THE BLOG
12/17/2010 02:17 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Wizards of Finance -- Part 2

One of the most interesting thing about carbon energy is its propensity for continuous monetization. The definition of sustainable energy includes perpetual utilization of the free. So of course capital has proportionally less interest in sustainability. And they're a clever lot, those wizards.

Massey Coal is an easy target with its bloody hands and charismatic dictator (though he just stepped down), but there are numerous other less visible, but equally pernicious practitioners of mountaintop removal coal mining shuffling up to the wizard's window with outstretched hands looking for money to grease the wheels of industry. And apparently the wizards are only too happy to oblige, as long as the supplicant has a clean media skin, once again proving the sound ROI on greenspeak.

After my last piece about the finance of mountaintop removal mining, and the effect that we citizens could have by expressing our concerns to same bankers, my friend Rob Perks at NRDC (one of the most knowledgeable people I know on things coal) called me to task on the facts. Turns out that the long list of august financial institutions had, with the exception of Credit Suisse, continued to extend credit to the other removers of mountains, just shying away from the bad reputation risk. So if we want there to be any Appalachia for our grandchildren, call your bank and tell them you disapprove of MTR.

Back to the link between capital and carbon energy, it seems that salvation, as Luther realized, is in the hands of the individual. Just as his theses shook the foundation of the Catholic Church, any significant movement to sustainability will strike at the lords of black energy, and they will lay waste to oppose it (witness the Koch Brothers efforts to disinform us about climate change).

Decentralization plus capital decoupling is the key to a sustainable energy future. The carbon energy infrastructure consumes a significant proportion of its production feeding itself. This is particularly evident looking at the brown coal operations in Germany, where giant dinosaurs eating the earth are feeding their remote stomachs (the power plant) via conveyor, all the while tethered to it with an electrical umbilical. As long as turning on the lights depends on desecration of remote landscapes (always in the backyard of the powerless), the impact will always come back to haunt us (2010 is the warmest year yet).