|By: dakine01 Friday August 5, 2011 5:00 pm|
Book review: Koch, Max. Capitalism and Climate Change: Theoretical Discussion, Historical Development and Policy Responses. Houndmills, Basingstroke, Hampshire UK: Macmillan, 2012. Print.
At this time in history a movement to forestall climate change catastrophe is being organized. Yet one can at the same time read into the situation signs that the movement itself is already inadequate to the task of marshaling support for climate mitigation. Public opinion reveals this inadequacy as much as anything else:
The findings also show that the public thinks the massive project, which aims to ship 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta and the northern Great Plains to refineries on the Gulf Coast, will produce significant economic benefits. Eighty-five percent say the pipeline would create a significant number of jobs, with 62 percent saying they “strongly” believed that to be the case.
The general confusion within the movement about what to do is illustrated well in this Earth First! polemic:
The ways that we’ve been taught to fight back aren’t cutting it. Not even close. Candlelight vigils, petitions, chaining yourself to the White House fence, none of it is going to make the continued extraction of fossil fuels less profitable, and none of it is going to shift our communities away from a way of life centered on profit.
In order to achieve some actual, lasting climate change mitigation (and this is the goal of the climate movement, I hope), climate change activists need to do something more than point to Republicans and yell “DENIERS!”. In public rhetoric and action, climate change activists need to make a connection between the abstract goal of “lasting climate change mitigation” and the concrete goals people pursue in living on the Earth of today as embedded in late, neoliberal, capitalism. If the majority of the American public supports Keystone XL, it stands to reason that activists aren’t making that connection.
Essentially, then, climate change activists will have to bring the ostensibly distant threat of climate change Armageddon into focus by connecting that threat to the public embeddedness within the capitalist system. Observers of “climate change action” (including protests, marches, etc.) are no doubt asking “what does climate change have to do with me?” The idea that humanity’s participation in capitalism threatens each of us needs to be made real — and so activists should be making more connections between capitalism, in which we are all embedded, and the climate change which is to come. A good title for a book addressing that concern, then, would be “Capitalism and Climate Change.” There actually exists such a book — and although some of its tightest arguments merit improvement, and although it leaves us with the same quandary we can read into the Earth First! polemic above, it sets a meaningful standard for books about such an important topic.
According to its back cover, Max Koch’s (2012) book Capitalism and Climate Change, subtitled “Theoretical Discussion, Historical Development, and Policy Responses,” “discusses climate change as a social issue by analyzing its development in parallel with capitalism.” Koch’s book goes a long way toward making the connection between the continued operation of the capitalist system and the progressive deepening of climate change on planet Earth. Koch’s book is also part of the general literature of climate change concern, and so (for instance) its author cites Nicholas Stern, according to whom:
A rise in temperature of 4-5 degrees C or more over a few decades is well beyond human experience and imagination. One thing, however, is clear: temperature changes of this magnitued over a short period of time mean that the ‘physical geography is rewritten.’ And, if this occurs, ‘so too is the human geography of the world (Stern 2009, p. 31). Billions of people would migrate at short notice, plunging ‘the world into massive and extended conflict’ (Stern, 2009, p. 31).
Koch’s book, then, is of use to activists. His method, however, involves a good deal of academic short-cut using. Although not marked as such, “Capitalism and Climate Change” is actually divided into four sections:
1) a description of the climate change threat,
2) a general discussion of capitalism, focusing on Marx’s labor theory of value and on the three volumes of Marx’s “Capital,”
3) a discussion of the last two stages of capitalist development, namely that of “Fordism,” in which the assembly line and the consumer society were made the productive basis of the system, and also of the financialization of the system of recent times, and
4) the global fossil energy regime (e.g. the Kyoto Protocol) and what it has done so far about climate change.
The first section, as I noted above, summarizes climate change as an issue. Koch’s book importantly discusses the problem of delayed feedback effects — “carbon dioxide emissions” today will cause climate change years later, so it’s hard to make the connection between today’s fossil fuel use and tomorrow’s climate change. The case for climate change as a priority of the future world-society is made cogently in this and a number of other texts; one thing I learned, however, was that “human societies are today returning CO2 into the atmosphere around one million times faster than natural processes remove it,” (4) quoting a book titled “Ecological Debt.”
The second section dives right into Marx. Now, a discussion of the mechanics of the capitalist system is important to a discussion of how capitalism fosters climate change — but Koch’s points are most effectively made when he goes into the theory of “metabolic rift,” in which the out-of-control metabolism of capitalist development consumes our planet at excessive and destructive rates. In my opinion this section needs to be expanded to make the connection between climate change and Marx’s theories in “Capital” clearer: thus, for instance, Koch argues:
It is ultimately due to the commodity form of labour products and to the corresponding separation of human producers from the means and objects of production that the economic system tends towards indifference with respect to its spatio-temporal and matter-energy specificities. (35)
What needs to be pointed out at this point in Koch’s text is that a system guided by profit-seeking capitalists and their client politicians and motored by alienated labor is not going to produce a lasting solution to abrupt climate change. This is so because all actors are so distracted by the commodity form that they cannot do what it takes to insure their collective survival.
The third section of this book appears as a review of the history of capitalist development. Readers of this section might tend to become impatient for connections between capitalist history and the development of human-caused climate change as an environmental phenomenon. This section is summarized by this passage:
Part II has demonstrated that Fordism’s industrial paradigm made use of methods of material throughput that would undermine economy and society for the future generations. The energy regime was dependent upon the consumption of vast amounts of fossil-fuel resources; this was accompanied by the emission of enormous and growing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, triggering the greenhouse effect. The question is whether the transition toward a finance-driven accumulation regime and the transnational relocation of production sites moderated or even overcame the fossil energy regime. (122)
Of course, “post-industrial society” has deepened, not mitigated, industrialism.
The last section of this book goes over the details of the Kyoto Protocol, and the flaws in cap-and-trade schemes. Koch argues that “by assuring that tackling climate change as an issue does not contradict finance-driven capitalism and that this issue is dealt within its institutional structure, resistance and the establishment of alternative ways of working and living become more difficult.” (176) It would also been nice had he suggested that corporate profit, rather than climate-change mitigation, was the real motivation behind the Kyoto Protocol.
A tightly-argued conclusion illustrates the vast gap between social process and desired outcome. Koch laments:
The climate crisis, for its part, is constantly ignored or understated by policymakers — and used instead as an additional investment area for financial capital — because of the delayed reaction of the climate system to past and present excessive greenhouse emissions. (193)
In this reified picture, we will wait until the runaway greenhouse effect is upon us and it is too late before we do anything about it. On the other hand, however, earlier in his book Koch recommends that neoliberalism be abandoned (and that capitalism be abandoned where necessary) if anything serious is to be done about our world-society’s addiction to fossil fuels. Koch’s analysis reveals, by looking both at what has happened and at what will be necessary, the uselessness of incrementalism in today’s society. Gradual change will eventually kill us all, because under capitalism it moves relentlessly in the direction of the accumulation of financial power.
|By: letsgetitdone Wednesday December 29, 2010 1:35 pm|
While today’s deficits are much lower than those during the financial crisis and recession, over the next ten years debt will remain at historically high levels under the policies outlined in the President’s budget. Over the long term, our debt is on a rising and unsustainable path that harms our economy and threatens our future standard of living.
First, Government deficits that don’t exceed the sum of private sector savings and trade deficits are not bad for the private economy. They are good because they contribute directly to private sector savings and the aggregate demand and subsequent economic growth it can create. It would be nicer for all of us if Mr. Peterson learned that lesson before his propaganda turns the US into a third world banana republic; unless, of course, that’s what he’s about.
When it gets complicated and confusing, when you’re overwhelmed with too much information, changing daily; too many explanations, some contradictory … try putting it into some kind of context by stepping back and looking at the larger, long-term picture.
