The phrase “business as usual” will be one familiar to anyone who has spent some time mulling over the contents of the various Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted to the UN Secretariat pursuant to the provisions of the Paris Agreement. The context there is of (usually, developing) countries seeking to avoid any particular commitment to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), while appearing to be offering to do something. This is where “business as usual” (BaU) comes in. By postulating significant increased national emissions in years to come under a BaU scenario, they can then offer a reduction (often relatively small, or conditional on funding) against that BaU outcome. This usually has the effect of seeing significant increases in the country’s GHGs, while nevertheless offering up the vision of some sort of a cut. Indonesia’s NDC does that, for instance (see more below). However, what I want to talk about is the return to business as usual all around the world, in short order – in fact within a few days – of the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact.

US to release oil reserves in attempt to lower prices

This is the heading to an articlei which appeared on the BBC website on 23rd November 2021, i.e. just three weeks after US President Joe Biden left for home from Glasgow and COP 26 where he “…warned that the climate crisis poses “the existential threat to human existence as we know it” and urged other world leaders to embark upon a transformational shift to clean energy…”ii.

Given President Biden’s attempts to claim the climatic moral high ground both in the run up to COP 26 and while there, what follows does seem a little strange to anyone who took him at his word. And yet we find:

The US has said it is releasing 50 million barrels of oil from its reserves in an attempt to bring down soaring energy and petrol prices.

The move is being taken in parallel with other major oil-consuming nations, including China, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK.

US President Joe Biden has repeatedly asked the Opec group of oil-producing nations to boost output more rapidly.

Oil – and lots of it – is apparently good.

In a statement the White House said: “American consumers are feeling the impact of elevated gas [petrol/diesel] prices at the pump and in their home heating bills, and American businesses are, too, because oil supply has not kept up with demand.

“That’s why President Biden is using every tool available to him to work to lower prices and address the lack of supply.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the plan hasn’t had the desired effect. The BBC’s Scottish Business/economy editor, Douglas Fraser, wrote a follow-up articleiii on the next day in which he observed:

It didn’t go to plan. The market responded by pushing the spot price up by nearly $3 a barrel, so that it currently trades above $82.

So much for the Guardian articleiv (Will the coronavirus kill the oil industry and help save the climate?) which I criticised in “Oil Is Dead, Long Live Oil”v. It is more than a little ironic that the Guardian article included this:

Adding fuel to the fire of the pandemic is the price war being waged by Saudi Arabia and Russia, who increased production just as the pandemic slashed demand, sending prices towards the floor. The moves are seen as an attempt to grab market share by killing the higher cost producers behind the US shale boom.

The irony is that OPEC, which includes Russia and Saudi Arabia, is now agreeing to increase production only slowly. Presumably the oil-producing countries have worked out (after all, it isn’t difficult) that oil is far from dead, and that after a lean year/18 months the good times have returned. Maintain production at levels that keep the price high and they make good profits while maintaining their reserves. It’s pre-pandemic business as usual, and COP 26 has made not a blind bit of difference to it.

And as Douglas Fraser has very clearly seen, and points out:

All this seems a long way from the COP26 summit, when President Biden and many others were agreeing that oil and gas have to shrink massively, and not talking about supplying the market with more crude oil to help keep prices down.

It’s also a long way also from the pressure on the UK government to stop consent from new drilling and enhanced production.

Under short-term pressure, political leaders are likely to favour lower prices over lower emissions.

Ahead of the decision on whether to green light the Cambo gas field, west of Shetland, another significant voice is calling for continued drilling by the oil and gas industry in UK waters.

Tim Eggar used to be energy minister in the Conservative government of the 1990s. He is now chairman of the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

At a conference in London on Wednesday, he had two key messages. Following petrol shortages and with gas prices soaring: “Security of supply is back in vogue”.

The need for oil and gas to fuel transport, industry and heating will remain “for the foreseeable future,” he said.

And so, he argued, it’s better to produce it in UK waters, with lower emissions than arise from transporting it from other countries.

US auctions off oil and gas drilling leases in Gulf of Mexico after climate talks

This is the heading to an articlevi that appeared in the Guardian on 17th November 2021, just two weeks after US President Joe Biden returned to the USA from Glasgow. The period between the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact and President Biden’s announcement was even shorter, as the Guardian report tells us:

Just four days after landmark climate talks in Scotland in which Joe Biden vowed the US will “lead by example” in tackling dangerous global heating, the president’s own administration is providing a jarring contradiction – the largest ever sale of oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

The US federal government is on Wednesday launching an auction of more than 80m acres of the gulf for fossil fuel extraction, a record sell-off that will lock in years, and potentially decades, of planet-heating emissions.

