Sunday, July 30, 2017

Why are conservatives so vehemently opposed to climate change that they reject all science?

Naomi Kline makes unfathomable things easy to understand. For instance, Why are conservatives so vehemently opposed to climate change that they reject all science? 

Buy her book.

"What Conservatives Understand about Global Warming—and Liberals Don’t  

For many years, I wondered why some people were so determined to deny global warming. It’s strange at first glance. Why would you work so hard to deny the scientific facts that have been affirmed by 97 percent of climate scientists—facts whose effects we see all around us, with more confirmation in the news we consume every day? That question led me on a journey that informed my book This Changes Everything—and I think some of what I discovered when writing that book can help us make sense of the centrality of climate vandalism to the Trump administration.  

What I found is that when hard-core conservatives deny climate change, they are not just protecting the trillions in wealth that are threatened by climate action. They are also defending something even more precious to them: an entire ideological project—neoliberalism—which holds that the market is always right, regulation is always wrong, private is good and public is bad, and taxes that support public services are the worst of all.  

There is a lot of confusion around the word neoliberalism, and about who is a neoliberal. And understandably so. So let’s break it down. Neoliberalism is an extreme form of capitalism that started to become dominant in the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, but since the 1990s has been the reigning ideology of the world’s elites, regardless of partisan affiliation. Still, its strictest and most dogmatic adherents remain where the movement started: on the US Right.  

Neoliberalism is shorthand for an economic project that vilifies the public sphere and anything that’s not either the workings of the market or the decisions of individual consumers. It is probably best summarized by another of Reagan’s famous phrases, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Under the neoliberal worldview, governments exist in order to create the optimal conditions for private interests to maximize their profits and wealth, based on the theory that the profits and economic growth that follow will benefit everyone in the trickle-down from the top—eventually. If it doesn’t work, and stubborn inequalities remain or worsen (as they invariably do), then according to this worldview, that must be the personal failing of the individuals and communities that are suffering. They must have “a culture of crime,” say, or lack a “work ethic,” or perhaps it’s absentee fathers, or some other racially tinged excuse for why government policy and public funds should never be used to reduce inequalities, improve lives, or address structural crises.  

The primary tools of this project are all too familiar: privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sphere, and low taxes paid for by cuts to public services, and all of this locked in under corporate-friendly trade deals. It’s the same recipe everywhere, regardless of context, history, or the hopes and dreams of the people who live there. Larry Summers, when he was chief economist of the World Bank in 1991, summed up the ethos: “Spread the truth—the laws of economics are like the laws of engineering. One set of laws works everywhere.” (Which is why I sometimes call neoliberalism “McGovernment.”)  

The 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall was interpreted as the signal to take the campaign global. With socialism in decline, there was seemingly no longer any need to soften capitalism’s edges anywhere. As Thatcher famously declared, “There is no alternative.” (Another way of thinking about this is that neoliberalism is simply capitalism without competition, or capitalism lying on the couch in its undershirt saying, “What are you going to do, leave me?”)  

Neoliberalism is a very profitable set of ideas, which is why I am always a little hesitant to describe it as an ideology. What it really is, at its core, is a rationale for greed. That’s what the American billionaire Warren Buffett meant when he made headlines a few years ago by telling CNN that “there’s been class warfare going on for the last twenty years, and my class has won… the rich class.” He was referring to the tremendous tax cuts the wealthy have enjoyed in this period, but you could extend that to the whole neoliberal policy package.  

So what does this have to do with the widespread refusal by the Right to believe that climate change is happening, a refusal deeply embedded in the Trump administration? A lot. Because climate change, especially at this late date, can only be dealt with through collective action that sharply curtails the behavior of corporations such as ExxonMobil and Goldman Sachs. It demands investments in the public sphere—in new energy grids, public transit and light rail, and energy efficiency—on a scale not seen since the Second World War. And that can only happen by raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, the very people Trump is determined to shower with the most generous tax cuts, loopholes and regulatory breaks. Responding to climate change also means giving communities the freedom to prioritize local green industries—a process that often clashes directly with the corporate free trade deals that have been such an integral part of neoliberalism, and which bar “buy local” rules as protectionist. (Trump campaigned against those parts of free trade deals, but, as we will see in Chapter 6, he has no intention of rescinding those rules.)  

In short, climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. To admit that the climate crisis is real is to admit the end of the neoliberal project. That’s why the Right is in a rebellion against the physical world, against science (which is what prompted hundreds of thousands of scientists around the world to participate in the March for Science in April 2017, collectively defending a principle that really shouldn’t need defending: that knowing as much as possible about our world is a good thing). But there is a reason why science has become such a battle zone—because it is revealing again and again that neoliberal business as usual leads to a species-threatening catastrophe.  

What mainstream liberals have been saying for decades, by contrast, is that we simply need to tweak the existing system here and there and everything will be fine. You can have Goldman Sachs capitalism plus solar panels. But the challenge is much more fundamental than that. It requires throwing out the neoliberal rulebook, and confronting the centrality of ever-expanding consumption in how we measure economic progress. In one sense, then, the members of Trump’s cabinet—with their desperate need to deny the reality of global warming, or belittle its implications—understand something that is fundamentally true: to avert climate chaos, we need to challenge the capitalist ideologies that have conquered the world since the 1980s. If you are the beneficiary of those ideologies, you are obviously going to be very unhappy about that. That’s understandable. Global warming really does have radical progressive implications. If it’s real—and it manifestly is—then the oligarch class cannot continue to run riot without rules. Stopping them is now a matter of humanity’s collective survival.  

