My Turn: Bruce La Rue — In defense of big oil

Published 7:23 am Monday, December 21, 2015

In a recent article in the Salisbury Post (Exxon’s Climate of Doubt, Oct. 18), Exxon, et al, were called out for denying global warming while planning new offshore and onshore structures contingent upon sufficient melting in the Northwest Territories brought about by global warming. After reading the piece a couple of times, I was left wondering, “So what? Does this really merit a 1,700-word feature?” I doubt there are many multinational corporations whose upper management and legal teams are destined for sainthood. That is not their purpose. The purpose of a business is to show a profit for its owners and shareholders, not to provide a comfortable living for tenured detractors and corrupt third world despots. Ironic, is it not, how much socialists depend on capitalists for income?

In the Exxon article, the writers assert that while the rest of the planet has seen an average increase of 1.5 degrees in the last hundred years, the northern reaches of the province (N.W. Territories) have warmed by 5.4 degrees and temperatures in the central regions have increased by 3.6 degrees. The writers intro this information with the line, “Canada’s Northwest Territories has experienced some of the most dramatic effects of global warming.” Can we agree this phenomenon constitutes provincial warming, localized warming, or, at best, regional warming? Nowhere in the article do we find any indication Exxon has denied regional warming.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the world, the situation is quite different. According to the Journal of Glaciology, citing NASA as its source, Antarctica saw a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice per year from 1992 to 2001, slowing to a net gain of 82 billion tons of ice between 2003 and 2008. Are those exact amounts unknowable? You bet. The point is that cyclical ocean current temperatures probably have a lot more to do with melting and refreezing than does human activity.

As is too often the case in our society, what benefits a few groups or individuals trumps the overall good of the country, and personal integrity can be traded in the market of special interests. In classic collectivist fashion, certain groups seem to feel entitled to a share of the wealth of those who have produced it, while not lifting a finger to assist the achievers, choosing instead to portray them as evil and greedy. So it has become acceptable, even admirable, to condemn those who have invested tremendous amounts of venture capital in drilling equipment, leases, engineers, tankers and manpower extracting crude oil from some of the most hostile environments on Earth, refining it into gasoline and delivering it to your local convenience store at a reasonable price, especially when state and federal taxes are subtracted.

Big Oil is routinely blamed for spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is even more absurd than blaming gun manufacturers for gun violence. The oil companies, at considerable expense and risk to human life, deliver a quality product for which there is great demand. This product, when purchased by consumers in the open market and used, releases chemical compounds that allegedly contribute to global warming, climate change and terrorism. The consumer is rarely implicated, possibly because Big Resentment has learned that a consumer indicted is a consumer no longer sympathetic to your cause. It could also be that Big Resentment consumes a good bit of fossil fuel and does not want to appear hypocritical. This error of emission is aggravated by obscene profits, and mitigated by financial punishment inflicted upon Big Oil. Big Resentment seems to take great joy in celebrating such punishment, even though the nature and amount of emissions remain fairly constant.

Lost in the debate is the benefit of carbon dioxide to a green planet. It is a nutrient for plants, and many commercial greenhouse operators use CO2 generators to raise the levels to 1,000 ppm, resulting in healthier plants and increased yields. Reducing CO2 levels could lead to a less green planet.

The global climate change pep rally has come and gone, seemingly a rousing success. American taxpayer money was pledged to developing nations to help them deal with climate change, whatever that means. The Obama administration claims to have reached a wonderful agreement with the global community. The administration gets the symbolism, corrupt third world despots get the substance, Big Oil gets to stay in business, government scientists get to keep their sweet gigs, China and India get to go on polluting their air. Throw in a two-week vacation in Paris and everybody wins.

We know that Big Oil is in it for the money, but for the climate change cabal to portray them as corrupt and deceitful is the height of hypocrisy.

Bruce La Rue lives in Mt. Ulla.

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