The enormous size of the lease sale– covering an area that is twice as large as Florida – is a blunt repudiation of Biden’s previous promise to shut down new drilling on public lands and waters. It has stunned environmentalists who argue the auction punctures the US’s shaky credibility on the climate crisis and will make it harder to avert catastrophic impacts from soaring global heating.

It’s worth putting this in some sort of perspective, and the Guardian helpfully does so:

…the Department of the Interior, which oversees public lands and waters, has estimated there is as much as 1.12bn barrels of oil and 4.2tn cubic ft of gas available for extraction. A separate lease sale offered by the government in Alaska’s Cook Inlet will offer up another 192m barrels of oil and 301bn cubic ft of gas to drillers.

Combined, these leases would result in nearly 600m tons of planet-heating gases if fully developed over the next four decades, which is more than the total annual emissions of the UK.

This is deliberately exaggerating the scale of the issue – forty years’ worth of emissions being compared to one year’s emissions from the UK. However, it does come on top of the USA’s substantial pre-existing GHG emissions, and it does make a mockery of President Biden’s claims to “climate leadership”.

Indeed, as the Guardian stresses:

Critics say a worrying pattern has emerged during Biden’s tenure, with his administration handing out drilling permits at a rate of more than 300 a month since his inauguration, a faster pace even than under Donald Trump.

At the Glasgow talks, known as Cop26, the US also declined to sign on to an agreement to end coal mining, or to phase out gasoline and diesel cars.”

It seems that despite the substantial change in the USA’s Presidential leadership (Biden is – or at least is supposed to be – a rather different character from the much-maligned Trump), it’s still business as usual.

Polluting greenhouse gases being sold online and smuggled to UK

This is the heading to an articlevii which also appeared on the BBC website on 23rd November 2021. Unusually, given how the BBC and the Guardian so often seem to be in lock-step, I can’t say I’ve noticed this at the Guardian website. Perhaps it’s because the BBC made a bit of a song and dance about it (it was splashed all over radio and TV news bulletins on the BBC on that day) because it’s the result of a BBC investigation. The article explains the background thus:

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were developed as alternatives to ozone-depleting chemicals, which were banned under a global 1987 agreement known as the Montreal Protocol.

The deal banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were gradually replaced by HFCs.

HFCs are man-made, colourless and odourless.

They are mainly used in air conditioning, industrial chillers and fridges and can also be found in some aerosol propellants and fire protection fluids.

But they are powerful greenhouse gases, with some HFC blends thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Scientists previously discovered HFCs contribute to global warming by trapping heat radiating off the Earth.

The UK aims to reduce the use of HFCs by 69% by 2024.

Am I alone in a sense of deja vu? CFCs were bad for the ozone layer, therefore we replaced them with HFCs, but oh dear, HFCs are bad for global warming. It’s all a bit like when Gordon Brown as UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the urging of experts, reduced taxes on diesel cars because the experts assured him that they were better for global warming. But then, alas, we now find that diesel cars are otherwise polluting and the work of the Devil:

Gordon Brown introduced tax breaks for diesel cars as the UK chancellor in 2001 because they emit less CO2 than petrol-powered cars, but it is now known that they emit other harmful pollutants, known as nitrogen oxides.viii

I digress. Back to HFCs. This, apparently, is the problem:

The BBC’s investigation began at the Romania-Ukraine border, where HFCs made in China have been smuggled through in the boots of cars or in lorries.

We found scores of online adverts posted by local traders offering the gases for sale and met one trader, called “George”, who said he could get large quantities of HFCs.

After directing us to a quiet country road near the border crossing, he opened the boot of his car to reveal two canisters containing HFCs.

He offered them for roughly £100 each. They sell on the UK’s illicit market for up to £240.

HFCs made in China.” China, China, China. China joined with India in watering-down the Glasgow Climate Pact’s references to coal. Despite lots of political differences in many areas, China joined with Joe Biden in agreeing measures to try to increase supply and reduce the price of oil. And now we find China manufacturing these nasty HFCs. Business as usual.