If we fail, the death I saw at the Great Barrier Reef will spread to all corners of our collective home in ways we can scarcely imagine."
by Naomi Kline

Thursday, July 27, 2017

For me Climate change is personal. It’s a family matter.

My Granddaughter and Son in law

Naomi Klein:
"I spent a lot of time underwater as a kid. My father taught me to snorkel when I was six or seven, and those are some of my happiest memories. There was always something amazing to me about the intimacy of the interactions with ocean life. When you first swim up to a reef, the fish mostly scatter. But if you hang out for a few minutes, they stop seeing you as an intruder and you become part of the seascape to them—they’ll swim right up to your mask, or nibble on your arm. As an anxious kid, I always found these experiences wonderfully dreamlike and peaceful.

As the Australian trip approached, I realized that my feelings about seeing the Reef were tied up in my being the mother of a four-year-old boy, Toma. As parents, we can sometimes make the mistake of exposing kids too early to all the threats and dangers facing the natural world. The first book about nature that a lot of children read is Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, which is all about pollution and beautiful places being turned into garbage and all the animals dying and disappearing and choking. It’s really scary. I read it to Toma when he was two and watched the terror cross his face. And I thought, “No, this is completely wrong.” Now we read stories about fast-talking squirrels and books that celebrate nature’s beauty and wonder. Even if I know these books are about species that are on the brink of extinction, Toma doesn’t need to worry about that yet. I figure that my job is to try to create as many positive experiences as possible that will attach him to the natural world. You need to love something first, before you can protect and defend it." 

by Naomi Klein  (Author)

I have a granddaughter. Do you?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline gas is for export on "Dragon Ship" LNG tankers

The Mariner East Pipeline will have shale gas destined for Europe and Asia flowing through it. 

It will be condensed and pumped into liquid natural gas supertankers at Marcus Hook, PA. for export to Europe and Asia. 

JS INEOS Intrepid Dragon Class

"On a clear but windy day last July in Qidong, China—about 40 miles outside of Shanghai—a crowd of dignitaries, innovators, business men and women, big thinkers and well-wishers gathered near the water. They were there for a naming ceremony that would also serve as both a culmination and a kick-off.

The culmination was the result of more than a billion dollars and 4 million man hours—the results of which were docked in front of the crowd, two massive new ships that are literally in a class all their own: Dragon Class, a new designation for an entirely new design and a brand new undertaking.

That undertaking is the kickoff the crowd also was there to celebrate, because as the ships set sail—first to South Korea, and later to Marcus Hook, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia—a new era in shale gas will have begun. It’s a story that is emblazoned on the side of each ship in giant letters, the first one reading “Shale Gas for Manufacturing,” the second  reading “Shale Gas for Chemicals.” And like the pioneering of the Marcellus in 2004, it’s a story that can’t be told without Range Resources.

‘A great day’
Chad Stephens, Range’s senior vice President of corporate development, was in Qidong for the celebration. “It was a great day, and a big international affair. And I have to tell you, when I got off the bus and actually saw the two ships nose to nose at the dock, I thought ‘man, these guys know what they’re doing.’ It was a thrilling day and very gratifying given the amount of general market skepticism when we first announced the project,” Stephens said.

An understandable reaction, as Stephens had been part of the team that worked diligently, for years, to put together a deal that would ultimately result in a unique partnership between Range Resources, MarkWest Energy Partners LP, Sunoco Logistics Partners LP and INEOS, a European chemical company. Today, INEOS is a global manufacturer of petrochemicals, specialty chemicals and oil products, with sales of approximately $54 billion. But in the early days of negotiations with Range, it was less well known than some of the other international chemical giants.

Curtis Tipton, Range’s vice president of Marcellus development, was also part of the team that worked on the deal. “To understand how the INEOS deal came together, you have to go back several years to the point where we realized we had what came to be referred to as ‘the ethane issue.’ We recognized our acreage in Washington County, Pa., was going to be wet. And that gas would need to be processed."

Fortunately, as Tipton explained, “We had some time to solve this problem, a problem that became an opportunity.”

First, there were major hurdles that had to be cleared. One of the biggest was doubt about the Marcellus. “We had to convince folks that the Marcellus was a serious play, and our ethane was a contender,” Tipton said. “The team made a lot of calls, and a lot of people told us we were nuts. They don’t think so now.”...

When the plan was first announced in 2012, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said, “I’m pleased to see Pennsylvania take a leading role in securing our domestic energy future. Connecting Delaware County to Western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale development will help support good-paying jobs in our commonwealth. [This] announcement is an important step in ensuring America’s energy independence and expanding its role as a global energy exporter.”...

“We also had to do a thorough rundown on all of our options for moving ethane,' he continued. 'Can you rail it? Ultimately, that answer was no. Can you barge it? That turned out to not be a great option either. The best way to move ethane is by pipeline.”


Range, Dragons & Mariner East: Exporting Ethane Across the Globe

Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 11:05am