In Honor of COP26

The COP26 meetings are over and they turned out exactly as expected. There were some particularly horrifying moments, such as when Nobel Price recipient Barack Obama, who earlier said:

“You wouldn’t always know it, but it [oil production] went up every year I was president,” he said to applause. “That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas – that was me, people.”

… decided to lecture everyone about how bad fossil fuels are. You can’t make this shit up.

As I predicted, the aspirational goal of +1.5C is in the toilet: coal and oil producing countries are talking about “tailing off” new production, meaning “we’re going to keep drilling and digging and we’ll tail it off in a decade or two once it’s no longer our problem because we’re old people and we’re going to slide into our graves and leave you kids holding the bag.” +2.5C is the new aspirational goal and, frankly, I think humanity will blow that one, too.

[source bbc]

Zoom in on the part where emissions keep bulging up until around 2030, and ask yourself if these political jackasses are doing their jobs. There are “pledges and targets” but the rich and powerful nations are already setting up to blow the pledges and targets. While Biden was doddering around like a Halloween lawn dummy, talking about climate, the Biden administration is worried about the rising cost of oil (that is the point, shithead!) and is pressuring Saudi Arabia to pump more and bring the prices down in order to protect the US economy from inflation. [bloomberg]

U.S. President Joe Biden kept up the pressure on OPEC+ to combat high oil prices, blaming it for inflationary pressure at home just two days before Saudi Arabia, Russia and the rest of the cartel meet to discuss oil policy.

If you take a look at gas prices, and you take a look at oil prices, that is a consequence of, thus far, the refusal of Russia or the OPEC nations to pump more oil,” Biden told reporters at a news conference at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow. “And we’ll see what happens on that score sooner than later.” [my emphasis]

What a brilliant observation. Biden has discovered the supply/demand pricing relationship which is, in all the years humans have been studying economics, about the only thing economists have managed to figure out. Admittedly, the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt figured it out, too, but all those PhDs have to contribute their share to greenhouse gas emissions. What else causes inflation? Printing money like it’s going out of style, to hand it to the Pentagon.

Even The Guardian gets it wrong, but its heart is in the right place:

If trillions of dollars can be found to sort out the banking crisis or the Covid pandemic in a few weeks, then it can surely be found to help countries transition into a low carbon world, starting with the $100bn (£75bn) a year that rich countries offered the climate vulnerable in 2009.

I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’m going to say it again: you can’t be serious about budgets unless you put the US ‘defense’ budget on the chopping block. Notice how The Guardian doesn’t mention the trillions spent on the military ($7tn/10 years), nuclear weapons, and the intelligence/black ops community?

The US has decided to continue its indefensible policy of not counting its military’s emissions/fossil fuel use toward targets because, I don’t know, but probably “imperialism.” Amitav Ghosh’s observations regarding the relationship between oil economies, imperialism, and power, are prescient. [stderr] The US has the largest military in the world; it emits more CO2 than all the other armed forces on Earth, combined. Or, more than many countries. The fact that the US is allowed to grandstand and say stupid bullshit while simultaneously cheating on the accords by definition is really sad. The other nations of the world are a bunch of limp sacks of blancmange, and need to stand up and point fingers and criticize. [guard]

Armed forces are among the biggest polluters on the planet but are avoiding scrutiny because countries do not have to include their emissions in their targets, scientists say.

The world’s militaries combined, and the industries that provide their equipment, are estimated to create 6% of all global emissions, according to Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR).

Owing to what they describe as a “large loophole” in the Paris agreement, governments are not required to provide full data on greenhouse gases being emitted by armed forces. Previously, under the Kyoto protocol, militaries were given an automatic exemption from CO2 targets, after lobbying from the US government.

You can thank Bill Clinton for that little “fuck you” to the world. Of course, he was busy with his personal scandals and struggling to maintain power and would not have had a shit to spare for his duty to humanity.


