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Episode 5

Micro-plastics, climate protest, fake solutions to climate change and Chevron Oil

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On micro-plastics, geo-engineering, chevron, occidental, BHP, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Danone, Unilever, generating electricity from wood and climate change protests

Burning Wood for Electricity / The Conversation


Episode Transcript:

Hi, I am The Angry Clean Energy Guy, Assad Razzouk. This is episode five and I am so happy you’re here. Thank you. This week I’m going to rant about microplastics, bioenergy, climate protests, fake solutions to climate change like GeoEngineering and inevitably a big bad big oil corporate, Chevron oil.

I have news for you in case you didn’t know: You are all eating and drinking plastic. You should know by now that microplastics were found in 90% of the bottled water of the entire world. Microplastics. So that’s what’s generated when common household plastic enters the environment and breaks into tiny little particles which then make their way into the fish and into our groundwater. Everything, all the animals eat, the vegetables, you have contaminated everything. 

Well, we now know that we are all breathing plastic also. We’re not just eating it and drinking it. This lovely piece of news, I mean, I don’t know about you, but I just love the thought of eating plastic and drinking it and the news that I’m also breathing it. It made me so happy. This lovely piece of news, the fact that we’re now breathing plastic came to us because scientists just discovered that in the Pristine Pyrenees mountains of France and Spain, microplastics are landing at the rate of 365 particles per day on every square meter every day.

Now that’s the same rate at which they’re landing in central Paris, nothing less then a bombardment of microplastics on earth, nature and earth. Everywhere we’re being carpet bombed by plastic and we didn’t even know and it makes me so angry. Meanwhile, of course, polluters aren’t paying for any of the plastic dumped on us and there are two of these groups of polluters. First, there are the people who gave us plastic because it all comes from oil. So that would be big oil and gas and petrochemicals companies. And then the second group of polluters is those taking advantage by dumping plastic on us without any thought or control. Some of the biggest companies in the world, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Nestle, Dannon, Kraft, Procter and gamble, Unilever, Mars, Colgate, Palmolive, and hundreds of other brands. Hundreds which who by the way, all of whom pretend on their website to care about the environment, which just makes me so angry when I get to that section.

Now, why is that? Why are all these companies going wild on plastic? Because it’s cheap. That’s why, and they make a lot of money out of it. And why is it cheap? Because at source, the oil and gas and petrochemical companies are not paying for their environmental damage. They’re not paying for any of the destruction and neither are the consumer facing companies like Coca Cola or Pepsi or Nestle or Unilever. Now, both oil and gas and big corporates are of course making money hand over fist from the environment, from the environmental destruction they’re causing, but not paying for it. 

How difficult is it to tax all plastic producers to price plastic out of the system? How difficult is that? I would imagine it’s very easy and even better – do what the EU did. Ban single use plastic everywhere. When you hear the line that it’s all our fault, it’s all the consumer’s fault that we’re using so much plastic, be very suspicious. That narrative is most likely coming from mouthpieces of big oil. We all of course have a role to play in tackling plastic pollution, but in reality, we, the individual consumers are the only ones bearing the burden. The other ones are just running away to the bank with sacks full of money. There’s only so much we can do if companies don’t step up and provide sustainable choices and governments don’t step up and just tax plastic out of our system. We have substitutes. We don’t need it. Well, at least 90% of it, we don’t need it.

Speaking of big oil, did you see a recent story that every year the five largest publicly owned oil and gas companies spent $200 million on lobbying designed to control delay or block climate policy everywhere, while at the same time expanding their oil and gas extraction activities? Now, I’ve spoken about that in a previous podcast, this climate bullying, but that’s just $1 billion a year spent by BP Shell, Exxon, Chevron, and Total alone. But $1 billion a year in destructive climate bullying is not all that’s going on. First of all, don’t forget that some of the biggest oil companies in the world are actually not publicly listed and we don’t know what they’re doing. And that’s the state owned company like Saudi Aramco who alone made $110 billion of profits selling us poison last year, $110 billion. Now that number, that billion dollar lobbying number is an absolute minimum of what these big, bad companies are doing.

