It doesn’t take many days in one’s life of consumerism to recognize that “vital information” provided to you by someone selling something is to be taken with a grain of salt, to put it mildly. A sexy model draped over the hood of a car is not indicative of the life you will lead if you buy those wheels, unless that sort of thing happens to you regularly at present. Information from special interest groups who have vested interests, careers and/or funding to protect therefore need a little scrutiny.
The petroleum industry knows this well. There is a bulls-eye on its back; a whole movement is determined to destroy it. Any message that comes out of the oil patch is immediately discredited. Any questioning of climate science or advocating of fossil fuels is attacked as “sponsored by the oil industry,” a tag which is offered as proof of villainy. The choice is made to be perfectly stark: either support fossil fuels or support the environment. Either support petroleum or support your children’s future. As one typical website puts it “Our lives depend on moving America off fossil fuels.”
Actually, that’s quite precisely backwards. I offer a similarly stark proclamation to the climate hucksters like the ones who created the above website: accept the necessity of fossil fuels or freeze to death. The choice is yours; please vote this upcoming weekend.
I agree, that is an obnoxiously harsh ultimatum. Just as harsh are the buckets of garbage that get dumped on the petroleum industry’s heads from those trying to put prevent them from providing what is unarguably an essential element of modern day life.
That shouldn’t be taken out of context. Green energy is a good thing and is the long-term goal. Understood. But just as clear is the other side of the equation: without fossil fuels to heat us, this weekend or next week or next year or the year after, only a small fraction of the earth’s 7 billion people would survive winter. Make your vote.
It is impossible not to acknowledge society’s current needs. On the first day of this year, in a single day, the United States consumed 143 billion cubic feet of natural gas. That record is expected to be broken this coming weekend. Per Reuters, one bcf of gas heats 5 million homes for a day. But it’s not just homes, it’s hospitals, apartment complexes, seniors centers, and most of where society wants to take refuge. It’s the same around the world; China is struggling to clean its air by converting from coal heat to natural gas heat, and the simple conversion to that other fossil fuel is risking millions of lives.
The petroleum industry does not need customers the same way Kia does. It doesn’t face “product positioning” decisions, or style decisions, or how best to make a product appear desirable. Demand can be determined by looking at a thermometer. No marketing is needed. If you think you don’t need fossil fuels this weekend, good luck to you, but be honest about it.
Don’t think that means the energy business is unconcerned about environmental effects. It’s simply not true, and singling out the petroleum business as being central to the problem makes far less sense than blaming, say, the airline industry. But no one protests airplanes, do they? Burning anything causes pollution to some degree. That’s how we live and survive. To put forth the argument that we can live our present lifestyle without fossil fuels is simply ludicrous, and whoever says they can lives on a tropical island, travels by foot and eats what they catch. Those people I’ll listen to.
Some will refuse to abandon their position that fossil fuels need to go immediately; that’s inevitable given the strong stances taken and the human difficulty in reversing entrenched positions. Those people, when presented with irrefutable evidence that their position is (at present) untenable, simply switch arguments and claim that the current necessity for petroleum heating products is obviously proof that we need to move beyond fossil fuels. To that I say, amen, bring it on.
We do need to move to a future that is not dependent on fossil fuels. I couldn’t agree more. Anyone who searches for petroleum knows that to be true because the cheap stuff is disappearing fast, and regulatory hurdles get higher every year. Renewable energy is the way of the future, but it simply isn’t now, or next year, or next decade. It will take many years of planning and ingenuity and money to get to a point where we can heat 7 billion people (or however many exist then) without fossil fuels. It would be so much more helpful if people focused their energy on building that future rather than futile attempts to destroy what we cannot presently live without. Whether the earth warms by 2 degrees in 50 years is undisputedly inconsequential if your house drops by 40 degrees this weekend.
Is this simply another slanted message of self interest from the energy industry, as some dimwit will surely claim? Then how about this: stop using the industry’s products, like natural gas. Do it now. Or, would you like to take a moment to reconsider what “self interest” actually means in this whole discussion?
As a staggeringly large cold air system grips much of North America this coming weekend, be very, very grateful that we have fossil fuels, if not for you then for countless others who would not survive.