Sea Blue Sea

by lizard

The best band in Missoula, IMHO, is the Whizpops. After listening to their album, Sea Blue Sea, for approximately the 748th time, I’m convinced kids in Missoula are some of the luckiest kids around. The album is a brilliant saunter through the sea with dolphins, sea turtles and manatees. I just got my kids headphones for a long car trip we’re getting ready to take, and earlier this evening my three year old sat in a chair and listened to the whole album, singing along.

For me, the Whizpops are a much needed contrast to the destructive forces driving the songs I’m working on. The oceanic theme of Sea Blue Sea sparks my kids’ imagination, offering them a positive vision of the element that sustains life on this planet: water. The lyrical ingenuity and diversity of music styles incorporated make it a kids album parents won’t hate with a fiery passion.

But as I listen to this wonderful music, I can’t help thinking about what humans are doing to this planet. For example, Fukushima.

I try to avoid reading about Fukushima. It’s far enough away that I’m still trying to pretend I’m not directly affected. But there is no avoiding smoke in the Missoula valley. Last week’s choke-fest comes courtesy of Oregon and Washington burning, like this funnel of fire that destroyed around 100 homes.

Smoke isn’t good business. It annoys tourists. I’m saying this because I hope at some point the Missoulian editorial board will realize how threatening their shilling for the Keystone pipeline is. For a quick reminder, here is last year’s op-ed urging pipeline approval. Here is one example of the densely deceitful reasoning put forth by the business-oriented paper of record for Missoula:

However, it’s a good bet that the majority of Montanans are in favor of the project. Certainly Montana’s entire congressional delegation is on board. They understand that the pipeline project will create thousands of new, good-paying jobs and prefer that the U.S. get its oil from its close neighbor and ally, Canada. They note that TransCanada has agreed to a strict set of conditions designed to avoid any environmental damage. Besides, the State Department has concluded that the project carries no significant risk of environmental harm – or of an increased rate of greenhouse gas emissions, given that development of Canada’s tar sands is expected to happen with or without the new pipeline.

In his weekly column, George Ochenski goes after Democrats for their complicity in the war against the environment:

For many years now the Democrats have been largely identified with protection of the environment, a core ideology that not only produces large numbers of voters and campaign contributions, but is also essential to the continuation of life on earth. Today’s Democrats, however, are now almost indistinguishable from Republicans in their lust for fossil fuels, their new-found love of deforestation, and a twisted approach to endangered species restoration.

Let’s start with the Obama administration, which has just announced that it will open the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil exploration after decades of such activities being banned under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

It’s no great secret that the U.S. is currently producing enormous amounts of oil and gas thanks to nationwide fracking. Led by the Bakken boom, we are producing so much petroleum that the long-standing ban on crude oil exports is being challenged, while massive LNG (liquid natural gas) terminals are built to export natural gas worldwide. All this exploration, pollution and extraction is for corporate profit, not energy independence.

We have no idea what the long-term effects of the wide-spread fracking operations will have on surface and groundwater pollution to earthquake frequency and distribution. We’re already seeing some of the impacts, but until the environmental consequences of stuffing huge amounts of toxic chemicals under high pressure into our underlying geologic strata are “proven beyond a doubt” our politicians give extractive industries the benefit of the doubt.

The depressing reality is this: there is no political will to face the harsh reality of what we are doing to this planet. Politicians can posture and pundits can pander and newspapers can shill all they want. None of that will matter when the full scope of exceeding the earth’s carrying capacity is finally realized.

And by then it will be too late.

  1. evdebs

    The petrochemical industry got itself exempted from disclosure of what chemicals frackers are forcing into our substrata. Fittingly, since in was passed in the middle of the Darth Cheney administration, it’s called the “Halliburton Loophole.”

    Here’s a quick take on it.

    There is considerable fracking going on in my very rural neighborhood. It was considered very stable shale formation, not at all geologically active. On Dec. 16th, we had a 3.8 magnitude quake with an epicenter 1.2 miles north of our home. It was alongside a horizontal fracking line that was 5 km/3.1mi deep. Plaster cracked, but it was a very brief shake. There have been dozens more since within 30 miles or so, that have been above 2.5 magnitude.

    The Koch denialist coterie claim that the quakes have nothing to do with the fracking.

    • lizard19

      Slowly, Democrats embrace fracking (Washington Post):

      If any state emerged from a decade of economic recession in strong shape, it was North Dakota. A booming oil industry that’s taken shape on the western side of the state, fueled by the process known as hydraulic fracturing, has kept North Dakota’s unemployment rate at a level less than half the national average while injecting millions in tax revenue into state coffers.

      Now, other states want in on the economic benefits of fracking — and blue states are rushing to grab a piece of the fracking pie just as fast as red states, despite concerns raised by environmental activists.

      Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law new regulations on the fracking industry that will nonetheless allow companies to continue exploring oil-rich areas in and around the San Joaquin Valley. In June, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed similar legislation that imposes regulations on the industry while simultaneously inviting companies to invest in the region.

      Environmental groups in both states opposed the measures. But despite the fact that environmentalists contribute millions to Democratic candidates at both the federal and state level, Democratic legislators overwhelmingly backed both bills.

      …so, evdebs, as you invoke Koch and Darth Cheney, Democrats get away with shilling for extractive industry.

      • evdebs

        So, Lizard,you equate the pro-regulatory governors of two massively cash-strapped states still reeling from the Bush/Cheney recession with the architects of deregulation?

        Bit of a stretch?

        • Big Swede

          Why did the chicken cross the road?

          Because it’s Bush’s fault and you’re a racist.

        • lizard19

          the Bush/Cheney recession? you mean the one Clinton laid the groundwork for by deregulating Wall Street?

          the architects of deregulation were Clinton’s team of neoliberals. if you can’t accurately depict past culpability then I question your ability to accurately assess current political dynamics.

          • Big Swede

            I take your meaning to be the bailing out of Asia’s and Mexico’s hedge funds, Glass Segal and the Community Reinvestment Act.

            But more importantly I agree with this summation.

            “Punish the prudent savers with close to zero returns, and revered the unworthy debtors as the best customers!”

          • evdebs

            I strongly opposed my International Union’s endorsement of the centrist Clinton prior to the 1992 primaries, because of his support of NAFTA (and the death penalty). In doing so I long endured personal animus from its leadership.

            With the Republican-authored (not “neo-liberal”) Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act Glass-Steagall repeal buried in a paragraph or so well back in an enormous bill, It passed congress with huge Republican support. All the “Nay” votes in the Senate were from “D”s and in the House, more than ten times as many “D”s voted “Nay” as did “R”s.

            Nancy Pelosi disgraced herself back in those days by voting for NAFTA. The US and Mexico continue to reap that whirlwind, that has exclusively benefited Canada. (CAFTA made things worse, passing with very little Democratic support, mostly from “Blue Dogs,” who have gone largely and deservedly extinct. I personally confronted one of those “D” congressmen because it passed by a single vote, and he declined to run again.)

            Clinton also pushed for giving MFN status to China, which has also substantially damaged our economy, conferred with mostly “R” support if I remember correctly.

            The deregulating of Wall Street through repeal of Glass-Steagall, was also mostly accomplished by Republicans after they took over the House and Senate in 1995. Except for less than two years, when Senator Jeffords defected from the Republican party in 2001, the Republicans controlled both houses of congress for fourteen years until 2009.

            Although I was elected a delegate to district caucuses for Obama in 2008 and 2012, I won that seat despite telling gathered legislative district caucus voters in 2008 that I thought we needed to get him elected as the only viable candidate, if for no other reason than keeping even more reactionaries from being appointed to the supreme court, but that we needed “to hold his feet to the fire.” In 2008 I told that same gathering that my reason remained, though I hadn’t realized “…that Obama had asbestos feet.”

            I have been loudly critical of Eric Holder and Tim Geithner in particular, and still can hardly believe that he kept Holder on after his first term, for all the obvious and perhaps many not so obvious reasons. Here’s two: The persecution of state licensed and overseen medical marijuana growers in Montana, at the same time he gave those every one of those Wall Street criminals a free pass.

            Obama’s half-assed health care “reform” (made possible with the leadership of that weasel Max Baucus) cost the Democrats the House, a majority which had held such promise, after so many years. It may easily cost them the Senate as well in November.

            I would suggest that if you’re going to come after me, that you pack a larger caliber weapon and make sure you don’t continue to shoot blanks. That latter oversight did save your foot, for which you should be grateful.

            If, on the other hand, you realize how wrong you were in that attack, perhaps an apology would be in order?

            • lizard19

              this lengthy comment appears, at least to me, to be an indirect acknowledgment that referring to the recession as the Bush/Cheney recession was misleading. it wasn’t just Republicans who have gotten us to this point, which you nicely illustrate. class warfare is a bipartisan affair, after all.

              I am sorry you think I “attacked” you. this is the internet, evdebs. if you’re that thin-skinned, then I would suggest avoiding engaging in comment threads.

  2. Turner

    Annoyed at the weak-kneed stance establishment Democrats were taking at this year’s Democratic Party Platform Conference, I asked the Energy and Environment Committee the following question: “Is climate denialism now a part of our party’s platform”?

    It was met with annoyance, mainly. A minority thought I’d asked a good question.

    Ochenski is absolutely correct. The main difference between the two parties, vis-à-vis the environment, is the zeal with which each wants to pursue the destruction of the planet. Republicans are more into it than Democrats are.

    If it weren’t for other issues I’d have abandoned the party I’ve been with for the past 40 years. The problem is that there’s no place to go. The Republicans are basically fascists.

  3. Big Swede

    Maybe intelligent people know that whether in a pipeline or a train car or tanker truck, oil is still going to flow.

  4. For how many years can we say, ” it may soon be too late”?

    It is too late. Climate Change is coming, and billions will suffer. We can gradually reduce our fossil fuel consumption, but it will be painfully slow – so slow, that it will not make a difference.

    Climate change is a risk, but it is not an existential risk.

    Experts in effective altruism and rational philanthropy agree that there are greater risks to the human race than climate change. Our anxiety of climate change is as emotional as it is logical. Our brain pumps have “been primed” to think it is our greatest threat. It isn’t.

    My point isn’t to go off on a tangent. My point is we shouldn’t lose sleep over climate change. It will be bad, but perhaps technology will alleviate its “badness”.

    There are far greater, more dangerous, and more devastating things to lose sleep over. Real Existential Risks.

  5. Craig Moore

    Lizard, I swear that if you didn’t have bad luck you would have no luck at all.

    Now weigh the esoteric against what has happened to poor Thomas The Tank Engine.

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