead) Boy' Ley, Jeffrey Skilling, Andrew Fastow and

Well, if you have the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission protecting you against those nasty electric consumers, why worry about the consequences, eh? Until, that is, people get wise and the market crashes on you. And then you die of a heart attack waiting to go to jail for your crimes against customers, shareholders and the IRS and then don't you wish you would have spent your profits on improving transmission lines and research and development to insure the long-terms viability of your company? But it's too late and now you're dead and your buddies are in jail for a long time and nothing you did in your life matters, anymore. Perhaps, and ironically, stronger federal regulation might have saved your lives and reputations. But that wasn't how you saw the matter when you lobbied for deregulation of the energy industry, was it? And the only lasting thing remaining from that debacle was the growing knowledge of Californians that the old ways of doing business in Energy are as reliable as trusting Jack Sparrow with our merchant navy.

But guess what? Just when it seems as if all is lost it usually is. Except, of course, for the

*Gaea being a derivitave of the Sanskrit,
Maya, the mother of the Buddha, and the closely related Greek, Maia, the eldest of the Pleiades sisters, also referred to as 'mother' and, of course, Maria, the latinized version of Miriam, beloved, the mother of Christ; hence 'Mary,' in the English. Therefore, "Maryland, my Maryland": "Motherland, my Mother's Land"

[to be continued in the 2nd Movement: Prestissimo]

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