You find the craziest sh*t on the internet. And I do mean sh*t.
Consider the following group: Aiqun Yu from California worked for 18 years with China Central Television focusing on environmental and social issues. Bob Burton from Australia is an anti-coal activist and co-author of “Secrets and Likes – The Anatomy of an Anti-Environmental PR Campaign”. Christine Shearer from California has a “background in interdisciplinary climate change and energy research” – backed by a PhD in Sociology. James Browning from Philadelphia has “worked to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable as a writer, researcher, lobbyist and game designer”. Lydia Plante from New Orleans has completed graduate studies in parasitology and epidemiology. Ted Nace from San Francisco is the founder of CoalSwarm, now Global Energy Monitor and has authored the book “Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy”.
Together, this team (and they are the “team” according to the website) form the nucleus of a website called Global Energy Monitor , which was formerly CoalSwarm, a site formed to bash the global coal industry out of existence.
Since that hasn’t been working very well, the group has spread their “expertise” to cover natural gas, and have recently authored a report that is now trying to bash the natural gas industry out of existence. You will not find much substance on the attached “team” profiles with regards to energy matters, they appear to be armchair quarterbacks of the worst sort, yet in a remarkable set of circumstances the group’s report has captured global media attention. CNN, CBC, Canadian Press, the Globe and Mail, and others you can find on the web ad nauseum picked up this story and blared headlines about it. The G&M piece was remarkable; it didn’t reference the report but conveyed exactly the same messaging and was released the same day the Global Energy Monitor report came out.
The report is an attempt to head off any attempts by the energy industry to rely on natural gas as a transition fuel to less carbon intensive sources. In it, the “team” uses standard smear tactics to place doubts in the mind of the general public about the wisdom of switching from coal to natural gas. From the CNN article: “We know that LNG is not a good answer climate-wise,” Ted Nace, founder and director of the Global Energy Monitor, said in an interview. “It might even be pretty foolish financially — for all the reasons that coal turned out to be a bad investment 10 years ago.” (Nace, one can assume, is not responsible for financial decisions of any magnitude, yet news reports like this give him an air of credibility that should be reserved for people that actually make investment decisions.) Nace went on to say that “natural gas can no longer credibly be viewed as a bridge fuel between coal and renewables because of methane leaks. These accidental emissions occur during drilling, in the pipelines, or during delivery.”
In the report itself, the claim is made that “Methane, the chief component in natural gas, is responsible for 25% of global warming to date.” This claim is particularly bizarre given that wetlands produce copious amounts of methane and cover 6 percent of the earth’s surface; the report does not indicate if natural methane is included in this mix. The report goes on to make fascinating claims such as “Side-by-side comparisons of conventionally produced gas and gas produced by fracking indicate that fracked gas, also known as “unconventional” gas, is associated with approximately 50% great leakages than conventional gas”.
The entire report is predicated on two numbers: in 2014 the US Department of Energy estimated that “methane leakage was 1.3% for conventional onshore gas and 1.4% for fracked gas”. A new study by an academic (and not the government) pegs the overall leakage rate for natural gas at. 2.3% of gross US gas production (from page 13 of the report) and that at that rate “the advantage to using coal disappears.”
So…the authors are willing to throw out what they call a 1.3 trillion dollar industry on the assumption that these leak estimates are correct, and that there is nothing that can be done about them. There isn’t the slightest glimmer of comprehension from the authors as to how an energy transition can possibly happen without a natural gas bridge.
Readers can go through the hatchet-job on their own time as their stomach permits (I couldn’t handle much, the odour of propaganda (including a quote from legendary anti-petroleum activist Bill McKibben) was nauseating.
I will wrap up with a few points that may be pertinent. One, Global Energy Monitor is “an independent 501 C(3) organization” per their website. On this same page you will find that Global Energy Monitor is funded by, well look at that, the Rockefeller funds. Vivian Krause would not be surprised.
And as a final point of interest, the website 501C3.org explains that 501 C(3) organizations are one of three types: public charities; private foundations (which are usually thought of as nonprofits which support the work of public charities through grants); and finally private operating foundations (which often maintain active programs similar to public charities but may have attributes similar to a foundation). What is really interesting though is the next paragraph, Restrictions on Activities which states: “501(c)(3) organizations are highly regulated entities. Strict rules apply to both the activities and the governance of these organizations… Further, lobbying, propaganda or other legislative activity must be kept relatively insubstantial. “
I will also leave it to readers to determine if the above constitutes lobbying or propaganda, and should you determine that it doesn’t I suggest you see a doctor immediately.
Somehow, by some mechanism, a wildly slanted opinion piece like this report was deemed “news”, simultaneously, by major international news organizations. An entire report that hinges on speculation that methane leaks are plentiful and harmful and unavoidable is presented to the world as “news”, as evidence that natural gas development should not be permitted on climate change grounds. The superficiality and stupidity of the article is breathtaking, and any journalist whatsoever should be able to at least exercise caution before putting such a slanted piece forward as “news”.
How can this be? What has happened to our media? If you have a moment please ask them directly or just send a link to this post. Silence is no longer an option.
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