Friday, August 24, 2012

Romney's Supersized “Drill, Baby Drill”

Two Frannie Rigs by mdt1960
Two Frannie Rigs, a photo by mdt1960 on Flickr.
Mitt Romney must be channeling Woody Hayes these days. Recently he unveiled his “energy plan” that promises to deliver all of North America to energy independence by 2020 via “drill, baby drill.” I had hoped he would have demonstrated more imagination—something beyond “three yards and a cloud of dust” championed by the late Ohio State football skipper. Coincidently (and conveniently), his delivery date marks the end of his Presidency if he were elected this November and then re-elected four years later.

I’m not doubtful that his plan would work. But, more importantly, shouldn’t we be asking, “Energy independence… but, at what cost?” What is our world going to look like as we continue to invest in the burning of fossil fuels as our primary energy source? Of course, if you’re one of those who find no credence in science, you can put your head back in the sand—you needn’t read on.

Apparently the Romney-Republican-Big-Corporation Camp (RRBCC) has little confidence in the scientific community either when it comes to its warnings regarding the pitfalls of burning fossil fuels indefinitely. Rather, Mitt and company align themselves with obscure articles and research that contradicts the scientific community consensus related to global warming as a result of fossil fuels.

On a related note: How is it that the science and scientists who demonstrated foresight in the successful rover missions to Mars are so much different than the science and scientists who warn us of global warming’s approach and consequences?

A question that always comes to mind has to do with the motivation of each camp. That is, what does the RRBCC have to gain by going against the scientific community’s advice when it comes to our continued dependence on fossil fuels? For starters, there is money to be made in staying with the current course—big money! No significant research/trials to drain profits along with a solid monopoly equals profit, profit, profit. In short, change is painful and there are bound to be casualties along the way.

Looking at the scientific community’s motivation; what do they have to gain if we heed their advice? Oh sure, some will see a significant profit for playing instrumental roles in the transition, but there’s no way of convincing me that the scientific community is going to make money hand-over-fist like the big oil companies and energy suppliers have and will continue to do.

The truth is, the most respected scientists work independently of corporations—typically for educational research institutions. Their motivation surely has some minuscule ingredient of “ego” for self and their institution, but the financial gain isn’t anything close to the profits of stockholders, CEOs and other corporate personalities who are all in it for one thing—to make a profit or, even better, make a killing.

To ensure we—the little people—are on board, the RRBCC folk promise good jobs if we double down on fossil fuels; as if a future which embraces renewable energies has no jobs for anyone.

It appears this line of reasoning is endemic all the way down to the local levels. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on the local Republican forums where every candidate talked up oil, gas and coal with not one mention of renewable energy sources. I found this odd given that we live in a state (Wyoming) where sunshine and wind are even more abundant than gas and coal.

All of this support for fossil fuels while holding contempt for renewables serves as an illustration: change is not a trip of leisure, nor does it generate the huge profits as those things established and widely accepted. Worse yet, change does not bode well with a short-sighted society incapable or unwilling to fathom problems and challenges just beyond the horizon.

The truth is the RRBCC world is akin to an obese person who has taken years to arrive at his 300-pound excess, along with an unwillingness to admit such obesity, nor the patience required to shed the excess properly. So, rather than acknowledge the problem and start down a road of true change, Romney’s plan simply proposes that we resign ourselves back to the overstuffed couch with the TV remote in hand as the other hand reaches for a bag of chips.