The United States strives for world domination, hegemony wherever possible, their main occupation for over a century, it’s what they do for a living. The United States, NATO and the European Union form The Holy Triumvirate. The Holy Triumvirate has subsidiaries, chiefly The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Criminal Court … all help to keep in line those governments lacking the Holy Triumvirate Seal Of Approval: the IMF, WB, and WTO impose market fundamentalism, while foreign leaders who act too independent are threatened with being handed over to the ICC for heavy punishment, as the United States imposes sanctions on governments and their leaders as only the King of Sanctions can, lacking any sense of hypocrisy or irony.
And who threatens United States domination? Who can challenge The Holy Triumvirate’s hegemony? Only Russia and China, if they were as imperialistic as the Western powers. (No, the Soviet Union wasn’t imperialistic; that was self-defense; Eastern Europe was a highway twice used by the West to invade; tens of millions of Russians killed or wounded.)
Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been surrounding Russia, building one base after another, ceaselessly looking for new ones, including in Ukraine; one missile site after another, with Moscow in range; NATO has grabbed one former Soviet Republic after another. The White House, and the unquestioning American mainstream media, have assured us that such operations have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO some years ago, “is this is a military organization? Yes, it’s military. … Is it moving towards our border? It’s moving towards our border. Why?” 1
The Holy Triumvirate would love to rip Ukraine from the Moscow bosom, evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and establish a US military and/or NATO presence on Russia’s border. (In case you were wondering what prompted the Russian military action.) Kiev’s membership in the EU would then not be far off; after which the country could embrace the joys of neo-conservatism, receiving the benefits of the standard privatization-deregulation-austerity package and join Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain as an impoverished orphan of the family; but no price is too great to pay to for being part of glorious Europe and the West!
The Ukrainian insurgents and their Western-power supporters didn’t care who their Ukrainian allies were in carrying out their coup against President Viktor Yanukovych last month … thugs who set policemen on fire head to toe … all manner of extreme right-wingers, including Chechnyan Islamic militants 2 … a deputy of the ultra-right Svoboda Party, part of the new government, who threatens to rebuild Ukraine’s nukes in three to six months. 3 … the snipers firing on the protestors who apparently were not what they appeared to be – A bugged phone conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian foreign minister, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, reveals Paet saying: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” 4 … neo-Nazi protestors in Kiev who have openly denounced Jews, hoisting a banner honoring Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on February 24 that Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman advised “Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country.” Edward Dolinsky, head of an umbrella organization of Ukrainian Jews, described the situation for Ukrainian Jews as “dire” and requested Israel’s help.
All in all a questionable gang of allies for a dubious cause; reminiscent of the Kosovo Liberation Army thugs Washington put into power for an earlier regime change, and has kept in power since 1999.
The now-famous recorded phone conversation between top US State Department official Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to the Ukraine, wherein they discuss which Ukrainians would be to Washington’s liking in a new government, and which not, is an example of this regime-change mentality. Nuland’s choice, Arseniy Yatseniuk, emerged as interim prime minister.
The National Endowment for Democracy, an agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against states not in love with US foreign policy, is Washington’s foremost non-military tool for effecting regime change. The NED website lists 65 projects that it has supported financially in recent years in Ukraine. 5 The descriptions NED gives to the projects don’t reveal the fact that generally their programs impart the basic philosophy that working people and other citizens are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation, collective bargaining, minimal government intervention in the economy, and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform, and growth; and the merits of foreign investment in their economy are emphasized.
The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” 6
NED, receives virtually all its financing from the US government ($5 billion in total since 1991 7 ), but it likes to refer to itself as an NGO (Non-governmental organization) because this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have. But NGO is the wrong category. NED is a GO. Its long-time intervention in Ukraine is as supra-legal as the Russian military deployment there. Journalist Robert Parry has observed:
For NED and American neocons, Yanukovych’s electoral legitimacy lasted only as long as he accepted European demands for new “trade agreements” and stern economic “reforms” required by the International Monetary Fund. When Yanukovych was negotiating those pacts, he won praise, but when he judged the price too high for Ukraine and opted for a more generous deal from Russia, he immediately became a target for “regime change.”
