As I pointed out in Environmentalists Want Your Business – my previous article in this series – Interface, Inc. CEO and Founder Ray Anderson touts his conversion to “sustainable business” as being incredibly profitable in the marketplace as the perceived goodwill of consumers drives up sales even as the rigorous pursuit of efficiencies in operations and processes drives costs down.
Meanwhile, redundant and punitive government regulations and fees designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions are also, not coincidentally, designed to curb the growth of oil, gas, and coal companies themselves. Environmentalists lobby governments the world over to “reinvest” – i.e., redistribute – the wealth and business they’re taking away from Big Oil and Big Coal and put it instead into solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power.
Forget that leading voices – Al Gore, for instance – in this environmentalist crusade stand to reap huge returns on their own investment of capital, time, and reputation if and when the governments of the world comply and force everyone else to comply with their demands. The supposedly altruistic Global Warming alarmists would have you believe that only people like me – men and women working for these dirty old energy companies – are motivated by self-interest. Only we can put our self-interest ahead of the common good, thereby plunging all of humanity headlong into long-term disaster in order to make a selfish buck now.
There’s just one problem with that line of thinking: it isn’t true.
Point-of-fact, claims that fossil fuel companies or the people who work for them only care about short-term profits and not about the rest of humanity or the planet we all share amount to a dishonest, underhanded attempt by environmentalists to silence dissent and vilify honest, hardworking men and women all over the U.S. and across the world. Not only are such claims and allegations from environmentalists false, they’re also slanderous, not to mention inherently counterproductive.
Yet environmentalists have crafted a narrative in which they are the heroes whose moral superiority to everyone else on the planet is not to be questioned. On the other hand, anyone who makes a living like I do, by steadily increasing the productivity or standard of living of humanity, harvesting the Earth’s bountiful resources and making them available to the rest of mankind, is a villain.
Only I am not a villain, nor is it villainous to harvest and refine and use the Earth’s resources. Quite the opposite, really.
If anything is villainous it is the incessant throwing of temper tantrums by environmentalists in which they insist that everyone besides them immediately and unequivocally cede ownership and control of planet Earth. In short, they are megalomaniacal. Towards the end of saving the Earth from men like me, environmentalists want your government and they want to govern you very closely.
And to persuade you to give them what they want, they resort to doom and gloom scare tactics. Because my work in oil and gas is motivated by self-interest – as careers and employment necessarily are and must be when you have bills to pay and a family to feed – there’s enough truth to the environmentalist narrative that the lazy-minded and those easily made jealous accept it wholesale without critical examination.
Yet as a man who works in the oil and gas industry, I’d like to set the record straight about why self-interest also means I should have a voice in this debate over whether the governments of the world should just be handed over to the likes of Al Gore.
My Start in Oil and Gas
It was not a goal of mine to have a career in the oil and gas industry. It just worked out that way.
A little over four years ago we were still living in Ohio. The unemployment rate was very high in our area. Job openings were scarce and seemingly all of them required commuting an hour on your own dime and your own time. The minimum requirements for the few available jobs were often high relative to what I had – often two or more years prior experience or a 4-year degree. Wages and advancement opportunities were very low even if you could get on in some entry-level position.
After almost a decade of being in the work force, I hadn’t progressed very far from my first job in high school as a part-time fitness instructor at the local YMCA making $7 an hour. Since high school I had spent two years in college, worked about three years as a billing clerk for a trucking company, installed flooring for a few months, worked in the finishing department of a label printing factory, and lastly I had trained for over six months to become a freight broker for the second-largest logistics firm in the U.S.
That last job had paid the best of any before it. Sadly, even there the initial salary wasn’t enough to cover our family’s bills. My wife Lauren and I had been married for five years and had four young children. My paychecks weren’t buying adequate groceries for us all. To make up the difference we had to rely on food stamps and the generosity of my dad on a weekly basis.
At 25-years-old, I was extremely discouraged. Was this as good as life was ever going to get? I honestly wasn’t sure how we could possibly keep going like this.
Then one day, out of the blue, I got a private message on Facebook from my Aunt Connie back in Montana. She had heard I was looking for work again for the umpteenth time and advised me to talk to my cousin Brent, then living in Williston, North Dakota. She told me there was a lot of oil and gas development stimulating the local economy there and that he had been doing very well for himself in the six months to a year since he’d come out from Billings.
