Thursday, February 09, 2012

Why Big Oil Can't - and Won't - Let Go

Ever wonder why Big Oil doesn't take its massive profits and take over the alternative ("clean") energy business?   Why do the fossil fuelers make such an expensive and concerted effort to thwart the spread of renewable energy?

There is a reason, a very big one, and it pits the fossil fuel industry against humanity itself.

What's going on is nothing new.   From 1936 to 1950, General Motors joined forces with Firestone, Standard Oil, Phillips Petroleum and Mack Truck to create and operate two transit companies, National City Lines and Pacific Lines.   What those companies did was this:

They bought up and scrapped about a hundred electric streetcar systems to make way for their gasoline and diesel powered buses.  GM and some other companies were convicted in 1949 of conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products.

But what does this have to do with the fossil fuel cartels?  Like GM, they see themselves at risk from the competition - alternative energy.  That is mainly because they're holding fossil fuel reserves that are carried on their books at wildly unrealistic values.  What they're facing is a "carbon bubble" that threatens their very existence.   By the way, this is the same "carbon bubble" that led a team of prominent British investors, scientists and politicians to warn the governor of the Bank of England that massive reserves of oil, gas and coal should be treated as "sub prime" assets.

The notion of a "carbon bubble" has now been explored by Bill McKibbin of   As he sees it, Big Oil is now pitting its own survival against mankind's.

We’re already seeing widespread climate disruption, but if we want to avoid utter, civilization-shaking disaster, many scientists have pointed to a 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) rise in global temperatures as the most we could possibly deal with.
If we spew 565 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere, we’ll quite possibly go right past that reddest of red lines. But the oil companies, private and state-owned, have current reserves on the books equivalent to 2,795 gigatons — five times more than we can ever safely burn. It has to stay in the ground.

Put another way, in ecological terms it would be extremely prudent to write off $20 trillion worth of those reserves. In economic terms, of course, it would be a disaster, first and foremost for shareholders and executives of companies like ExxonMobil (and people in places like Venezuela).

If you run an oil company, this sort of write-off is the disastrous future staring you in the face as soon as climate change is taken as seriously as it should be, and that’s far scarier than drought and flood. It’s why you’ll do anything — including fund an endless campaigns of lies — to avoid coming to terms with its reality.

What.. ...the energy-industrial elite are denying, in other words, is that the business models at the center of our economy are in the deepest possible conflict with physics and chemistry. The carbon bubble that looms over our world needs to be deflated soon. As with our fiscal crisis, failure to do so will cause enormous pain — pain, in fact, almost beyond imagining.

And this warning has special import for Canada.   If fossil fuel assets are indeed "sub prime", the worst of the lot has to be the filthiest and most expensive to produce, the Athabasca Tar Sands bitumen.   That puts Harper & Co. in the same ranks with the scum responsible for all the toxic mortgages scammed on liar loans.  Only liar loan mortgages never jeopardized the future of mankind.

1 comment:

Anyong said...

You are much farse all the way down the line.