Divestment Transparency

We like to think we can see the true nature of the world around us, or at least, that we have a chance of understanding it. In February, the Irish government took a big step towards revealing how the fossil fuel infrastructure really works. How? By halting all public investment in fossil fuels like coal,…

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Fueling Fossil Feelings

Over the past year, a variety of elections, polls and movements have demonstrated that, for all the endless access we have to information, we are entering an era that emphasizes acting on emotions and fears rather than weighing facts. Maybe it’s because the constant tsunami of facts threaten to overturn our personal vessels – it’s…

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What We Do In The Dark

Almost everything about fossil fuels, by definition, happens in the dark. The organisms that form coal, gas and oil form in the dark; they are extracted from deep dark places that are under water, under mountains, beneath broad plains. From well to tank, most oil never sees the light of day unless there’s a leak,…

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Scrapping Rigs

There’s something mesmerizing about scrap yards. Especially the big ones. All those big objects, the sum of an equation involving perceived requirement, raw materials, engineering and time. So much time. Time at the front end of process, in extracting the materials for production, time in the production itself, time in the use of those objects,…

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Glacial Flight

My visit to Alaska last week, to attend a memorial for a young friend, was marked by both tears and laughter. Tears because of his tragic and early death, laughter in memory of his brilliant and raucously funny spirit. In the midst of this, I was offered a chance to take a flight over the…

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Deficit Day

According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), today marks the point at which “humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.” They call it Overshoot Day. Most of the analogies I see in the press use financial lingo and banking talk to describe this…

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Shifting Outlines

How a map is drawn says more about the interests and intentions of the cartographers than it does about the space it describes. Take, for example, these various maps of the Arctic. For most of human existence, the Arctic has been a place of myth, fascination and exploration. For a very few, it’s been home.…

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Arctic Oil Hubris

The U.S. government has approved plans by Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling for oil off the Alaskan coast this summer. This comes after years of industry lobbying to explore what some estimate to be major oil deposits in the Chukchi Sea. Some estimates run up to 15 billion barrels. On the one hand, the…

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The Shape of Absence

Absence of information has the curious characteristic of being innocuous as long as it goes unnoticed, and undeniably intriguing once it becomes apparent. Once you notice something is missing, you can’t stop looking at the hole where it should be and wondering what should actually be there. For example, a recent report published by the…

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Subterranean Lines

The bulk of the fracking boom currently underway in the United States is not only in one of the least populated and remote states, North Dakota (population 724,000 – and it’s only that large because of the fracking boom and all the new workers there), but it also takes place mostly underground. Sure, there are…

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