What If The Fossil Fuel Industry Gets Its Way? A Look At The Year 2030

by Jorge Madrid

The fossil fuel industry is aggressively pushing its drill-everywhere-drill-anything agenda, which would open up every square inch of America to extraction. So what would happen if we gave the industry what it wants?

Today, the Center for American Progress released “America’s Future Under ‘Drill, Baby, Drill,’” describing where we may be in the year 2030 if we continue down the path of fossil fuel dependency that the American Petroleum Institute (API) advocates a report on the organization’s “vision,” also released today.

If you ask API, that vision means opening up significant portions of our oceans that are currently off-limits to drilling; turning large swaths of our pristine public lands into areas for extraction; and pushing shortcuts in the environmental and public health review process to speed up permits.

In short, Big Oil wants a free ride to “Drill Baby Drill” straight into our children’s future.

But at what cost?

CAP’s report illustrates some of the costs we may incur if Big Oil gets its way: Intensifying heat waves, drought, and accelerated sea-level rise become a normal part of our warming, unchecked, carbon-spewing world. Public health impacts in the U.S. from smog and ozone quadruple, global food prices rise, and water scarcity exacerbates already-worsening conditions in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

What will our economy look like under the “Drill Baby Drill” scenario? Consumers will be more vulnerable to spikes in the global oil market as clean energy and efficiency become an afterthought; public health costs add up as lawmakers strip needed regulations; and America misses an opportunity to invest in a globally-competitive clean energy sector, thus ceding leadership to China, India and Europe.

Of course, we can’t predict what 2030 will exactly look like. But we do have a massive body of scientific evidence showing us we must reduce emissions quickly today — otherwise, it will be too late.

Big Oil can no longer pretend that its vision is consistent with a prosperous, healthy future. Making our country more reliant on fossil fuels is good for the largest, most profitable companies in the world — but it’s terrible for society.

And now, come with us into the dystopian future, to the year 2030…

Jorge Madrid is a Research Associate for Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress.

6 Responses to What If The Fossil Fuel Industry Gets Its Way? A Look At The Year 2030

  1. Solar Jim says:

    Our dystopian present is entrenched in Westernized nation-state economics defining (via direct, indirect and externalized subsidies) underground matter (uranium and fossil carbon) as “form of energy,” when we all know these are forms of matter.

    The resulting toxic contamination from radiological poisons and carbonic acid gas is, in an overused word, unsustainable. That is, leading toward collapse. Civilization seems to be substantially composed of a perverse political economy which does not yet acknowledge the difference between a resource of energy and a resource of matter. Thus we drift toward numerous types of disintegration, including that of mile high planetary ice sheets as well as vital oxygen generators: phytoplankton and forests.

    All this while much of “discretionary spending” is for armaments, which are based on uranium and fossil carbon. Perhaps we need to “connect the dots.”

  2. SecularAnimist says:

    Unfortunately, if GHG emissions continue at their current (increasing) pace, then CAP’s “dystopian” vision of a globally-warmed 2030 is probably optimistic.

    Why? Because it suggests that there will still be a functioning, organized society to struggle with the worsening problems of global warming.

    But at the rate we are going now, by 2030 a functioning, organized society may be a thing of the past.

  3. James Cole says:

    The “Drill Baby Drill Scenario” is indeed the most likely outcome in America. No matter the political party in power, the fossil fuel industry has nailed down it’s support from both parties.
    Seriously, as far as America and now China are concerned, it is a race to get energy and burn it. Simply put, the time has run out, yet this has not slowed fossil fuel burning it has accelerated it!
    The CO2 figures from last year tell the story. China is out of control. The US is out of control. Worst case scenarios are now conservative. Look at how fast the concentrations are rising.
    The Russia discovery of massive arctic methane plumes off of east Siberia have pretty much closed the book on where we are headed. Remember, CO2 is rising faster every year, yet we already see these huge methane plumes growing. We know permafrost is melting faster than anyone ever dared predict. Are we already past the tipping point?
    I’ll go out on a limb here and say “Yes”. I am sorry to say this, but I think we have already written the future. Our kids are in for a disaster, and maybe us parents will also be around to see what we have done.

  4. M Tucker says:

    Things have become pretty dystopian already. With the oil and gas drilling that is already happening many are suffering and it is not just because of contaminated water. I have not heard much so far but I don’t live in Pennsylvania or Colorado. I have heard about plums of gas that waft through cities and communities causing illness and are making people pass out. If you live there you would already be aware of the bitter fighting that has been underway for quite awhile now. That is our present and it will become more widespread as fracking for oil and gas expands to other states. California might continue to resist offshore drilling but Governor Moonbeam is tempted to allow fracking of the Monterey formation. He has become very economically pragmatic in his dotage. Cash strapped states will welcome the increase in revenues that the fossil fuel companies pay for the privilege of making people sick, poisoning our environment and increasing the rate of GHG buildup.

    I don’t think we need to imagine drilling on “every inch” just keep up with what is happening: drilling off the west coast of Greenland, drilling off the coast of Cuba, frantic exploration in Kansas, increasing supply from N Dakota, coal plants in China and India (they lead the world in that department). Keep abreast of the ever increasing GHG concentrations and set the dials on the climate models to worst case.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The basic problem is that ‘society’ is dominated by perverse psyches in the form of a rampant Rightwing and the socio-economic system they have created, neoliberal or ‘market’ capitalism. This system, that values nothing but money, that raises greed and egomania to the status of the highest ‘virtues’, that establishes a system of dog-eat-dog competition on the basis of extreme fear and hatred of others, that sees no problem with the immiseration of most of humanity to enrich a tiny, parasitic, elite, operates by commodifying everything to maximise profits. No value attaches to anything but its monetary value as a commodity. It is a pretty plain recipe for turning everything living into the dead stuff of capital, which is precisely how it has turned out. Trillions in ‘wealth’, hundreds of trillions in ‘derivatives’, billions in salaries and bonuses, all paid for by widespread poverty and misery, and a collapsing life-support system for our species.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Absolutely! Greece is now being threatened with a military takeover if the public votes in the wrong manner ie against their further immiseration and impoverishment. The Right’s preference for violence will soon manifest itself, in a manner reminiscent of the 1930s, only far, far, worse, given the ecological crises.