Thursday, July 11, 2019

Will Dunleavy’s Budget Lower Alaska’s Carbon Footprint?

Alaskans use more energy per capita than residents of any other US state.*  Much of the total energy use comes from the development of oil and gas, which is part of the total divided by the population to get average/person.  However, Alaskans are also dependent on most food and goods being shipped in from Outside.  So the transportation costs for those goods mean we use more energy than others in the US.

So, with Dunleavy’s massive cuts, there is surely going to be an equally massive out-migration from the state.  For people losing their jobs, an extra $1000 in PFD isn’t going to pay the mortgage, rent, or other expenses.  Most will not find equivalent jobs in Alaska and will find much better opportunities Outside.

So Alaska’s carbon footprint is likely to go down.  

That’s the silver lining, thin as it might be.

While the blog has focused on Argentina lately, I have been paying attention to Alaska’s summer of heat, fire, and dire budgetary actions.

I watch with dismay [unlike a number of politicians and social media agitators, I tend to understate things] as Alaskans throw logic on the Dunleavy fire, thinking that will make a difference to him.  Logic has already turned those Republicans in the legislature who are not immune to it, and the same for everyday Alaskans.

But it’s my sense of all this that logic has no effect on Dunleavy.  Well, not the logic that starts with assumptions that Alaska matters.   He’s solely listening to his Outside financiers whose agenda is to exploit the resources of Alaska (and anywhere else with exploitable resources) with no concern for the impacts on the state, the climate, or people.  Their Ayn Randian beliefs are that their personal self-interest is all that matters.  They assume their wealth can shield them from the worst of the remnants of a once civilized society.

So, destroying the university is a good thing for them.  It means that there is no independent intellectual, scientific base in Alaska that is capable of raising questions about resource extraction policies, or to question industry reports saying that ‘no harm will be done.’

Cutting government watchdog agencies is good too.  The fewer government employees watching over corporate compliance, the more corporations can get away with.  The cruise ship on-board inspector program, which cost the state nothing, was vetoed out of existence.  So cruise lines can illegally pollute all they want without anyone watching.

Today’s Anchorage Daily News says the department that oversees the  development of the natural gas pipeline is cutting half its staff.  Let’s see how well they’ll be able to spot problems down the line.  Remember when Shell included stuff on manatees in their Chukchi Sea environmental impact statements?  They’d just lifted the language from EIS from Florida.  And it got through the first round of regulators as I recall.

The Koch brothers are making a hostile takeover of Alaska.  This is about power.  The ability to get done what they want.  Logic plays no role.  Well, that’s not quite true.  Their logic is about what they can get away with.  It has completely different assumptions than the logic of most Alaskans.  Their logic is about making as much money as they can, with no concerns about Alaska.  The appeals of all the Alaskans hurt by the cuts are irrelevant to them.  They’re reveling in their power a)  to destroy Alaska as we know it and b) to then exploit it freely.  

And as for Alaska’s carbon footprint?  With increased oil, gas, and other mineral extraction, there may well be an increase despite the people who leave the state.

*The assertion that Alaskans have a larger carbon footprint first came to me in an article by a close relative that looked at the alliance of some environmental groups with anti-immigration groups based on the logic that when poor immigrants come from Central American use more carbon in the US than they did at home, and thus they shouldn’t be let into the country.  That, of course, begs the question about US residents’ moral entitlement to use more carbon than their southern neighbors.  The article also raised the issue of Alaskans using even more carbon  than average US residents.   The link unfortunately only goes to an abstract - I haven’t found free access to the whole article.  People with UAA or Loussac library cards should be able to get access to the article.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.