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Discuss: State of the World 2013 > Chapter 14. Keep Them in the Ground: Ending the Fossil Fuel Era.

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message 1: by Ted (new)

Ted | 348 comments Mod
For Keep Them in the Ground: Ending the Fossil Fuel Era


message 2: by Ted (new)

Ted | 348 comments Mod
I felt the first three pages of this chapter were pretty much a waste of paper, ink, and my time. In attempting to "demonstrate" (I guess) that the easiest solution to a host of problems is to leave fossil fuels in the ground (a reductionist position itself), which is basically pretty obvious, all sorts of academic mish-mash it written. I was not optimistic.

After that things improved I thought, and I found much of the rest of the chapter thought-provoking.

"A Politics of Urgent Transition" (p. 165) makes a very interesting case for moral delegitimization of fossil fuels:
a shift in understanding of fossil fuels from constructive substances to destructive substances, from necessity to indulgence or even addiction, from a "good" to a "bad", from lifeblood (of modern society) to poison (of a potentially sustainable society) ... delegitimization simply recognizes that a substance once deemed net beneficial can become net detrimental.

Starting on p. 167 there are several small examples of places where this sort of effort has been started. And on pp. 168-9 there's a discussion of fracking, in which the authors state that
conventional environmental arguments do not seem to be enough. What may turn out to be the most significant outcome is a public increasingly open to the possibility of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

The authors conclude
That fossil fuels will be in the ground and stay there when the fossil fuel era ends is beyond doubt. The only question is whether enough will stay to stabilize climate, reverse degrading trends, and avert social calamity ... a politics ... of delegitimizing fossil fuels ... recognizes that once fossil fuels are out of the ground, their by-products will permeate our bodies, the oceans, and the atmosphere and cause catastrophic loss. Those politics and the policies and economies that follow constitute a necessary first step in choosing to end the fossil-fuel era.

I really wish that other readers would comment on what they think about the ideas in this chapter.

PS. Some of the footnoted items in this chapter are sourced from a very good web site that I have seen before, The Oil Drum. ( http://www.theoildrum.com/ ) This is a very highly regarded discussion forum dedicated to talk about peak oil and related topics. Unfortunately, as the Wiki piece http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oil_... indicates, the site is just about to stop posting new content, and will only have archival material after the end of August 2013.


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