When Ignorance is Invincible

By Keith Kloor | March 23, 2011 10:50 pm

This is painful to rehash, but I want to draw your attention to a streak of foreign policy ignorance that persisted in the 2000s. On a related (and more recent) note, four days after President Obama authorized a military campaign against Libya, I found this headline disconcerting:

Who are the Libyan Rebels? U.S. tries to figure out

This got me wondering if there is a similarly willful ignorance (irrespective of political affiliation) with respect to energy policy, along these lines.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Energy, energy policy
MORE ABOUT: Energy, energy policy
  • Roddy Campbell

    Yes, there is.  The basic generalisation that oil energy is only used for transport and agriculture simply does not filter through to most people, on all sides of the energy/green/political/AGW conversation.

    If you start from the premise that oil is non-substitutable by electricity generation, only liquified gas, it simplifies and clarifies enormously, and leaves oil, with all its emotion, nasty foreigners, visible price, Libya, out of the debate.

    (As a by-product, it leaves nasty ethanol as what it is – farming subsidies, bogus energy security, and higher food prices.)

    It’s why in the CO2 debate oil is (largely) irrelevant.  Focus on electricity.

  • David Palmer

    Yes, it is no better in Australia.
    The Australian Government has set a target of a 5% reduction in GHG emissions (the Greens demand 20%) below 2000 levels by 2020. The problem is we were 22% above 2000 emissions by 2008.
    Now our Government thinks putting a carbon tax in place will do the job. Its all magical dreaming with no accountability – our PM will be long gone by then.

  • kdk33

    Or the notion that reducing Austrialian GHG by 5% would mean anything globally.

    Similarly that a US cap & trade would mean anything globally.

    Or that anyone has anything slightly resembling a realistic global decarbonization policy.

  • kdk33

    More interesting to me, but O/T, but KK brought it up. 

    Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bharain, Syria, Iran…  What is the catalyst?  What is the inspiration?  Why, all of a sudden, now?

  • charlie


    Slower growing countries loose purchasing power in global inflation.  If the government isn’t rich enough to cover that up, people can’t eat.  And if you can’t afford food, you tend to revolt.

    North Korea and Zimbabwe are too big exceptions to that rule.

  • http://www.wilsoncenter.org/ecsp Geoff Dabelko

    On who are the rebels, the most startling statistic I have seen was that Libyans from the Eastern part of the country ie the rebels base provided more people than any other country to the contingent of foreign fighters squared off against the US forces in Iraq.

    To what causes the uprisings, Rich Cincotta uses a political demography based model on age structure to look at country profiles and correlate with historical transitions from autocracy to partial and full democracies (using Freedom House measures).  His model suggested 2011 as year Tunisia reached the 50% change of transition toward democracy.  He published it two years ago.  He presented the model at the Wilson Center 3/24 – here is the C-SPAN broadcast http://www.c-span.org/Events/Wilson-Center-Discussion-on-Democracy-in-the-Middle-East/10737420497-1/


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Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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