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The demonic power of oil It poisons the earth and corrupts good people

Oil connects the living with the dead. There Will Be Blood/Miramax

Oil connects the living with the dead. There Will Be Blood/Miramax


October 17, 2022   8 mins

For nine days in January 1901, mesmerised spectators on a hill in south-east Texas watched a deluge of oil erupt high into the air and descend back to earth. Nobody before had discovered oil in the volume found at Spindletop. As the historian Darren Dochuk recounts in his brilliant book Anointed with oil: how Christianity and crude made modern America, Spindletop was a historical watershed. After the Pennsylvania boom was exhausted, John Rockefeller’s oil behemoth Standard Oil held to the conviction that there was no oil beyond the Mississippi and headed abroad. Driven out of the east, the wildcatters journeyed west. And it was Pattillo Higgins’s discovery at Spindletop, not Rockefeller, that turned oil from a product primarily used as kerosene for light into the commodity that created 20th-century America at home and abroad.

The Western way of life that flowed out of Texas came to take oil for granted. At any time when supply was abundant, few stopped to think about its production. For consumers, oil life was a practically easy life. It was as if, as the Italian novelist Italo Calvino wrote in his short story ‘The Petrol Pump’, energy was “unconditionally and endlessly at your service”. But that notion rested on a colossal illusion given that producing oil took place in a world of destructive chaos. It was no easy thing to extract the sun’s energy from finite organic matter trapped on the seabed for millions of years before there was any form of human life.

Wildcatters like Higgins understood this reality. For them, oil invoked dreads far removed from the chimerical promise of modernity. Since it bent cosmic time, oil could not be trusted. As one witness to a later gusher mused: “Whenever you punch a hole so deep into the ground that oil pops out, Hades come with it. And the more oil, the more Hades.” This equation of oil with Hades contained multiple meanings. At its simplest, it mythically rendered the origins of oil in the underworld of the dead. In blowing away the river that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead, oil accelerated the temporal vanity of all mortal aspiration.

In Pennsylvania and Texas, long-standing rural settlements became fleetingly rich oil towns and then, when the oil fields were depleted, wastelands. Oil encouraged the wildcatters to speculate with borrowed capital against the arbitrary whims of geology and the market power of Standard Oil, inevitably risking their own financial and moral ruin. Since oil wells were highly combustible, drilling for oil also summoned Hades conceived as the Christian inferno of Hell. For many of the wildcatters, to bring Hades into play was to invite the End Times both as the Day of Judgement and the final consummation of the world in fire. To take a verse from Proverbs 27, it constituted a world where: “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes are men are never satisfied.”

The wildcatters’ treks westward with this kind of consciousness became part of a potent cultural American imaginary around the temporal instability of oil and its elemental power to poison the earth and corrupt human beings. Three stories told over the course of 20th-century America are particularly revealing: Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, the 1956 film Giant, and CBS’s original Dallas show which began in 1978. Each mediates on oil’s demonic power. Linked as they are by the initials JR for a protagonist, they build on each other to form a saga about the afterlife of Spindletop.

The never-ending search for oil and the risk of fire when it is found constantly always encroaches on the sanctity of the land. In Oil!, wildcatter J. Arnold Ross lies to acquire a goat-ranch on which to drill for oil in a place called Paradise in California. He wants to pass on the oil empire he builds to his son Bunny; at the novel’s end the Paradise wells have gone up in flames. In Giant, the old-moneyed Bick Benedict initially renounces the wealth drilling on his ranch would bring. After he surrenders, he insists, that “all this oil around here hasn’t made a lot of difference. We live pretty much the way we always have.” But he speaks lounging in a new swimming pool and behind him the once pristine terrain has been transformed by hundreds of oil derricks. Dallas, meanwhile, persistently returns to the tension between Ewing Oil, the family business, and Southfork, the cattle ranch where the warring Ewings live. The patriarch, Jock Ewing, owns Ewing Oil. His wife, Miss Ellie, owns Southfork. In one of the show’s finest episodes, a heartbroken Miss Ellie chooses to end her father’s prohibition on drilling for oil on Southfork in order to save Ewing Oil from bankruptcy.

For individuals to touch oil in these stories is to live in spiritual danger. In Oil! those ranchers offered leases for drilling on their lands find “their frail human nature 
 subjected to a strain greater than it was made for”. J. Arnold Ross dies in exile in Europe when the real-world Teapot dome scandal — in which President Warren Harding’s Interior Secretary handed out leases on land that had been naval oil reserves to two oil companies for bribes — catches up with him.

