Unfathomable Evil

Clean Energy Solar Wind

At CERA-Week the Aramco CEO Amin Nasser gave definitive proof that the energy transition was failing:

Nasser said alternative energy sources have been unable to displace hydrocarbons at scale, despite the world investing more than $9.5 trillion over the past two decades. Wind and solar currently supply less than 4% of the world’s energy, while total electric vehicle penetration is less than 3%, he said.

Meanwhile, the share hydrocarbons in the global energy mix has barely fallen in 21st century from 83% to 80%, Nasser said. Global demand has increased by 100 million barrels of oil equivalent per day over the same period and will reach an all-time high this year, the CEO said.

Mr. Nasser wasn’t worried about necessary emission reduction to prevent a climate catastrophe. He wasn’t concerned that climate change was perhaps accelerating and that as a consequence we needed to reduce emissions faster. He wasn’t sounding the alarm that the energy transition conception of climate mitigation was systemically ineffectual. No, he was voicing the concern of those at CERA that the failure of the energy transition threatened economic growth. His concern is pure energy transition – he’s not interested in reducing emissions as much as he is with expanding energy for the economy.

A recent update to McGlade-Ekins  detailed how much we must cut back on our use of fossil fuels and why:

There is now a broad consensus among the scientific community to limit global warming to 1.5°C if we want to avoid reaching the tipping points of the Earth’s climate system, such as melting permafrost, loss of Arctic sea ice and the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, forest fires in boreal forests, and so on. “If these thresholds are exceeded, this could lead to an abrupt release of carbon into the atmosphere (climate feedback),” Orta-Martínez states, and adds that this would “amplify the effects of climate change and trigger a cascade of effects that commit the world to large-scale, irreversible changes.”…..

The goal of no more than 1.5°C global warming requires a complete halt to exploration for new fossil fuel deposits, a halt to the licensing of new fossil fuel extraction, and the premature closure of a very significant share (75%) of oil, gas and coal extraction projects currently in production or already developed”. 

But fossil fuel production and use continues to expand. We should have insisted on a global treaty halting all expansion and beginning to wind-down production even before the Copenhagen-Paris negotiations era but we stayed in energy transition hopium instead. Today the only possible effective mitigation is a draconian wind-down of production but that isn’t even considered.

Unfathomable Evil

It is beyond comprehension to imagine anyone living an idyllic life on an estate next to Auschwitz. How could anyone live beside an extermination factory? When they knew what was going on there, what horror they were a part of? How could anybody be so evil?

The emissions we continue to produce, the GHG emissions whose volume has continued to rise over our lifetimes, are relentlessly raising global temperatures. The emissions from our use of fossil fuels are pushing us toward (if not already over) tipping points to a cascade of feedbacks which will, over the next several centuries, raise global temperatures by 5C plus. The Hothouse Earth we are presently creating will be an almost completely uninhabitable earth with (in the Lovelockian vision) maybe a few hundred million human survivors clustered around the poles (if some humans do survive).

There are millions of innocent victims of our climate mitigation failure today, in poorer countries out of sight and out of mind, but there will be billions of innocent victims in the foreseeable future.

The emissions we produce today will continue to cause incomprehensible damage to every future human generation for hundreds if not thousands of years but we don’t think about our culpability – we don’t think about how we live and what we do that will cause this damage. We don’t put together the ethical cause and effect of our emission production. We don’t see ourselves as monsters uncaringly doing unfathomable evil.

The commandant and his wife could do nothing to stop the extermination factory that their idyllic life depended upon. They were small cogs in the machine. None of us can live a life today without producing emissions; we are ‘good Germans’ who are caught up in events not of our making. The ‘powers that be’ built the extermination factory and keep it running, day and night, can you hear the trains, can you here the screams, can you imagine the horror, the terror, the evil?

We don’t want to give up fossil fuels. We’re happy to let our governments dither instead of taking urgently needed action. After decades of procrastination, regulating an end to fossil fuel production and use is now deeply problematic. We stay in society-wide denial and embrace fairy tale energy transition hopium. We love our idyllic modernity and can’t face up to the damage we are doing nor the prospect of deep systemic change. We carry on as if nothing is wrong, individually and as a society, as users and as dealers, as people trapped by feckless leaders and as governments with no other option. We are evil and don’t want to know, we are criminally negligent but have no recourse.

In our lifetimes we will come to know that because we failed to effectively mitigate we have crossed an irreversible threshold and there is now nothing we can do about it.  There will be consequences for those caught running the factory when we finally awaken from denial but that won’t change the damage done, the unthinkable damage to every future generation. We will be losing everything we care about, everything we know and love. There will be regret that we didn’t act to stop the evil when it was still possible.

Wake up.

Bill Henderson is a long time climate activist and CounterCurrents contributor. Bhenderson(at)dccnet(dot)com

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