Exxon Laughing Their Way to the Bank – Again.

28 06 2008

It always bothered me that the unchecked burning of fossil fuels would some day have  a beneficial effect for oil companies beyond the obvious.  Let me explain.  Oil is burned -> atmosphere is warmed -> ice melts -> shipping lanes in the Arctic open -> ice-free shortcuts and easier transportation for oil companies. 

The thing that adds insult to injury about this whole arrangement is the fact that part of the reason we’ve been slow to act in terms of cutting fossil fuel use, bankrolling alternative energy, and joining the rest of the world in their concern about global warming‘climate change’ is that we keep hearing about how the science is ‘divided’.  Because, after all, there are many scientists who don’t think there’s a problem, and even if there is, it’s certainly nothing WE’ve done….right?  They throw out all kinds of statistics about how there are some places actually getting colder, and weather in the Middle Ages, and this is all part of a natural cycle, bla bla bla. 

“Close your eyes”, they whisper…”It’s OK.  It’s not your fault.  Just keep doing what you’re doing.  You deserve a Hummer.  There, there…don’t let those nasty environmentalists scare you.  Close your eyes…”

Well, of course, these ‘climate experts’ who tell us to ignore our senses and what’s going on in Alaska, and choose the more pleasant scenario…the one that relieves us from culpability, are not just idiots.  They are bankrolled, and they are bankrolled by…you guessed it –  Exxon Mobil.  

Well now we hear some startling new information.  The North Pole may be ice-free this year.  Not by 2030 or 2040 as studies last year indicated.  This year.  What does this mean for corporate oil giants like Exxon?  Ice-free shipping for their tankers over the pole sooner than they dreamed, newly exposed areas for potential drilling, and more corporate allies to help them prop up their little groups of scientists who have sold their souls and their planet for some cold hard cash.

Exxon Mobil is going to be laughing all the way to the bank.  Oh, that’s right…they already are from that whole Supreme Court ruling thing the other day…  Well, as soon as they RETURN from the bank, they’ll laugh themselves right back again.  I hope they don’t get sore from all this laughing and running to the bank.

And any bumps in the road like those pain-in-the-ass polar bears, and Alaska natives will be taken care of by the State of Alaska’s capitulation.  They’ve got Gov. Sarah Palin, the congressional delegation, and half the legislature tucked snug in their corporate pocket.  Will all this change when we flip some of those long held seats and fill them with new more progressive successors?  We can hope so, but we shouldn’t take it for granted.  Oil has permeated more than just the beaches of Prince William Sound in this state, and it’s going to take politicians who are willing to risk (gulp) losing for speaking the truth.  Any takers?

And one final note.  This week the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.  Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy just to know they care?

Palin vs. Polar Bear – Round 2 (Ding!)

28 05 2008








Actually, it’s more like Palin vs. Facts.  What’s a governor to do when facts get in the way?  Read on…

Rick Steiner, (University of Alaska Marine Advisory professor, and environmental superhero) through a public records request, has acquired an email that the Palin administration didn’t want you to see.  Basically, it says that yes, the Alaska state biologists DID agree with the Federal assessment leading to their listing (begrudgingly) of the polar bear as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act.  They agreed with this despite the Palin administration’s vehement opposition to the listing, and in direct conflict with Palin’s statement that the state biologists found nothing to support the ‘threatened’ listing…  Innnnteresting…

Cover-up, or just plain denial?   It reminds me of that classic Seinfeld line. I believe it was George Costanza who said, “It isn’t a lie if YOU believe it.”  And Sarah just keeps on believin’….so much so that she’s actually going to sue the government.  Yes, that’s right.  If you can’t handle the truth, just litigate it to death.

And despite Palin’s recent veto of $268 million dollars from the state budget, axing things like safety improvements at Klatt Elementary School, money for fire stations, road improvements, emergency services, etc., guess what survived the ruthless red pen?  $2 million to get a bunch of people in a room to talk about how scientists are “of differing opinions” about whether the melting of the polar ice cap will indeed affect the polar bears. Perhaps, we can make this an annual tradition. Next year I propose holding a summit to discuss whether putting a large flame under a pot of crab will result in dinner.  We can’t really be sure you know.  That’s like trying to ‘project into the future’. I mean, what are we – cooks or fortune tellers for crying out loud? 