So I called up my cousin Brent and talked with him about the situation. He confirmed that there were indeed lots of jobs available and far too few workers in the area to fill those jobs. As a result of this unbalanced job-to-worker ratio, entry-level wages and opportunities for advancement were nothing short of incredible. All a man needed do was get out there, find a place to live, decide which company he wanted to work for, and apply himself.
Within a week of talking with Brent I had made the 1,400 mile trek back to my hometown of Glendive, Montana. It quickly became clear that looking for work in Montana would be the exact opposite of what Ohio had led me to expect over the years.
On day one of my job search I had put in four applications. Of those four, the first two led to entry-level jobs that kept me busy and brought in a little money while I continued searching for something longer-term. The other two applications I submitted on day one led to even better job offers in the coming weeks. Not only that, but on that same first day of searching for work in Montana, I also made contact with a recruiter who would in the next couple of weeks match me to the job I’m still doing today, four years later, operating oil and gas wells in Western North Dakota.
The booming oil and gas industry in Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana drastically improved my family’s lot in life.
Now is probably as good a time as any to tell you that I work for a super-major oil company. Yes, not only do I have a day job in the oil and gas industry. I work for “Big Oil.”
And it is without apology that I work for a super-major oil company, I might add. I’m unapologetic because my “Big Oil” employer not only paid me great wages, gave me great training, provided great benefits and a great working environment, helped facilitate me and my family moving to Sidney, Montana; they also provided down-payment assistance for our first home purchase so I could live closer to work. My experience working for a super-major oil company has been a far cry indeed from not even being able to get a call back from Pizza Hut or Taco Bell.
Even though the cost of living was and still is higher than back in Ohio, my take-home pay the past four years has been several times what it was before the move. As a result of these higher wages, Lauren and I bought our first home. We traded our small, cramped crossover for a spacious family van. Good benefits meant that between my health insurance and a Health Savings Account I was able to comfortably pay our medical bills. We were able to afford good homeschool curriculum for our kids, as well as trips to Yellowstone National Park and other educational places.
With some of my surplus earnings, Lauren and I were able to help my brother and two brothers-in-law as they also made the transition from economically-depressed Ohio to opportunity-rich Montana. In that way, we payed forward the blessing my grandparents and aunts and uncles had extended to me when I stayed with them those first few months when I was still searching for a home to rent. My wife and I were also able to give to charity and our church. Most satisfying of all, I was finally able to pay my dad back several thousand dollars of the money he had given us over the years we had struggled, prior to our moving back to Montana.
Financially speaking, working in the oil and gas industry has allowed me to take care of my family like never before. In four short years, I’ve gone from feeling incredibly vulnerable and dependent on the government and the generosity of friends and family to being able to not only provide for my family’s needs, but help others as well.
As much as environmentalists and Global Warming alarmists love to rail against oil and gas and coal companies, what usually isn’t even eluded to is that these industries are full of real men and women just like me, simply trying to provide for their families. What’s more, last I checked we in the oil and gas industry call this planet home too. For the same reason we want to put a roof over our wive’s and children’s heads, clothes on their backs, food in their stomachs, and books in their hands, we have no interest in seeing the Earth destroyed.
And yet fossil fuel companies are often likened to drug dealers and “Big Tobacco.” Specifically, the comparison is routinely made between how tobacco companies decades ago hid from the public scientific studies linking cigarettes with cancer, and how fossil fuel companies today oppose claims that human activity is primarily responsible for Global Warming, and that Climate Disruption is something we can change.
Except there’s at least one major problem with that comparison. The employees of tobacco companies choose whether or not to smoke cigarettes themselves, and they can discourage their family and friends from smoking them; in that way, the carcinogenic hazards inherent in cigarettes can be limited to customers. The choice belongs to each individual whether they smoke or not, at least now that most states have laws prohibiting smoking in public places; in other words, we are not all in the same boat.
If, on the other hand, Global Warming is really caused primarily by humanity’s continued use of fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal, and if the continued use of those fuels actually does end up destroying the planet, people like me who are employed in these industries are in the same predicament everyone else is. In short, I have no reason to deny Global Warming is real, man-made, or dangerous against my better judgment because my security and my family’s is as much at stake as everyone else’s.
I not only can, I must still think objectively about Global Warming while working for Big Oil for the same reason I go to work every day: because I love my family and want what’s best for them.
