Post derecho: I realize I'm the eco-catastrophe

My name is Janis, and I’m an addict. No, not heroin or cocaine or meth. This is worse than a drug. With a drug addiction, you can tell yourself that the only person you’re putting in peril is yourself.

What I’m addicted to is power: the power to animate all my modern conveniences, including electricity for my flatscreen, and gasoline for my Subaru.

For years, I’ve been thinking that I can quit anytime. You know, in case global warming gets to be too much, and we all have to pitch in, and conserve, for real.

I’d always thought that if need be, I could simply do without electricity and figure out how to get around without gas-powered wheels. And then came that bizarre storm, the Derecho. For the first time ever, my husband and I were without power for an entire week. Temperatures hovered around 100 degrees, and there was not the slightest breeze to provide relief.

Our nights were sleepless and sweaty– and not in the good way. No electricity, no generator, no AC, no running water. Downed trees blocked our driveway and surrounding roads. We were miserable, and we were stuck.

Cold-turkey withdrawal is no fun.

Of course, this addiction to power is one that I share with all of you who are reading this. It has allowed us to proliferate and prosper, while simultaneously weakening us. We have lost the skills possessed by our ancestors, who for millennia dealt more or less successfully with the challenges of daily living without disrupting the basic physical systems of our planet.

It’s not as though I haven’t tried to cut back. I have. I’ve got those ugly bulbs with the mercury inside, and sometimes I adjust the AC so it's not so frosty. In winter, I’ve been known to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater. But total withdrawal? Can’t handle it, apparently.

Meanwhile, the Arctic ice is disappearing, oceans are a shocking 30 percent more acidic, and our warming atmosphere now holds five percent more water (so areas not experiencing drought are more likely to endure devastating floods.)

And yet, we are steadily increasing our consumption of fossil fuels and pouring ever more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Thanks to people like me— who have to get into a vehicle and drive for miles to reach a grocery store, and who possess an array of electronic toys, as well as banks of overhead lights embedded in our ceilings (the better to see our computer screens)— we managed to pump a record 34 gigatons of CO2 up into the sky during 2011.

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, there’s an eye-opening article by Bill McKibben, in which he asserts that the enemy in this planet-altering drama is the oil companies. After all, Big Oil has vast heaps of money, which gives them election-changing political power.

At the United Nations Climate Conference in 2009, says McKibben, there was a single area of international agreement: Between now and 2050 (and think of all the people alive today who will still be around in 2050) our atmosphere will be able to handle no more than 565 additional gigatons of spewed carbon dioxide, in order for us to be able to carry on with life as we know it.

Even if we manage to hold the line at last year’s rate of 34 gigatons, we’ll reach the 565-gigaton limit in less than seventeen years.

(As it happens, even before we reach that 565-gigaton limit, much of Africa will be screwed, due to drought, and island nations will disappear below sea level. But hey, that’s not us.)

And, speaking of maintaining life as we know it on planet Earth, we have enough reserves of oil, gas, and coal in the ground right now to exceed that 565-gigaton limit, five times over.

What are the chances that we will restrain ourselves, curb our addiction to power and leave 80% of those reserves in the ground?

If snowballs in hell are springing to mind, then you and I are on the same wavelength.

As with any addiction, a willingness to stop using is fundamental to kicking the habit. Are we willing to go without gasoline? To do without electricity to run our lights, computers, and AC? Our recent power outage provided a painfully clear answer to that question. It’s “Hell, no.”

In classic addict-denial mode, we tell ourselves that what we’re doing couldn’t possibly harm a big ole planet like Earth. And we don’t want to hear what scientists have to say.

We think they’re all dishonest and just making things up. Well, except for a few altruistic ones who happen to work for the big oil companies. They tell us we’re doing just fine, and we want to believe them.

Like the heroin addict, you want to hear that your favorite substance isn’t such a big problem, after all. Stop worrying! Just keep buying that junk and pumping it in. That money you’re spending makes the world go ‘round, you know. The economy depends, absolutely, upon your addiction.

Plus, it’s not really an addiction, because we can stop anytime we really need to. Like if the ocean rises and engulfs low-lying places we care about. Maybe New York City or the Outer Banks. Then we’ll buckle down and make some changes!

But until then, I’ll stay tanked up on gas, and crank up the AC because this has been one hell of a summer.

You can blame the big oil companies if it makes you feel better, but just as the drug cartels would fall apart if we stopped buying illegal drugs, we are enabling Shell, Exxon, et al with our insatiable habit.

The painful truth is that I have seen the enemy: She’s staring back at me in the mirror.
Janis Jaquith realizes that living way out in Free Union is part of the arcadian contradiction.


Individuals altering their energy habits is not the solution, other than putting salve on a one's guilty conscious.

But there is something we can do, and it is the only thing. Elect people committed to government policies that mandate change. Even that may be too little too late, but it's our only chance.

