When I read The Shock Doctrine for the first time, I wrote that it was a little like watching pieces of a puzzle fall before me and being able to see the larger picture for the first time ever. It completely changed the way I filter news and issues.
I've been watching the events in Ukraine and the American response to it with an eye to how this would be exploited. When I read the Big Oil was taking meetings with Putin and ignoring the threat of sanctions, I realized that the Shock Doctrine was in play in Ukraine as well. The author, Naomi Klein, has noticed the same thing:
Now the crisis du jour is conflict in Ukraine, being used as a battering ram to knock down sensible restrictions on natural gas exports and push through a controversial free-trade deal with Europe. It's quite a deal: more corporate free-trade polluting economies and more heat-trapping gases polluting the atmosphere – all as a response to an energy crisis that is largely manufactured.
Against this backdrop it's worth remembering – irony of ironies – that the crisis the natural gas industry has been most adept at exploiting is climate change itself.
Never mind that the industry's singular solution to the climate crisis is to dramatically expand an extraction process in fracking that releases massive amounts of climate-destabilising methane into our atmosphere. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases – 34 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the latest estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And that is over a 100-year period, with methane's power dwindling over time.
It's far more relevant, argues the Cornell University biochemist Robert Howarth, one of the world's leading experts on methane emissions, to look at the impact in the 15- to 20-year range, when methane has a global-warming potential that is a staggering 86-100 times greater than carbon dioxide. "It is in this time frame that we risk locking ourselves into very rapid warming," he said on Wednesday.
And remember: you don't build multibillion-dollar pieces of infrastructure unless you plan on using them for at least 40 years. So we are responding to the crisis of our warming planet by constructing a network of ultra-powerful atmospheric ovens. Are we mad?