Noam Chomsky on Energy & Oil

Political Activist


Limited time on climate change; US going in wrong direction

Economist Robert Pollin's work on a Green New Deal is the best I know. But the task ahead is enormous, and there is not much time. The challenge would be great even if states were committed to overcoming it. Some are. But it is impossible to overlook the fact that the most powerful state in human history is under the leadership of what can only be accurately described as a gang of arch-criminals who are dedicated to racing to the cliff with abandon.
Source: Harrison Samphir interview in Jacobin magazine , Jul 12, 2019

Market can't solve climate change, structural changes needed

Q: How do we move away from neoliberal frameworks that prioritize consumerist freewill to a model that targets, for example, the one hundred companies that are responsible for 71% of global emissions?

CHOMSKY: It's not just a matter of curbing major polluters. Major structural changes are necessary to deal with what is in fact an existential crisis: efficient mass transportation to mention only one example. Far more substantial efforts in decarbonization, to mention another. Here the market is sending all the wrong signals, lethally in this case. Venture capital can make more profit with new apps for iPhones than in long-term investment for decarbonization, which is starved for funds.

Source: Jacobin magazine, 2019 interview series , Jul 12, 2019

Task ahead enormous & there is not much time

Q: If emissions remain unchanged, by 2100 sea levels could rise by more than eight feet. Can we avoid this?

CHOMSKY: If anything like that happens, the calamity will be on a scale that is almost imponderable, most severe for the poorest and most vulnerable, but awful enough for the rest of society as well. And it is not the most threatening current projection. Is there a chance to avoid such catastrophes? No doubt. But the task ahead is enormous, and there is not much time.

Source: Jacobin magazine, 2019 interview series , Jul 12, 2019

Climate-change deniers make crisis urgent

The global environmental crisis is urgent. Even some in the business press are nervous that the new Republicans that were elected are almost entirely climate-change deniers. In fact they quoted one recently who is so off-the-wall he said, "We don't have to worry about global warming because God wouldn't allow it to happen." There has been a major corporate propaganda offensive to try to convince people that the environmental crisis is a liberal hoax. This is an extremely dangerous situation.
Source: Interview with Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun Magazine , Jun 19, 2011

Climate solution's central element should be high-speed rail

Surely the US manufacturing industries could be reconstructed to produce what the country needs, using its highly skilled work force--and what the world needs, and soon, if we are to hope to have some hope of averting major catastrophe.
Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p. 95-96 , Jun 1, 2010

Sign the Kyoto Protocol and rely on UN diplomacy

One commonly hears that critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions. There is an accurate translation for that charge: "They present solutions, but I don't like them." A few simple suggestions for the US have already been mentioned
  1. accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court
  2. sign and carry forward the Kyoto protocols
  3. let the UN take the lead in international crises
  4. rely on diplomatic and economic measures farther than military ones in confronting terror
  5. keep to the traditional interpretations of the UN Charter
  6. give up the Security Council veto and have "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind," as the Declaration of Independence advises
  7. cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending.
For people who believe in democracy, these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to be the opinions of the majority of the US population. They are in radical opposition to public policy
Source: Failed States, by Noam Chomsky, p.262 , Apr 3, 2007

Oil is cheap because Pentagonís expenditures keep it cheap

Postwar development relied on cheap & abundant oil, kept that way largely by threat or use of force. So matters continue. A large part of the Pentagon budget is devoted to keeping Middle East oil prices within a range that the US and its energy companies consider appropriate. The only technical study of the topic concludes that Pentagon expenditures amount to a subsidy of 30% of the market price of oil. Estimates of alleged efficiencies of trade are of limited validity if we ignore such hidden costs.
Source: Profit Over People, by Noam Chomsky, p. 30-31 , Jul 2, 1996

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Page last updated: Oct 28, 2021