Predictably full of lies and anti-human sentiment. Very trendy, though.

You're not an addict, and your energy consumption has absolutely nothing to do with climate, so go ahead and enjoy. NYC and the Outer Banks will be just fine. If you own a boat, you know this from tide charts that have been unchanged for hundreds of years.

I can never understand why so many believe everything from light bulbs, the cars we drive, and air conditioners affects the climate, but the largest source of heat affecting our planet - the sun - is conveniently overlooked. There has been plenty of reporting on the sun undergoing a very active solar cycle, but some reason too many think SUV's are instead affecting the climate.

And they're putting barium and aluminum oxide in the jet fuel of even passenger planes creating aerosol and particulat chemtrails everywhere in open view of anyone looking up (to say nothing of the high altitude chemtrail spraying blimps that fly so high the naked eye can't see them), there are HAARP style facilities all througout the world, former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen admits there is open weather warfare going on, it's completely obvious governments throughout the world are engaging in weather modification, it's completely obvious that they're blaming the results of their own weather modification operations on industry to destroy what's left of the economy, and it's completely obvious that they think you're so stupid from the fluoride in the water, the mercury in the vaccines, the poison in the gmo, the dirty electricty from cell phones, base stations, and smart grid meters, not to mention the chemtrails themselves, that you will be physically, mentally and spiritually unable to resist the tyranny they plan to impose incrementally, with the help of the dumbed down trendies to keep the scam going.

Sorry, but I disagree with most of the above and agree with Janis. Janis can do better: and so can most of my neighbors Since 1987, I've owned two cars: combined mileage: not quite 160,000 miles. So an average of less than 7,000 miles per year for 25 years. And I've driven from Atlantic to Pacific at least three times during that time. And lived in Los Angeles for seven of those years. My pesonal household has reduced from five to three in the past two years, but my utilities are less that 30% of their 5 member level. The refrigerator & the water heater still work 24/7. It's simply a mindset: if I forgot to stop at the grocery store on the way home today, I wait until tomorrow to do it: I don't go out a second time. Plus, I'm a 40-year vegetarian, which consumes a lot less of everything (10 to 1 ratio: feed the person or feed to animal that feeds the person).

Burying your head in the same and buying everying that McDonalds and Walmart and Exxon tell you to is expensive: today and tomorrow.

Janis is right: she can do better by the planet and so can most of my neighbors.

Somebody needs to add another layer of tinfoil to their hat; the mind control rays are still getting through..
But seriously, the recent long midsummer power outage (a very rare event) drives home why this area and most of Crackerstan was so sparsely populated before the advent of cheap AC. Eliminate AC and watch Charlalbemarle's population drop from 125K to about 12K over the course of 10 years.

Humans really cant stand people. They blame them for everything and wouldn't be surprised if one day they rid the planet of them.

My father used to have a button that said "I love
humanity. It's people I can't stand." Thanks for
reminding me. I think living without AC is doable
but you have to change your life. One old trick
is to put ice in front of your fans=homemade AC.

Absolutely ridiculous. There is no reason whatsoever for Janis to do "better". She is doing just fine, and not doing anything wrong. It's called a modern lifestyle, and a modern lifestyle has absolutely no effect on the planet whatsoever. Try living in the many primitive societies around the world without. I'm sure it's not fun.

I drove my '93 Lincoln Town car over 300,000 miles in 11 years. So since I keep and maintain my cars a long time, I guess I'm saving the planet too. How ridiculous.

This is America. And for REAL Americans, America have never been about doing with less. When did all this Euro minimization start here?

Do you think any of the energy conservation efforts made any difference in Japan when that 9.0 earthquake and tsunami came along? All those compact florescent bulbs, solar panels, and hybrid cars really were insignificant against the power of mother nature. All it takes is one volcano or forest fire - both of which we have little control over - to undo years and years of turning down thermostats and changing light bulbs.

I cannot understand why people fail to see the logic of this and continue to wallow in absurd folly, thinking they're going to save the planet like some kind of superhero. When it comes down to it, we are all extremely insignificant relative to the planet and universe.

They love beings slaves and hating people who don't want to be slaves like them. It's what their friends believe, those friendships were bonded by the shared self-loathing and nature worship that they all were implanted during their "education" and countless subliminals they were subjected to listening to NPR and watching David Attenborough, and to admit it was all a lie to subjugate them would mean they would feel a responsibility to wake up their friends to the scam and subject themselves to the ridicule that would ensue and it's easier to continue to pretend, especially when all their friends are doing the same. Too much invested in the lie to turn back now.

And somebody might think they're a Christian conservative if they woke up. Not gonna do it.

@AngelEyes: Thanks for the first out loud laugh at a Hook post.

"But seriously, the recent long midsummer power outage (a very rare event) drives home why this area and most of Crackerstan was so sparsely populated before the advent of cheap AC."