In Giant, wildcatter Jett Rink is played by James Dean over the last months of his life with a doomed, unearthly beauty. An oil-saturated Jett declaims after his gusher goes up: “You all thought old Spindletop
 was all the oil there was didn’t you. But I’m here to tell you it ain’t. … I’m a rich un.” He becomes the richest man in Texas. But he is last seen fallen to the ground drunk in an empty hall where there was supposed to be a banquet to celebrate the dedication of the Jett Rink airport.

Under the guise of a soap opera, Dallas created the darkest mythology about oil’s ruinous power. All the principal characters live with the demon of Ewing Oil and one way or another they are all destroyed by it. On the surface, there is a duality between two brothers, the elder — JR — who is evil, and the younger — Bobby — who is good. But while Bobby is a much better family man than JR, the closer Bobby gets to oil the more the fraternal polarity falls away. In what was Dallas’s best season, the competition between the brothers for control of the company after Jock’s death simultaneously corrupts Bobby’s character and reveals the ambition behind his righteousness, costing him his marriage.

Oil ultimately destroys the Ewings as a family and eventually it consumes Ewing Oil itself. The Ewing men go to the brink and pull back only for the cycle to start again more hopelessly. The oil past always has more pull for the Ewings than the oil present. As the show constantly reminds the viewer, Jock Ewing founded Ewing Oil as a wildcatter in the Thirties. When the show starts, Jock is newly retired, and JR is running the company after, as JR once puts it, “the sudden devaluation of the Ewing dollar”: the world where the US must import huge quantities of oil. Jock is glorified as a symbol of a lost past, “the kind of man who made Texas great”. JR is a charismatic anti-hero, constantly improvising as much abroad as at home. JR’s eyes always want more. His ways court disaster for Ewing Oil. But for a while they just as regularly rescue it.

The tide decisively turns against the Ewings in the tenth season, set against the backdrop of the 1986 oil price crash, which devastated the Texas oil industry. JR manoeuvres to blow up Saudi fields to force up prices. When the blowback endangers all the Ewings, Miss Ellie tells her sons that Ewing Oil should have died with their father. Not for the first time, Bobby tries to get out. His wife Pam is proud he has put his “whole house in order”. But oil time has accelerated well beyond Bobby’s belated moral epiphanies. Before Bobby can sell his Ewing Oil shares, the Justice Department announces an investigation into JR’s Middle Eastern ventures. In the ‘Fall of the House of Ewing’, the Justice Department closes down Ewing Oil, and the assets of the once wildcatting company are bought by the show’s fictional oil major, whose CEO has long plotted to bring the Ewings to heel.

This storyline should have served as an endpoint (late Dallas became an unwatchable mess). In symbolic terms, Dallas turned the legacy of Spindletop to dust at the hands of hubris, power, and contingent circumstances in a style recognisable from any Greek tragedy. The fact it was an oil story made for a global audience of energy-unaware oil consumers who scarcely noticed the undercurrents to what they were watching is perhaps its own commentary on western consumers’ relationship to the material basis of their way of life.

But whatever the force of destruction at work, there is no suggestion in any of these stories of 20th-century Americana that oil can simply be renounced. In Oil! the idealistic Bunny never repudiates his father nor doubts that “this is an oil age”. The novel ends in a cemetery in Paradise. Sinclair allows himself the hope that “men can find some way to chain the black and cruel demon” that “roams the earth”, but he has just described the new derricks that are being built to replace the burnt-out ones.

Dallas goes further, suggesting that JR’s ways are a necessary evil for the age of affluence it portrays. In the show’s final episode, a drunken JR wanders around an empty Southfork. An It’s-a-Wonderful-Life-style figure appears to show him a world where he was not born: Ewing Oil has collapsed a few years after Jock’s retirement, leading Jock to suicide and then Miss Ellie to her grave. Yet this does not redeem JR: in the show’s last scene, JR appears to have turned Jock’s old gun on himself, rendering him the final casualty of all the grief Ewing Oil has caused.

Westerners living lives far removed from the realities of the oil industry are now much more used to the idea of the commodity as a destructive force than those watching Dallas in its prime. Today, climate change and the last decades of geopolitical turbulence around energy have given an urgent charge to the idea that oil is a force from Hades threatening the End Times. Yet Sinclair’s vision of resealing the boundary between Earth and Hades by bringing oil to heel requires sacrifices that many of us living the life oil allows don’t want to contemplate. Indeed, to wish Spindletop away as a wrong turn would be to wish ourselves away: it is the rise of oil as an energy source that has made it possible for there to be so many of us alive in the world today.

