I personally support the spirit of Occupy Wall Street, especially the spotlight it has cast on the shocking level of inequality in our country. But the movement oddly conveys a very mainstream message that Wall Street can and should be fixed. Just clean up our existing financial institutions – make them more accountable, honest, transparent – and all will be well. Really?
By Asher Miller
Back in December in blisteringly cold Copenhagen, tens of thousands of activists, government workers, lobbyists, and world leaders came together for what many hoped would be a diplomatic breakthrough. Though the weather was cold, conditions seemed ripe: Environmental groups across the globe had worked hard to generate a strong display of public will, culminating in 350.org’s Day of Action earlier in October, which CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Bolstered by the announcement that President Obama would attend the talks personally, hopes were high for meaningful engagement on the part of the United States after more than a decade of inaction.
Following the failure of the latest efforts to plug the gushing leak from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, and amid warnings that oil could continue to flow for another two months or more, perhaps it’s a good time to step back a moment mentally and look at the bigger picture—the context of our human history of resource extraction—to see how current events reveal deeper trends that will have even greater and longer-lasting significance.
Much of what follows may seem obvious to some readers, pedantic to others. But very few people seem to have much of a grasp of the basic technological, economic, and environmental issues that arise as resource extraction proceeds, and as a society adapts to depletion of its resource base. So, at the risk of boring the daylights out of those already familiar with the history of extractive industries, here follows a spotlighting of relevant issues, with the events in the Gulf of Mexico ever-present in the wings and poised to take center stage as the subject of some later comments.
The Post Carbon Institute wants Congress to get tougher about a new energy policy and push forward on a bill that would embrace renewable energy, increase green jobs and improve the nation’s energy security.