Being aware of what is happening within the environmental movement, the topic of oil and its affects on our environment is major. When looking at Tim DeChristopher's actions against big oil companies in my program last semester, we tried to wrap our heads around why people like Tim are the radicals while these oil companies are not. Those who are fighting for the wellbeing of our environment are the radicals, while the oil companies are viewed as the conservatives. It was so very clear to us that the actions that oil companies are taking are far from conservative ones, and all destructive. The talk on NPR on ‘tough oil’ spoke to how radical the actions of the oil companies are, and it just furthers my confusion of how these actions aren’t being viewed as radical. What is more basic than the understanding that our environment is something that we need to take care of? It is baffling to me that such destruction as the oil companies are bringing about can be brushed off as being for the good of all while the fight for the stability of our environment and climate are brushed off as being nothing more than the babblings of the far left wingnut. Oil companies that hoard so much power in our modern world are left to do with our environment what they wish.
The topic of fossil fuels, oil and global warming has always been a bit confusing for me. There's no way to doubt that we are increasingly using up the earth's fossil fuel supply, but I always feel like there are differing opinions about global warming. We've heard that the earth is slowly warming, and this will cause many problems. Environmentalists have an extreme sense of urgency on this matter. But I took an environmental science class last semester and our professor showed us a graph of the temperatures dating back millions of years. There has always been fluctuations, and right now, we are just in a warm period. I am not sure if this is the case, or if we are damaging our earth permanently. I feel like there's always something to contradict someone else's research.
I found the story of Tim DeChristopher quite interesting yet I found his reasoning a bit confusing. What I found particularly confusing was his justification for his activism. He says is not interested in driving hybrids, going vegan or pushing corporations to go greener because he believes we are too far gone for that. But at the same time he believes that forcing Obama on to his organization's side will create a huge political shift - but what will this do? According to him it will be a complete economic collapse that will simplify our future.
That being said, though I find some of his ideals quite radical, I see them as quite plausible. It is common knowledge that the United States is the largest consumer in the world of nearly all resources yet its population is not the greatest. Even with green initiatives being pushed we are not eliminating our pollution we are just merely reducing it. In order to move towards a simpler future an economic collapse like seen in 2008 is not inspiring enough, a full economic collapse like DeChristopher asserts is necesary, is the only event I could see inspiring enough to invoke a reform.
Although I know we should probably be the most struck after doing the four readings by the impacts on the environment that our energy use has, I was drawn to the personal stories incorporated into the Fresh Air program and Streep’s piece on Tim DeChristopher. Specifically in the Fresh Air interview with Michael Klare, I was drawn to the brief conversation he had with Terry Gross in reference to the oil that the US gets from Nigeria. So often, it is easy to imagine that oil only comes from wealthy Middle-Eastern coalitions that are greedy and corrupt, but who profit off of their own property. However, the interview reveals that many of the people who live on or near the lands that are used for oil extraction are in fact in extreme poverty while the government accepts the profit for the oil. Even though the oil used will cause negative impacts for the environment whether it makes the resident wealthy or poor, it still seems even more wrong, even more corrupt that the environment is being harmed an no one profits but the corrupt government officials. The rest of the interview made me wonder what anyone can even do to help solve this energy consumption problem. Streep’s piece was kind of an answer to that question; however, I was left wondering what impact DeChristopher actually had. Of course, he inspired others to fight for the environment, but he did it in such an illogical and emotionally charged way that I’m left wondering how serious he and his followers will be taken.
Fossil fuels have helped to run and progress our society along for years, and have allowed us the ability to do things such as drive cars and ride trains. After years of watching gas emission levels rise across the globe, we have learned that the burning or using of these fuels for production have been causing an increasing degradation of the environment and atmosphere, ultimately contributing to global warming. It is interesting that despite continued advances in technology, including the research and developments of new types of fuel, fossil fuels such as oil and coal still remain the number one source of energy (Fossil Fuel Fundamentals). Many countries around the world talk of lowering global emission rates, and have even developed a formal treaty pledging to limit global warming; yet actual progress toward this goal has remained very little. This situation is similar to that of the other topics we discussed. The pollution caused by fossil fuels is continuing to cause environmental harm, which many people are aware of, yet there is still little movement toward helping to solve this problem on a global scale.
I thought the story of DeChristopher was interesting. He definitely is on the right track with trying to start a movement to help mitigate climate warming and effects of fossil fuels. The more people like this that speak up and try to act, there may be a greater chance of bringing attention this problem on a global scale. In particular, I like his statement about how people can stand on the top of the mountain top coal removal site for days and days until eventually the production managers give up and move on. Again, you would think that with the technological advances in research and development we have today, we would have better fuel options.