Coal

According to Carbon Briefix (reporting what was said by China’s National Development and Reform Commission) China’s daily coal output this month has set a “historic new high” as part of efforts to ensure “energy security”. Apparently 360m tonnes of raw coal were produced in China last month, a rise of 4% on last year and 5.5% compared to 2019. Not content with that, China also imported almost 27m tonnes of coal in October 2021, almost double its coal imports in the same month in 2020. According to Reuters, the reported daily output was the highest since at least March 2015.

Efforts in China continue, to increase supplies of both coal and gas, in readiness for the upcoming peak winter months. China’s state grid has been warning of possible local electricity shortages.

Business as usual.

Meanwhile, in India, according to the Hindustan Times on 24th November 2014x:

Union minister for coal Pralhad Joshi on Monday asked the Coal India Ltd (CIL) and its subsidiaries to make “all out efforts” to ensure at least 18 days of coal stock with thermal power plants by the end of November.

The state-owned CIL has been prioritising the supply of coal temporarily to power producers to refill the reducing stocks of coal with them, news agency PTI reported.

During his virtual address during the 47th foundation day of CIL, the minister also called upon the central government subsidiary to increase its production to one billion tonnes by the end of 2024.

Business as usual.

There is, rightly I think, considerable focus on China and India with regard to coal use, but let’s not forget Indonesia. According to local publication, Mongabayxi:

Indonesia’s commitment [to phase out its coal-fired power plants by the 2040s] is so riddled with caveats that it makes the effort essentially “useless” — in particular the fact that the country is on track to add more coal capacity by 2030 than it plans to retire.

The government of President Joko Widodo is also betting big on giving the coal industry a second life through coal gasification, a process that yields a cleaner-burning fuel, but which, in producing it, is even more carbon-intensive than just burning coal.

Other measures the government is rolling out to keep coal plants burning longer include co-firing, where wood pellets are burned alongside coal, and the use of carbon capture technology criticized as unfeasible at scale.

And:

Indonesia has also made clear it’s not committing to the entirety of the pledge it just signed in Glasgow. Among the clauses that it refused to sign is one that would have obliged it to “cease issuance of new permits for unabated coal-fired power generation projects, cease new construction of unabated coal-fired power generation projects and to end new direct government support for unabated international coal-fired power generation.”

Business as usual.

Conclusion

In the UK, however, things are different. Net zero is being extolled, while energy prices reach new highs. Business is struggling. Energy supply companies are going bust at an unprecedented rate (another two went bust only todayxii), there have been (ironically) shortages of CO2xiii in September this year and petrol and diesel shortages (whatever their cause), all point to a country that is definitely not enjoying business as usual.

Actions speak louder than words. For all the hype around COP 26, the Glasgow Climate Pact is essentially meaninglessxiv. Even US President Joe Biden talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. Others don’t even talk the talk. It’s time for the UK establishment to realise that their “net zero” agenda is a suicide pact that nobody else has signed (though maybe Germany has just joined in…xv).

Endnotes

i https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59353194

ii https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/01/biden-cop26-speech-climate-change-action-us-lead-example

iii https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-59406217

iv https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/the-fossil-fuel-industry-is-broken-will-a-cleaner-climate-be-the-result

v https://cliscep.com/2021/09/30/oil-is-dead-long-live-oil/

vi https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/17/biden-administration-gulf-of-mexico-oil-gas-drilling-leases

vii https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-59061805

viii https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/01/uk-government-wrong-to-subsidise-diesel-says-former-minister

ix https://www.carbonbrief.org/china-briefing-18-november-2021-xi-biden-meeting-methane-emissions-historic-new-high-for-coal

x https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pralhad-joshi-asks-coal-india-ltd-to-ensure-power-plants-have-18-days-of-stock-by-november-2021-101635773501707.html

xi https://news.mongabay.com/2021/11/cop26-cop-out-indonesias-clean-energy-pledge-keeps-coal-front-and-center/

xii https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59414799

xiii https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-58626935

xiv https://cliscep.com/2021/11/20/the-partys-over/

xv https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-59399702

20 Comments

  1. “US President Joe Biden has repeatedly asked the Opec group of oil-producing nations to boost output more rapidly.”

    This is comically tragic. One of Biden’s first acts was to put an end to the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. A potential safe and secure increase of crude oil supply from an ally, right next door, not half way around the world. So to burnish his environmental credentials he killed it. Now he’s begging OPEC to increase supply? This is where “environmentalism” gets you. Completely nuts.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mark, you already know my theory about this, although I admit that I haven’t yet considered all the angles, so it is a bit grandiose to call it a theory at this stage.

