A recent fad in the US has certain jurisdictions suing oil producing companies for the effects of climate change. The latest is a group of counties in Colorado, who, according to this piece on the Union of Concerned Scientists website, have decided to hold two companies responsible for their weather-related woes because they produce, process and sell gasoline in their communities.
When reading about such events, a basic human instinct kicks in, much like when we see a baby kitten in distress. A trigger deep inside moves us to act, and we gently pick up the helpless creature or try to be of assistance in some way.
Stories about these lawsuits bring up a similarly unavoidable reflex, to step in and pipe up and make some comment about the depths of the ignorance and the hypocrisy – there have been no reports of guns to people’s heads, forcing them to fill up shiny new SUVs against their will – or to point out that the residents appear to be more than somewhat helpless without fossil fuels, particularly in winter, or some such. It’s our innate sense of justice that exists in every rational being, that we can’t turn our cheek because what we are seeing and hearing is so fundamentally wrong that we have to speak up.
But, much like it was in the Soviet Union or now is in North Korea, the state of public discourse has been so violated that the natural reaction has become irrelevant because the twisted framework of this discourse makes it impossible. The average North Korean citizen may, when looking at one of the video screens of their Dear Leader, hear a little voice deep down, the long-suppressed voice of rational thought or even a sadly comatose sense of levity, they may hear a little voice say hey, this guy is kind of funny looking. But the words would never exit his/her mouth, because it’s simply irrational to say it – no one would dare agree with him, and it might even get him killed.
We aren’t there quite yet – questioning these blindly launched and hypocritical actions done “in the name of the environment” is not yet punishable as a crime. But the day is surely coming. We are sleepwalking into a totalitarian state, where the absurd has become merely a commonplace news item, which is exactly how the Soviet Union used to work also. An article on advertising in the former Soviet Union illustrates how the central government ordered each company to spend 1 percent on advertising, which was pointless because shelves were bare in most supermarkets. The purpose was to create an illusion of abundance and choice, and the ad agencies happily played along, creating ads for products that didn’t even exist.
It was quite funny to see these little glimpses into that bizarre world, but it’s not funny anymore now that we’re living it. Anything is possible in the realm of climate change discussions, anything. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger stand up and say they’re going to “sue big oil for murder” and he’s not treated like a drunk yelling at birds, as he should be, his message gets carried by “scientific” organizations as something thought provoking. Communities can stand up and demand to be paid compensation for a global weather phenomenon from two companies just because they happen to be local, and the world doesn’t laugh – because the absurdist tale is reported by a group called the Union of Concerned Scientists. They’ve kidnapped the term “scientist” for their own purposes, and gleefully say anything they want under the banner of “science.”
We have no right whatsoever to laugh at the old Soviet Union anymore. Big oil is responsible for murder, apparently, while fossil fuels kept several billion people alive, fed and unfrozen this past winter, absolutely. See? Two data points, one conjectural, sensationalistic, and just plain dumb, and one a cold hard fact that not a single person on earth could deny or refute – and which one gets the headlines? We have escaped the orbit of rationality, where 7 year olds can produce sound bites if the message acknowledges climate change, and grown industry professionals with decades of experience are deemed “deniers” for pointing out modern physical survival facts as irrefutable as the sun.
There is only one thing to do, only one path that would cut through this grey pall descending on the world. Like the famous thrown hammer in the brilliant Apple commercial, the only action that would get everyone’s attention would be to cut off all fossil fuels to these jurisdictions. Immediately and totally, a point would be made that can be made in no other way. There are no words to debate these people with, just like there were no debates in the Soviet Union. Absurdity became reality in the USSR, and history is repeating itself.
But of course, we won’t shut in those pipelines and stop deliveries of life-saving fossil fuels, and the climate industry knows it. The energy industry would consider it inhumane beyond belief to shut in natural gas pipelines to hospitals, apartments, and homes, or fuel to communities and airports. The climate industry has zero responsibility, and can challenge whatever they like, because they know the energy industry will come through somehow. Tactically, it’s game, set and match, and the New Soviets know that too. They know that in a capitalist society the producers will keep doing what they do to make a profit, and hypocrites will benefit, and the world will go on. Ayn Rand analyzed this phenomenon in the 1950s, and nothing’s changed. In her epic novel Atlas Shrugged, which seemed an over-the-top response to collectivism, the “men of the mind,” including industrialists, went on strike and the social order collapsed. Today, there won’t be a strike, but the order may still possibly collapse, because the New Soviets are purposely blocking the arteries of modern economies in an unsustainable way.
The Soviet Union eventually imploded because the chains placed on its citizens ultimately became too much to bear, and the economy grew to a halt. The same will happen here in the west because the New Soviets are no different, although it will of course look different. But it will happen. The climate industry is strangling what keeps every one of us alive, and we’re in a stupor watching them, but we can’t/won’t forever.
Think of the likely chain of events if or when these lawsuits win. First, a thousand more will spring up like dandelions, because every community on the globe suffers periodically from unusual weather. If courts decide someone besides insurance should pay for that, the lawsuit lineups will stretch to Mexico and perhaps ironically back up into it. Imagine suing Exxon out of existence, and perhaps many of the others, long before the world is able to convert to renewable energy. There would be economic chaos. Governments would step in, because they, like everyone in the whole world, understand quite clearly that life for 7 billion people cannot go on without fossil fuels.If we’re not going to start culling people, we have to keep them warm and fed, right? But then look at Venezuela and what an oil industry looks like in the hands of a government.
Understandably this is some weird speculation for an average workday morning. But it’s the new reality. We are in a new world order, where nothing is too insane to pursue if done in the name of climate change. That of course is not sustainable, but for now the New Soviets are grabbing the reins and no one is even trying to stop them. It should be interesting.