Author Archive | Kurt Cobb

Does the Earth need saving?

Hardly a day goes by without someone writing or saying that we need to save the Earth. My geologist friends scoff at such language for semantic reasons. The coolish, rocky planet that we call Earth will be fine when humans are long gone, they say. Yes, climate change and human depredations of the biosphere have […]

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The Numbers Don’t Add Up to U.S. Energy Independence

Energy independence sounds good, and that’s why politicians and oil company executives love to say the words. It’s so easy to say, but oh so hard to actually accomplish, which is why the United States has been a consistent importer of oil since the late 1940s. Recent overblown statements about U.S. energy independence from the […]

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Fukushima and our inability to gauge risk

Perhaps the most important energy story on the planet right now is the precarious situation for fuel rods stored in a damaged building at the Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan, site of the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. It’s a story that has actually been important for a while because an earthquake–in […]

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Climate, Keystone and the problem of fossil fuel demand

American political conservatives like to say that their strategy of tax cuts all the time is designed to “starve the beast.” The “beast,” of course, refers to government, and “starving” it means reducing its revenues through tax cuts in order to spur corresponding cuts in spending. They liken their strategy to reigning in a profligate […]

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Our energy future: “They’ll think of something”

With oil prices hovering near historic highs and coal, natural gas and uranium prices yo-yoing during the last several years, concerns about the future of fossil fuel and uranium supplies often elicit the response: “They’ll think of something. They always do.” This kind of thinking is usually premised on the idea that the future will […]

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Are fracked oil and natural gas really “snake oil”?

It’s not exactly clear where the term ” snake oil” comes from. But, most everyone knows that it refers to any number of concoctions sold by traveling salesmen in the 19th century and claimed to have miraculous healing powers. Key to the pitch of these salesmen was the shill, a person working with the salesman, […]

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America: Exporting our way to energy independence?

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. That’s the credo of the oil and gas industry as it continues to lobby for increased oil and natural gas exports from the United States. After all, the industry claims, we’re on our way to achieving energy independence, and we can help our […]

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My energy-rich move across America

Someone once said that the journey is more important than the destination. Given the amount of energy global society consumes each day simply moving people and things from one place to another, we can conclude that this shibboleth has taken hold, but not quite in the way we had expected. My journey–a relocation, actually–across America […]

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