Bad Science And Big Oil

Many of my Christian brothers and sisters lament the lack of religion awareness in the modern press. I agree. There are few topic specialists outside of politics, sports, and celebrity. I think science gets a treatment at least as ignorant as faith. Here’s one example in a CNN opinion piece:

When oil prices next boom (and trust me, they will), investors will resume interest in pipeline projects and whoever is in the White House may regret Keystone XL’s cancellation because the United States will have to rely more on less stable trading partners for oil.

I wouldn’t debate this pundit’s observation as a political piece. It seems logical that later in the 2020s or 2030s, oil barons will keep us anchored to fossil fuels, and the whole pipeline thing will pop up again.

Thing is, there is a finite amount of hydrocarbon planted in the Earth’s crust. That’s the truth. Fossil fuel is a boon of an energy source for a civilization moving from an agrarian, human and horse-powered era to massive industrialization and progress. But it is not forever. We will run out of coal, gas, and oil sometime in this millennium. Bank on it. That may be of no concern for today’s 1%. But heaven help the 99% trying to pull themselves up from their 23rd century bootstraps without deeper wells of solar energy, wind power, or even fusion.

On one level, this is about testy environmental politics. While more North Americans approve of the pipeline than not, it’s a vocal and determined minority pitted against a majority who mostly have very little stake in an extra trickle of oil we’re only selling to “less stable trading partners” anyway.

We would appear to have time to support and encourage research in alternate energy sources. That would be logical even if peeling hydrogen atoms off their carbon chains was 100% pristine.

To be sure, buggy manufacturers were done in by horseless carriages. The telegraph eventually became obsolete and GPS isn’t helping. It’s part of the march of progress. Unfortunate for some businesses, sure. Maybe shareholders could pressure the 1% into better investments for profits. Sadly though, the political blinders will remain strong.

Oil prices may indeed spike and some future president may well reverse Mr Biden’s ee-oh to much acclaim. But it won’t correct an error on the part of today’s president. It will be the ignorance of science and the missed opportunity of the various alternatives.

Image credit from the wiki: shannonpatrick17 from Swanton, Nebraska, U.S.A. – keystone pipeline, CC BY 2.0,

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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