    Under this hypothesis – a better term – the highest virtue is to be obtained by saying the right thing rather than by doing the right thing. I don’t know whether or not it is necessary to believe those words – it depends rather on whether you take a dimmer view of the speaker’s intelligence or their honesty. People say untrue things for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes they mean them and believe them. Honest stupidity or clever dissembling?

    Either way, soon the idle words crash into reality – as you observe, almost without a cigarette break between them. As a practical matter the earlier words mean nothing: there is only one winner now, reality.

    Now a blot on the hypothesis appears: how do you encompass the actions of the UK and Germany in their headlong rush to elevate virtue over prosperity? Well, so far at least it is mostly just words, and promises, and so far the pain is not great – it’s more the nervousness that comes before a visit to the dentist rather than the moment the drill whines up to full speed. I think the pain will not be borne for long.

    The other blot on the hypothesis is the why. I don’t have a good answer to this, other than that so far there is no cost to these – to us seemingly bordering on insane – pronouncements, and plenty of benefits to those who make them. Including to those who are most definitely lying.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. From the Toronto Globe and Mail (Paywalled)

    The political optics of a U.S. president conceding that OPEC has him over a barrel are anything but good. The last time it happened, when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, it did not end well. But Mr. Biden appears to be out of other options.

    Eleven progressive Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote this month to Mr. Biden to express their “support for your efforts to help families and businesses across the nation who are struggling to cope with soaring gasoline prices.” Yet, those same Democratic senators remain hostile to more domestic oil production or increased imports from Canada.

    Mr. Biden himself revoked a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office…….Americans might like the concept of net zero emissions, but, like voters almost everywhere, they have expressed little willingness to accept the lifestyle changes needed to get there. .

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  4. “Under this hypothesis – a better term – the highest virtue is to be obtained by saying the right thing rather than by doing the right thing. I don’t know whether or not it is necessary to believe those words – it depends rather on whether you take a dimmer view of the speaker’s intelligence or their honesty. People say untrue things for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes they mean them and believe them. Honest stupidity or clever dissembling?”

    You are right about virtue-signalling (which is within the context of signalling to a cultural group). But this doesn’t imply a conflict between intelligence and honesty. For those who ardently believe cultural narratives, their rationality is bypassed by said belief. Hence they can be perfectly honest (indeed *passionately* honest), plus intelligent too. Indeed millions and millions of people participate in cultural hypocrisies, for instance the nearly half of Americans who disbelieve the theory of evolution but still avail themselves of medical products that would likely never have existed if science had baulked at the fence of natural-selection versus creationism. This half of America is neither dishonest or dumb (having the normal range of intelligence). It is likewise regarding the cultural hypocrisy of many millions who “…like the concept of net zero emissions, but, like voters almost everywhere, they have expressed little willingness to accept the lifestyle changes needed to get there.” It would appear to help that publics know zip about climate-science or energy issues etc. But in practice there’s no evidence that polarization on culturally conflicted issues is less as knowledge rises, and there’s some evidence that it is actually greater (the more knowledgeable and cognitively capable people appear better able to defend what they *emotively* believe is true).

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  5. Another example of what Andy is talking about, we think we are rational, but our minds serve our emotional commitments, reality be damned. A scifi author once said: “Reality is that which continues to be no matter how much we think or wish otherwise.” Here’s Jane Menton at Manhattan Contrarian:

    “The Kyle Rittenhouse trial has given us an unusual opportunity to contrast uncontestable facts as shown on many video recordings with an endlessly repeated media narrative that seems to exist in an alternate reality. To my amazement, even after two full weeks of livestreamed trial, most notably featuring videos taken on the night at issue and a witness testifying that he had pointed a gun in Rittenhouse’s face, many on the left cling to the prior narrative of the case as though it contains a greater truth about our justice system and racism in this country and therefore cannot be disputed by facts.

    Could they just not have been paying attention? Or alternatively, do they have such a strong sense of emotional conviction that no amount of evidence, rationality, or logic can persuade them that Kyle Rittenhouse deserved the presumption of innocence and a fair trial?”

    https://www.manhattancontrarian.com/blog/2021-11-21-can-a-progressive-be-convinced-by-facts

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Andy, I agree with most of that. But.

