Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Ever-Dangerous Mantra “Drill, Baby Drill”

shutterstock_115189144

On January 19, in what many perceived as an amusing appearance by former vice presidential hopeful and reality TV actress Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor took on the stage to endorse another reality TV personality and current Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

But amid the comedy spoofs and various political readings of what the Trump-Palin political union actually meant, much urgent discussion has been shoved aside.

In her supposedly down-to-earth approach to politics, Palin mouthed off more of her terrifying vision for the United States, before resurrecting the Republican-embraced slogan ‘drill, baby drill.”

Unlike much of her other drivels, that statement in particular has been a common theme in much of her political activism and conspicuous agenda. Last September Trump had suggested that he would like to see Palin take part of his cabinet, and she obliged, telling the media that she wishes to head the Department of Energy.

“Energy is my baby,” Palin told CNN at the time. “Oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind’s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations.”

“Never mind that the Energy Department doesn’t have anything to do with drilling and mining because that’s the province of the Interior Department,” wrote Katie Herzog recently in grist.org.

In actuality, there is nothing humorous about Palin’s “familiar fossil-fuel-promoting gobbledygook”, as described by Herzog. A vision as notorious as that of Palin’s will spell further disaster in an already fragile, unstable, and deteriorating environment.

Since 1977, there has been an ongoing controversy regarding the extraction of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). ANWR holds 19 million acres of protected land on the northern coast of Alaska which is also home to many Alaskan Natives. In the past fifty years, the average temperature in Alaska has risen 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit and is expected to rise by seven degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2050.

Oil extraction, burning, as well as production and the harvesting of gas and coal emits hazardous amounts of greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere. Not only does this effect the global climate, but it perilously increases the temperature of the region, leaving residents as well as the entire eco- system and their means of life in an incurable state.

There must be immediate action and a rapid transition to renewable energy. Aside from the obvious environmental disaster lurking ahead, this change in climate has already compromised the lives of thousands of indigenous Alaskans. 86 percent of the 213 Alaskan native villages have – to some extent – suffered the destructive results of global warming on their homes, whether that be by flooding or erosion. After thousands of years of living and thriving on the Alaskan coast, many tribes such as the Yup’ik and the Inupiat have been forced to relocate to higher ground, leaving their culture that has persevered for thousands of years on the now submerged coast.

A survey conducted by the USGS indicates the northern coast of Alaska – home to several Native American communities – has some of the highest shoreline erosion rates in the world. Homes, villages, and costal lines are disappearing at alarming rates. According to the same studies, up to thirty yards of the coast could vanish within the year.

But it does not have to be that way. According to Scientific America, by the year 2030, the world could be running on 100 percent renewable clean energy. It is not just Alaska or the United States that could profit, but the whole world could reap the benefits of transitioning to renewables. In the United States alone, there would be an estimated 202,000 new jobs by the year 2025. Renewables also release zero emissions thus would not allow the progression of climate change.

I had the opportunity to speak to Russell Warfield, a member of the London-based activist group “BP or Not BP?” He gave me valuable insight regarding many factors which contribute to the environmental challenges and dangers our world currently faces.

Warfield advocates that the one and only way to save our planet from global warming and its hazardous effects is by completely utilizing renewable fuel resources, such as solar, wave, and wind power. “My view is that it’s sensible to go for a 100 percent renewable world; energy that we can obtain directly from sunlight, or from tidal power, or from wind power, and from some places in the world, thermal power….(There are) smaller, localized, decentralized forms of power created through these means. ”

According to Warfield, this would not only help the cause of a healthier environment but it would advance the cause of economic justice by enabling those living in poverty by making heat and light more affordable. “It’s possible with existing technology to power the world. Not only that, a lot of people living in poverty could do it as well.”

But the question lingers: Why have we not started an aggressive transition that is urgently needed and very much feasible?

Expectedly, Capitalism has played a major role in the deferral of that process, thus the increasing of global temperatures. The harmful results of fossil fuels have yet again been swept under the rug. Companies such as Shell, BP, and Exxon, are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If sources of renewable energy became more accessible and common, these companies’ net worth would likely suffer. These massive corporations – with which people and trusted institutions have affiliated are not concerned with the well-being of the planet, local and global economies. Their concerns lie more on the end of the company’s influence and wealth.

Warfield touched on the corruption of these companies as well as answering a common question: how can we stop the destruction these corporations have caused? More, how do we compete with the support coming from governments and government-subsidized companies? “We can’t let fossil fuel companies legitimize their practices in such dishonest ways. Divestment is a really good example of that (discouraging company practices). We are taking quite a bold moral stand in terms of not engaging with fossil fuel companies.”

Warfield denounced the support given by many trusted and respected institutions to companies such as Shell, BP, and Exxon. “It says a lot when our most respected institutions work with a company (such as BP or Shell). They pay a very small amount of money to these institutions to gain legitimacy and a license that they don’t deserve.” “People don’t realize the level of destruction in their operations.”

“We need to demonstrate that the alternatives work. It is possible to go to a 100 percent renewable world. But there is a lot of interest in making sure that such a transition doesn’t happen anytime soon.”

Huge energy companies, like the many listed above, thrive with a centralized system to extract, manage and profit from the wealth of fossil fuels. Because of the diversity of renewable energy forms, such as wind, tidal and solar power, they cannot be bundled into a common management and profit center. According to Warfield, this is one of the primary reasons that companies such as BP fight against energy progress; in other words, it is much more difficult to maintain a monopoly on the energy market.

“Because the nature of renewables, you can’t centralize all the generation, therefore all the wealth. When companies extract oil, coal, and gas, they mess with the infrastructure and essentially turn it into energy and that’s what make few people very, very rich and they don’t want that structure – that is already in place – to change. There is a lot of interest in making sure we stay locked into fossil fuels. That’s why we see things like fracking happening now in increasingly dangerous areas such as the Arctic and Alaska.”

If there is no backlash and protest from the damage these companies have inflicted on our world, the situation will only get worse over time. If things continue the way they are, in 50 years, sea level is estimated to rise by 10 feet. By the year 2047, our coldest years may be warmer than the hottest in the past. These are only a few minor examples of where our world could be in an alarmingly short time. There must be involvement within all classes, communities, and people; within organizations and activist groups such as BP or Not BP, among others.

Immediate action needs to be taken. There must to be consistent support of the climate movement if our world is to have any hope for a sustainable future.

More articles by:

Zarefah Baroud is a Media and Communications student at the University of Washington.

May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail