Methane and the Curse of Consciousness

A couple of weeks ago my head exploded. At least, that’s how it felt. It was a critical mass sort of thing.

Look out the window: no winter. Google global temperature: 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded. Google CO2: The Scripps Institution’s Mauna Loa Observatory reports atmospheric carbon dioxide at 399.85 for January, 2015, up about 25% from 1960 and increasing monthly.  Check the Internet: A huge North American fracking boom is lifting the US economy out of its doldrums and extracting huge amounts of fossilized carbon from the graveyards of past epochs.  Read the paper: a 36-in gas pipeline is coming right down Clover Creek Road, headed for Asia. Connect the dots.

Yikes. The dots say we are looking at the end of the world, as we know it.  This perception is obviously problematic. The vast majority of humans, say around 99.9999%, are too busy surviving, striving or playing apocalyptic video games to spend time connecting dots. They do not abide Chicken Little. But perhaps you are also in the .0001 percent. If so, how do we Chickens live with such dreadful knowledge?

Ask Bill McKibben; his head exploded around 1988. Since then he has written at least nine books, fought the Keystone XL pipeline to a standstill and turned out  (with 350.org, a group that he helped found) more than 300,000 marchers for a demonstration last September in New York City. Still, I think Bill would agree that he has not slowed the juggernaut. Capital markets are doubling down on carbon, pumping billions into the fracking and export ‘play’ that includes punching a hole through Oregon to send our methane, aka natural gas, to Asian markets.

Wait, isn’t methane an improvement on coal or oil? Here is what the International Energy Agency had to say in 2011 about turning to natural gas as a “bridge fuel” strategy: “…a large-scale shift to gas would ‘muscle out’ low-carbon fuels and still result in raising the globe’s temperatures 3.5 degrees Celsius—75 percent above the two-degree level that the world’s governments have identified as the disaster line.”

Disaster line. Ouch. OK, here are a few suggestions for coping:

1. Live as though there is a tomorrow.

2. Badger local, state and federal officials, along with any relevant bureaucrats, until they stop the Pacific Connector/Jordan Cove project.

3. Support ‘cap and trade’ and carbon tax legislation for Oregon.

4. Recruit one more Chicken.

5. Ride your bike on the Green Springs and enjoy the balmy winter weather while it lasts.