The fossil fuel lobby, led by India, held its line, dramatically succeeding in watering down – at the last minute and without due, transparent process – the move to ‘phase out’ coal power, pledging instead to ‘phase down’. The poor came away with next to nothing, there was little urgency and we are still heading for catastrophe. Any chance of halving fast-rising emissions by 2030 – the declared aim of the talks – is now negligible.

Of course Biden is better than Trump would be (because Trump can’t spell or pronounce “climate change”) but you’ve got to flip a derisive bird at all the Americans who acted as though Biden and the Democrat machine were going to give a flying fuck about the environment. They don’t and that was never in the cards. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but did you notice that even “the progressives” didn’t do a damn thing to hold up the military appropriations bill? They could have “done a Manchin” and threatened the passage of the thing until there were, say, $100bn removed from the budget on the grounds that that’s the fossil fuels the military burns, or something. They are all in on the racket, even “progressive” stars. And Biden is beginning to resemble a cardboard cut-out like a sort of Reagan 2.0. We, collectively, have got to stop electing old farts with one foot in the grave; they’re far too comfortable running out the clock on themselves. Hillary wouldn’t have been any better. Neither would Bernie: either have been politically neutralized instantly upon coming into office.

Back to The Great Derangement:

Consider, for example, the stories that congeal around questions like: “where were you when the Berlin Wall fell?” or “where were you on 9/11?” Will it ever be possible to ask, in the same vein, “where were you at 400 parts per million?” or “where were you when the Larsen B Ice Shelf broke up?” For the body politic, this vision of politics as a moral journey has also had the consequence of creating an ever growing divergence between a public sphere of political performance and the realm of actual governance. The matter is now controlled by largely invisible establishments that are guided by imperatives of their own, and, as the public sphere grows ever more performative at every level from presidential campaigns to online petitions, its ability to influence the actual exercise of power becomes increasingly attenuated. This was starkly evident during the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003: I was in New York on February 15 that year, and I joined the massive anti-war demonstration that wound through the avenues of mid-Manhattan. Similar demonstrations were staged in six hundred other cities, in sixty countries around the world. Tens of millions of people took part in them, making them possibly the largest single manifestation of public dissent in history, yet, even at that time, there was a feeling of hopelessness. Relatively few, I suspect, believed that the marches would effect a change in policy and indeed they did not. Then, as never before, it became clear that the public sphere’s ability to influence the security and policy establishment had eroded drastically.

Since then, the process has only accelerated. In many other matters like austerity, surveillance, drone warfare, and so on it is now perfectly clear that in the west, political processes exert very little influence over the domain of state-craft. So much so that it has even been suggested that citizens no longer seriously expect that politicians will really represent their interests and implement their demands. This altered political reality may in part be an effect of the dominance of petroleum in the world economy. As Timothy Mitchell has shown, the flow of oil is radically unlike the movement of coal. The nature of coal, as a material, is such that its transportation creates multiple choke-points where organized labor can exert pressure on corporations and the state. This is not the case with oil, which flows through pipelines that can bypass concentrations of labor. This was exactly why British and American political elites began to encourage the use of oil over coal after the First World War. These efforts succeeded, perhaps, beyond their own wildest dreams as an instrument of dis-empowerment oil has been spectacularly effective at removing the levers of power from the reach of the populace.

Winston Churchill emphasized the transition of the British Navy from coal to oil, because it was faster to re-fuel a ship and easier to re-fuel at sea. That had massive strategic implications for navies, which formerly had to shovel coal back and forth in order to power their vessels. That is not disagreeing with Ghosh’s analysis: collier’s strikes also had a significant strategic importance and being able to have a bunch of laborers shoveling coal all night was crucial to many great naval battles.

No matter how many people take to the streets in massive marches, writes Royce Scranton, they cannot put their hands on the real flows of power because they do not help to produce it, they only consume.