And who’s paying for this $2,000,000 Flat Earth Society Conference?  You and me.  If someone handed you a $2 million check to spend on the state, where would you spend it?  I doubt many of us would put our money toward rehashing this issue that even the ‘petrol-philes” in the Federal Government can’t deny, lest they look like idiots.

But not us…we’ve got a state government that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that they’re making us look like idiots. Again.

In the meantime, the polar bear above is one Alaskan bear that is blissfully ignorant of all this….he’s in the Alaska Zoo.  Regardless of the outcome of Sarah’s lawsuit, this may be the only place to see one in Alaska by 2050.

Palin vs. Polar Bear

21 05 2008

Surprise! Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced that the state will be filing suit challenging the decision made last week by Dick Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, to list the polar bear as a threatened species, under the Endangered Species Act.

“While the state is challenging the listing, we remain committed to assuring Alaska’s polar bears are conserved,” Palin said. “The state will continue to monitor Alaska’s polar bear populations and their behaviors in relation to changing sea ice conditions.”

Monitor their behaviors in relation to changing sea ice conditions? Does that involve a lounge chair, a clip board and binoculars to watch the drowning? It’s almost pathetic at this point to watch the squirmings and writhings of the state as they try to denounce, deny and controvert the facts.

Palin’s meteoric rise to governorship, and unbelievable popularity both stem, ironically, from her squeaky-clean image, and pledges for honesty and transparency in government. So how about releasing the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s analysis of the polar bear situation? Oh….you won’t do that? Hmmm. Could that be because the scientific evidence that was so incontrovertible it even persuaded the Dept. of the Interior, also persuaded Fish & Game? Transparency when convenient. Honesty when advantageous to your own ‘oil & gas’ agenda? It’s hard to stay squeaky-clean when you’re covered with oil.

Polar Bears Out of the Box and On the List.

15 05 2008

It’s quite astounding, really. Even the Bush administration appointees who are the rank & file in the War on Science had to admit this one. They raised the white flag, laid down their weapons and couldn’t bring themselves to deny it. I’m referring to yesterday’s resolution to list the polar bear as a ‘threatened species’ under the Endangered Species Act. I confess, cynic that I have become, that I didn’t expect this one.

Here’s the quote from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that really blew me away. “The right decision, as tough as it was, was to list the bear.” Yeah…(hand on Kempthorne’s shoulder)…doing the right thing can be tough. Especially when you’re not used to it. Now granted, he went on to basically say that yes, we’ve listed the species as threatened, but we’re not actually going to do anything about global warming. But he did say, flat out, there’s “no disputing the science”. Wow.

But Alaska’s congressional delegation – all three of them – despite the fact that the science is even overwhelming enough to convince the Department of the Interior, have decided that they know just a little bit more about science than…..the scientists. They know just a little bit more than the government agency that told the actual truth and made “the right decision, as tough as it was”.

Ted Stevens pulled his head out of the sand long enough to bestow these words of wisdom, “They’re gonna say this is global warming. It has nothing to do with global warming. This is a concept called climate change. It’s a concept of a process that’s been going on for years… This species is not endangered.” I’m so glad we’ve begun to explore the ‘concept of the process’ of climate change in Washington that will lead to the extinction of Ted Steven’s job.

Lisa Murkowski is afraid. Of what? “I am afraid that this decision opens a Pandora’s Box that the Administration will now be unable to close,” she said. Pandora’s Box? Isn’t that the box that contained all the evils of mankind? Anger, greed, slander, lies, vanity… I think this administration opened that box a long time ago, Lisa. But fortunately, as we all remember, the last little treasure we got from Pandora’s Box was hope. So maybe Dirk Kempthorne’s admission, ineffectual as it may turn out to be, is a reminder of that last ingredient.