I’ve often wondered what it must have been like to live under Soviet rule. The horrors are well documented – the food shortages, the suffocating bureaucracy, the razor-sharp surveillance, all stewed in a broth of fearful grey. One aspect in particular that I could never imagine was a life governed by reality-defying propaganda.
“At the instigation of the masses, the Motherland has proclaimed a Godless Five-Year Plan!”
“Exterminate all homosexuals and fascism will vanish!” (this one even earned the author a tip of the hat)
“Shoot these rabid dogs!…Let’s exterminate the mad dogs of capitalism, who want to tear to pieces the flower of our new Soviet nation!” (they really were big on extermination)
After the demise of the FSU, it seemed that sort of stuff was on the way out, with a few single and dying exceptions like North Korea, and I’d missed my ‘chance’. I was dead wrong because now I am getting to experience it too. And so are you. And they’re blathering about extermination again, of a new, fashionable sort.
Late last week, natural gas prices soared to unbelievable levels. Not just above average prices, or really high prices, but stratospheric. For reference, since 1998, Henry Hub prices have ranged between $1 and $10/mmbtu (odd spikes hit $13). A few decades ago, legend spoke of a day when gas prices on the east coast spiked to over $60 for a very brief time during a cold snap. Other regions in the country have seen spikes of over $30/MMBtu, on rare occasions.
Last Friday, prices in the central US hit $600/mmbtu. That is not a typo. $600. Keep in mind that natural gas is not exactly a fringe fuel that no one cares about. It is used in almost 60 percent of US homes, the most common fuel (the second most common are other petroleum products – fuel oil, propane, kerosene). The world collapses in a shivering heap without it, and will do so for decades. So when the price of fuel increases by well over 100 times in the space of a week, one could reasonably assume that would make the news.
The price spike’s repercussions, of course, were extremely newsworthy. In central Illinois, customers were asked to conserve natural gas by turning down thermostats, which is not great news in a significant cold snap. Businesses were encouraged to close and schools asked to do likewise ‘to protect the entire gas system.”
Who broke the news on these newsworthy developments? First, the price spike itself: The $600 dollar story was reported by Natural Gas Intelligence on February 12, and almost nowhere else. On February 13, BNNBloomberg reported it as well. But few other news outlets bothered to mention it (based on a February 14th google search (and who didn’t spend the day googling natural gas price data)).
And what about the requests to shut down schools, businesses, and cool off homes? Who do you suppose broke this worthy news? Why, none other than US news powerhouse WLDS1180am/WEA1FM107.1. I’m kidding, of course, that’s a local radio station. No one else said anything. Wait, that’s not quite true – the Fulton, Missouri city paper ran a story also about “an alarming warning from its natural gas supplier.” The city’s Director of Administration said, “We feel the need to get the word out. This is going to effect everybody across the market. I believe this to be almost a national emergency.”
Pretty significant stuff! Let’s mosey over to Reuters and see what they have to say about a potential national emergency on Valentine’s Day.
Not a freaking word. They did acknowledge some bad weather that would impact gas prices – on February 11th, in a story running in the back water of the bottom of the Commodities page. The story is pathetic; it treats the whole thing as just another winter cold snap: “The weather pattern is beginning to sound like a broken record for many residents of the eastern half of the U.S…” The arctic air blast “sent prices soaring on Thursday.” Which is unbelievably lame, because the big price action happened on Friday, and they chose to ignore that completely. Here is how they described Wednesday/Thursday’s inconsequential price action: “Next-day gas for Thursday rose to its highest since January 2018 at the Waha hub…Spot prices in other regions, meanwhile, soared to their highest since March 2019…”. Think about this. Reuters, global news powerhouse, flops out some crappy and unquantified comment about weak price action on Thursday, and then completely ignores price action on Friday that exceeded Thursday’s by a factor of 100.
One might think a global, objective news source like Reuters might be too lofty, too objective, too regal to get flustered and shouty about a price spike. One could indeed think that, unless they went straight to Reuters home page, and found a breathless top-of-front-page headline about Bitcoin price action: “Bitcoin approaches $50,000, wider adoption fuels record rally”. Note that Bitcoin did not even cross this irrelevant threshold, it simply approached it. And Reuters was all over the ‘story’.
Wow. You’d almost think that natural gas doesn’t matter; that the world’s largest economies are uninterested in the happenings of this fuel. Now where would they get that idea…here’s a clue, right here in my email inbox. A missive arrived last week from one of Canada’s staunchest anti-oil and gas protesters, a world-class icon of climate activism, informing me that, and I quote verbatim, “we don’t need gas anymore as a bridge fuel”. I did not take that out of context; the part of the sentence preceding that part explained that the cost of renewables/batteries has plummeted, and the portion subsequent was a comment that fracking poses significant health risks. The author refused to even admit the relevance of the fuel today, which is irrefutable.