Thus, we have to ask, as Mr. Putin asked – “Why?” Why has NED been funding 65 projects in one foreign country? Why were Washington officials grooming a replacement for President Yanukovych, legally and democratically elected in 2010, who, in the face of protests, moved elections up so he could have been voted out of office – not thrown out by a mob? Yanukovych made repeated important concessions, including amnesty for those arrested and offering, on January 25, to make two of his adversaries prime minister and deputy prime minister; all to no avail; key elements of the protestors, and those behind them, wanted their putsch.
Carl Gershman, president of NED, wrote last September that “Ukraine is the biggest prize”. 8 The man knows whereof he speaks. He has presided over NED since its beginning, overseeing the Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004), the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005), the Green Revolution in Iran (2009), and now Ukraine once again. It’s as if the Cold War never ended.
The current unbridled animosity of the American media toward Putin also reflects an old practice. The United States is so accustomed to world leaders holding their tongue and not voicing criticism of Washington’s policies appropriate to the criminality of those policies, that when a Vladimir Putin comes along and expresses even a relatively mild condemnation he is labeled Public Enemy Number One and his words are accordingly ridiculed or ignored.
On March 2 US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine (Crimea) and threatened economic sanctions. “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.” 9
Iraq was in the 21st century. Senator John Kerry voted for it. Hypocrisy of this magnitude has to be respected.
POSTSCRIPT: Ukraine’s interim prime minister announced March 7 that he has invited the NATO Council to hold a meeting in Kiev over the recent developments in the country. “I invited the North Atlantic Council to visit Kiev and hold a meeting there,” Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a visit to Brussels, where he met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and EU officials. “We believe that it will strengthen our cooperation.”
Love among nations
by Viktor Dedaj, Paris, France
|By: Barry Lando Saturday March 8, 2014 11:24 am|
The Huffington Post refused to run that blog because I only had one source, which I was not allowed to name. Instead, I posted it on my own and other sites.
That blog went viral, particularly in Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia, where it was picked up by several news agencies. Now that claim has received new backing from a reputable Israeli source. But before getting to that, here is my original blog.
A friend, with good sources in the Israeli government, claims that the head of Israel’s Mossad has made several trips to deal with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia—one of the results: an agreement that the Saudis would bankroll the series of assassinations of several of Iran’s top nuclear experts that have occurred over the past couple of years. The amount involved, my friend claims, was $1 billion dollars. A sum, he says, the Saudis considered cheap for the damage done to Iran’s nuclear program.
At first blush, the tale sounds preposterous. On the other hand. it makes eminent sense. The murky swamp of Middle East politics has nothing to do with the easy slogans and 30 second sound bites of presidential debates.
After all, nowhere more than in the Middle East does the maxim hold true: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And both Israel and the Saudis have always detested Iran’s Shiite fundamentalist leaders. The feeling is mutual. Tehran has long been accused of stirring up trouble among Saudi’s restless Shiites.
Israeli and Saudi leaders particularly fear Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons. Thus, it would only be natural that (along with the U.S.) they would back a coordinated program to at least slow up, if not permanently cripple, Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
It also makes perfect sense, that, in retaliation for the cyber attacks on their centrifuges, the Iranians reportedly launched their own cyber attack on a Saudi state-owned target: Saudi Aramco, the world’s most valuable company. Last August 15th, someone with privileged access to Aramco’s computers was able to unleash a virus that wreaked havoc with the company’s systems. U.S. intelligence experts point their finger at Tehran.
Indeed, a report earlier this year by Tel Aviv University cites Saudi Arabia as the last hope and defense line for Israel. With most of Israel’s traditional allies in the region sent packing or undermined by the Arab Spring, the Saudis are the Jewish State’s last chance to protect its political interests in the Arab world.