Hey denialists, of course the sun affects the climate. So do we. It's not a sum zero game. It's real simple - we have sewers and toilets in because we need to keep our environment clean. Yes, mother nature can wipe us out in the blink of an eye, but we can still affect our environment.

The elite distract you with phony environmental issues while they use environmentalism to land grab and shut down competition while they always get the waiver because they bought the politicians who write the bills and head the agencies. It's not about the environment at the top, it's about control. We could be paying 50 cents a gallon at the pump and a nickel a kilowatt hour if people didn't accept paying more because of the "for the earth" fraud. The city council talks about the envrionment non-stop while they dump toxic waste marked with skull and crossbones directly into the public water supply. I guess that's good since humans are bad but it's poisoning the fish and birds and salamanders and box turtles too

I think if the government got OUT of the energy sector you would see more innovation in the green sector. If it truly works and is truly the best way to provide energy that we all need then the dollars will gravitate there. Money is always found were there is opportunity and potential.

Denialists... how I just love that term... a term that is often used to describe anyone who does not believe in something that cannot scientifically be proven.

It is truly amazing how the "non-denialists" believe in global warming - or "climate change" as they now conveniently call it to cover both their bases - don't believe in God, but they do believe in the word of some (not all) scientists.

Consensus is NOT science. Science is something that can be proven, like water boiling at 212F or freezing at 32F. It is consistent, and can be replicated. Global warming or man made climate change does not fit this criteria and therefore is not science, but religion... and a pagan religion at that.

I think the time of Prometheus's suffering for sharing with humans the secret of fire, may be coming to an end. Energy, or electricity, flows through matter, makes it dance, brings it to life, starts the phenomena of time. Fire is matter surrendering that force all at once. It manifests for an instant in a blaze of glory and then dematerializes, zaps out of the matrix, leaving what was once a log or a lump of coal, collapsed back to dusty ash, which is to say, carbon divorced from electricity.

Legend tells that once the Gods, Extraterrestrials, Bigger than the Matrix, walked the Earth. Humans were more like monkeys back then, wielding little power against the forces of nature. They were simple creations of the Earth without a clue to how greatly their species would in time shape this planet. What separates a God from a simple creation is that a God can harness the Direct Current of Life and use it to manifest his will in the matrix. Prometheus was one of such, and for some treasonous, treacherous, glorious reason he felt pity for those lowly cave-dwelling creatures who were slouchily starting to stand upright and communicate, starting cycles of tradition through generations. He gave them power, which the gods had denied them previously, out of fear that it would be too much for them to handle. It's said he's still being punished in another dimension.

The tale of Man's Progress has been one of ever-increasing fluency in the art and magic of hijacking the spirit flowing through matter and re-directing it to fulfill our (often violent and short-sighted) desires. It's been synonymous with the mastery of fire. Just a few generations ago we dreamed up a way to use fire to make engines spin, turning the gears of monstrous mechanical creations to work for us with strength and speed that made a man's body seem feeble in comparison. Then they discovered that coal and oil could be burned in these engines, and that the engines could be used to isolate an electrical current.

Now we're at a time when everything that we do in our lives is dependent on burning those fossilized remains of an extinct world. The utilization of fire is no longer a gift and a privilege- we think we need it for our basic survival, and we fear that this addiction will bring our world to extinction as well.

The reason I started this thought with the suggestion that perhaps poor Prometheus will soon be pardoned, is because I think it's necessary and inevitable that humans are now evolving to the point that we will no longer use combustion to redirect electricity according to our desires.

The harm which results from the use of fossil fuels far outweighs any benefit. The amount of carbon dioxide trapped in the stratosphere as a result of all this fire may or may not be the reason why the polar ice caps have suddenly melted and a huge hole is growing in the ozone layer. Because those issues are still up for debate, I won't even go into that. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the resulting mass-extinction and poisoning of the water (truly our most valuable resource,) the wars which Capitalist leaders are continuously waging on oil-rich third world countries as a means of stealing their bounty- those are some serious crimes whose only justification is that they helped us feed our habit for a little while longer.

This sin and suffering is completely unnecessary. There are so many alternative means of harnessing the electricity innately present in nature. People are used to having the system take care of them, but it's time to regain our independence. Like a cancer or a parasite, the system will continue draining its host right unto death. If we want a new world, we have to build it ourselves, starting at home. Research and invest in hydro, thermal, and solar energy sources. Research torus energy conductors that take a small electrical current and duplicate it exponentially by directing it through the center of a donut shape of coiled copper wire. Sell your gas car and buy diesel, run for free on waste veggie oil. Bring your own bag to the grocery store, bring your own containers and buy in bulk so you don't have to deal with all that hideous plastic packaging. Knowing we have a problem is the start to finding a solution, but don't just feel guilty and continue on the path that is wrong but easy because you've been doing it for so long. We still have inner strength and the ability to think independently, despite the fluoride laced water we've been forced to drink. Put it to use and take personal accountability for your energy consumption desires.