Thus, the US can depend on Saudi Arabian labor (which are practically slaves) and US labor is not involved and cannot impact policy decisions. Imagine if the war in Yemen were coal-powered: it would be possible for the colliers to refuse to shovel. I think Ghosh is making a very important point that gets at why the US was so careful to exempt its military from CO2 targets.

Under these circumstances, a march or a demonstration of popular feeling amounts to little more than an orgy of democratic emotion; an activist-themed street fair, a real-world analog to Twitter hashtag campaigns. Something that gives you a nice feeling, says you belong in a certain group, and is completely divorced from actual legislation and governance. In other words, the public sphere, where politics is performed, has been largely emptied of content in terms of the exercise of power. As with fiction, it has become a forum for secular testimony, a baring of the soul in the world-as-church. Politics as thus practiced is primarily an exercise in personal expressiveness. Contemporary culture in all its aspects, including religious fundamentalisms of almost every variety, is pervaded by this expressivism, which is itself, to a significant degree a result of the strong role of protestant christianity in the making of the modern world. There could be no better vehicle for this expressivism than the internet, which makes various means of self-expression instantly available through social media, and, as tweets and post and clips circle the globe they generate their mirror-images of counter-expression in a dynamic that quickly becomes a double helix of negation.

Tweet a link to this posting, if you like it! I’ll be hiding under my bed. #hidingundermybed

Actually, no, don’t do that. Slay the buddha.

Living easy, lovin’ free
Season ticket on a one way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everythin’ in my stride
Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothing I’d rather do
Goin’ down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too, yeah

I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I’m on the highway to hell

No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down

Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me around

Hey Satan, payin’ my dues
Playing in a rocking band

Hey mama, look at me
I’m on the way to the promised land
[AC/DC “Highway to Hell”]

Since the Bidenites came to power, they have authorized something like 2,000 new oil/gas wells. In spite of campaigning on a ban for new wells, they just went and did whatever the fuck their paymasters wanted; screw the voters who put them in office based on their empty promises. [audobon]

And yet, the White House is on pace to hand out more oil and gas drilling permits this year than any under President Trump and the most since George W. Bush left the Oval Office. The boom, first reported by the Associated Press, undercuts the president’s climate agenda and infuriates environmentalists demanding more aggressive action. It also exposes what activists say are fundamental legal and bureaucratic problems in the federal fossil fuel program that predate Biden by decades.

Still waiting for Obama to close Gitmo, FFS.

I have stopped praying for a heart attack for Biden, because VP Harris appears to be completely useless, too. There is no hope.


  1. crivitz says

    I share your sense of hopelessness and have nearly become resigned to the idea that basically everything (political, environmental, economic–you name it) will continue to deteriorate.
    I’ve been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel, The Ministry For The Future lately. It proposes several interesting ways to combat climate change using various geo-engineering schemes as well as major changes to the global capital system. It’s an interesting story, but the farther into the future it gets, the harder it is to suspend disbelief. By the 2050s it has CO2 emissions on the downswing, income inequality has been nearly solved, vast areas of land are “rewilded” and most nations on the planet are all cooperating to bring these things about. Interestingly it portrays the US as the nation that resists these efforts more than any other.

  2. says

    In my worst nightmares, I imagine that the US elects someone worse than Trump (via a fake election, naturally – you know how it goes: the republicans go all in, nullify the election, and put in Ted Cruz) who hoists the banner of Empire then it’s the US against the rest of the world. And, it wins and proceeds to loot and pillage more openly than before.

  3. Dunc says

    It’s sweet that you think it would take a fake election for the US to elect someone worse than Trump.

  4. says

    Not sure there are that many people worse than Trump

    Someone with Trump’s morals, inclinations, and not a complete dipstick. Imagine Josh Hawley or MTG running the country. The republicans, when they decide to do away with that “vote” nonsense, will pick a figurehead that is straight out of a book by Alfred Jarry.

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