Now comes further confirmation of that strange alliance, from Richard Silverstein’s excellent blog Tikun Olam. Silverstein gets many of his scoops from Israeli reporters, often confiding information they’re not allowed to report in Israel. Silverstein also closely monitors the Israeli media.
He has been following the close cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia in targeting Syria and Iran. In his latest log he reports,
Saudi Arabia isn’t just coordinating its own intelligence efforts with Israel. It’s actually financing a good deal of Israel’s very expensive campaign against Iran. As you know, this has involved massive sabotage against IRG missile bases, the assassination of five nuclear scientists, the creation of a series of computer cyber weapons like Stuxnet and Flame. It may also conceivably involve an entire class of electronic and conventional weapons that could be used in a full-scale attack on Iran. Who knows, this might even include the sorts of bunker buster bombs only the U.S. currently has access to, which could penetrate the Fordo facility. It might include scores more super-tankers which could provide the fuel necessary for Israeli planes to make it to Iran and return. All of this is expensive. Very expensive.
As background to his story, Yerushalmi, cited a recent speech by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Nethanyahu, referring to the possibility that Arab states, which privately maintain better relations with Israel today than does the European Union, would do so publicly if peace were to break out.
“Nethanyahu,” wrote the Israeli reporter, “referred almost certainly to Saudi Arabia which finances the expenses of the enormous campaign which we are conducting against Iran.”
“The question” Silverstein writes in his blog, “is how far is Saudi Arabia willing to go. If Bibi ever decided to launch an attack, would the Sunni nation fund that as well? The answer seems clearly to be yes.
The next question is, given there is airtight military censorship in Israel, why did the censor allow Maariv to publish this? Either someone was asleep at the switch or the IDF and Israel’s political and intelligence officials want the world to know of the Saudi-Israeli effort. Who specifically do they want to know? Obama, of course. In the event the nuclear talks go south, Bibi wants Obama to know there’s a new Sugar Daddy in town. No longer will Israel have only the U.S. to rely on if it decides to go to war. Saudi Arabia will be standing right behind….
I don’t think this news substantially alters the military calculus. Israel, even with unlimited funding, still can’t muster the weapons and armaments it would need to do the job properly. That will take time. But Israel isn’t going to war tomorrow. This news reported in Maariv is presumably Bibi playing one card from his hand. It’s an attempt to warn the president that the U.S. is no longer the only game in town. Personally, it’s the sort of huffing and puffing that I can’t imagine plays well in Washington. But it’s the way Bibi plays the game.
Barry Lando has just written a mystery, The Watchman’s File, about an American reporter attempting to unravel Israel’s most closely guarded secret. (It’s not the bomb). Available on Amazon in soft-cover and Kindle format.
|By: EdwardTeller Monday July 11, 2011 1:01 pm|
On Sunday, I will host Jon Walker, author of the first book to look a decade and a half into a future where cannabis use will be governed by sets of local, state and national regimes that will be quite different from what we now experience or observe. It will be the second time I’ve been able to host discussion here about how government agencies deal with the most irrational element of the generations-old “war on drugs.” Back in December, I hosted author Doug Fine, whose book Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution had just come out in paperback. Fine spent an entire growing season following a single plant from clone to use by a medical marijuana patient. His observations about how one major local polity – California’s Mendocino County – was then (2011) dealing with that county’s most important agricultural product in the face of its legality in the state, but severe illegality in the eyes of the Federal government are fascinating.
Jon Walker’s After Legalization: Understanding The Future Of Marijuana Policy combines detailed knowledge of the past and present stories and issues surrounding cannabis in the United States with a solidly based set of predictions about what the stories and issues will be like in 2030. In the introduction, Walker writes:
This book is written from the perspective of someone in the year 2030 describing what America looks like after federal marijuana legalization has been in place for a few years. It is intended to answer the two big “how” questions: how marijuana will be treated as a legal product, and how this change will come about. I will show in a very tangible way what legalization will mean for regular people and give a detailed explanation for why things may turn out that way.
