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Blowing Up Pipelines

Let's leave fossil fuels in the ground.

From the CBC at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/suzuki-pipeline-apology-blown-up-1.6262738
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/indigenous-groups-say-big-oils-pollution-threatens-existence-canadian-rcna5946
Environmentalist David Suzuki has apologized for saying pipelines would be "blown up" if government leaders don't take action on climate change. Suzuki made the comments during an interview with CHEK News on Saturday, amid a protest in Victoria organized by the environmental group Extinction Rebellion. "We're in deep, deep doo-doo," Suzuki said at the time. "And the leading experts have been telling us for over 40 years. This is what we've come to. The next stage after this, there are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don't pay attention to what's going on."

I don't advocate violence either but we have to acknowledge the violence that is happening now with pipelines. The pipelines are violence in themselves when they are pushed onto people who don't want them. The damage caused by oil spills is violence and spills are not rare. So pipeline builders just ARE violent. They don't advocate violence - the just do it. They do advocate violence against people who interfere with pipeline construction.

A similar situation applies with the logging industry that is attacking the old growth forests. The First Nations people who live there don't want that to happen. They have a lot of supporters. At the moment those people are being attacked by the police. I think that that is violence.

And blowing up pipelines is violence for sure. It may be the only way of preventing their construction.

Pipelines are very vulnerable. They are thousands of miles long going through the wilderness. If the pipeline was attacked before it was actually filled with oil then there would be no threat of pollution but billions would have been spent by the builder. If the pipeline couldn't be opened then eventually the builders would go broke.

I'm reading a book called Fossil Capital by Andreas Malm. It talks about how fossil fuels came to be our main source of energy as opposed to water or wind power. Water and wind are very viable energy sources but they require a lot of social co-operation. That is, each factory owner would have to co-operate with all the others to get the benefit. With fossil fuel each factory owner could be independent of that kind of co-operation. Even 150 years ago the air pollution from burning fossil fuel for energy was huge but the capitalists didn't care. What they cared about was making a profit and dumping smoke into the air didn't cost them.

That's violence too.

Fossil Capital speaks of 2 kinds of energy source - stock and flow. Flow is stuff like running water powering waterwheels - the energy source - the water - is basically free once you build the infrastructure. Solar and wind power are flow. Fossil fuels are stock - you buy them.

According the Fossil Capital researchers have found that it's technically and economically feasible to switch almost all of our energy needs to electricity produced by flow in 10 years. I haven't read that research but it seems plausible to me. Of course this won't happen. The reason is pretty easy to see. The capitalists have trillions of dollars invested in fossil fuel infrastructure (refineries, pipelines, supertanker, networks of gas stations) that would all become worthless if we switch our energy source to flow. And a lot of that infrastructure takes decades to pay for itself - the capitalists aren't about to just shut that stuff all down. And now we can see the perniciousness of that infrastructure. Once its built it takes decades to pay off. So a new pipeline now locks us into many decades of using fossil fuels. That is plain bad when there are so many reasons to not use that polluting stuff. I think its a kind of violence against humanity and the ecosystem. The capitalist doesn't care any more than a gang leader cares for the people he murders.

If people start blowing up pipelines we're into a lot of trouble. There is no way that it's a good idea for vigilantes to take things into their own hands. The only good way out of this mess is for government to shut those projects down. Government should work for the benefit of people and not for the benefit of violent capitalists.
What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.