There is never enough

So said the fictional character, Volpone. He was, of course, talking about money.

For at least half of the world's population, his words are absolutely true. They don't have enough money even for basic necessities. Then there is a chunk for whom there is hardly ever enough. The people who don't have reliable income, or who live pay check to pay check and sometimes run out before the next one.

Then there are those fortunate enough to belong to the ever-diminishing middle class. Those who have, and keep, well-paid jobs with benefits. Those who have enough to live a comfortable life; they are able to save without scrimping; they are able to invest their savings to provide for retirement and emergencies.

Incomes above what is enough for a good life, almost always involve inheritance or exploitation. More on that elsewhere.

Then, we have the group for whom "there is never enough" takes on the meaning of "you can never have enough". These are the people who haggle over the price of their 3rd yacht or the price of a bauble which they could pay for with loose change. They have more money than they could spend in a life time, but they have become addicted to wealth, and the power it brings. Money becomes a drug, and acquiring wealth an addiction. And as with addicts of all flavors, it does not matter who gets hurt in the process of getting one's fix.

Take the case of the Greenidge power plant in the tiny Fingers Lake's village of Dresden, population c. 300. For reasons that are not quite clear to me, there was a coal-fired power plant, sitting right next to the lake. It was idled for 7 years but in 2014, Atlas Holdings, a Greenwich, Conn. private equity firm, bought the plant and converted it to burn natural gas rather than coal. Over the next few years, the plant’s focus gradually shifted from providing intermittent power to the grid to processing Bitcoin transactions. (Peter Mantius, During that time, their emissions have increased 10-fold. The plant is currently operating at 13% capacity, but is seeking permits to ramp up to 100%. You do the math.

Without any form of current environmental impact study, the DEC has re-issued the permits given to the coal-fired power plant some 50 years ago - before the Clean Air Act.

What does this have to do with Volpone, you may ask? Bitcoin mining is incredibly lucrative. Atlas Holdings knows this and they see a way to make a killing by using their own power plant to support 7,900 (and counting) machines. They are completely ignoring the following facts:

- to control, mitigate, or reverse climate change, we must reduce our energy consumption, not increase it

- bitcoin mining contributes absolutely nothing to the local economy, not even to the economy in general. It does not create jobs.

- Dresden is located in the heart of the wine, agriculture and tourism industry which contributes hugely to the New York State economy.

- Under their current permit, Greenidge is allowed to withdraw, heat and return to the lake more than 130,000,000 gallons of water EVERY DAY. That water can be as hot as 108 degrees. The temperature in Seneca Lake is rising at truly alarming rates, endangering aquatic life, and stimulating toxic algal blooms. It is no exaggeration to say that Greenidge operating at full capacity could kill the lake. 100,000 residents, plus wineries, farms and businesses (some 58,000 jobs) depend on the lake for their livelihoods - and for their lives.

Small contributions to the local fire department (or whatever Atlas has offered), and even more substantial contributions to election campaigns, are not enough to jeopardize the future of the entire Finger Lakes region. You can count on it that if Greenidge is allowed to proceed, others will follow.

Activist groups are working diligently to thwart this obscenity. We have been successful in the past, and we will prevail with this too. I very much fear that it will come down to blocking the gates of the facility to stop expansion activity. That's what we did with Crestwood. The difference is that now I am a citizen and no longer face deportation, I am happy to be the first arrested for trespass, or whatever "crime" they invent.

Featured Posts