    We can believe true things or false things. Most of us get a free pass for believing a wrong thing. We may not have been exposed to evidence that might counter that belief (or maybe we’ve deliberately avoided it, creeping into siloes etc). Such a belief might have been inculcated in us since the year dot (I’m thinking of those who do not believe in evolution). On the other hand we may have adopted the belief shallowly as part of cultural duck-speak, etc, either without ever thinking it through or because the saying of it is a cultural shield. That would explain hypocrisy easily enough.

    The great and good who lecture us about climate change don’t get the free pass because they have no such excuses for believing and/or saying wrong things. Before they lecture the rest of us, they should investigate the subject. They have minions for that sort of thing. If they did so they would not come out and say objectively impossible things – things that data or even reflection would quickly show are false.

    I had in mind two scenarios in which an impartial observer might observe and recognise statements shortly to be proven so. The first was a crack addict asking a friend for twenty quid, promising that this was his last hit and that he would give up the habit tomorrow. The second was a confidence trickster spinning a yarn to extract money from a sucker.

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  7. Ron – “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away,” ish, from P.K. Dick, who had his own interpretation of reality, but wrote some great stories. I was actually thinking of A Scanner Darkly earlier – my memory of it might be wrong, but I retain an impression of a gang, each of whom is a member of a different law enforcement organisation who thinks the rest of the gang are criminals.

    I am always reluctant to cross over from climate into culture wars proper. Only the jury know the full facts on the Rittenhouse trial, and that means to me that their verdict should be supported. Biden’s comments on that did no good for anyone. An example of how divided we are perhaps that two sides see that diametrically opposed things are perfectly obvious.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Whenever I read a magazine these days, there seems to be some kind of wibble about the effects of climate change. A case in point arrived today, in an otherwise sensible article about the health impacts of pollution (which already kills far more people per annum than shown in any of the models of the impact of climate change, even using RCP 8.5, which is a stupid and dishonest thing to do) you get this peculiar diatribe:

    “The climate is changing ten times faster than ever before in a planetary history that includes mass extinctions which wiped out more than 90 per cent of life on Earth. Half of that damage has been done in the last 25 years, since the publication of Al Gore’s first book on global warming and the formation of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – in other words, with the full knowledge of the scientific community and the effective consent of global political leaders. A quarter of the change has taken place since Barack Obama was elected president, having hubristically proclaimed that ‘this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’ Just a few years later, he bragged to an audience in Texas that ‘suddenly, America is the biggest oil producer. That was me, people.’”

    Ten times faster! How was that number calculated?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jit, thanks for recalling the source and his quote more exactly. The corollary for the global warming/climate change crowd is: Reality is that which doesn’t happen no matter how much we expect it to.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There is more than a little irony in Biden’s talking big about GHG emissions reductions, then his failed attempt to see the price of oil reduced. All it takes, it seems, is an announcement about a new covid variant:

    “Covid: Shares hit as new variant rattles investors”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59428927

    “…Concern the new variant could slow global economic growth sent oil prices sharply lower. US WTI crude tumbled 11.3% to $69.53 per barrel, while European benchmark Brent retreated 10.2% to $73.81….”.

    Like

  11. Mark, do read an extended rant by Lubos Motl on this. It starts this way:

    “Oh I see. So some African “scientists” have found a new genetic code of a SARS-CoV-2 descendant and called it the B.1.1.529 variant, also called “omicron” by the WHO or “nu” by others or (by the nutty Belgian PM) Covid-21. It has the highest number of mutations and maybe, perhaps, it will not only be more transmissible but also evade the immune system and other things. Millions of people clearly buy the garbage “science” news every day and today, this stuff is apparently enough to subtract 4% from DAX (the German index) while the Prague Index only lost 1.67% at the end (thank God, a lukewarm version of the psychopathy is here); some of the drop is “justifiable” by the fact that politicians are discussing new travel bans and similar things again (VIX, the index of fear, goes up damn 46%). How totally braindead do you have to become to buy something like that and react in this way? I am absolutely shocked by the sheer stupidity of so many people.”

    https://motls.blogspot.com/2021/11/farcical-pseudoscience-of-new-south.html

    Like

  12. Ron, yes that is quite a rant!

    I have always studiously tried to avoid going near covid in what I write, but since I introduced it to this thread indirectly in my last comment, I can’t complain.