If you care about your children and grandchildren, you have to care about energy.
The truth is that the developed and developing world alike needs energy to grow. Whether you like it or not, most of that energy comes from oil, gas, and coal due to their being relatively inexpensive and plentiful.
One significant bright spot in the American economy in particular since the Great Recession started has been white-hot economic growth in places like North Dakota and Texas, caused entirely by oil and gas development made possible as new and exciting advances in horizontal drilling and fracking unlocked massive shale oil reserves.
And mine wasn’t the only family that saw a dramatic change in circumstances due to this economic growth. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of men and women from all over America, and indeed all over the world, traveled to these areas for the plentiful high-wage jobs. And even when they didn’t move their families with them or move permanently, these workers were able to send their large paychecks home. This in turn stimulated the economies of towns and cities all over the U.S. and the world.
As a direct consequence of the shale oil revolution that started in North Dakota and Texas, America’s oil and gas production shot through the roof and brought the global price of oil down. That is to say, if you’ve enjoyed a lower price at the pump the past couple of years, you have American energy companies and men like me to thank for that. It simply wouldn’t have happened had we not unlocked American oil trapped in shale formations in places like North Dakota and Texas.
Last I checked, though Toyota has its Prius, Chevy sells its Volt, and Elon Musk will soon be offering up his Tesla Model 3 for as little as $35,000, the vast majority of the world still drives around in cars, vans, and trucks with good old-fashioned gasoline or diesel engines. That is to say we still need oil to make the world go round at this point in history.
Even when it comes to electric cars, however, the question needs to be asked how the electricity is generated which charges their batteries. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 67% of the 4 trillion killowatthours of electricity in 2015 was generated from either coal, natural gas, or petroleum. Whether or not it’s more efficient and less impactful on the environment to convert fossil fuels to electricity and then put that electricity into cars, the fact remains that we still need fossil fuels to generate electricity or else even the electric cars will cease to run.
Now you probably don’t work in the oil and gas industry like I do. Even so, cars, vans, trucks, and buses almost certainly drive you to work regardless what sort of work you do. If those vehicles can’t be fueled, they won’t be going anywhere. If those vehicles stop moving, you won’t be driving to work, the groceries won’t be delivered to your local grocery store for you to buy them, your pizza delivery guy won’t be delivering pizza to your house, and so on and so forth. In short, like it or not, your ability to earn a paycheck and feed your family is dependent on fossil fuels.
This is to say nothing of the natural gas that heats homes all over the world during the cold winter months, or the innumerable plastic parts made from petroleum which are used in tools, appliances, electronic devices, toys, and preservative packaging for our foods, cleaners, and a million other things.
We need fossil fuels, and the demonization of those who work hard to extract, transport, and provide them to the public needs to stop.
In his 2008 TED Talk, former Vice President and Global Warming con artist Al Gore conveyed very clearly the sentiments of most environmentalists regarding fossil fuels:
“Junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and their legs collapse. Developing tar sands and coal shale is the equivalent.”
That is to say that Gore prefers comparing humanity’s dependence on oil, natural gas, and coal as something akin to either a drug addict shooting up with heroin, or a drug dealer selling deadly poison on a street corner. And while I’d like to hope that his comparison is just an exercise of poetic license, I fear it isn’t. As is evidenced by countless other remarks, suggestions, and efforts by him and the scientists, celebrities, and businessmen on his bandwagon, it seems clear that Gore and his environmentalist ilk would like oil, gas, and coal restricted or banned much the way heroin is.
If the world’s dependence on fossil fuels is to be likened to an addiction to dangerous narcotics, the environmentalists are hoping to wage a war on oil, gas, and coal very similar to America’s War on Drugs. Only supposedly everyone’s an addict now, and it’s going to be much trickier persuading all Americans that driving their car to work or paddling down the river in a plastic kayak makes them a junky. I mean, what are they going to do, lock people up for possession of plastics or cars that burn too much fuel?
Lest we dismiss that thought as too ridiculous to entertain, there was that one time in 2014 when the EPA literally sent a SWAT Team to seize a North Carolina couple’s Land Rover because it didn’t meet the EPA’s new vehicle emission standards. There was that.
The simple truth is that environmentalists want your government.
As I’ve said before, Al Gore still hasn’t gotten over losing the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush. And the way he found consolation in losing was in reinventing himself as the high priest and holy prophet of Mother Earth, hypocritically jetting around the globe burning copious amounts of jet fuel even as he preached hellfire and brimstone for the sins of wealth-generation, human productivity, economic growth, capitalism, and fossil fuel use.
