Reflection: The New American Evolution

Useless TV

After the evolution, there will be no use for TV sets. (Photo by Robbt/Flickr)

The imminent collapse of industrial society, an unavoidable consequence of its destruction of the web of life that supports it, is not the same thing as the end of the world, or the end of humanity. It is simply evolution at work. The world will shrug off its wounds — the only thing we underestimate more profoundly than the harm we do, is the ability of the natural world to recover from what we do. Humanity will persist. too, in a reduced, altered, and much improved form. Continue reading

Nightfall in America

US Capitol dome

As night gathers in Washngton, the Capitol dome shines a beacon of total ignorance over the nation. (Photo by David Iliff/wikimedia)

The triumph of ignorance and greed in the November elections is about to complete the paralysis of the United States government that has been the clear objective of the right wing since 1980, and has been almost within its grasp since 2000. Virtually free at last from the constraints of objective journalism, effective opposition and a shared public sense of civic duty, the right wing no longer needs to be restrained, or rational, in completing the destruction of a once great nation. Continue reading

Lakes Warming Toward Danger Point

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada, is North America's largest alpine lake. Like most other lakes in the world, it's warming up. (Photo by NASA)

The world’s major lakes have been warming at a “rapid” rate since 1985, according to a survey released this week by the National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA). Using data from infra-red sensors mounted on satellites, the study found average surface-temperature warming in large lakes around the world of up to one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. Continue reading

Solar “Farms” Keep us in the Dark

solar farm

In this type of solar "farm," mirrors focus the sun on the tower to boil water. Lots of sun in the desert, but water? Photo by Bardot/Wikimedia

The relentless industrialization of renewable energy continues, now with the support of government at all levels. The case for solar “farms” and wind “farms” (note how the word “farm” summons bucolic images that have nothing to do with these immense factories), dripping with greenwash, obscures the fact that industrial renewables are no alternative for a petrochemical-addicted society, simply another industrial dead end. As an example, consider the solar “farm.” Continue reading

Sea Water Rising at Norfolk, Va.

The harbor at Norfolk Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia, on one of the world's great harbors in the world's largest estuary, has long prospered because of its proximity to the sea. That tide is changing. (US Navy photo)

While the rising oceans of a warming world eat away at, among many other places, the city of Norfolk Virginia, the state’s wingnut attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, spends his days suing the federal government to prevent it from regulating greenhouse gases, and trying to convict a University of Virginia scientist of fraud for having the temerity to conclude that the world’s climate is being changed by pollution. Continue reading

Burn, Baby, (Cough) Burn

Beijing pollution

The Beijing skyline, as seen three years ago, is unlikely to look this good again. Photo by Kevin Dooley/Flickr

The good news is that the worldwide recession is easing. The bad news is that the pollution of the world is resuming. (Although the word “pollution” seems retro in a time dominated by trendy references to greenhouse gases and carbon footprints, it might be useful to remind ourselves from time to time that climate change is not the only consequence of unrestrained pollution. It’s killing people in many other ways as well.) Continue reading

Black Eye for “Clean” Coal

Power plant

Coal burning power plants, like this New York City veteran, are fast becoming industrial dinosaurs because they do more harm than good. (Photo by futureatlas.com)

Last week, the East Kentucky Power Cooperative abandoned plans to build two coal-burning power plants in Clark County. This major setback for Big Coal in the heart of Big-Coal country, comes just a year after Ohio’s American Municipal Power gave up its attempt to build a coal fired electric plant on the Ohio River near Cleveland. And according to a Sierra Club tally, it brings the number of coal-fired generating plants planned, announced and then abandoned in recent years to over 100. Continue reading

End of Oil Gets Two Paragraphs

asteroid approaches earth

Hey Dinosaurs! Heads Up! (Image by andrewsrj/Flickr)

If the US Secretary of Homeland Security announced at a news conference that a large asteroid was bearing down on earth, bringing massive destruction to our world, would he get more than two paragraphs on the Reuters news service? That’s pretty much what happened last week.

Instead of the Homeland Security chief it was the energy chief for the European Union, Guenther Oettinger, who made the announcement. Not about an asteroid, of course, but about peak oil: “The amount of oil available globally, I think, has already peaked.” The imminent damage to the civilized world implicit in that statement is equivalent to the damage done to the dinosaurs by the last big asteroid, but he got exactly two brief paragraphs in Reuters. Continue reading

Breakdown Coming: More Signs and Portents

Photo by cjohnson7/Flickr

The stress on the global web of life applied by a century of industrialization continues to increase as systems within it begin to break down. Nearly buried in the industrial media, amid the relentless stream of industrial optimism — the “we can do it, technology will find a solution” school — that floods our receivers, these stories, this week, reveal glimpses of the dark underbelly of the American way of life to which the world aspires: Continue reading

60 Minutes on Natural Gas: A Couple Minutes Short

Not the 60 Minutes stopwatch

Not the 60 Minutes stopwatch. (Photo by William Warby/Flickr)

Now comes the venerable television news show 60 Minutes, leading the way to a consideration of the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing for so-called “natural” gas. They led the way if, that is, you don’t count the hard-hitting documentary Gasland that aired months ago on HBO, or the solid investigative reporting done by Pro Publica over recent years. Continue reading