    I would agree that the reaction does seem to have been OTT and borderline hysterical. My expectation (though I accept that I could easily be proved wrong) is that the latest variant will probably result in increased transmissibility of the virus, but with the symptoms experienced by those catching it being less severe. That’s how these things work – those outcomes are in the virus’ interests. Killing its host isn’t in its interest. Spreading more easily is.

    In saner moments on the BBC radio news this evening I did hear a scientists saying something along the lines of “it’ll be a few weeks before we understand how this variant will affect people and the consequences for humanity” (I paraphrase), but such a restrained, responsible and reasonable view doesn’t make headlines.

    Like

  13. Just when you think climate campaigners can’t become any more disfunctional:

    “Some climate campaigners praise Biden for releasing emergency oil reserves
    Move appears to contradict president’s climate crisis goals but some say it defends the economy ‘against disruption’”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/26/joe-biden-oil-reserves-climate-campaigners-praise

    “In a surprising move, some climate crisis campaigners have praised Joe Biden for ordering the release of emergency oil reserves in an attempt to reduce energy prices across the country.

    On Tuesday, the president announced the release of a record 50m barrels of oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in coordination with other countries including China, India and the UK….

    The move appears to contradict Biden’s long-term goals of addressing the climate crisis, including reaching a net-zero emissions economy and reducing American dependence on foreign fossil fuels, but some environmentalists have come out in support of his decision.

    Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who has focused extensively on the climate crisis, praised the Biden administration. “This is what reserves are for – defending our economy against disruption. Profiteering can’t go unanswered, especially as Big Oil makes billions and fuels the climate crisis through exports,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

    Markey attributed the surge in oil prices to oil companies and corporate greed, saying: “Some of the upward pressure on oil prices today is directly tied to the fact that oil producers can make more money by producing less oil … the smartest thing we can do to insulate America from future global oil price shocks is to reduce our dependence on oil in general, and especially foreign oil. That means investing in America’s transition to a clean energy future.”

    Lorne Stockman, research director of Oil Change International, an environmental group focused on creating a “fossil-free future”, said Biden should have acted sooner, if only to counter a barrage of Republican criticism blaming him for high gasoline prices.

    “Presidents are always blamed for high gas prices, whether they have anything to do with it or not,” Stockman said, calling the measure a small step to bring short-term relief to American consumers….”.

    Maybe I should have posted this comment on “Energy Through The Looking Glass”. We seem, increasingly, to be living in an Alice Through the Looking Glass world.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jit: “The great and good who lecture us about climate change don’t get the free pass because they have no such excuses for believing and/or saying wrong things.”

    I disagree. They have a cast-iron reason for doing what they do, although I wouldn’t label it an ‘excuse’. The patterns of attitudes to climate-change across global publics are *measurably* indistinguishable from any other strong culture. Indeed indistinguishable from the patterns of attitudes about religion, for instance. So ‘climate culture’ in the public domain is a ‘secular religion’. And religions don’t need to be ‘received’ (i.e. naturally picked-up during childhood, children are primed to pick-up cultural templates, and indeed many are picking up climate culture this way now). For those too old to have acquired this culture in childhood, there are millions of adults are also known to pick up religion too, and indeed many become some of the most fervent believers. The public-domain includes public authorities, who collectively have no more knowledge about climate-change than the publics they are supposed to serve, and indeed their statements are clearly those of avid belief, not rationality: https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/14/the-catastrophe-narrative/ It is a far more powerful culture than that growing around say extreme trans-rights or so-called ‘anti-racism’, and has been growing for decades.

    None of this means that anyone should be excused if they do anything that breaks institutional rules or indeed legality, in the name of the noble-cause of climate-change. Absolutely not. But believers in certain climate doom cannot be faulted as individuals for merely believing, whether they hold public authority or not. We don’t punish, say, priests in any way for merely believing in and indeed proselytising their faiths. And despite they have been the ‘great and good’ lecturing us about absolute fairy-tale nonsense for millennia, and despite too the fairy-tales have often had very negative effects indeed. We still respect them. We only punish them if they abuse the positions that cultural authority has given them, should they use this to try and get away with breaking institutional rules or legality. In principle, this should be no different for any culture.

