Discover more from Irina Slav on energy
Whenever I need to take a break from the fascinating world of energy and the transition, I visit Bored Panda. An ultra-liberal, rainbowy website, the Panda is nevertheless a great place for a break because of its “Funny” section.
The other day I accidentally glanced at a post outside of that section and a word caught my eye. The word was “unalive” and was used in some story related by some internet user. It didn’t take me long to realise that “unalive” — a verb — was being used in the stead of “murder” and “kill”. The comments section returned some of my hope in humanity with its quiet outrage.
One comments section, alas, will not be enough. Because the existence of the word “unalive” is a symptom of the broader disease tied to the emergence and spread of the climate change cult.
The reason that Bored Panda is using an idiotic made-up word is auto-censorship. Apparently, advertisers are sensitive about vulgarity, so Bored Panda censors everyday curse words and even their more innocent synonyms.
But it has also gone the extra mile to censor non-vulgar words such as “murder” and “kill”, too. We live in extra sensitive times, after all, we even have sensitivity readers to censor books lest someone gets offended. And trigger warnings, too.
It is sensitivity again that climate crusaders claim is the reason for their actions and may I just say how pleased I was to see an authority such as Professor William Happer also call them crusaders, thank you.
According to them, Earth is sensitive to human influence and is currently suffering from the planetary equivalent of an allergic reaction, to put it crudely. To stop this allergic reaction we must remove the allergen, i.e. carbon dioxide, and who cares if that means we will destroy the flower producing it, which is modern human civilisation. I sometimes amaze myself at how far I can stretch a silly metaphor before it snaps.
In keeping with this growing and intensifying sense of sensitivity in every single aspect of life, certain language has become obligatory while other language has become taboo.
“Cheap wind and solar” is obligatory, even in reports that talk about the rising costs of both. Using “unabated” in front of the name of any hydrocarbon in a transition context is also becoming obligatory. Using any positive adjective with hydrocarbons is taboo as is the use of the very word “hydrocarbons”. It’s “fossil fuels” or nothing. And that’s just the start.
"Chevron is evaluating opportunities for our East Texas assets and is committed to safely delivering high returns and lower carbon," the company said this week in comments on a report it has sale plans for the abovementioned assets.
“Lower carbon”? Really? It’s nothing but an empty phrase that the spokesperson apparently felt was necessary to tie to the ultimate purpose of the business, which is higher returns. And that spokesperson is not at all the only one, of course. Everyone in Big Oil slaps “lower carbon” or an equivalent empty phrase on all statements about future plans.
Even the Middle Eastern oil majors are doing it. It was none other than the controversial president of this year’s COP who called for tripling wind and solar capacity by 2030. It may sound amusing but it is yet another example of people trying to construct a reality from language because some other people have become extremely sensitive to actual reality.
“A global push toward cleaner energy including electric vehicles is expected to sap gasoline and diesel demand, making it harder for fuel makers to justify expensive investments in new facilities.”
The above quote, from Bloomberg, sums up the manufacturing of reality through language perfectly. Sure, it’s not the only one but it’s fresh and I found it especially good as sum-ups go. Sensitive people are worried about the planet. Sensitive people want to hear this reality will change, and soon. Wordsmiths in the media deliver, lest the sensitive people concerned about the future of the planet break out in mental hives.
I’ve long maintained and will continue to maintain that the belief human activity, and specifically the activity of the energy industry, is solely responsible for changes in Earth’s climate is a demonstration of egregious arrogance.
It’s the same arrogance that claims skin colour is the sole determinant of whether you are privileged or disadvantaged. Both manifestations of arrogance are based on a deep hypersensitivity to, well, everything.
Or perhaps they’re based on the belief in this hypersensitivity but hey, you’re as sensitive as you feel, right? And the cure for this sensitivity is language because physical reality doesn’t care about people’s sensitivities. Nature is a mother and not a helicopter one.
Manufacturing reality through language is deepening the divide between that reality and the actual one. Such divides are not exactly healthy. In fact, they are extremely unhealthy and we’re already seeing the first results in reports about climate anxiety, depression, and identity confusion, along with the utter incapability of grasping the importance of energy security. Well, at least until this security goes away, I guess, but I’m not really sure any more.
Now, let me tell you a story that has nothing to do with oil or the transition, at least on the surface. It’s a very sad story about a generation that will grow up lonely and unhappy with all the side effects that loneliness and unhappiness cause.
