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In the land of make-believe

25 Oct 2023 | OP ED Watch

Reuters “Sustainable Switch” emails that “Activists ramp up protests against fossil fuels”. How do they know? Who counts the number, size and intensity of protests worldwide and determines that they have ramped up, held steady or (gasp) declined slightly? Or possibly it’s just part of the publicity machine, since that piece also has “climate activist Greta Thunberg faces detainment by London police” and “has this year been detained by police or removed from protests in Sweden, Norway and Germany”. But everybody knows, including the police taking part in this theatre, that she will face no consequences, unlike those who protest in ways the state isn’t secretly cheering on. It’s part of a retreat from unfriendly reality into a world of fantasy in which leftists are brave dissenters and governments are running dogs of the capitalist class rather than being dominated by activists who just can’t make their schemes work.

Elsewhere in fantasyland, it is by now very clear and well-documented that the aspirational 1.5°C temperature increase limit was not based on science, either as to its feasibility or its importance. And yet newspapers keep publishing pieces like “Will the Earth breach its 1.5C guardrail sooner than we thought?” Guardrail? That metaphor is gripping. But also utterly unsupported by reality. It just no longer matters.

This mindset creates some truly bizarre pieces of reasoning. Like the Globe & Mail article “Solar panel recycling industry taking shape in North America amid ‘tsunami’ of waste” which somehow makes the huge, ugly environmental footprint of this supposedly green and renewable energy sound like an achievement. Once they are shipped across the country, shlepped around a giant factory and painstakingly sorted out, a few are just cracked. Yay. See:

“These can be reused, said Adam Saghei, chief executive of We Recycle Solar, and there is a market for them – clients around the world who search for refurbished panels for their affordability. The Yuma facility, he says, is like ‘your local thrift store that looks to upcycle.’”

And while the rest are a nasty pile of junk hard to break down,

“with robotic suction arms assisted by workers, they come apart. Some of the highest value materials are copper, silver, aluminum, glass, and crystalline silicon. Repurposing these means finding new uses for them such as selling glass to companies that do sandblasting.”

Got it? The new green economy actually flourishes thanks to big piles of toxic waste. Whereas if we were to assert that used fossil fuels are sucked in by plants as essential nourishment, we’d be accused of greenwashing.

Then for comic relief, not on purpose, Bloomberg hails the “Climate Dads”. No, really:

“Move over, sports dads and car dads. Climate dads are a little bit nerdy, a little bit obsessive and 100% focused on saving the planet.”

It’s this vast social movement. Hooray. The founder, Ben Block, makes his son’s toys into morality lectures, and with a buddy created “Climate Dads” in “a Philadelphia park on Father’s Day 2018” and in just five years it has soared to… um… “roughly 800 fathers in 20 US cities.” But don’t worry because “climate dads are everywhere”. And this reporter has special powers that let her see them.

Or consider an item in “NPR’s Climate Week”, if you can bear to:

“Humans are driving climate change. And that means we humans can find solutions to change the trajectory. We already have many solutions. Finding ways to address the impact of our changing climate can often feel overwhelming, especially on top of the challenges that come with modern life. As part of covering climate change across the NPR Network, we’ve heard from a number of the doers – people who have taken action at every level, from local leaders to government officials and global icons.”

Reading such prose you would never know that CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2 continue to rise, that China is going all-in on coal, and that virtually nobody is anywhere near meeting their Paris Accord commitments. Especially once you realize their supposed change-makers include a woman in Colorado who translated wildfire emergency alerts into Spanish. Not because it’s an unworthy activity. Because it will not change the weather one bit. Nor will the woman who “went into archaeology, even as an 18-year-old student, with the idea that Indigenous voices needed to be heard more and that it was a very colonial kind of practice.”

You get the idea? It’s just people exchanging virtue-signals. And when the New York Times writes of “Grassroots victories against fossil fuels” we can’t help thinking that, as when it shows a completely different building to claim a hospital in Gaza was destroyed by Israel, it is writing the news it wishes were true not the news it has any sound reason to think is true.

Some of them seem to know it. Canary Media soared briefly with “Nucor bets on silver bullet for ‘green’ steel: Nuclear fusion”. But then it thudded back to Earth with:

“The steelmaking giant said Helion Energy would build a fusion reactor by 2030 at one of Nucor’s steel plants. But fusion is still more dream than reality.”

And it’s not the only thing. Including, we can’t help thinking, their claim that “H2 Green Steel’s new $1.6 billion investment puts its hydrogen-fueled plant on track to open in 2025, in what would be a first for the hard-to-decarbonize industry.” As for “‘E-fuels’ are catching on as a way to decarbonize air travel”, well, you can catch the first such flight and we’ll wait until it lands safely… if it does.

An odd piece in Heatmap Daily even asserts that:

“This morning ExxonMobil announced it was going to buy Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the biggest players in the Permian Basin, for some $60 billion. While this appears to be a defiant move that only makes sense in light of the world never getting serious about climate change, there may be another way to read it. Not that ExxonMobil is getting ready for Net Zero anytime soon, but that it is trying to become nimbler in response to big shifts in global oil demand.”

Note that there is no real contrast between Net Zero being a fantasy and ExxonMobile wanting to be nimble in response to shifting demand. The whole passage just makes no sense except if you’re pretending an oil company preferring American assets that are easier to ramp up is proof that oil is on the way out.

3 comments on “In the land of make-believe”

  1. This 1.5C so-called "guardrail" used to be 2C.Both numbers are arbitrary,and part of the alarmist fantasy.And,yeah,almost anything can be recycled,but not always practically or economically.Hence all the E-waste we're seeing from so-called renewables like wind turbines and solar panels.

  2. Being a former forester now thankfully retired after a career involving multi-decade battles with the hysteria pimping industry on BC's coast, one flaw of what passed for conservation biology, that an hypothesis was adequate on its own to justify going directly to government action to pursue salvation - has obviously been adopted by the climate subsector. What's worse is that this coincided with the march through the institutions and gave the Jacobins their greatest ticket for success, essentially (politically) conquering the western bankrupt welfare states. It is the reaction to failure and guaranteed prospects of energy poverty that will hopefully halt and reverse this trend.

  3. "fusion is still more dream than reality"
    Correction: At this time fusion is ALL dream and NO reality. Ever since I started reading "Popular Science", "Popular Mechanics" and "Scientific American" back in the early 60s, fusion has forever been "just over the horizon". Well, I am 72 now and fusion is STILL "just over the horizon"! I see no reason to believe it will ever eventuate.

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