Wow again. It’s almost as if this person, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, and her cohort has some sort of a mystical connection to the world’s leading news outlets. It verges on the unbelievable that natural gas, a fuel that without a shadow of a doubt is keeping billions alive as we speak (and will for decades – wind/solar/batteries (even throwing in heat pumps, like energy pseudo-analysts insist will save the day), no matter how cheap, are laughably inadequate to deal with winter), a fuel that is being adopted around the world to reduce emissions, whose demand is growing hand over fist (even in COVID-riddled 2020, US natural gas consumption fell by only 4 percent), is declared by fringe parties that it is “no longer needed as a bridge fuel”. Further, that very week, that very same week, a colossal news organization can’t bring itself to report on prices that hit records that were hundreds of dollars higher than ever seen before, and at that very same time, it devotes front page space to an unofficial, irrelevant ‘currency’ that ‘approaches’ an irrelevant numerical milestone. Panicked regions and nations have been unable to source adequate supplies of hydrocarbon heating fuel this winter, and yet someone dares put forth the narrative that the fuel about to be replaced by batteries and windmills, that it is ‘no longer needed as a bridge fuel’. How could that be?
Maybe there’s some more clues in my inbox…well, isn’t that interesting. Here’s an invitation to join “Covering Climate Now” – a group of 400 news organizations, organizations, and individuals “driving stronger climate coverage across the media…working directly with newsrooms…” Hmm, wonder what that’s all about. Good thing they tell me, further down the page: “Good climate coverage connects the dots between human-caused climate change and stronger heat waves, droughts, storms, and sea level rise…[it] is accurate and fair but need not be neutral… it holds political, business, and other leaders accountable for delivering the rapid emissions reductions.…” WTF? Reuters is a part of this?
And who are the other dot-connecters, besides Reuters? Essentially every ‘news’ portal that works in overdrive to demonize hydrocarbons. And there are individual members with axes to grind also, including ‘news’ participants such as: Bill McKibben, hydrocarbon hater, hypocrite extraordinaire, and founder of 350.org (Typical quote: “We can either save the planet from catastrophic warming, or protect fossil fuel CEOs. Not both.”) Oh, there’s DeSmog blog, which creates an online smear file of anyone that criticizes anything in the climate change movement. There’s Teen Vogue (?), a journalistic powerhouse if there ever was one. And then there’s Vox – the very ‘news’ organization that penned a piece about how natural gas is unacceptable as a bridge fuel: “the US will have to phase out all fossil fuel use as fast as it conceivably can. There’s no room for a bridge.”
The circle is complete. The activist that contacted me was so brash because their narrative controls the media. Reuters is now part of a group with a radicalized political agenda (NOT simply an environmental agenda – McKibben again: “it has been a great pleasure to watch the climate movement, as it has grown, focus its attention ever less on the natural world and ever more on the injustice that is at the core of this strange moment in history.”). Reuters has forfeited any claim to be an objective news organization by teaming up with activists who cancel anyone and anything that impedes their narrative.
And now, as a result, Reuters is refusing to report on valid news about shortages of a fuel that is so critical that Missourians think it should be a national emergency. Apparently, McKibben et al is fine with Bitcoin jabber (even though it consumes more energy, for no benefit, than over 150 nations), so of that they may speak without fear of retribution.
Long live the revolution!
“Comrades, while proletariat blood drips from the fangs of capitalists, the Motherland brings a glorious harvest! Many potatoes! Long live the revolution.”
“Comrades, natural gas is the evil product of industrialists who poison children and defile the environment out of sheer joy! Do not believe their lies. The revolution will bring you an infinite supply of windmills solar panels and batteries and we, the workers, will punch in the dripping fangs of oil barons. Long live the revolution!”
(The second last quote is satirical, and not lifted from Soviet literature/articles. The last quote is a projected Reuters commentary circa 2022-23, assuming that “Covering Climate Now” continues to cover climate now. (Don’t worry though; as in real life, the Wall-equivalent will fall shortly after, the rising weight of deceptive insanity proving too much for the architects to withstand.))
*** Tuesday Feb 16 update: As you know, the %&*$ has indeed hit the fan, with a death toll of 17 as of this writing. US President Joe Biden declares a state of emergency as power blackouts hit millions in Texas. Gas prices smashed limits again, hitting $999/mmbtu. The Wall Street Journal explained in crystal clear detail how this is a result of over-reliance on wind energy, which became dysfunctional in cold weather, and an increasing deficiency of attention to the fuel system that keeps the whole world turning. Reuters? The top section of their home page on Tuesday is dominated with a picture and story entitled “Philadelphia oil refinery cleanup highlights toxic legacy of fossil fuels”; beside that is a note about how Bitcoin crashes through $50,000 for the first time…and further down the page is a story about the Texas power catastrophe, a short, minimalist weather story that simply blames the outage on ‘higher demand’. Natural gas is fingered as equally culpable because ‘it failed too’. That’s what happens when Covering Climate Now puts all their efforts into the current Godless Five-Year All-Renewable Plan. Long live the Revolution!
Thanks to everyone who asks what they can do to counter energy disinformation… For a start, pick up “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” at Amazon.ca, Indigo.ca, or Amazon.com and distribute it widely! That’s why I wrote it. Thanks for the support.