The Mirror Tells No Lies

On the bulletin board of the crumbling marine field station, there is a poster.

The poster sells –

C’mon. What else do posters do? The key datum is not whether they’re selling something, but what the something is that they’re selling.

As I was saying. The poster sells the new indie movie Dirty Business. The movie that strives to make its makers rich and famous by getting you to buy in to environmental rabble-rousing. “‘Clean coal’ isn’t clean!”, they yell. “Come on! We’ve got to stop this! Follow us!

I look out into the parking lot of the crumbling marine field station, full of people who will likely be at the screening of this film, of people with professional training in the environmental sciences who already know that ‘clean coal’ isn’t clean, and that even if it were, burning it would exacerbate global climate change, which they know is a fact of nature, not some academician’s conspiracy.

The parking lot is full of cars.

Inside, lights are on, computers are running (whether in use or not), cell phones are charging – and the conversations are about the outrageous prices for gasoline and electricity, and when the furnace is going to be fixed so we can get some heat in this place.

As has been reported in several technical and press reports lately, the cheapest and easiest way for the energy industries to meet the demand for petroleum products in the face of declining petroleum stocks is to make use of so-called Fischer-Tropsch processes. Which, essentially, make petroleum out of natural gas and (NB) gasified coal (this is the ‘clean coal’ technology they’re talking about). Except for algae, biofuels are a cruel joke, costing far more in land, water, and processing than they produce in energy – and algae aren’t anywhere near ready to perform at the speed of business. Crede expertum.

Stocks of both natural gas and coal are projected to last well into the 22nd century. By which time the planet will be flooded and we won’t have any place to drive our cars anyway. But we all know that anthropogenic global warming is a figment of Al Gore’s failed political rehabilitation campaign imagination.

My credo: People tell lies. Even to themselves – sometimes, especially to themselves. But the mirror tells no lies. Held up to the record of your daily activities and mine, it records the truth. And it is here that the people who make the world work (read: your energy companies) are looking.

Quoth the mirror: If you drive, if you heat or cool your home, if you spend hours with your electronics, and – above all – if you complain to the skies about the prices you pay for the energy to do all this, you have voted for ‘clean coal’. And your solemn pronouncements to the contrary don’t mean a fucking thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to shut down this computer and get to work. Work (that crumbling marine laboratory) is a little over two miles away. It’s about a forty-minute walk.

I’ll probably be the only one who walks to work. As usual.

But so what. Academics, especially those in the environmental sciences, lost their credibility long ago anyhow. ‘Don’t practice what you preach, huh?’ Ask Reg and Syd. Or any Tea Partier.


  1. I need to get this computer to charge from my Prius on an eternal downslope. Those are not so rare as they were.

  2. Funny (like a crutch) you should mention “eternal downslope”, Dawg. I saw this comment just seconds before finding out about the US/Allied bombing of Libya and the Tea Party cutoff of funds for National Public Radio (along with everything else that doesn’t fit the short-term profit projections of the multigazillionaire moguls to whom they genuflect. I suppose, on the bright side, the 25% increase in the price of gasoline this week might reinterest the oil companies in algal biofuels. Or (since we know that AGW doesn’t exist) it might send them on a buying spree for coal seams. Probably the latter. People don’t seem to realize that a great European nation, while under economic duress, voted in a pack of Tea Partiers. Except that they called them National Socialists. A few millions of the citizens of that great European nation didn’t live long enough to regret their decision.

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