After reading these articles and listening to the story from npr, I felt very concerned for our earth and our environment. I will be honest in saying that I do not know much about the political and immediate effects that oil has on our environment. After learning more about oil, fossil fuels and "tough oil", I realized that there is a lot for me to learn. Michael Clare says "the age of easy oil is over". It was discouraging to listen to him talk about all the disasters, oil spills, species killed, and pipes bursting.
And the Gillis and Broder article ends with saying, "Many experts believe the effects are already being seen, but they are projected to worsen". The articles did not portray an image of much hope for a healthier, cleaner environment in the future. What can we do as a society as a whole to better our environment? What can the oil companies do? How can we change it?
I think each of the readings did a good job of outlining the different aspects of the issues surrounding coal, oil, and other forms of energy. “Fossil Fuel Fundamentals” was helpful because it explained the science behind things. The other readings highlighted some of the drawbacks and problems, from the perspective of environmentalists to the dangers of high carbon dioxide emissions, and the competing interests concerning oil reserves.
While all of this was very informative, after reading everything, the feeling I was left with was one of dread. I believe that in order to slow things like global warming, environmental pollution and keeping the cost of energy low, it’s going to take a global effort involving big changes. I’m sure this isn’t new information to anyone, but I was struck by just how complex the issues are. There are economic interests, environmental concerns, political differences, and energy needs all in play at once. I fear that we will be unable to reach any sort of agreement that will work to everyone’s advantage. Something is going to be sacrificed, and at this point, it seems to me like the environmental issues are getting pushed aside in favor of economic gain and energy needs. This is concerning, because there are potentially many cleaner energy sources and economic solutions, but we only have one planet.
Energy, fossil fuels, and the environment are things that we hear about every day. Daily it seems the crisis gets worse and worse, or disappears altogether. Since the Industrial Revolution, the entire world has relied on fossil fuels in order to do pretty much everything. It seems impossible that we would be able to change ourselves to rely on anything else. At least we would not be able to do it overnight. I think it would take a couple generations to make us completely independent of oil. However, another part of me believes we will never be without a need for oil. What I think will end up happening is that we will have to rely on renewable bio-oil made and refined from plants. But how much of an inconvenience would this put on our everyday life? We are so us to the accessibility of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. We would have to change our lifestyles in order to make the switch, which is why I think it would take several generations to do it.
The articles really accentuate the difficulty the world will have trying to turn those developing countries into developed countries of the same stature as ours or many european nations. The problem is there just are not enough resources for that to happen sustainably, where even now we're worried about our energy future. If all other peoples begin using 15x their energy output each, in the same way we do, there will be many problems that need taking care of.
With the current estimates, if such an energy requirement change were to happen, we'd have somewhere around 20 years worth of coal remaining to use. It's incredible the rate that first world countries use up energy.
It really makes one wonder when it will be so little that everyone must act, and if it will even be possible to do any action at that point.
Fossil fuel isn't something that I would have typically thought of as an invention in the same way as the other things in our class. It is more of an adaptation to our resources. It certainly has had a great impact on the way that people have settled down and the comfort in which our society lives. In tandem with the automobile, fossil fuel use has grown tremendously. Reading about the likely possibilities of too much greenhouse gases and our extreme use really asks for action.
Professor Klare was also enlightening on these ideas. I did not realize the manner in which we would have to gather our fossil fuels from this point forward. I knew a lot of debate was occurring about off-shore drilling, but I did not know about the danger involved. It is pretty grave that a spill of five times that of the Exxon Valdez spill would be a possibility with icebergs along the Canadian and New England coast. Besides hitting the environmental cost, he touched upon the dire situation in Nigeria. How awful it must be to have something so valuable on one's land and have no way to capitalize on it to just use for survival. It is a travesty of human rights.
Tim DeChristopher's story is remarkable; he may have unwittingly started it, but it has turned him into a "martyr" as the story put it. I was unaware of such a militant mindset with those in the environmentally concerned community. It makes sense that it would take those sorts of actions, just as other leaders for rights. DeChristopher seems to be a hope to those that are looking for our governmental leaders and the international community to step up and work towards a goal that they seem to put effort into. The 350 ppm that is the "high end" has already been surpassed and only funding into new energies, especially by the private sector, can drive momentum to flip the damage.
This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on February 27, 2013 5:48 PM.
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