    Ron has demonstrated above how white can be black for true believers (in this case as it happens, literally), no matter the complete trashing of logic this implies and against any amount of easily understandable evidence. No-one could make such stupid lies, and right across institutions / the media / authority / grass-roots support / everywhere. As Ron notes, ‘our minds serve our emotional commitments’. And also as noted, climate doom has had far longer to generate mass cultural inertia in publics (and public authorities) than the so called ‘anti-racist’ nouveau racism that has gripped the West (and especially the US) over the last few years. And it’s also no good having minions to investigate if all the minions believe too, and the minions of the minions, when cultural belief has crept through all institutions and hollowed them out. And when the scientists at ground level, so to speak, daren’t express to the minions or anyone else that apocalypse *isn’t* certain or anything like, even though they themselves know this is the case (and also confirm same in IPCC AR5, which fact is slowly lost as one climbs the ladder of summaries and summaries of summaries and then sound-bytes etc, where narrative competition rules ). And also when any critique in public or even in more knowledgeable forums is demonised (including quoting AR5, as Roger Pielke knows) – as part of behaviour that is unfortunately *completely normal* for all humans. This doesn’t make it anything but bad, and it’s not ‘excusable’ if actual wrong is enacted. Again anything like breaking the law (e.g. defying FOI) cannot be excused for any individuals – at the sharp end some actual individuals are culpable and should be brought to brook, but very rarely are when a huge culture is on their side. However the vast majority of folks, including the public authorities, are not doing anything actually wrong in terms of breaking any laws or whatever; they are merely *believing*. The source of the bad is not the individuals, whomever they may be; the enemy is a thing, a process.

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  15. Andy, I agree with most of what you say, but there are limits. Objective truth is a thing, and where it impinges on culture there must be some sort of skirmish at least. The farther reality is from the story, the more grating this clash must be. [Notwithstanding that at Cop26, the great and good implied that reality is subjective in the praise they heaped on indigenous knowledge and its necessity – not that I would prefer a companion with academic knowledge rather than indigenous knowledge if I magically teleported to Baffin Island.]

    I have to believe that if confronted by contrary evidence, I’ll change my mind. I may not want to emotively, so I might do my best to twist and turn in the wind to dodge said evidence, or try to incorporate it – but sometimes things can’t be dodged. Thus if compelling evidence came forward that we are in fact heading over a cliff thanks to climate change, I would have to change my mind. I don’t think I should hold myself to higher standards than those who set the laws I have to obey. To take an absurd example: if my culture maintained that Earth was a disc – then evidence to the contrary would be easy to obtain and hard to ignore.

    Perhaps the culture can only be beaten when its pursuit becomes dangerous. At the stage of “luxury belief”, i.e. in the atomised, information-drowned decadent West, anything goes. When eating or not eating is the question in the balance, hopefully objective reality can win out.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. JIT: “Perhaps the culture can only be beaten when its pursuit becomes dangerous. At the stage of “luxury belief”, i.e. in the atomised, information-drowned decadent West, anything goes. When eating or not eating is the question in the balance, hopefully objective reality can win out.”

    I think there is something in this for sure. One of the ways that measurement can tell there’s a culture in charge, is that reality-constrained questions produce systemically different results to unconstrained questions, and that’s because when reality bites (even in principle, via a survey question), culture must yield some (if it didn’t do this, we would never have become so subject to cultural beliefs). However, for a culture that’s built up lot of inertia, the amount of damage to reassert objectivity can be staggering. Germany didn’t surrender towards the end of WW2 because far too many in the population had become ardent believers in the culture of national socialism that was spiced with older anti-semitism and newer eugenics. Despite the failed plot on Hitler’s life, the vast majority of elites and the standard army too (i.e. not just SS) were still believers and abhorred the failed plot, as did most of the populace. They fought on until the infra-structure of the country was annihilated and no further fight was possible, plus until the cultural icon leader was dead, and even then there were many suicides from those who preferred death to giving up the culture, especially in the East where they’d been taught that the advancing Russians were sub-human (another fairy-tale) and so death was preferable to subjection. Similar in Japan, where the people believed that the emperor was a living god. This doesn’t mean every culture exacts such extreme loyalty, but these examples come from relatively modern and technological times, it is not ancient history. So who knows how dangerous the danger must be before the culture is relinquished? My own guess is that it will not come to anything like this; a more common path is that the culture morphs, i.e. in this case it will somehow wriggle out of a direct conflict with the realities of a crash Net Zero program, and continue life in an altered form.

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  17. Jit: “Under this hypothesis – a better term – the highest virtue is to be obtained by saying the right thing rather than by doing the right thing…….so far there is no cost to these – to us seemingly bordering on insane – pronouncements, and plenty of benefits to those who make them”

    I used to think that virtue signalling was always cost and essentially risk free. But Biden cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline permit carries significant consequences and risk. Releasing oil from the strategic reserve underscores the security risk to the US and high gasoline prices (basically controlled by OPEC) are a significant political risk for Biden. Not “bordering on insane” just total insanity.