These paradoxes are at work in the American novelist Cormac McCarthy’s work. In his masterpiece Blood Meridian — published in 1985 — McCarthy told a story about scalp hunting across the Texas-Mexico border in the mid-19th century, making Texas a site of cyclical cosmic time. The first wildcatters easily fit into McCarthy’s mythology. Indeed, one could perhaps read the novel’s epilogue, where a man is “progressing over the plains” making holes in the ground “striking the fire out of the rock which God has put there”, as the start of a wildcatting quest.

But in his post-apocalyptic novel The Road­ — published in 2006 — cyclical time has ended: everything is sinking into oblivion. The cause of the ecological cataclysm is unspecified. But a story of oil in its last twilight is palpable. In the opening, a father awakens from a dream where he and his son have been lost in the depths of a cave until they reach “a black and ancient lake”. On their journey south, the man and the boy use an “oil company roadmap” as a guide. The man has them search for gasoline to light their lamp. At one early stop, they first find “the odour of gas only a rumour” and then, desperate, return to decanter dregs from plastic oil bottles. Later, what they find is “years old. But it was gasoline and it would burn”. It is their oil-lit lamp that allows them to discover the largest store of food they encounter.

In The Road, it is as if all oil time is compressed from oil’s origins to its first use to its necessity to its reconstruction of the American landscape to its depletion and ecological hazard. Before his demise, the man sees the boy “looking back at him from some unimaginable future”. That place appears to be an oilless world. During the man’s last night, the light comes not from the lamp but a candle borne by the boy. To the man, “old dreams encroached upon the waking world”. With his death, oil and its stories might be said to pass into the silence “of things ceasing to be”.

In the last paragraph, the authorial voice changes. We are transported to an organically alive world. Here, the maps are the “patterns” on the back of trout swimming in mountain streams, and they are “maps of the world in its becoming”. But something old still has its purchase. The patterns are also “Maps and Mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again”. It’s an ending that appears unwilling to privilege either optimism or pessimism: an ending perhaps from a place where the cosmic stakes of the age of oil can’t quite be contemplated.


Helen Thompson is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Cambridge and co-presenter of UnHerd’s These Times.

HelenHet20

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nigel roberts
nigel roberts
1 year ago

For a university professor she sure indulges in a lot of schlock mass culture.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

That’s what universities are now.

Walton jessi
Walton jessi
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

gfvcgnh

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

Exactly- we need a climate-nazi professor to recite various works of FICTION as proof that we are all doomed because of releasing oil from Hades? How could she leave out The Beverly Hillbillies?

The result was a tedious summary of socialist authors and popular TV shows about Rich People that was supposed to warn us the End Is Near unless we leave the oil in Hades (maybe she should have it translated into Mandarin and Hindi/Urdu, if she wants to save the world).

Angelique Todesco
Angelique Todesco
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

The Hillbillies came first to my mind too!

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

I thought of the intro to the Bevery Hillbillies too. And that reminded me of this, which could never be produced or shown today 🙂
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=461613028126351

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

I don’t know…I watched the movie “Aliens” the other day and it seems to me the existential threat to the world is evil baby squids suctioning our faces and evil baby aliens popping out of our bellies…they said nothing about evil oil in that movie so I’m not so sure this author has it right. Since Hollywood produced it, it must be true…or so the progressive professors tell me these days.

A feminist friend told me to also watch “Handmaid’s Tale” to become better educated about the patriarchal evil existing in this world and then to take a specialized class on the subject at university. It only costs a few thousand pounds and is taught by the best Ivy and Oxbridge professors society has ever produced from what I hear. I’m literally shaking right now.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

Clearly not a science Prof,though even some of those have been suborned by the need for a Payday!

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

What a lot of meaningless pseudo-intellectual drivel.
Imagine paying to have your children taught by this person.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Some years ago was once on a supervisory board at ” Fenland Poly” in the Dept of Engineering…a great honour, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that someone of this ilk could ever appear?!

Diana Silverman
Diana Silverman
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Why is it drivel! Because you don’t agree? As an American it resonates with me. In California, I would see oil wells. I would read about the wildcatters. How exciting. Many Wildcatters we’re seriously hurt during the Trump administration.

I learned the oil industry has had tremendous influence over US foreign policy and internal politics. Iran, Iraq, Libya , Russia all oil wars & Petro dollars. The oil myth crashed replaced by violent reality.

