Oil’s Not Well

The political problem isn’t “leftists,” it’s oil idolaters

Editorial by Stephen Whitworth

Little ol’ Regina made unexpected provincial headlines last month when a harmless-looking city council committee motion to explore banning fossil fuel sponsorships ballooned into a cartoonish cacophony of screeches and howls from Church of Oil zealots.

I mean, I assume the outrage came from an unhinged religious cult because it sounded like the kind of stuff psychos who get excited for blasphemy trials and witch hunts would say.

To hear these right-wing oil worshippers bleat, you’d think Regina Councillor Dan LeBlanc and others who supported the motion had proposed sacrificing someone’s pet to Satan. Oil-lovers’ anger had the musty floral whiff of not just offended piousness, but baffled indignation that anyone would dare impugn their holy order of petroleum.

Well, maybe the Church Of Oil’s congregation should get used to blasphemers.

Because for one thing, Saskatchewanians — left-wing and otherwise — DO recognize the historic wealth that fossil fuel extraction has brought to the province. We also acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the industry and the people who work in it — many of whom are friends and family.

That said, climate change is real. It’s immensely destructive. It’s a direct consequence of the fossil fuels humanity has pumped into the atmosphere in the last century and a half. And it’s here.

For more than four decades, scientists have been widely aware the atmosphere has been reaching dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. We’re almost 30 years past the United Nation’s 1992 Rio convention on climate change that led to the Kyoto protocol, for goodness’ sake.

It is, and has been, KNOWN for DECADES that we’ve needed to reduce carbon emissions to ward off catastrophic climate change.

Instead we reduced nothing. We warded bupkis.

We’re like a dumb college kid who left their big year-end assignment to the night before it was due — if that student had been brainwashed by a multibillion-dollar, decades-long propaganda campaign gaslighting them into believing that not only do they NOT need to worry about their homework but that finishing it might harm them.

Which brings us back to the reason some city politicians proposed banning oil sponsorships in the first place.

Given the industry’s destructiveness and its well-documented and well-funded resistance to being gradually wound down to something resembling sustainable levels, we now live on a planet that’s setting record-high temperatures almost every year while racing towards runaway climate change where the Earth isn’t just getting hotter, it’s getting hotter faster.

Every country, every province and every city on Earth needs to attack this crisis, but that’s difficult because of the very real money being spent by the industry’s bad actors to delay action.

The basic idea behind the committee motion was that restricting fossil fuel companies’ ability to promote themselves will help us get on track to transition to renewable energy. It’s the exact same idea we saw in banning tobacco advertising and sponsorships after decades of tobacco waging a dirty propaganda war against science proving cigarettes kill people.

All that said, we can debate a sponsorship ban. I’m not sure I support it. But if we learned one thing from this ridiculous brouhaha, it’s that entrenched oil interests feigning outrage and the brain-damaged cult they’ve Frankensteined out the public discourse they corrupted are ready to fight any action that inconveniences the industry. We need to remember that.

Speaking of tobacco, no one cried a single tear for athletes, the arts and, yes, even newspapers when cigarette ads and sponsorships were banned. It was the right thing to do, even though it hurt.

Fossil fuel supporters might want to consider a more productive tone when they’re standing up for their industry, because nobody likes whining, butthurt babies.