Later, in his conclusions, Walker writes:
My goal was not just to list what the regulatory issues will be, but also to indicate what political and economic forces are most likely to shape them. I want people to understand who the relevant players will likely be, where the minor legal fights should take place, and what political dynamics will drive the debate. In this way, one can anticipate which leverage points will shape the future.
The author goes about this in a set of chapters titled:
Chapter 1 – Where to Buy
Chapter 2 – What to Buy: Brands, Selection, and Big Marijuana
Chapter 3 – Price
Chapter 4 – Taxes
Chapter 5 – Home Growing
Chapter 6 – Where You Can Smoke
Chapter 7 – Who Is Smoking
Chapter 8 – Impact on Public Health
Chapter 9 – What Becomes of Medical Marijuana
Chapter 10 – Criminal Justice
Chapter 11 – Industrial Hemp
Chapter 12 – How and Why It Happened
There are footnotes and 23 pages of endnotes.
Nobody can predict the future. Walker’s setting of 2030 as the period he envisions makes a lot of sense, though. Near the end of the book, he relates how we get from 2014 to 2030, step by step.
I found the book to be a very accessible and quick read. Walker’s humor showed every bit as much as it does in some of his essays at Firedoglake‘s Just Say Now niche, where he serves as senior policy analyst and editor.
Walker’s look at the future needs to be widely read, particularly by policy makers, law enforcement professionals and politicians. He addresses part of why this is important:
Given marijuana policy reform’s broad popular support and the fact that it has remained weirdly taboo among politicians, the ballot initiative is crucial. In 2013, 52 percent of the country supported marijuana legalization, but only 17 members of the House of Representatives—that is, only 3.9 percent of the chamber—sponsored HR 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013.147 This imbalance is a real problem.
It certainly is.
Come join us Sunday at 2:00 pm, Pacific Time, for a lively two hours with the author who has made Just Say Now a vital component of our national battle toward sanity in drug policy reform. I’m looking forward to it.
by Walter Brasch
The oil and gas industry, the nation’s chambers of commerce, and politicians who are dependent upon campaign contributions from the industry and the chambers, claim fracking is safe.
First, close your mind to the myriad scientific studies that show the health effects from fracking.
The oil and gas industry has a fatality rate seven times higher than for all other workers, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control. (CDC). According to the CDC, the death rate in the oil and gas industry is 27.1; the U.S. collective death rate is 3.8.
“Job gains in oil and gas construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable,” said John E. Perez, secretary of labor.
Not included in the data, because it doesn’t include the past three years, when the oil/gas industry significantly increased fracking in the Marcellus and other shales, is a 27-year-old worker who was cremated in a gas well explosion in late February in Greene County, Pa. One other worker was injured. Because of extensive heat and fire, emergency management officials couldn’t get closer than 1,500 feet of the wells. Pennsylvania’s Act 13, largely written by the oil and gas industry, allows only a 300 foot set-back from wells to homes. In Greene County, it took more than a week to cap three wells on the pad where the explosion occurred.
The gas drilling industry, for the most part, is non-union or dependent upon independent contractors who often provide little or no benefits to their workers. The billion dollar corporations like it that way. That means there are no worker safety committees and no workplace regulations monitored by workers. The workers have no bargaining or grievance rights; health and workplace benefits for workers who aren’t executives or professionals are often minimal or non-existent.
It may be months or years before most workers learn the extent of possible injury or diseases caused by industry neglect.
“Almost every one of the injuries and deaths you will happen upon, it will have something to do with cutting a corner, to save time, to save money,” attorney Tim Bailey told EnergyWire.
“Multiple pressures weigh on the people who work in this high-risk, high-reward industry, including the need to produce on schedule and keep the costs down,” reports Gayathri Vaidyanathan of EnergyWire.
