Is constructive energy dialogue even possible when activists seek to destroy the fuel that keeps 7 billion people alive?
A long time ago, I took great pleasure in starting this website by answering questions for friends, questions such as “What is fracking?” or “CNG vs. LNG vs. LPG vs Propane vs Natural gas – what is this stuff and do we still get the grand if the handibus explodes?” I tackled topics such as whether fracking was dangerous, and I heaped praise on Elon Musk when he achieved what a scoffing auto industry said couldn’t be done (use thousands of lithium ion batteries to power a car – now they are all lining up to do it).
There seemed to be value in the energy discovery process then, because the energy world was changing and people were actually a bit curious about some of the new developments. Fracking had been around for more than 50 years, and outside of the petroleum industry not a living soul cared about the process. Then, as the shale revolution swept the US via new fracking technology, a great many people wanted to learn about it.
It is hard to believe that that seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only 5 years since those heady days. Today, like anyone needs reminding, interest in petroleum energy has ceased, replaced by a widespread insistence that the whole industry must die and die quickly or the planet will face dire consequences.
This revolution in thinking dwarfs the shale revolution. As the shale revolution unfolded, the public did not need to know everything about fracking to know that US production was soaring and that gasoline prices were coming down. The lack of knowledge about production techniques was not a big deal; no one knows what a crankshaft is either yet their car relies on one more than a thousand times per minute.
The most astonishing and saddest part of the new climate change focus on the industry is the widely held notion that we can get rid of the fossil fuel industry simply because we don’t want it around anymore. If that were the only problem, then people could be educated as to the fact that they really can’t get by without it – there is no way 7 billion people can remain alive at the same time without vast quantities of fossil fuels. This can be demonstrated fairly easily, if that is the question that is being asked. But it’s not.
It is a global tragedy in the making that certain groups of people have seized on this uncertainty as a tactic to smash the petroleum industry for wrongs committed in the past. Underneath discussions about renewable energy seethes a vindictive desire from certain elements of the climate change movement to make Big Oil pay, to jam explosives into a new-found chink in Big Oil’s armour and at long last wreak vengeance on a long-vilified but too-powerful industry.
This blind desire for destruction is one of, if not the, most dangerous strategies ever seen. The sheer momentum of the climate change movement, jet-fuelled by instilling fear into every citizen that will listen, has swept to the forefront a group of renewable energy enthusiasts and investors who have told the world “No problem! We can easily live without fossil fuels. Just switch everything to wind and solar, and well look at that, we just happen to have some panels/turbines ready for you right here!”
The profound danger here is that the world is still hopelessly reliant on fossil fuels and will be for decades to come. Successful anti-pipeline campaigns in North America are setting the continent up for a disaster should key ones ever go out of service through a natural disaster or sabotage. Some areas, such as New York City, have increasing demand for natural gas for winter heat, but utilities can no longer source supplies because natural gas infrastructure cannot be built.
The world simply is not ready for a complete renewable energy transition, not for decades, but people who claim otherwise have swarmed the stage and are trying to eliminate existing fuel suppliers.
A few of us have been trying for years to point out the dangers involved by erroneously charging down this path so fast, but to no avail. Each day, the climate hysteria gets louder, as do the demands to get off fossil fuels, while the realities of the energy world do not change one iota – global demand for fossil fuels continues to grow.
This incongruity – the ability of a small but angry mob to mortally wound the very industry that keeps every human alive – is a recipe for disaster of monumental proportions. To make matters worse, to try to point this out is to be labeled a “denier” or “fossil fuel apologist”.
To anyone that cares at all about this potential disaster, one that is far, far more real than theoretical climate disasters 50 years down the road, please demand better energy dialogue. Please insist on concrete and fully developed plans, and do not fall for wishful thinking. The stakes are far too high to be buying magic beans and expecting bean stalks to the sky.
Get Christmas shopping done early! Even those ungrateful kids will be happy with a copy of “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” available at Amazon.ca, Indigo.ca, or Amazon.com. It may well be the best decision you will ever make!
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