Let me just give you one example of why that’s the case. You may have heard about Geo-engineering. That’s putting lots of stuff in the atmosphere to avert warming by diverting the rays of the sun or masking the effects of our greenhouse gas pollution or whatever. But it’s all science fiction because if it sounds like science fiction. This is science fiction. These are lies peddled through that deceiving word Geo-engineering, and they make me so angry. So let me translate the word Geo-engineering for you for the next time that you hear it first. It means that we have a very good excuse to keep burning fossil fuels and increasing CO2 concentration because allegedly we’ve solved the climate problem through Geo-Engineering, which of course doesn’t exist, but you know that’s what they mean when they use that word. Second, of course you Geo-engineering is going to be a very expensive cost we have to bear forever. We have to pay for it forever because the same people selling us Geo-engineering are producing more and more oil and gas and want to do a lot more of it and I’ll tell you who they are in a second. Third, I don’t care how much you do in terms of Geo-Engineering, it will not end. It cannot scale to the size of the climate change problem we have. Fourth, if that’s not enough, Geo-engineering it turns out requires lots of natural gas to get the CO2 out of the air of course, because how else can we justify producing even more natural gas and oil? Now finally, we have of course, no idea whatsoever what the Geo-engineering impacts will be on us and on our ecosystems. None, but that doesn’t stop lots of money going to back it. So now I am very happy to translate Geo-engineering slightly differently for you: It’s a fig leaf for the fossil fuel industry and you know, isn’t it just more efficient to not pollute in the first place? I mean, come on.

Chevron, those good guys again, Occidental Petroleum and mining company BHP, for example, loved Geo-engineering so much. They recently gave a random company $68 million to play with in that field. It’s got a friendly sounding name, mind you, Carbon Engineering, and they gave it $68 million to sell us science fiction that we don’t need so that they can pretend that we’ve solved the climate change problem. I mean, come on. That just makes me so angry.

I read recently a report that the electricity generated from wood was on a 10 year roll from 2004 to 2014 but thankfully, at least in the United States, the expansion of power generated from wood has come to an end. Mind you, that’s just the expansion. That means we’re just using as much as we were in 2014 but it’s just not going up anymore. Now, have you ever been to Kalimantan in Indonesia, for example, to check out a timber plantation? I have. It’s ugly and I can tell you there is no way you can generate woodchips sustainably from any emerging market. I can accept that maybe you can do it in Sweden, but there is no way you can do it in the Amazon, in Congo or Indonesia. And I’ve been on enough timber plantations to know the freak show that’s going on over there to pretend it’s all sustainable woods. So whenever you hear about bio energy, ask yourself, is this coming from forests in any way? If it is, think deforestation, think biodiversity, think corruption, think animal extinction and most importantly think bioenergy from wood is most likely evil.

Thank you so much for listening to me, The Angry Clean Energy Guy this far. There are never enough angry subjects in the fight against climate change.

My loser of the week is Chevron, the infamous oil company for pretend to sell us Geo-engineering solutions that don’t work in order for them to drill more oil that we don’t need and that we can’t have. Chevron, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

My winner of the week are the 1,000 climate change activists arrested after eight days of London protests because, and I’m not being dramatic, it’s not okay to live in a society where we are not arresting ecological criminals, but we are arresting the men and women who expose the ecological crimes. It’s not okay. Ecological and climate catastrophe mean among much other suffering the erasure of our future and of our past.

Thank you for listening and don’t hesitate to send my way. Any questions you have about clean energy, climate change, or whatever you like. Stuff in the green space that makes you angry is always very welcome. Have a wonderful week.

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About Me

There is so much to be angry about, if you are a clean energy guy.

Every day, so many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us. And I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying.

Each week, I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about – and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar or wind power, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, wildlife, the oceans and other related topics.

Assaad Razzouk

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