LaFonteCheVi
LaFonteCheVi
1 year ago

It is drivel because it is vapid, naive, idealistic fluff. Navel-gazing at it’s finest. It uses fiction to paint a bleak version of reality to push a nonsense, unrealistic agenda.
Academic melodrama that is utterly useless. Pandering to soft minds.

Last edited 1 year ago by LaFonteCheVi
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

You’ve failed to make any points. Don’t be lazy – a rebuttal should comprise more than un-focussed ad hominem remarks.  .

LaFonteCheVi
LaFonteCheVi
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

It doesn’t warrant a detailed rebuttal because this piece, in and of itself, offers nothing. It is an empty, purposeless rambling without any direction or sense. What new ideas does it present? What solutions? Interesting thoughts and ponderings? Meaningful structure and conclusions?
Nothing. Just “oil bad” and tangential ramblings about fiction. Hyperbolic and melodramatic musings meant to scare people away from oil when the pragmatic reality is the world has no choice. Oil is the reason why this person even exists. Why they have a career in the nonsense disciple of “political economy” and why they even had the privledge and time to puke up this piece.
The world still needs oil. And in 100 years it will still need oil. There is no alternative. For over 90% of the planet green energy isn’t viable. Either not enough sun, not enough wind, too hot, or too dry, or too wet. Not even to mention that the world doesn’t produce the resources for it and the necessary commodities are just as bad as oil.
If it makes you and the author feel better, for the next 20 years, coal is making a come back in a big way due to deglobalization. Enjoy.

Last edited 1 year ago by LaFonteCheVi
D.C. Harris
D.C. Harris
1 year ago
Reply to  LaFonteCheVi

Not to mention it is reductionist. It blames oil for all the problems in the world.

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
1 year ago
Reply to  LaFonteCheVi

Not only that, we can also go back to hunting whales. I’m sure this ‘perfesser’ Thompson would much prefer that!
Unfortunately, they wouldn’t last long…

Nicola Farey
Nicola Farey
1 year ago
Reply to  LaFonteCheVi

“for 90 percent of the world renewable energy isn’t viable” !?
In regions of developing nations with no power grid infrastructure, solar panels are providing electricity to homes that have never had it. Tidal power has the potential to provide a constant source of energy. When the rivers run dry, fossil fuel and nuclear power stations are switched off. Not so reliable now, is it?

Last edited 1 year ago by Nicola Farey
Edmund Paul
Edmund Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

And I thought it was bloody terrific.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Edmund Paul

So did I.

Andrew Vigar
Andrew Vigar
1 year ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

Stopped reading after she called oil organic. Presumably she’s thinking of the term ‘fossil fuel’; the coining of which is an interesting read…

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Vigar

Why? Calling oil organic is a perfectly correct appropriate use of the term (as in ‘organic chemistry’), long predating the current silly fad for its usage in relation to food.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

Could you answer her points please. Spare us the cheap comments.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

She didn’t make any. The piece is all “ain’t it awful.”

rk syrus
rk syrus
1 year ago

Best case scenario for the art-vandalizing traffic-stymieing eco-loons is a world vision which is absolutely out of reach without super abundant and ultra cheap oil and natural gas. Without cheap energy, you can’t build a nuclear/electric utopia, how rum is that?
Oh, and China, India and the countries of Africa do not give a crap about global warming nonsense, you entitled pale-faces! 😀

Paul K
Paul K
1 year ago
Reply to  rk syrus

‘China, India and the countries of Africa do not give a crap about global warming nonsense, you entitled pale-faces!’

We should certainly be looking to those countries for enlightened guidance on how to run our own, yes.
News from outside the bubble: the atmospheric carbon cycle, and the biosphere generally, have no interest in your opinions, or mine. Muck about with them in the way we have done over the last century, and consequences will ensue. Nature doesn’t care about your feelings. Buckle up.

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

Please! I live in Africa, South Africa, to be specific. You must see what SA looks like now after 28 plus years of African ‘rule’…
I cringe with embarrassment when I think of my days of being a staunch anti-Apartheid protester.
But rejoice… the Chinese will come to our rescue… And I and I am being facetious. 
The squalor in India is appalling much on par with what is happening now here!

