Meanwhile, in More Depressing Times

Every morning I wake up and ask out loud, “did Trump resign last night?”

That’s just a fantasy. He’s not going to leave office until his heart stops again, for good. Or, perhaps that was not his heart – my bet is a mini-stroke, which would be partial explanation for his decaying behavior. A funnier alternative, which I have not seen floated, is that they replaced him with a robot. In terms of conspiracy-mongering, that’s not all that much harder than “pizzagate.” All that “executive time” is when they recharge the batteries and calibrate the servomotors that are used to displace that ridiculous silicone animatronic. Once they perfected it to do the “Sarah Huckabee Sanders” effect they knew they were ready to go for the big one. Just think, we could do a whole “birther-“style wave of suspicion: “show us the Xrays”

Under the crashing wave of stupid that is the distraction for our times, the real disaster continues. It’s getting to be like when the doctor walks in with your scans and sits down and thinks quietly for a minute before saying, “I need to tell you this…” Suddenly you realize that it doesn’t matter so much what Martin Scorsese thinks about Star Wars movies. [seekinalpha]

Exxon Mobil (XOM+1.6%) is accelerating its biggest asset sale in decades with plans to divest as much as $25B of oil and gas fields in Europe, Asia and Africa, Reuters reports.

XOM has drawn up an extensive list of assets from at least 11 countries it wants to sell that would easily exceed its current $15B disposal target for 2021, according to the report.

The expanded plan would see XOM effectively exiting its upstream oil and gas operations in Europe, selling out of the U.K. North Sea, Germany and Romania, and a significant reduction of operations in Southeast Asia with the sale of its assets in Indonesia and Malaysia.

A happy optimist might read that as “Exxon is shutting down some of its oil-fields, maybe humanity will be saved!” But actually what that appears to be saying is that Exxon is realizing a bunch of profits and preparing to keep pumping and exploring; they just want to avoid the places where regulation is about to make it more expensive. Nowadays to drill in Iraq, you have to negotiate with the US military (who are back in Iraq and Syria in spite of the commander in chief telling them to get out: oil) If Exxon is looking for new places to drill, they’re trying to find places that are not yet combat zones. Yet.

Those oil fields won’t be shut down, anyhow – they’ll be sold to companies smaller than Exxon, which will be harder for anyone to apply pressure against. Those will be small companies that will demand compensation for shutting down the wells, or small companies that will smash and grab as much out as possible and probably leak it into the oceans for good measure. Remember how Deepwater Horizon was barely anyone’s fault at all, but everyone knew the Valdez belonged to Exxon? They’ve gotten very good at shuffling around their assets so as to protect themselves – from over here it looks a lot like the vast wave of divest-and-reinvest that the tobacco industry went through when they realized they were about to be sued and regulated: they sold the assets, left a nub behind, and said, “go ahead and bankrupt it.” Sound familiar? That’s the same tactic tobacco and “big opiate” and “big chem” have pulled – make figuring out ownership harder, so it’s harder to litigate, and easier for them to fold up and move somewhere else when they get caught.

XOM has been facing growing pressure from investors to free up cash as it plans to increase spending for new developments in Guyana, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea and the U.S.

They’re not planning to stop or even slow down – they’re looking for places that can be run by oil-friendly governments that will not attempt to regulate them, so they can expand extraction.

Scientists continue to ring the alarm bells, and politicians continue to play deaf. The fact that most of the politicians we’re talking about are ageing flesh-bags who plan to die in comfort and state before the worst of the crisis sets in – that has nothing to do with it. And if you’re thinking “surely some of them have kids and care to leave the world a better place.” Uh, no, they’re politicians; they know their kids are feral little predators like they were – Hunter Biden and Donald Trump Jr are equipped to survive and thrive in the heat-pocalypse. They won’t wind up internally displaced, more’s the pity.