Tom Bean, a former gas field worker from Williamsport, Pa., says he doesn’t know what he and his co-workers were exposed to. He does know it affected his health:
“You’d constantly have cracked hands, red hands, sore throat, sneezing. All kinds of stuff. Headaches. My biggest one was a nauseating dizzy headache . . . People were sick all the time . . . and then they’d get into trouble for calling off sick. You’re in muck and dirt and mud and oil and grease and diesel and chemicals. And you have no idea [what they are] . . . It can be anything. You have no idea, but they [Management] don’t care . . . It’s like, ‘Get the job done.’ . . . You’d be asked to work 15, 18 hour days and you could be so tired that you couldn’t keep your eyes open anymore, but it was ‘Keep working. Keep working. Keep working.’”
Workers are exposed to more than 1,000 chemicals, most of them known carcinogens. They are exposed to radioactive waste, brought up from more than a mile in the earth. They are exposed to the effects from inhaling silica sand; they are exposed to protective casings that fail, and to explosions that are a part of building and maintaining a fossil fuel system that has explosive methane as its primary ingredient.
In July, two storage tanks exploded in New Milton, W.Va., injuring five persons. One of the injured, Charlie Arbogast, a rigger and trucker, suffered third degree burns on his hands and face. “You come to the rigs, you do what you do and you don’t ask questions,” Diana Arbogast, his wife, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“In Pennsylvania, workers have reported contact with chemicals without appropriate protective equipment, inhalation of sand without masks, and repeated emergency visits for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, yet many of the medical encounters go unreported,” says Dr. Pouné Saberi, a public health physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
The oil/gas industry, the Chambers of Commerce, politicians, and some in the media, even against significant and substantial health and environmental evidence, erroneously claim there are economic benefits to fracking. Disregard the evidence that the 100-year claim for natural gas is exaggerated by 10 times, or that the number of jobs created by the boom in the Marcellus Shale is inflated by another 10 times. Focus on Greene County, Pa.
Apparently, included in the “economic boom” is a small pizza shop that was contracted by Chevron to provide large pizzas and sodas to about 100 families living near the gas well explosion that cost one man his life.
Workers, like pizza boxes, are just disposable items to the oil and gas industry.
[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist of more than four decades. His latest of 20 books is Fracking Pennsylvania, an in-depth documented exploration of the economic, health, and environmental effects of fracking, with an underlying theme of the connection between politicians and campaign funds provided by the oil/gas lobby.]
|By: Ruth Calvo Thursday January 5, 2012 11:00 am|
(Picture courtesy of gene arboit at wikipedia commons.)
In my teens, I encountered this dish and loved it, but it seems to have fallen out of style. Since I had a chicken I want to do something different with, I looked it up and hope you are familiar, or will become familiar, with this delectable way to serve up poultry.
- 1/2 lb bacon slices
- 20 pearl onions, peeled, or 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 3 lbs chicken thighs and legs, excess fat trimmed, skin ON
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups red wine (pinot noir, burgundy, or zinfandel)
- 2 bay leaves
- Several fresh thyme sprigs
- Several fresh parsley sprigs
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
1 Blanch the bacon to remove some of its saltiness. Drop the bacon into a saucepan of cold water, covered by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, drain. Rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Cut the bacon into 1 inch by 1/4 inch pieces.
2 Brown bacon on medium high heat in a dutch oven big enough to hold the chicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon, set aside. Keep the bacon fat in the pan. Working in batches if necessary, add onions and chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken well, on all sides, about 10 minutes. Halfway through the browning, add the garlic and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. (Note: it is best to add salt while cooking, not just at the very end. It brings out the flavor of the chicken.)
3 Spoon off any excess fat. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Add back the bacon. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken and onions to a separate platter. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic, and discard.
4 Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high. Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy. Lower the heat, stir in the butter. Return the chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Serves 6. Serve with potatoes or over egg noodles. Peas make a good side for this dish.