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy O'Gorman
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy O'Gorman

How many of China, South Africa etc are examples of High Tech societies? They are all effectively ‘developing’. The tragedy is that the political development needed to develop technically is not there, and has screwed the technological development.
Though ironically, the very same is now true of the West. The Green insanity and our politics have been neglected because life had become comfortable & who wants to go out to say a ‘Union’ meeting, or a ‘Party’ or ‘Council’ meeting when we could be comfortable at home watching soaps. So we ignored the very things that lead to the ‘Levers of Power’ and now our whole Governing Elite is run by those who thought – “Stuff watching Dallas, I’ll go and attend these boring meetings & one day I’ll actually get my hands on the levers of Power.”
Well, they have now and it isn’t going to be pretty, the results of their manipulating them.
Without Oil/Coal/Gas we are back to the dark ages. It is no coincidence that probably the first known Western environmental law was around the 1600’s when an English King banned the burning of wood because the country was being denuded. Long before the Industrial revolution. So even the more benign pre-industrial society won’t be survivable by most of us. We’ll end up in truly dark ages.
We should accept that Net Zero is a century or more away. Assuming the Computer Modellers are correct about CO2 and the Climate (Though Lovelock recanted his alarmism & said we have time to adjust) Lomborg has sensible plans to adapt. We are a technological species who controls our environment. We should be looking at how we control it via technology, not abandon any attempt and consign billions to death due to Malthusian Greens.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Amen. People are still arguing about EVs and wind and solar thinking that some combination of technology and government intervention will save them. The former might but probably not soon enough to make a real difference, and the latter will only make things worse. If burning fossil fuels drives climate change, then it follows that the climate will be a changing, because the prospect of getting all humanity to abandon what is still the cheapest source of energy for the sake of a theoretical and ultimately unproveable benefits is absurd on its face. Preventing climate change by eliminating fossil fuels is a fairy tale told to a generation of adult children who have been spoon fed nothing but happy endings since they were in diapers.

Nicola Farey
Nicola Farey
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Presumably you agree that we should be helping the developing world (who didn’t cause this crisis) to adapt to climate change.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy O'Gorman

Frankly, I couldn’t quite follow Paul K’s reasoning. But it’s probably me.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

It isn’t you. It’s him.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy O'Gorman

Surely you are not saying the land of that Latter Day Saint one, Nelson Mandela has gone, to lapse into the vernacular, “tits up”!
Whatever next?

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy O'Gorman

RE: We should certainly be looking to those countries for enlightened guidance on how to run our own, yes.

What nonsense! The question isn’t whether we should look to them for guidance, the FACT is that they are going to carry on doing what they do regardless of what we do or say, and nobody in the Western world, which has enjoyed the benefits brought about by oil/gas/coal, has any moral authority to tell them they can’t aspire to what we have long had.
Short version: Regardless of what we in the Western world do, it won’t make an iota of difference, and I don’t have the chutzpah to tell the Chinese or Indians not to do what we’ve been doing for more than a century.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

Paul, you are horribly mis-informed, likely brainwashed by the demonic mass media. If you notice that voices that dare to question Anthropogenic Global Warming are suppressed, you will understand that there is a lively scientific discussion that is being ignored and suppressed by the MSM because they like the big government solutions that warm their hearts. Soon, they won’t be able to warm their bodies if they continue – Winter is Coming!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

I met a guy last week who said he was a scientist. He also said the NASA moon landing has permanently changed Earth’s atmosphere.
A laughable initiative was started (and then abandoned) in our old New England county: hikers were purported to be wearing down a popular 400 million year old mountain. Gosh, we humans sure are powerful!
The only thing we’ve got to “buckle up” for is the havoc politicians continue to wreak in exchange for cash, cool kid cocktail parties, a nice house with an ocean view.

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
1 year ago

Good points. A strange anthropocentric supremacy seems to underlie most leftist thinking. Humans in their point of view seem to be sort of angels/devils/demigods manque, totally outside and above Nature. They seem to fear the acknowledgement of mortality in the humble admission that we are a part of the natural world. (Personally, I do also believe in the soul, but that is an other universe of discourse.) Who else finds it oddly comforting, that Nature shall always laugh last?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

We are renown for not letting Nature have its own way. Why do you think that Nature’s natural way of life – Nasty, Brutish and Short, has hardly applied since the Industrial Revolution?