Scientists have been saying a 2C rise would be bad, and painting a worst-case scenario where the high end of the range is at around 4C. As I mentioned earlier, I’m scared that we’ll blow right past that to 5C or more when the runaway reactions start to kick in. It appears that we are now on track for 4C and optimistic talk is not going to move that range needle down. We don’t have optimistic talk, even: we have the US and China both saying that they intend to expand fossil fuel use for the next 50 years, which means “we’ll kick the can further down the road in 50 years once it’s too late.” 4-5C is Permian-level mass extinction events. And now optimistic scientists are saying we’re heading for the low end of that.


The report highlights the nations that are taking some action, including the closure of most coal mines in Spain and some in China, along with the end of new offshore oil and gas exploration licences in New Zealand and some parts of the Arctic governed by Canada, the US and Norway.

Now you can see why Exxon is getting ready to sell those rights: they’re about to get more expensive.

The black line is what emissions would have looked like under Paris, assuming not too much cheating. As it turned out, the US and China both cheated like mad; China by just reporting wrong, the US by not counting any of the fuel consumption of its military, which is about the same as the fuel consumption of an entire country like Bolivia.

The black line was what everyone was hoping politicians would see and realize was the writing on the wall.

Nah, we’ll take the red one, thank you.

Fuck you, boomer.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    A funnier alternative, which I have not seen floated, is that they replaced him with a robot.

    Take that back, it is a slander on all Cyber-Americans.

  2. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#1:
    Take that back, it is a slander on all Cyber-Americans.

    No! I’m implying that things might get better under our new robot overlords.

  3. says

    The methane tipping point has indeed been reached, as has the tundra/peat melt and ignition. Ocean dead zones/anoxic regions have become permanent and are growing. We are on track to see what the Permian Extinction was like, from the inside.

  4. says

    Capitalist tool in Forbes explains why climate change is not going to be a disaster:

    As far as I can tell his argument appears to be “civilization will not collapse, because rich people define what ‘civilization’ is and they will be fine. Or something like that. Basically, his point is: “no! no! nonononononono… please no.”

  5. jrkrideau says

    @ 7 Marcus

    Capitalist tool in Forbes explains why climate change is not going to be a disaster

    He is a bit selective in his facts and quotes, to say the least.

    I loveo “In 1931, 3.7 million people died from natural disasters. In 2018, just 11,000 did”.

    Duh, well, he did pick the year of the /Yangtze–Huai River floods where the death toll was huge, even using conservative estimates

    or says
    IPCC estimates sea level could rise two feet (0.6 meters) by 2100. Does that sound apocalyptic or even “unmanageable”?

    Well, actually in some cases yes.

    IIRC, the IPCC has consistently been low on its sea rise estimates. A more recent estimate is higher.
    Global average sea level is currently estimated to be rising at more than 3 millimetres a year. This rate is projected to increase and total sea-level rise by 2100 (relative to 2000) is projected to reach 70-100 centimetres, depending on which greenhouse gas emissions pathway we follow.

    Or this great line.
    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forecasts crop yields increasing 30% by 2050.

    Clearly he did not expect his readers to look at the FAO report
    Climate change will incrementally affect all the agricultural sectors.

    Climate change already has negative effects on crop yields, livestock production and fisheries, particularly in low- and middle- income countries. Such impacts are likely to become even stronger later in this century.

    Climate change impacts go well beyond crop yields.

    Climate change also affects soil quality, fish habitats and stocks, the biodiversity of landscapes, and the epidemiology and antimicrobial resistance of pests and diseases. There are great uncertainties about the combined effects of these impacts

  6. komarov says

    Not to worry, clean, safe fusion power will save us: once we have that, we simply use it to vaporise 9/10ths of the world population and watch our* collective environmental footprint dwindle into insignificance. Crisis averted!

    *Well, someone’s

    IPCC estimates sea level could rise two feet (0.6 meters) by 2100. Does that sound apocalyptic or even “unmanageable”?

    Well, actually in some cases yes.

    I have to correct you: in some individual cases, yes. So what if New York floods? Penthouses are a long way up. Some minor infrastructure upgrades to waterproof the utilities – paid for by the regular taxpayer before the rising waters force them out – and all is well. So as Venice disappears New York takes its place. And there’ll finally be a market for amphibious stretch limousines. Hooray?