One day on X, I came across the post of a young man who was sharing his opinion of “Twilight”. I’m sure none of you, or most of you, haven’t read it but you’ve probably heard about it. It was a massive publishing success, after all. And a movie success. Anyway, this young man described the book as a story about stalking and grooming.
At first, I was taken aback, even though I’d seen similar opinions before, all from young people. Then I wondered how it could be that someone can interpret a classic puppy love story as a story about stalking and grooming.
I concluded that it could only happen if the person doing the interpretation has no clear notion of what love is, puppy or otherwise. They also appear not to have a notion of what grooming is, because if they did, they would not have used that word for a book such as “Twilight”.
This was one very scary conclusion, I don’t mind telling you. Because this young man — and all the commentators who agreed with him — was actually repeating words he had seen elsewhere. These accusations of “stalking and grooming”, as I said, are not new.
They are part of a narrative that emerged a few years ago with the probably unconscious purpose to destroy stories that a decade ago were perfectly good and non-controversial but are now inappropriate for the very same reasons they were so popular just a decade ago.
These days, it’s not enough for a story to be a story. It has to have certain obligatory elements or it’s not fit for publication, and by the way I say this as a reader (and translator), not a writer. These days, every story must have a moral and it must be a very specific moral that, for lack of a better word, I’ll call hyperliberal.
That’s how “Twilight” turned from a rather decent love story with a twinkly vampire twist into a story about stalking and grooming. Because caring for someone and defending them at all costs, which is the main theme in the whole book series, is no longer appropriate. What’s appropriate, apparently, is crafting stories that aim to educate the reader about the one right way to view the world. Sound familiar?
“Immediate, permanent cuts in fossil fuel use are necessary to keep the hope of reaching 1.5°C alive,” Norwegian DNV said in a report out this week.
“Every action to reduce emissions and accelerate transition is important, as it is crucial to stay as far below 2°C as possible,” the assurance and risk management body said.
This is the equivalent of “stalking and grooming”. The immediate and permanent cuts in hydrocarbon use are neither necessary nor possible, yet by calling for them, DNV signals its membership of the in crowd, saying that the story of modern energy systems is a story of stalking and grooming.
At the same time, on a more practical level, the message will drive further down home the point that it’s better to invest in the transition than in oil and gas. Oil and gas are bad and “Twilight” is a story about stalking and grooming.
It is not crucial to stay as far below 2 degrees as possible because it’s not even clear whether the dubious global average temperature will increase by this much by 2050, not to mention that it is far from clear if any actions we take now would have any palpable effect on said temperature. Some scientists have warned the temperature fight is already lost. Oddly, they seem to have disappeared from the public space.
But “Science tells us that we must achieve a net-zero energy system by 2050,” we are informed by DNV’s chief executive. Yep. More stalking and grooming.
Just as it is trendy to manufacture a reality in which certain books are claimed to send the opposite message of the one they actually do — using specific words, by the way, not just random ones — it is trendy to try and manufacture a reality in which we must all become fixated on a number followed by two symbols and change our lives in pursuit of that number.
Alas, it’s more than a trend. Reality-manufacturing through language in presumable defence of the sensitive among us — including the planet we inhabit, notably — has become a business and I suspect it’s doing pretty well, this business.
The problem is that realities built on language don’t tend to last long. They simply give in to the weight of material reality. The problem is that by the time this happens, a lot of people will be damaged beyond repair.
These would be — and already are — people with no notion of what words actually mean because they have been subjected to the subversion of these meanings — and the concepts words represent — in service to the trendy narrative, whether in fiction or energy.
Can you imagine so many people growing up with no notion of what love, this simplest of feelings, actually is? Instead, they grow up with a complicated semblance of an idea of what appropriate love should look like and how anything short of the perfect construct of love is toxic and unacceptable.
That’s the price of being in the in crowd. It’s a steep price, a ruined generation. Just look at all those children suing countries for emissions, firm in their belief it is their duty, nay mission to do so.
These are the same children who, given half a chance, would claim love as the older ones among us see it is stalking and grooming, or at the very least toxically male or patriarchal or something. Because they are being told it is so, repeatedly and incessantly. After all, you don’t construct a reality from language with just one casual remark.
There’s a verbal onslaught and it’s targeting the generation that will take over from us in running the world. This was not the zombie apocalypse so many of us pictured while we breathlessly followed the fate of the survivors in “The Walking Dead”. It’s a lot worse.