What has followed in the wake of his book and film, An Inconvenient Truth is nothing less than a coordinated global propaganda campaign meant to associate in the public imagination natural disasters and weather with a sort of divine retribution by an angry anthropomorphic Earth Mother tired of mankind chopping down her forests and polluting her streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Yet that campaign hasn’t contented itself with merely persuading gullible individuals or leaving it to them to privately choose what to do about their own personal consumption and waste. Al Gore has been insistent from the very beginning that what is needed is an all-out political revolution.
In Averting the climate crisis, immediately preceding release of An Inconvenient Truth in May of 2006, the former Vice President very candidly told his audience at TED:
“We have to change the minds of the American people. Because presently, the politicians do not have permission to do what needs to be done.”
Just shy of two years later, in March 2008’s New thinking on the climate crisis, Gore came back to TED to tell his audience that, though it’s all well and good to make personal choices to be more green and invest in “sustainable” products, you can’t stop there.
“…As important as it is to change the lightbulbs, it is more important to change the laws.”
Later in that same talk Gore went on to explain the successes of his organization’s efforts elsewhere in the world, specifically in Australia, as a means of emboldening his disciples to keep fighting the good fight in the U.S.
“Australia had an election. And there was a campaign in Australia that involved television and Internet and radio commercials to lift the sense of urgency for the people there. And we trained 250 people to give the slideshow in every town and village and city in Australia. [A] lot of other things contributed to it, but the new Prime Minister announced that his very first priority would be to change Australia’s position on Kyoto, and he has. Now, they came to an awareness partly because of the horrible drought that they have had.”
Did you catch that?
In 2006 Al Gore whined to his audience at TED that people weren’t buying the Global Warming bit. Two years later he was back to brag about how his force of 250 activists delivering the environmentalist gospel all over Australia, combined with a drought Australians had just been manipulated into associating with man’s efforts, led to the election of a politician with a mandate to ratify the Kyoto Protocol which at that time only Australia and the U.S. had yet to get on board with.
This is that same Kyoto Protocol which, when signed in 1997, Gore bemoans that only 1 in 100 U.S. Senators would vote to confirm and ratify.
It would seem democracy is a beautiful thing only so long as the environmentalists get what they want. When, however, only 1 in 100 elected U.S. Senators will vote to ratify a treaty because they deem that it’s not in the best interests of their constituents, Gore can only conclude that our democracy is broken and in need of intervention from him and his disciples.
The environmentalist brand is crisis.
Former NASA scientist and political activist James Hansen, arrested in 2011 along with about 100 others during a protest at the White House against mountaintop mining in West Virginia, delivered a TED Talk in 2012 titled Why I must speak out about climate change. In it he raised the alarm for Global Warming and railed against national governments the world over being part of the problem instead of part of the solution:
“Instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true cost to society, our governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels by 400 to 500 billion dollars per year worldwide, thus encouraging extraction of every fossil fuel — mountaintop removal, longwall mining, fracking, tar sands, tar shale, deep ocean Arctic drilling. This path, if continued, guarantees that we will pass tipping points leading to ice sheet disintegration that will accelerate out of control of future generations. A large fraction of species will be committed to extinction. And increasing intensity of droughts and floods will severely impact breadbaskets of the world, causing massive famines and economic decline.
Imagine a giant asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth. That is the equivalent of what we face now. Yet, we dither, taking no action to divert the asteroid, even though the longer we wait, the more difficult and expensive it becomes. If we had started in 2005, it would have required emission reductions of three percent per year to restore planetary energy balance and stabilize climate this century. If we start next year, it is six percent per year. If we wait 10 years, it is 15 percent per year — extremely difficult and expensive, perhaps impossible. But we aren’t even starting.”
Besides being about as Chicken Little as it gets – literally asking that we amp ourselves up about Global Warming by imagining the sky is falling – the problem with Hansen’s statement is obvious.
First, a giant asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth is an irrefutable imminent threat to all mankind. Climate science linking man’s reliance on fossil fuels with global warming or cooling, on the other hand, is anything but clear, and will continue to be debated for at least so long as opposition voices aren’t muzzled and persecuted by national governments hijacked by environmentalists like Hansen.
