The basic argument is as sharp as a razor blade:
Why is all of this relevant for climate change policy? Our contemporary economies have become extremely dependent on fossil fuels, just as slave societies were dependent on their slaves – indeed far more than the latter ever were. As one scholar remarked: "That US Congressmen tend to rationalise fossil fuel use despite climate risks to future generations just as southern congressmen rationalised slavery despite ideals of equality is perhaps unsurprising."The author argues that because of these similarities we can also learn from the fight against slavery, in a very practical way and mostly because of two reasons:
And furthermore,For example, the history of the abolition of slavery, in the UK at least, suggests that an incremental approach and the development of compromises worked better at moving the cause forward than hardline stances.
The evidence also implies that slavery came to be challenged and finally abolished when people became aware of an alternative. This alternative – steam power – was of course a great moral improvement until we came to know the consequences of fossil fuel consumption. This, in turn, suggests that we will restrain our use of fossil fuels if we can favour a new energy transition and find clean sources of energy – and that we should concentrate our efforts on developing "green" technologies at the same time as reducing our consumption of fossil fuels.There are some arguments in this article many klimazwiebel readers will not support; anyway, in my reading Mouhot gives an interesting twist to the relation between fossil fuel industry and global warming, which normally ends up in the "skeptic" discussion. That "our addiction to fossil fuel is increasingly destructive" is a statement that might be shared across partisan lines.
What I like most about this article (which is both light-weighted and well argued), is that it opens a line of thought to get out this mess. Even more, it has the air of resistance, a touch of the "occupy Wall Street" energy. Maybe it is indeed time to focus on questions of how to take action instead of endlessly debating that the fossil fuel industry supports skeptical science and the NGOs corrupt science from the other side. Big yawn, once and for all. Why not think about how to get rid of "crude politics" (hope this wordplay works in English!) at all?
(Concerning the case of Texaco in Ecuador - see the image above - there is a disturbing piece in The New Yorker; whatever you get out of it, finally it shows how deeply crude messes up not only our morals and our way of life, but also ruins our sense of reality. We discussed this case before, for example here. Whatever your opinion in this case is - the Ecuador case is not really at debate here - I love the blatant symbolic imagery and the line "the price of oil". The Mouhot article takes on the feeling and brings it into a slightly different context).