WAMC JAN 2014
Dr Steven Leibo is the Sage Colleges Professor of International History & Politics
“On Substance Abuse”
Let me be blunt here. We need to stop talking about the climate crisis. In fact, I am sick of hearing about drought driven crop failures, massive storms while sea surges devastate areas around the world, yes, enough with all those warnings about hydro-fracking’s record of polluting underground water.
Let’s face it the conversation we should be having is neither about the disrupted global climate or the explosive growth here in the United States of newer and more dangerous fossil fuels sources. No, what we need to do is sit down with one of those folks that focus on substance abuse. You know those therapists, not scientists not engineers, but therapists who day after day deal with addicts, yes, who have to have their fix of crystal meth, or cocaine, heroin or whatever. Maybe take a counselor from Alcoholics Anonymous out to lunch. Yes, talk more with addiction professionals who day in and day out watch substance abusers destroy their relationships, ruin their families, wreak havoc on their health and wealth.
I am speaking here of course about abusers who simply can’t stop pouring poison into their system even if all the science and logic this world can muster screams at them to stop. Even if day in and day out, they experience the horrific price they pay for their addiction. No, we need some addiction counselors here for substance abuse, but not by individuals but by an entire society addicted to fossil fuels, ever so aptly named by some as the “energy of the dead”
Otherwise how else can anyone explain our willingness to run more and more dangerous fossil fuels through the veins of our civilization like an addict searching for new sources, pushing our drills deeper and deeper in the oceans like a drug addict with a needle, setting off explosions like the Deep Water Horizon and like any junky forgetting about it almost as quickly.
If it is not an addiction how else can we explain our growing obsession with using technologies like fracking that have already been proven to pollute water systems. No, this behavior is the stuff of addiction.
If it is not an addiction, how else do we explain or obsession with the king coal that at this very moment is now making thousands of residents of West Virginia terrified to drink their own water or a few years ago saw massive amounts of coal sludge devastate large parts of Tennessee.
And, can you believe this latest and even more desperate attempt to load all those new and apparently some believe even more explosive substances from North Dakato’a new oil fields on rail lines across North America, entire trains filled with highly toxic and flammable substances moving along North America’s infamously aging and too often rickety train system? A development that is so obvious a threat that it has aroused the concern of organizations from the Sierra Club to the Wall Street Journal.
We are speaking after all of trains that have more than once already derailed and just last summer devastated one town in Quebec, killing forty-seven people, yes, huge trains that are already, even now running right through Albany, NY, WAMC’s home base. And not just passing through but as some would have it turning the New York Capital region into a major hub for processing this newest addictive substance Albany’s own version, if you will of television’s Breaking Bad’s infamous Crystal Meth lab on the waterfront
No this is obviously not about logic, nor science, not about engineering safer energy forms. This is about substance abuse, about chemical addiction and an addictive society desperate for even more fossil fuels regardless of how safe the newer substances or technologies might be.
And until we get some of those experts on addiction, on substance abuse into this conversation we are not going to make progress dealing with one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced
Fossil Fuels Anonymous anyone?