Fracking Comes Home

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My apartment complex has been rigging an elaborate looking connection to the town gas line over the last several months. It’s an optional fuel source for heat and hot water.

What’s interesting, besides the economic reprieve from higher heating costs, is the Rube Goldberg contraption. I remarked to the utility inspector that the thing looks like a wellhead and he chimed, “That’s right where it’s coming from”.

When I pass them I can hear the reassuring hiss of fuel delivering us the warmth inside, or conversely I hear a relentless mocking telling me “Of courssse you want thisss.

Ordinarily these essays are about what we do when taking a weekly day off the grid but thought it worth mentioning. Besides, I’ve been working from home for a while and walk a ’lot. (That really does save a lot of running around).

Energy workers have a point when they tell us; if we like to cook they need to drill. The director of Gasland, Josh Fox, said those of us opposed to unconventional energy, including fracking, cannot just be against something – we have to be for something. What we ought to be fighting for is an all-out speedy transition to safe renewable energy and all the prosperity that will generate – forever!

Why aren’t oil and gas companies transitioning to sustainable energy companies? The oil tycoon, T. Boone Pickens, placed an enormous bet on wind energy and lost a fortune. He argues that American oil and gas companies are the best at what they do and I guess in a way that’s supposed to be reassuring. But that’s the problem if it’s unbridled capitalism – bottom line it’s simply best at one thing only – profiting.

Originally, Congress assigned rights of incorporation requiring they not exceed their authority or cause public harm. It was at our nation’s discretion they were allowed to serve!

The lauded former industry titan/climate change skeptic, Jack Welsh, presided at General Electric during the deregulation era of the 1980’s. I got a sense of his zeal for Darwinian Capitalism working on computer services advertising for the company – the same year our ad agency helped launch the Apple Macintosh computer.

In the intervening years the stocks of both companies would have made you comfortable (if you could have owned them). Point is, not long after, Steve Jobs needed to leave his own company until the world caught up to his vision, and he and Apple earned largest valuation of every company on the planet, blah, blah, blah.

It’s as good a lesson to take away with regard to the fossil fuel industry. If Jack Welsh supports the conviction that giving consumers the environmentally friendly goods they seek, his reasons seem unapologetically cynical or a damming truth that business responds to consumer demand.

“There’s an enormous opportunity…whether you believe in global warming or not…If you’re in a company, you’d better be pushing those (green) products because the world wants these products.

– Jack Welsh, Fresh Dialogues Interview Series with Alison van Diggelen, May 12, 2009

A delightful GE commercial several years back had creatures in the jungle dancing to Singing in the Rain and stated “Water that’s more pure.”­ – this after spending years and several-hundred-million dollars fighting the EPA requirement to remove their factory’s toxic waste in New York’s Hudson River. Translation; We can make money even when we help cause the problem.

Businesses must protect stockholders and profits until the time comes their actions become unprofitable.

Corporate missions need people to guide their immediate and long range decisions. And the campaign to divest investments in the fossil fuel industry will lead them into the future.

Especially if we, each carbon-based human, reduce our carbon-based energy consumption and help them get their heads out of the ground!

Incredible things happen when we used our boycotts and purchases to dissent. They help mitigate racism, human suffering and destruction of our environment.

The goal of practicing 24-6 is to slow this corrupting process. Everyone take a day off the grid. Earn your own “carbon credits”.

Surely there will be unintended consequences if we all start doing this. Lower energy costs seem to increase usage for one. That makes alternatives costly. But it is something each of us can actually do for ourselves and our childrens’ children.

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