  7. jrkrideau says

    @ 9 komarov
    So as Venice disappears New York takes its place. And there’ll finally be a market for amphibious stretch limousines.

    I have been considering glass–bottomed boats for most or all of Florida. I am having trouble raising capital for the container port in Katmandu but I remain hopeful.

    On a more serious note referring to Marcus’ “civilization will not collapse…”, the author fails to realize that humanity not going extinct is not quite the same as “civilization will not collapse”.

  8. witm says

    “Remember how Deepwater Horizon was barely anyone’s fault at all, but everyone knew the Valdez belonged to Exxon? ”

    Huh? I could have sworn that was BP’s fault for allowing tampering (read: unauthorized modifications made to) with the BOP stack. The disaster didn’t conveniently have BP’s name all over the ship, but it seemed to be pretty clear to me (side note: I do have access to some information possibly not generally available). Obviously I don’t read a lot of American news, so did I miss something? Or did just the news cycle just speed up so much that we kind of ran right past the DH while the EV stuck in our mind for ages back in the day?

  9. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Regular reminder that the greens are more to blame than the capitalists and climate change deniers.

    Quoting preeminent climate scientist James Hansen.

    A facile explanation would focus on the ‘merchants of doubt’ who have managed to confuse the
    public about the reality of human-made climate change. The merchants play a role, to be sure, a
    sordid one, but they are not the main obstacle to solution of human-made climate change.
    The bigger problem is that people who accept the reality of climate change are not proposing
    actions that would work. This is important, because as Mother Nature makes climate change
    more obvious, we need to be moving in directions within a framework that will minimize the
    impacts and provide young people a fighting chance of stabilizing the situation.
    The insightful cynic will note: “Now I understand all the fossil fuel ads with windmills and solar
    panels – fossil fuel moguls know that renewables are no threat to the fossil fuel business.” The
    tragedy is that many environmentalists line up on the side of the fossil fuel industry, advocating
    renewables as if they, plus energy efficiency, would solve the global climate change matter.
    Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is
    conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables
    will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole
    is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.
    This Easter Bunny fable is the basis of ‘policy’ thinking of many liberal politicians. Yet when
    such people are elected to the executive branch and must make real world decisions, they end up
    approving expanded off-shore drilling and allowing continued mountaintop removal, long-wall
    coal mining, hydro-fracking, etc. – maybe even a tar sands pipeline. Why the inconsistency?
    Because they realize that renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now
    and in the foreseeable future and they have no real plan. They pay homage to the Easter Bunny
    fantasy, because it is the easy thing to do in politics. They are reluctant to explain what is
    actually needed to phase out our need for fossil fuels.

  10. bmiller says

    Gerrard: What is ACTUALLY needed is what komarov suggested: Drastically reduce population. Along with returning, perhaps, to a hunter and gatherer lifestyle with this reduced population.

    But if I recall, you think nuclear power is the environmentally sound solution to everything.

    (I do agree with your skepticism about renewables-except among the affluent and around the edges).

  11. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    To bmiller
    I agree that overpopulation needs to be tackled at the same time. I vehemently disagree about returning to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    As an anecdote. Pretty sure I’m getting this right. England was losing forest cover before the industrial revolution. It was losing forest cover because they cut down trees for fuel. The usage of coal allowed the people to not cut down trees, and that’s why today England has much more forested area compared to the start of the industrial revolution.

    Did you know that even if we turned all of the arable land on the planet into farmland, and I’m not suggesting that we should, without modern inorganic fertilizer, half the population would starve? Did you know that somewhere around 1% to 2% of total energy usage by humanity goes to making inorganic fertilizer?

    Going hunter-gatherer is just not an option at the population that we have. We need an industrial base. Otherwise, we’ll run out of food and heating fuel.

    Saying we should go back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is also woefully ignorant. It buys into the neo-Malthusian anti-humanism, anti-tech, anti-progress, regressive delusion that is at the heart of modern Green environmentalism. This wrong-headed idea is best summed up with a great quote from one of the god-fathers of this quasi-religious nonsense.

