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Gas exporters cry 'cancel culture' in a farcical climate change low

The persecution complex runs deep. And the satire just writes itself.
Image: Extinction Rebellion protesters outside the entrance to the COP26 site on Nov. 12, 2021 in Glasgow, U.K.
Extinction Rebellion protesters outside the entrance to the COP26 climate summit Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland.Peter Summers / Getty Images

Cancel culture” has run amok. Its latest victim? The natural gas industry, which has been deemed politically inconvenient to the radical “blue planet matters” movement.

Fortunately, the plucky Gas Exporting Countries Forum, or GECF, is on the case. Made up of 19 countries representing 70 percent of all proven natural gas reserves, including petrostates that have worked tirelessly to block international climate action, like Saudi Arabia and Russia, the GECF is striking back at the woke culture of planetary preservation.

The GECF is striking back at the woke culture of planetary preservation.

The aim of the recent COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, was nothing less than to try to prevent truly catastrophic climate change impacts. And the official statement issued at the close of the summit was so audacious as to actually name the culprits responsible for the planetary meltdown: fossil fuels.

The GECF bemoaned this “cancel culture on hydrocarbons.” Why worry about climate catastrophe when we can be distracted by a real planetary crisis — the persecution of poor petroleum? And oil and, yes, gas.

The persecution runs deep. Why, even the very name “natural gas” is unfair, for it fails to acknowledge what is truly extraordinary about this fossil fuel source. There is nothing “natural” about how companies pulverize the bedrock beneath the Earth with fracking fluids. (Sure, this process releases buried fossil methane gas, a very potent greenhouse gas, and yes, some of that gas leaks into the atmosphere and warms up our planet. But it’s worth it!) Let’s give credit where it’s due — this is supernatural gas.

And how selfish it is of climate advocates, and front-line communities especially, to demand a livable world at the expense of poor fossil fuel executives simply looking to make a killing, I mean, a living.

Yes, we’re seeing devastating, unprecedented flooding in the Pacific Northwest just months after the region baked under a climate change-fueled “heat dome” that brought mid-July Phoenix temperatures to western Canada. And yes, we’re also seeing epic floods in Australia that early last year suffered through a “black summer” marked by unprecedented heat, drought and bush fires that blanketed the continent (I was there to witness it all).

Sure, in recent weeks we’ve seen extreme flooding in India and Japan, epic heat in South Africa and the worst dust storms on record in Uzbekistan. A couple of months ago, there was catastrophic flooding in my home state, Pennsylvania, as the remnants of climate change-fueled Hurricane Ida dumped months’ worth of rainfall in a few hours.

And we wouldn’t be observing these unprecedented weather disasters in the absence of human-caused climate change. But can’t we take a moment to mourn those hapless fossil gas executives who aren’t getting the recognition they so deserve for their monumental effort to bring back Jurassic Earth?

It’s fun to mock the plaintive crocodile tears of fossil fuel barons and bad petrostate actors. The satire often just writes itself. But there is, in the end, a deadly serious point to be made here.

Even the rather conservative International Energy Agency, no cheerleader for renewable energy, has made it very clear that there can be no new fossil fuel infrastructure if we are to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the number scientists say could stave off the worst climate disaster effects.

Natural gas, despite the claims of its advocates, isn’t a bridge to a fossil fuel-free future. It’s a bridge to climate calamity. According to one estimate, 60 percent of all natural gas must remain in the ground, and production must now be declining if we are to remain below the 1.5 C warming limit.

We’re well past the point where fossil fuel interests and those promoting their agenda can simply deny the reality and the threat of climate change. So instead, they’ve turned to other tactics, including delay, deflection, distraction, division and even doom-mongering (such is the thesis of my recent book “The New Climate War”). All of these desperate tactics are part of a concerted effort to keep us dependent on fossil fuels. Cries of “cancel culture” appear to be the latest gambit in this campaign.

In the wake of the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, there still remains a narrow path forward to averting catastrophic warming of our planet, but only if there is a transition rapidly away from fossil fuels toward a clean, renewable energy-driven economy. And yes, that does mean canceling fossil fuels.