The Mystery Of The Uncontrolled Hatred Of Fossil Fuels And Those Who Produce Them

by Francis Menton at

What is it about fossil fuels and the people who produce them that brings forth such uncontrolled hatred, anger, and vengefulness in a very large segment of the population?

I’ve been trying to figure out the answer to that question for many years, but I’m no closer today than when I started. I look at the use of fossil fuels in the world, and somehow I see enormous benefits to mankind — reliable electricity, transportation of people locally and at long distances, and of freight to enable worldwide trade, comfortable heating and cooling of homes, refrigeration to preserve food, computers, and so much more, all at remarkably low cost and remarkably small environmental impact. Most uses of fossil fuels either have no good substitutes (e.g., air travel, ocean shipping, steel-making), or only substitutes that have both higher cost, plus inferior functionality and/or their own environmental problems (e.g., wind, solar, or nuclear for electricity).

With almost no exceptions (e.g., the Unabomber) everybody who has access to fossil fuels or their energy output uses them in large quantities, precisely because they provide great benefits at low cost and low environmental impact, in ways that nothing else can. Even the most virtue signaling of climate fanatics, with almost no exceptions, won’t give up air travel, or buildings made with steel and concrete, or full-time life-saving electricity at the hospital, or plenty of other things that come only from fossil fuels.

The image that I can’t get out of my mind is the spectacle of the witnesses speaking at a public hearing I attended in May 2022 on the subject of the “Scoping Plan” then proposed for New York State to banish fossil fuels from its energy system. (That Scoping Plan has since been adopted, with essentially no significant changes.). As I reported in this post on May 3, 2022, I observed about 60 people testifying at this hearing, of whom only three spoke critically about the idea of banishing fossil fuels — and those three were myself plus two representatives from local utilities (whose criticisms were understandably mild and hedged, to say the least, given the political environment that they face).

At that hearing, a large number of supporters of banning fossil fuels gave impassioned and emotional pleas to speed up the process. What had aroused these strong emotions? The witness whose testimony I remember most vividly was a thirty-ish woman who stated that her young son had severe asthma, which she blamed on the fumes emitted by her gas-powered kitchen stove. Speaking of the health problems of her son, this woman broke down in tears and deep sobs, which definitely seemed genuine, and blamed the son’s problems on the uncaring gas utility. And yet for some reason she continued to use the gas stove. Had it never occurred to her that it was completely within her agency to go out and buy an electric stove? I was hoping to get a chance to ask her that question, but she disappeared before I could track her down.

In the years that I’ve been following this subject, the efforts to impose punishments and revenge on fossil fuel producers in this country have only proliferated and become more impassioned and more intense and more angry. Here are a few markers along the way: