I’m not a fan of making predictions of any specificity, because there are usually way too many variables at play for anything of consequence. Trying to guess the price of oil at YE 2022 leaves me speechless despite the pathetically large number of hours I spend trying to understand the market.
Yet, given the way 2022 has unfolded, I offer the following predictions as more than odds-on favourites to occur.
Pigs will fly through the sky delivering Amazon packages. Kim Jong-un will sing a duet with Britney Spears called “If you had my dad you’d understand the hair.” A schnauzer will graduate from Harvard Law School.
Sounds crazy? Maybe. But what if I kiss the right butts and get put in charge of a department of disinformation?
We are rapidly accelerating towards a place where “news” is a choice made by someone, somewhere, for some reason. “Truth” is becoming a very unstable concept, a trend that is going to accelerate wildly as Trump’s social media platform (dubbed, what else, Truth) gains steam; it will act as a polarization accelerant reminiscent of his glory days on Twitter.
Mainstream media will not back down at his ominous resurrection; they will double down, with dualling “truths” that will desensitize you to the point you would see the schnauzer story as news and not even blink.
Disinformation and misinformation are the new battlegrounds, or maybe better described as a force field applying a sort of electrical charge to everything everywhere.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the following. Someone leaked a US Supreme Court decision relating to abortion while the decision was not yet finalized. The leak was presumably for political purposes and must represent one of the most serious assaults imaginable on the pillars of the rule of law. Given this breach, it is safe to say that nothing is safe. And yes, I know what that sentence says.
In another example, war has been declared on eco-god Elon Musk because of his desire to see more free speech, primarily on the “world’s town square”, Twitter. The New York Times has even gone back to Musk’s youth to try to tear him down as a product of “white privilege” and that Musk’s desire for free speech is a modern manifestation of South Africa’s apartheid government propaganda.
Musk crosses all boundaries politically and otherwise, and therefore is dangerous to, say, something like a Disinformation Governance Board.
Did you think I made that board up? Hardly. The US is indeed setting up a “Disinformation Governance Board” headed by a woman who was recently in the news for, get this, spreading disinformation. She spent the last part of US election year saying that Hunter Biden’s laptop was pretty much a certainly Russian disinformation ploy, yet she is now backpedaling on those assertions as new evidence comes to light.
In other words, a woman guilty of spreading disinformation is now in charge of a disinformation governance board (and I’m not hurling feces just at the left here; the malfeasance on the other end of the spectrum is no doubt just as sleazy but is not presently so eloquently clear cut for lazy researchers).
And finally, a more subjective and anecdotal event that is no less startling: A few weeks ago I sat beside an auto dealership manager on a plane ride. We had a great conversation about cars and the auto market. He mentioned seeing an EV commercial on TV at home.
Watching the commercial with his daughter, the guy mentioned that it looked like a pretty cool car. His daughter, eight years old, warned him that soon he would not be allowed to burn gas in his car because it was killing the planet, so had better get on the EV thing.
So. If you think my predictions above are outlandish, well maybe you’d better check first with the dis-informing head of a Disinformation Governance Board, or perhaps an indoctrinated eight-year-old. The truth will be what you are told it is.
What does this have to do with energy?
Just watch, and you will find out. While this tornado of dis/mis-info-crap swirls and uproots and destroys everything in its path, a few immutable objects will remain. Seven-plus billion people need to be fed, heated, and housed. That, you can bank on. We have managed more or less successfully for most of these people due to advances in fertilizer, advances in agriculture, advances in technology, and – above all – a reliable supply of reasonably priced energy.
Hydrocarbons represent a massive problem for the Disinformation Industry. The climate change movement has, as a pillar of its existence, enshrined the idea that fossil fuel combustion is causing the world to overheat. Anything running counter to that narrative is “Disinformation’ with a big flaming capital D. As a corollary, any communication that serves to weaken or defund the industry is by extension not Disinformation.
But running short of hydrocarbons/fossil fuels is an obvious and unmitigated disaster, and everyone knows it. We don’t even have to run out – running short causes prices to spike, which is also an obvious disaster for every consumer on earth.
So Disinformation Cops have a daunting challenge with respect to hydrocarbons. As the primary target of the Climate Change Industry, any support of them is Disinformation, just as is casting any doubt on climate change itself (their definition, not mine – see the infinite number of ‘denier’ citations anywhere online).
Yet harming hydrocarbon production is demonstrably a humanitarian disaster. For Disinformation Cops, hydrocarbons are like a steel fence that they need to rip down but that that gives them an almighty electric shock when they touch it.
The NYT and Fox News and the Economist and Breitbart every “news” organization in between can culture-war all they like, but at the end of the day the world needs fuel, and the hydrocarbon industry provides it. It will remain thus for decades. There aren’t enough minerals to build the renewable system many dream of, and even if there were, the public push back as it would be constructed would delay major progress until next century.29dk2902l
One bit of proof in support of this claim appeared in the BOE Report last week. According to the article, the Canadian government is in discussion with companies behind two proposed east coast LNG export facilities to see what they can do to accelerate their development.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is quoted confirming the talks. Trudeau chimed in to make it clear that any LNG development was only permissible (think of the ramifications of that statement) because the infrastructure could be useable in an energy transition. The same logic could be used in defense of any pipeline of any sort that enables humanity to keep going until true energy alternatives exist, but no one can say that, because, well, Disinformation.
This development is proof of the immutability of our existing energy system, standing unmoved by three quarters of a decade of assault by the very government Wilkinson helps lead. As recently as a few months ago, Wilkinson’s government was proposing to implement policy stating that “Sending a clear regulatory signal now should discourage further investments in assets that could become stranded in the years to come by this inevitable transition.”
In other words, despite making this very signal in early March, the federal government is doing the exact opposite a scant two months later. That is what happens when disinformation campaigns run headlong into immovable objects.
One can hope that some sense of reality is percolating through the madness. Some voices need to be heard, such as Saudi minister Prince Abdulaziz, who recently said: “The world needs to wake up to an existing reality. The world is running out of energy capacity at all levels.” Rystad Energy chimed in, pointing out global petroleum discoveries were the lowest in the last 75 years. This at the same time that global hydrocarbon investment is down, and demand is at record levels.
Minister Wilkinson is making the right call, if for the wrong reasons – Canada (and the world) needs to get back to work developing hydrocarbon infrastructure. Perhaps if they had listened to industry with one one-hundredth of the attention they listened to Minister Guilbeault’s old comrades, we wouldn’t be in such trouble. Vote well in a few years, Canada; in the interim, find some politicians that have a modicum of intellectual courage to stand against this insanity.
Terry Etam is a columnist with the BOE Report, a leading energy industry newsletter based in Calgary. He is the author of The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity. You can watch his Policy on the Frontier session from May 5, 2022 here.