So what are we make of the fact that the price of oil tanked to below zero per barrel on April 22, the greatest drop in history? The price has gone up slightly since then, hovering around $16 a barrel on April 25th, but it is still severely depressed. Who will suffer from this? And perhaps more importantly, who will gain?
For some reason people and governments have chosen not to insure themselves (individually or collectively) against two catastrophes that have been much in the news lately: pandemics and large investment losses.
We are (quite understandably) so focused on the current pandemic that we fail to comprehend that the coronavirus was introduced into a specific social, political and economic context. When we clamor for a vaccine and nothing else, we change nothing that might mitigate the effects and spread of the next novel virus.
In the last episode Asher, Rob, and Jason discussed the danger of political denial and delusion limiting how well we respond to the climate crisis. This week we address the risk that another “d”–distraction–will keep us from recognizing the huge threats and opportunities the pandemic presents for our energy future.
We should have listened to Lynn Margulis more. For one, she did offer a solution to the “what is life?” dilemma: life is not a thing, it’s a process. Indeed, what does an organism do? It grows. What for? To grow more.
COVID-19 and climate breakdown are interconnected crises. They are the unintended consequences of a 500-year history of territorial expansion, conquest, resource extraction and industrial growth as a by-word for progress that has seen carbon pumped into the earth’s atmosphere at a rate that carbon sinks, compromised by industrial-scale deforestation, can’t contain.
Thus, although Transition Towns thinking came about primarily through considerations about peak oil, all essential efforts toward re-localisation and community resilience may provide the strongest available single buffer against the many storms that are likely to prevail upon us.
Some people say that now is not the time to be talking about the climate emergency because people are feeling anxious, afraid and overwhelmed, and that you and I should desist from dating until the COVID-19 crisis is over. I suspect that those saying this never took the climate and biodiversity emergencies seriously in the first place, and they don’t understand that just as the causes of our troubles are linked, our solutions must also be linked.
In this episode, Asher, Rob, and Jason examine how both ends of the political spectrum are getting it wrong, and propose how we can start a new conversation. And it doesn’t even have to involve your family disease history!
The oil industry knew about and lied about climate change for 30 years: they’ve prevented us from flattening the carbon curve, and set up a tragedy far greater even than coronavirus and one which will play out for decades to come.
If ever there were a time to reassess the genuine threats to our security and separate them from the self-interested aims of the weapons industry, this is it.
Yet our governments’ primary effort is to enhance their power at the expense of other countries. In failing to address our real and common threats, we are our own adversaries.
Whether the world returns to some semblance of normal by summer or whether the horror of COVID-19 continues into the fall and winter, the problem is that confidence has already been shattered.