Second, there’s no downside to intervening to change the course of an asteroid. Doing so doesn’t require that mankind stop driving to work or school or church or the grocery store. It doesn’t require that anyone stop enjoying rivers and lakes in their plastic kayaks. It doesn’t require destroying countless jobs and stalling the economies of entire nations and regions.
Penalizing energy companies for extracting the fossil fuels we rely on for modern life itself, on the other hand, guarantees not just a drastic reduction in the standard of living, but of even the ability to live at all for countless millions and billions of men, women, and children all over the world.
Third and last, James Hansen is arguing for a united front against Global Warming which can only be achieved by demonizing and silencing the voices of dissent and strong-arming the nations, industries, corporations, and individuals who disagree with his sensationalist view. In other words, implicit in what men like Hansen and Gore are advocating is a broad sort of global governance which is prepared to suppress free speech, throttling humanity in a totalitarian manner and ruthlessly bending it to its will.
In calling for united global governance and wealth redistribution to combat Global Warming, Hansen and Gore are essentially pressing for something far more troubling to me than the dubious prospect of sea levels maybe-kinda-sorta rising in the next century or two. They’re basically demanding an ostensibly benevolent One World Socialist dictatorship prepared to accept massive collateral damage to human beings as a means of accomplishing what they perceive as the greater good. In pursuit of this Globalist Socialist vision, megalomaniacal busy-bodies cloaking their self-interest and power-hungry designs in environmentalism are marketing Earth’s weather as a man-made crisis of apocalyptic proportions which only their governance and administration can save us from.
There are risks in speaking out against this coordinated global campaign.
Alarmingly, the push to suppress dissent and free speech has already begun and I may even now be taking a risk in writing about Global Warming so candidly as I am. As recently as March of 2016, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch indicated to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she’s been looking into the possibility of taking legal action against “climate change deniers.” It’s unclear what exactly that might mean for individuals like me who work in the oil and gas industry, but there’s at least the possibility of criminal penalties for questioning, contradicting, arguing against, or opposing folks like Gore and Hansen.
Yet why shouldn’t I be free to speak up in this climate change debate? No less than anyone else, I have a vested interest in these issues and any proposed solutions to the problems identified. If the Earth is destroyed, my family and I are as bad off as anyone else is. And if the Earth isn’t in jeopardy but the oil and gas industry is crippled anyway, that will directly impair my ability to feed, clothe, house, and otherwise provide for my family. Beyond this, an economy crippled by the loss of inexpensive and abundant fossil fuel energy would make it nigh impossible for me to find work elsewhere after losing my job in the oil and gas industry.
Understand that I have no great love for oil and gas, but I am deeply devoted to the well-being of my wife and children. And not only those in my immediate family, I care about my extended family that works in this industry and depends on the output of this industry to drive to work and church and the soccer field and the grocery store. I understand first-hand that many thousands of other families are in the same situation mine is and would be heavily impacted by an unrestrained environmentalist witch hunt to drive our industry out of business. I am deeply concerned by the ripple effects which would be felt throughout the rest of our national and global economy by reckless and foolhardy meddling of the sort that’s been outlined. Not only would I and my family be hurt, so would everyone I care about who doesn’t work in the oil and gas industry.
Again, I’m not just concerned about my current job working in the oil and gas industry. I’ve held other jobs and worked in other industries. If advances in technology wind up replacing fossil fuels with some other cheap alternative that appeases environmentalists and the Global Warming crowd, I’ll be happy to change jobs and adapt. I’ve done it before and I can do it again.
Yet therein lies the rub. All of these alternative energy sources – solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power – are cost-prohibitive and nowhere near ready to displace oil, natural gas, or coal in driving the national or global economies. What that means is that a heavy-handed and misguided “Green” inquisition to exorcise fossil fuels from humanity’s soul cannot replace what it seeks to take from us; and what’s more, this modern day inquisition is disturbingly contented with the collateral damage that would result from creating an energy vacuum with nothing to refill it.
For this reason I am more concerned about the risks of not speaking out against Al Gore and the Global Warming alarmists, environmentalists, globalists, and socialists he’s allied himself with. Yes, I run a risk of someday, perhaps someday soon, being persecuted for opposing these people. However the world such men might create tomorrow is far scarier to me than the world they warn will be made without their intervention.
Again, the environmentalists want your government, no two ways about it. Yet for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must not give it to them.