March 19, 2008

The Chemistry of the CGS

The Primate Brow has linked seven stages of grief and the CGS. Quoting The Brow:

Here are the seven stages and how they relate to the coming global shitstorm:

1. Shock and Disbelief. Most of us visit this stage daily. For instance, I have trouble believing that we are in a decades-long war to secure oil resources, that the comfort all of us enjoy today will soon be attainable only by the super-rich, that the earth’s environment is irrecoverably ruined. The reality in front of our faces can cause frontal lobe lock if taken in large doses...

2. Denial. This is a deeply entrenched and powerful response. Most Americans spend most of their time enjoying this stage right now. Everyone is an armchair climate expert who somehow knows more than the scientists who have spent their careers studying the issue. There is a big gap between the information we have in front of us and the way we behave. Denial can cause behavior that seems to be opposite of the most logical response. Taking part in ecstatic displays of resource consumption can be comforting. This explains NASCAR. “The American Way of Life is a blessed One!”

I heard a speaker today who said that the 21st century is going to be the century of chemistry. He predicted that there will be a defining moment at mid-century when we will start paying back energy to the ecosystem. (Right now we are running an energy deficit, burning through coal, oil, gas and soil, and harvesting every possible ecosystem from the ocean to the rainforest to the amber waves.) This guy is a Professor from the top Chemistry Department in the U.S. and firmly believes that chemistry, 'Low Energy Science' as opposed to High Energy Physics, will discover a way to convert sea water and carbon dioxide into synthesis stock to feed the petrochemical octopus* using only sunlight. My friend the professor said that Bill Clinton had told him once that the 21st century was going to be the century of biology and he said, No Bill, you're wrong, it's going to be the century of chemistry. Give me a decade and I'll show you. He was optimistic because the current crisis in energy and environment is waking up politicians to chemical issues. BASF, said to be the largest company in Europe, has a new slogan: 'BASF, The Chemical Company'. Could it be that we have turned a corner and chemistry is no longer a dirty word?

*Petrochemical octopus coined in an otherwise ho-hum 2002 article in the South Atlantic Quarterly; '... the petrochemical octopus that feeds and clothes us.'



At March 19, 2008 10:52 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

wow, Matt. You are almost sounding optimistic. thanks for the link


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