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
1 year ago
Reply to  rk syrus

The only ones that do are our ‘illustrious’ politicians who see the advantage of making an easy $.
Ramaphosa and his NWO cohorts are completely sold on the Global warming crap. He parrots everything the mad Democrats do and say.
However, he will not survive much longer, unfortunately those waiting in the wings are even worse.
From the frying pan into the fire.
That said, I am still happier here than any of the countries I once thought of moving too.
NZ, Australia, USA. The UK, Ireland or Canada were never on my list at all.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy O'Gorman
David Sharples
David Sharples
1 year ago
Reply to  rk syrus

There is nothing uniquely “demonic” about the love of money from oil. (“The love of money is the root of all evil.”)
It’s rather the love of money from government subsidies for solar and wind, power from controlling people with fear and lies about “climate change” -that dominate the evil today.

Last edited 1 year ago by David Sharples
Nicola Farey
Nicola Farey
1 year ago
Reply to  David Sharples

Did you know fossil fuels have been heavily subsidised for years?

Andrew M
Andrew M
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicola Farey

Do you mean they are given tax breaks for exploration, like most other businesses? Considering about half of what we pay for fuel for our cars is tax your statement sounds like nonsense. You’ll be telling us wind power is the cheapest form of energy and receives no subsidy next.

Peter Grajczak
Peter Grajczak
1 year ago
Reply to  rk syrus

This is one of those times where authoritarian rule beats democracy. China is doing the logical, and right, thing. We need energy, not dreaming.

LaFonteCheVi
LaFonteCheVi
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Grajczak

China is economically, socially, demographically, politically, and technologically doomed. They fundamentally have no future. They’re not playing 4d chess. The majority of their policy decisions are reactions to past terrible policy decisions. And those decisions themselves are bad.

Rob Keeley
Rob Keeley
1 year ago

Utter pseudo-intellectual drivel from a once great university.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rob Keeley
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

So Norway is the most corrupt country in Europe?

brad mclaughlin
brad mclaughlin
1 year ago

There seems to be a missing element of understanding why people use oil, and why it is so valuable. If there was a substance to provided the same benefits more cheaply or more cleanly, it would be adopted immediately. Oil stands apart for its unique properties.
It is more than reasonable for someone to highlight the costs that oil brings, but a fair account would at least pretend to understand why people use oil. That without oil and gas, more than half the world would starve to death. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have major costs, but the benefits (not starving) are pretty high.

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
1 year ago

The author did say “it is the rise of oil as an energy source that has made it possible for there to be so many of us alive in the world today”, though she didn’t linger on what is a crucial point.

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

I read it, but I did not get it. Is it a critique on the ‘Robber Barons’ ethos? Because it is nothing like the evil today which stalks the monopoly industrialists ravaging the world and humanity – the Hedge Fund, Social Media, Tech, and classic Industrialists – (Military, Food/Ag, and Pharma – industrial complexes), now fully become as evil and anti-human as the new.

The Global industrial/tech/finance are pure evil – they have no Nation, People, ethos – they are Global, and therefore are for no one, they are the Beast of Revelations 13:15 and they wish to make end times as in 1984, and are the WEF, and the Great Reset.

”beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

Yeats describes them, and us, as we have been seduced by them….

” By W Yeates
Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

But the Robber Barons used power and corruption to make never seen before wealth – only different from today – they Left something. They left the Rail Roads, Canals, Petroleum industry, what they did was Produce – what the evil Tech/Finance/Media/Industrial Barons of today produce is just wickedness and rapine. And that they will leave is humanity turned into silicone hybrids and a prison for eternity..

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

True for most of the tech barons but not for Elon Musk. He’s produced SpaceX and the Tesla. Not bad.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

“bringing oil to heel requires sacrifices that many of us living the life oil allows don’t want to contemplate.”

Very well put. We live fabulously luxurious lives powered by energy that we can’t imagine living without.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

According to estimates we have about 50 years worth of oil left, which is not much.

The Oil Age will then be a thing of the past. What then I wonder.

Neil Anthony
Neil Anthony
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

@Clair d. Kindly search online for articles on “recharging of oil and gas fields.”
This is the primary reason why the solar worshippers seek an end to oil and gas . Not because oil shall come to an “end” but, it will not in any foreseeable future.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Anthony
Michael Darwin
Michael Darwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

On Earth Day in 1970 ecologist Kenneth Watt famously predicted that the world would run out of oil saying, “You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
Numerous academics like Watt predicted that American oil production peaked in 1970 and would gradually decline, likely causing a global economic meltdown. However, the successful application of massive hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, caused American oil production to come roaring back and there is currently too much oil on the market.American oil and natural gas reserves are at their highest levels since 1972 and American oil production in 2014 was 80 percent higher than in 2008 thanks to fracking.
Furthermore, the U.S. now controls the world’s largest untapped oil reserve, the Green River Formation in Colorado. This formation alone contains up to 3 trillion barrels of untapped oil shale, half of which may be recoverable. That’s five and a half times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. This single geologic formation could contain more oil than the rest of the world’s proven reserves combined.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Darwin