    “Even if nuclear power were clean, safe, economic, assured of ample fuel, and socially benign,” said the god head of renewables, Amory Lovins, in 1977, “it would still be unattractive because of the political implications of the kind of energy economy it would lock us into.”

    What kind of an energy economy would that be, exactly? A prosperous, clean, and high-energy one. “If you ask me, it’d be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it,” explained Lovins.

    That sentiment is wrong. It’s completely wrong. Amory Lovins and the rest of the neo-Malthusians believe wrongly that if you give people more energy, they’ll use that energy to do more harm to the environment. It’s completely wrong. Look at my trees example. Look at my farming land example. In almost every case except greenhouse gas emissions, giving humans more energy means that humans do less damage to the environment. Humans used coal as a replacement to cutting down forests. Humans use inorganic fertilizer to reduce the farmland that is needed. Humans also need to have spare time, effort, labor, and resources in order to proactively protect the environment. It’s rich countries like the US that have an EPA, a clean air act, a clean water act, an endangered species act, etc.

    Moreover, even the central premise of Malthus is wrong – Malthus said that if you give humans a secure food supply, then they’ll produce many many kids, but almost the exact opposite is true. When you give humans a secure supply of food and a modern standard of living, they have less kids. In practically every industrialized country, the birth rate per woman is already below breakeven.

    The solution to our problems is not this romantacized “noble savage” hunter-gatherer “be in harmony with nature” Gaia-worshiping nonsense. The solution is forward technological progress.

    The way that you protect the environment from humans is to move humans out of it into cities, and that takes a lot of energy. The way that you prevent humans from needing to cut down forests is to give them a replacement energy source. The way that you reduce the need for mining is promote recycling which typically requires more energy than otherwise. It’s all about cheap, clean, abundant energy.

    It also has the accidental side effect of making the world into a better place for everyone by raising their standard of living. Food refrigeration, for starters. Hospitals and modern medicine also require lots of energy. Even something as simple as safe drinking water requires a lot of energy – pumping water takes a lot more energy than drinking river water.

    I am completely aghast at what you said re hunter-gatherers. It is truly evil and abominable.

    It’s also quite colonialist, because most people who say this that the developing world, e.g. the non-white world, should stay poor, and the white western elitists have been quite successful in their efforts to keep the non-white part of the world poor and hungry, while spending not nearly so much effort at trying to make the white world as poor as the non-white world. You might think that I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. It’s the fucking Green elitist assholes who are the primary reason why there’s still widespread hunger in Africa, and it’s because they believed the same bullshit that you’re peddling here, and so you’ll have to forgive me to say “dear sir, fuck you”.

    Regarding the evidence for that last claim. I have it on a very good authority. I have it on the authority of Norman Borlaug, the greatest human being to ever live, a man who spent most of his life in foreign countries, working to feed people who were not his skin color, a man whose work saved a billion human lives from hunger. Billion with a “b”. If he says that the number one obstacle to stopping widespread hunger in Africa was this particular hunter-gatherer mindset of the western elitist environmentalists, then I believe it. See:

    Environmental lobbyists persuaded the Ford Foundation and the World Bank to back off from most African agriculture projects. The Rockefeller Foundation largely backed away too—though it might have in any case, because it was shifting toward an emphasis on biotechnological agricultural research. “World Bank fear of green political pressure in Washington became the single biggest obstacle to feeding Africa,” Borlaug says. The green parties of Western Europe persuaded most of their governments to stop supplying fertilizer to Africa; an exception was Norway, which has a large crown corporation that makes fertilizer and avidly promotes its use. Borlaug, once an honored presence at the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, became, he says, “a tar baby to them politically, because all the ideas the greenies couldn’t stand were sticking to me.”

    Borlaug’s reaction to the campaign was anger. He says, “Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.”

  12. says

    bmiller @#13

    Along with returning, perhaps, to a hunter and gatherer lifestyle with this reduced population.

    Would you personally want to, for example, deliver a baby without access to modern medicine?
    Or are you just a hypocrite who is willing to condemn other people to pain while you personally get to live in comfort?

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