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  18. Jit:

    Mark, you already know my theory about this, although I admit that I haven’t yet considered all the angles, so it is a bit grandiose to call it a theory at this stage.

    Truthful and endearing.

    Andy (one sentence of many that could be chosen):

    The patterns of attitudes to climate-change across global publics are *measurably* indistinguishable from any other strong culture.

    Depends what you mean by strong culture. Is that also *measurable*? Isn’t this whole house of cards which you often present much more grandiose than Jit’s self-effacing ‘theory’? Yet far less understandable than it?

    I’m currently reading Andrew Roberts on the life of Winston Churchill. I wonder how many historians like Roberts accept the premises of your overarching theory or theories? One would have thought a great majority of them, given the confidence you exude. But, this year, reading works of history by Jesse Norman (on Edmund Burke), Matt Ridley (on the history of innovation) and Roberts I’m struck by the utter complexity of human affairs. I hear no echoes at all of your ‘*measurably* indistinguishable’ from any of them (however scientific the phrase sounds – and note the phrenologists also measured all kinds of things until their theories were rightly consigned to the dustbin of history).

    I asked you about this almost a year ago Andy but you chose not to respond. Maybe it’s a once a year thing. I apologise for my use of the word bullshit then but I have to say it remains true to my evaluation now.

    This is a question of historiography. How many works of history have been published, in total? How many of them have supported your theory of history? My estimate: a very, very small percentage. So you don’t have the authority to come on this thread – my thread – and look down from a great height on what Bill said. And thus squash the conversation that would have happened without your intellectual-sounding but empty putdown.

    That was on my own thread called Provocation. An answer this time around would be appreciated.

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  19. Richard: “Depends what you mean by strong culture. Is that also *measurable*? ”

    Yes. for instance religion (and for basic enough values, all Faiths act as one in this regard). Same attitude patterns.

    “Isn’t this whole house of cards which you often present…”

    You can apply that descriptor only if you can demonstrate why the explanations and the data supporting them are wrong. Or at least if you can’t challenge the data, provide alternate (I presume, largely non-cultural, explanations) for same. If you can’t this doesn’t mean it’s right either, it just means it’s a theory, neither gospel nor a house of cards; something that ultimately stands or falls on it’s explanatory power and according to such data as can be mustered.

    “I wonder how many historians like Roberts accept the premises of your overarching theory or theories?”

    Virtually none, I would think. It’s ultimately a product of cultural evolution / cultural cognition and adjacent studies. As far as I’m aware this has a very small overlap indeed with historians.

    I have no problems with the word bullshit, as long as folks can back this up. But you haven’t. You simply think it’s wrong, which is fine.

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  20. “Opec to pump more oil but keeps door open for cuts over Omicron risk
    Oil cartel will put stop to planned increase if new Covid variant leads to further travel and trade restrictions”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/dec/02/opec-agrees-to-pump-more-oil-but-factors-in-cuts-owing-to-omicron-covid-variant

    “The Opec cartel and its allies have agreed to pump more barrels of oil from January, but left the door open to putting the brakes on production should the Omicron variant lead to further restrictions on travel and trade.

    The global price of crude briefly fell to $66 (£49.60) on Thursday, its lowest level since mid-August, after ministers from some the world’s biggest oil producing countries agreed to go ahead with a plan to increase production by 400,000 barrels a day in the new year.

    The oil price climbed back towards $70 a barrel after Opec+ agreed the meeting would not formally close. The unusual move was so the cartel could “continue to monitor the market closely”, pending any new developments, and make “immediate adjustments” rather than wait for the next meeting on 4 January.

    The move is likely to cap global oil prices at around their current level, well below the three-year highs of $86 a barrel reached in October, and pile pressure on fuel retailers to pass the savings on to hard-hit motorists.

    The cartel’s decision to leave its oil production policy unchanged for now may suggest that Opec+ is banking on new travel restrictions being short-lived if existing vaccines prove effective against the Omicron variant of Covid-19, or if its symptoms are milder than earlier variants of the virus.

    But if the situation worsens, the oil alliance would be able to bring in immediate cuts to its planned production in order to shore up prices on the global oil market.”

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