on Tue 29 Apr 2008 04:00 PM PDT | Permanent Link
April 28, 2008
A friend asked me how come the public apparently
grasps the reality of climate change but can’t seem to wrap its
collective brain around the unfolding oil crisis.
convinced that the public does grasp climate change. It's perceived,
perhaps, as a background story to daily life, which goes on regardless.
Are you even sure Hollywood didn't invent it -- and maybe some boob at Time Magazine is selling it as though it were really happening?
Few have anything to gain by espousing denial of climate change.
It's hard for most people to tell if they have been affected by it. It
doesn't quite seem real. Those who actually make gestures in the face
of it –- screwing in compact fluorescent lightbulbs, buying Prius cars
-- end up appearing ridiculous, like an old granny telling you to fetch
your raincoat and rubbers because a force five hurricane is organizing
iself offshore, beyond the horizon.
The public appears aggressively clueless about the peak oil story.
They do not accept any threats to the motoring regime. The news media
is surely not helping sort things out. I saw a remarkable display of
ignorance on CNN last week when the new resident idiot-maniac Glenn
Beck hosted Teamster Union boss James Hoffa and they agreed that the
oil companies were to blame for high fuel prices. To put it as plainly
as possible, Beck doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about, and
it's disgraceful that CNN gives free reign to this moron to misinform
the public. It's perhaps equally amazing that Hoffa doesn't know we
have entered a permanent global oil crisis based on demand having
outrun supply. These two idiots think that if Exxon-Mobil built a new
refinery down in Louisiana, everything would be fine, diesel fuel would
go back down to 99 cents a gallon, and it would be Christmas every
This has been a pretty remarkable month, actually, with all the
problems of "The Long Emergency" accelerating impressively. Oil is now
testing the $120 mark, the airline industry is imploding (largely over
fuel costs), the housing scene has reached a degree of collapse unseen
since the 1930s, food shortages have strayed out of the Third World and
begun to affect Japan and the USA, bats are dying of a mysterious
disease in the Northeast, and the Arctic sea ice is shrinking away to
We're in a strange collective psychic bubble. We'd like to forget
about all these troubling rumors of hardship and bad weather and just
get on with the daily task of making a living and paying for stuff and
enjoying our customary entertainments. The comforting ceremonies of
everyday life seem to continue. The freeways are still full of cars.
Nancy Grace comes on TV dependably at 8 p.m. and is there deploring the
latest pervert arrest. The baseball season has ramped up and the teams
are criss-crossing the nation in their chartered airplanes. The stock
market is actually going up -- what's wrong with that?
But there's an equally eerie vibe out there that things are
seriously out-of-whack. We're on the edge of something. We're at the
entrance of a dark passage where some of the ceremonies of daily life
meet resistance. You go to the WalMart and five of your six credit
cards are refused. Uh oh. It begins to dawn on you that you're spending
a quarter of your take-home pay filling up the gas-tank every week.
There's no dial tone when you pick up the telephone. How could all the
supermarkets in town be out of rice? The local hospital just declared
bankruptcy. The neighbors down the street auctioned off all their
furniture in the driveway last week. Why does the cat pick up so many
ticks these days?
Events are not through with us this year. They'll keep moving
where they will whether we believe in them or not. I'm hardly even
convinced that it matters who wins the presidential race this year. It
could end up being the world's biggest booby prize.