NY Times, Sunday, March 12, 2023
The greenwashing crews of petro-criminal gangs like BP, Shell and Chevron and the rest continue to score big with for-profit media. Today’s New York Times features a front-page article with 10 paragraphs of hype that must have given oil executives a collective super-orgasm.
But wait! There’s more. The story CONTINUES inside with a 2-PAGE SPREAD and 13 full color photos describing what seems to be a heroic BP climate-saving effort. (These 13 photos are in addition to the 2 photos on the front page.) As expected, the New York Times is largely factually correct, but the implications of the story are false and disturbing.
First of all, BP is not taking a big gamble. This project is subsidized by YOU and by other taxpayers around the world. The project in question, and many other similar projects, were spurred by money provided by taxpayers via the Inflation Reduction Act here in America, and similar measures taken in the EU, India, Australia and other countries. Free money? Why shouldn’t these for-profit behemoths take it? Wouldn’t it be cheating the shareholder if they left the money on the table?
Well, let’s not discuss that. Let’s talk about the big gamble that BP is taking, a gamble that will allegedly slash C02 emissions and help save the world. And while they enrich themselves with taxpayer money, let’s help these planet abusers cover the stink of oil with the perfume of faux clean energy.
That’s what the New York Times is doing here. Yes, they do mention that governments are offering subsidies, but those are quickly papered over, promoting the implication that those subsidies are good things, sparking wonderful projects like this one by BP.
This story reads like a love letter to the fossil fuel industry. You can almost hear the cheer:
“Yippee! Capitalism works! With a few subsidies and policy tweaks, the oil companies and capitalism will save the world!”
The Story Is (Somewhat) Balanced IF You Turn To Page Twelve
The view that “green hydrogen” is mostly hype and of little or no help towards saving the climate is introduced and briefly mentioned — once you delve deep inside the paper. Just turn to page 12 and you’ll see the other viewpoint, IF you ignore the many color photos on the giant 2-page spread which — with the helpful captions — tells the glorious story of BPs world-saving project.
Those who dismiss green hydrogen as useless and projects like this one in Australia as greenwashing are quickly dismissed. One Australian billionaire says that opponents don’t understand the science. The Times itself diminishes the opposing view by making certain unsourced statements, including one that says other forms of clean energy couldn’t be used here because they “would strain the grid.”
So, let’s see. Tools and equipment that are used in industry can’t be powered by solar or wind because they must have energy produced via (so-called) green hydrogen? Now, who exactly says these other forms of energy would “strain the grid?” And why would green hydrogen — which doesn’t yet exist in significant quantity and won’t exist until this project creates it — NOT strain the grid?
Let’s just say it. This is utter bullcrap.
A Good Man. A Bad Plan. Australia.
(If you didn’t get it, this sub-head is a parody of the famous palindrome: a man, a plan, a canal, Panama.)
This project headed mostly by BP is taking place in Australia, and an Australian billionaire named Andrew Forrest is a big part of it. His company, Fortescue Metals Group, has been damaging the climate through massive C02 emissions. But, a few years back, Andrew saw a film about the climate crisis and decided that HIS company was going to find a way to slash C02 emissions — and create a profitable but Earth-friendly model for other companies.
I have no doubt that Mr. Forrest is both sincere and smart. Unlike BP, which is a bloodless monster, Andrew is genuinely concerned. Frankly, I like him very much.
But he’s wrong. And for-profit companies should have no role — NONE — in making decisions about the climate or our energy future.
That’s because the essence of a for-profit corporation is that it exists solely to maximize profits for its shareholders. That is its primary and, in fact, only goal. We are supposed to believe that, using subsidies and perhaps some regulations, these same corporations can become heroes of the Earth, repairing the damage they caused to the climate. This never happens. Instead, they pretend to — as needed — so they can continue to maximize profits while they emit increasing quantities of planet-destroying C02. Make no mistake: C02 emissions are at their highest ever — and increasing. This alone proves that all the hype is just that — greenwashing.
The Other Front Page Story
The “good news” of BPs clean energy green hydrogen project is contrasted with the bad news headlined “Administration Said To Support Alaska Drilling.” This other front page story reports that the Biden administration has seemingly approved a giant oil drilling project in the Arctic Circle which will extract 600 million barrels of crude oil from the area over 30 years.
The story largely frames the issue as a political one — and that Biden feels pressure to approve the project even though he’s reluctant to allow more drilling.
That the entire planet and everyone on it is imperiled is ignored or diminished. Instead we are reminded that it’s an unfortunate development for a small native community of 500 people. Kind of sad, but not Earth shattering.
Except, in real life, it IS Earth-shattering. But, reading the New York Times story, you end up focusing on what it means for the Democrats in the next election.
I write stories like this with some reluctance. I don’t want us to focus on the specific crimes being committed or get caught up in “debates” over issues which climate scientists have already clarified. We need to slash C02 emissions and sharply reduce use of fossil fuels. Full stop. No discussion. No debates.
Rather than regurgitating the same arguments — which is a key tactic of climate abusers that enables them to continue their deadly behavior — we need to simply dismiss or ignore those arguments as history and lies. Which is what they are.
And we need to demand and force the changes that fossil fuel companies, giant financial monstrosities (like Goldman Sachs) and oil-stained governments refuse to make. And we need to promote and model a better civilization and a better future. None of our opponents have any positive vision to offer. They don’t care.