I have wondered if, after a millennia or so, will our landfill sites full of nappies and so forth, produce the super fuel of the future. Interesting to think of how the earth shall shape what we leave behind for those in the future. The nuclear waste dump site may also prove interesting.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Darwin

Too few people realize this. OPEC production is almost irrelevant to America, and we could care less about Russian oil. For Europe though, it’s an entirely different picture. I do feel sorry for our friends across the pond who face devastating economic consequences from a proxy conflict between the world’s two largest energy producers.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago

We can if know anything about history. Those imaginings should terrify us all. Billions will die if the Green’s get their way. Even now the potential for famines in the next few years is horrifying. Russia was a major supplier of fertiliser products and the gas for Europe to also produce them in quantity. European fertiliser plants are closing because they cost too much to run. Earlier in the year China had already begun to stop exporting fertiliser precursors because they were so energy expensive to produce. They opted to only produce for themselves. Then look at the example of Sri Lanka – they couldn’t afford fertiliser & so their (admittedly corrupt) leaders opted to farm without them and from being a net exporter of rice, it now desperately needs to import the stuff.
One of the ironies of the current UK politics is that Truss is being hung drawn & quartered for her performance yet she is the least culpable for the situation. All she and Kwarteng did in effect was to lift the lid on the mess we are in. It hasn’t gone away, Hunt’s ‘business as usual’ is business that is very unsual that only survived because of China’s exporting deflation. Well, they ain’t doing that anymore and this whole mess, which was coming anyway thanks to lockdown & its effects, arrived far quicker and potentially far more deadly thanks to the Green insanity of Net Zero. It was Net Zero’s windmills (& Hydro) failing to deliver. So the world rushed for the gas the Greens wanted to ban & had at least succeeded in reducing supply to the extent Putin has probably just screwed Europe and perhaps much of the Western World. Stop oil, and we won’t need Putin’s efforts, the West will die & those not stupid enough to stop oil will survive.

John Callender
John Callender
1 year ago

Professor Thompson argues that exploitation of oil has corrupted our souls and devastated the environment. This conclusion is based on a few works of fiction and a trashy television soap opera. It should be no surprise that her argument is completely unhinged from reality. How about some facts?

The agricultural revolution occurred around ten thousand years ago. Following this, human well-being flat-lined until the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the fossil fuel era in the 1700s.

Until then, 95 percent of humans led lives of what we now call extreme poverty i.e. squalor, drudgery, malnutrition, disease, violence, illiteracy and short lifespans. Most populations were only one or two bad harvests away from starvation. The average woman had six pregnancies and a risk of death of five percent per pregnancy. On top of all this, there were horrifying birth injuries such as ano-vaginal fistulae (a lifetime of passing s*** through the vagina) and the fact that only around half of children would survive to adulthood.

Only a small and diminishing minority or people now live in this way. It is hard to understand the kind of warped perspective that sees this progress as something evil and which should be done away with. Poor countries are determined to improve the conditions of life of their populations and this is entirely laudable. They certainly don’t need lectures like this from the dreaming spires of Cambridge.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Callender

Whilst I agree with most of what you say, I think that 95% living in utter sh*te is far too high for the Classical Era.

After all what on earth did all those Thermae (Baths), Amphitheaters, Theatres, Odeons, Circuses and Aqueducts represent?
Life may have been short, but at least it was fun for most.
“Dives in omnia”.

LaFonteCheVi
LaFonteCheVi
1 year ago

“After all what on earth did all those Thermae (Baths), Amphitheaters, Theatres, Odeons, Circuses and Aqueducts represent?”
Enjoyment for the extreme minority. 1% of 1%
“Life may have been short, but at least it was fun for most.”
Delusional romanticization of the past. For most people, your life was hard, painful, and short. You were borderline a slave that lived and died tending land for those above you. The life expectancy for the average Roman citizen was 25. You want to know why? Poor hygiene. Poor diets. Lots of violence. Virtually no medical care.
Imagine dying at 25 years old.

Last edited 1 year ago by LaFonteCheVi
Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
1 year ago
Reply to  John Callender

That Prof Thompson said “it is the rise of oil as an energy source that has made it possible for there to be so many of us alive in the world today” seems to have been missed by just about all commenters, so no shame in being one of them.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Ah Pamela Ewing, played by the lovely Victoria Principal, who had particular assets that I loved as a teenager and the acting ability of a mailbox. (Can’t say what those admired assets were these days, though it’s ok for women to talk lasciviously about men.)

