Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Climate Sunday: Don Blankenship Edition

Greetings and Happy Sunday to you all, and thanks for tuning in to my semi-regular environmental musings. This week's round-up is brought to us by Don Blankenship, who was recently told by a judge to shut his flapping yap up about how politically persecuted he was. It might very well be true that under the Obama Administration, investigators spent more time inspecting his mines and pointing out the very tragically wrong things that led to the deaths of miners at his mines. But this might have been for a lot of reasons, such as, the pattern emerging that Blankenship was awful, the Obama Administration being less likely to ignore these kinds of abuses, and, I don't know--the deaths of 29 miners in a preventable accident due to Blankenship's pathological management? (Not a big fan of Blankenship, this blogger right here.)

But this individual's beef with the government over what he considers to have been job-killing regulations versus what appear to have been employee-killing violations, sets the tone for this week's rumination on--what about the fossil fuel industries, anyway? For example, it looks like Exxon, who apparently knew enough about global warming science in the 1970s and 1980s to have considerable private information on it, basically "gamed" the Bush Administration to sow doubt and confusion. (Although don't let the big bad oil company take the total blame for that--the Bush Administration was very willing to be had. I mean, leave it to these pricks to have a "Safe Water Drinking Act" that lets frackers screw up drinking water however they want.)

But this conflict in knowing full well climate change was real, and also working to sow doubt, is pretty unnerving. They could only act like that if profits entirely outweighed any sense that they should be responsible corporate and global citizens, and exposes a real weakness of the capitalist system.

Take Shell, which has announced they won't be doing any Arctic drilling anymore, thank you very much, and BP, which has been vocal about admitting that climate change is a real thing. You might have noticed they haven't packed it in though. They are still fossil fuel energy companies. They are still about carbon all over, they are just very honest about how they are the worst. Which is great--they have succeeded in being marginally better corporations than Exxon.

There is, of course, problems in making a volte face from an industrial point of view when you can see harm happening in real time--take the fracking industry. They are becoming aware in real time that fracking can result in earthquakes. This is where it might be time to ask--is it worth continuing? Because some of the property and quality of life issues that result locally from fossil-fuel mining technologies, also affect areas where that mining is not directly taking place--take the loss of permafrost in Alaska as an example.

It's one thing for industries to take a look at their immediate operational concerns, like employee safety, which was definitely not Don Blankenship's main priority, nor was it when 11 people died in the BP explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.  It's rather another for them to start considering whether their whole scheme is, in fact, dangerously wrong and contraindicative to sustainable life on this planet.  But that is where we might really need to be, now.

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