Back to Benny Hill repeats



Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Stewart
Malvin Marombedza
Malvin Marombedza
1 year ago

They recently discovered oil back home in Zim. Didn’t believe it at first until I heard they were sending in the military to those oilfields. Wondered why the discovery had to happen now when those thugs are still in power. Couldn’t it have waited until they all died out?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago

Oil hasn’t helped Venezuala. Did help the bank balances of the thugs running Venezuela mind you. Though I suppose the Left can point to the massive increase in billionaires in Venezuela. I expect they don’t also point out you need to have at least 2.5 Billion to buy half-a-dozen eggs. Or you did about 6 months ago.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

You’re factually wrong. Oil did help Venezuela a great deal; for a long time it was the most prosperous country south of the US border. But like so many Latin-American countries, it was vulnerable to the siren song of leftist dictators, who always end up ruining things for everybody else, except themselves.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

I have’nt read ‘Oil!’ but I’ve seen ‘Giant’ and watched the early episodes of ‘Dallas’ as a teenager, very interesting to have them analysed here. That’s the wonderful thing about Art, even the lowbrow kind like ‘Dallas’, it tells or shows us something about ourselves we might otherwise be unaware of. We don’t always consciously understand or recognise the symbolism before us (I certainly did’nt watching Dallas), but we experience it subconsciously and it helps us. Almost always the conflict between Good and Evil is the main focus. Any idea that some past era was without threatening evil hovering, or that we can avoid it now or in the future is a mistake. Always the effort and struggle on a personal level as the wider public conflicts carry on around us.
Fascinating, I really enjoyed this.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Edmund Paul
Edmund Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

So did I. Well said.

Neil Anthony
Neil Anthony
1 year ago

Atheist Professor Helen Thompson who professes to know the lingo of faithful folk has sailed forth bravely into the land of the Jesus people. This politicial officer of the new liberal world order. Is selling us simpletons a tale laden with Chinese made glass beads woven with local dialect in exchange for our conversion to the liberal worl order’s solar god… ahhh! Well! Another morning another scammer…

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 year ago

What absolute twaddle. I’m sure that she lives a life completely divorced from any use of petrochemicals, and enjoys the idea of turning back the calendar several hundred years, with the resultant cataclysmic disruption in the Western way of life that allows her to indulge her eco-religious fever dreams.

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
1 year ago
Reply to  James Stangl

Another who apparently missed “it is the rise of oil as an energy source that has made it possible for there to be so many of us alive in the world today”.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

I would say that the bigger question is why the educated class — and their pals, the “auteurs” — have decided, apparently for decades, to equate Oil with Satan. It tells us a lot more about the educated class than it does about Oil.
The horrible thing about oil is that is allows ordinary people to travel around needlessly. Back in the 19th century a Col. Sibthorp called railways “the Steam Humbug.” And he got the support of the Duke of Wellington.
Dear old colonel. Little did he and the Duke realize that next would be ordinary people driving around in cars, and then getting flown around in 747s. And as for Elon Musk and his Starship project…
Someone really must put a stop to this, old chap.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

is it April 1st? Another disciple of the great philosopher Testiclese…

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 year ago

With greenhouse physics getting more reliable, we all hope that the burning of petroleum products will soon give way to a new generation of nuclear reactors driving an all-electric energy economy, supplemented as by whatever fluctuating puffs the left’s wind turbines can contribute. But so long as the world needs petrochemicals, there will always be an oil business.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

Glad someone here thought to mention nuclear. Any “environmentalist” who opposes nuclear energy is not an environmentalist at all, rather a nihilist who wants to undermine and destroy civilization as we know it.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
1 year ago

Eh, hydrocarbons eventually find their way back into the ecosystem. Lanthanides, not so much.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

Whataboutery, surely. Agreed, e-vehicles provide no realistic solution but that doesn’t render consumption of petroleum innocuous.

We have difficult choices and probably insufficient time to make them, even were we prepared to do so. Agreement on some basic principles would be required
 Yet so many of us apparently can’t even agree that sexual dimorphism is a reality
 I’m not optimistic at this point.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Parker
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

We have more important things to worry about than the Greens. Their dreams will go up in ‘methane’ this coming winter when Europe tries to live without gas. The irony is there is almost nothing heard of the Great Green Idea of generating power using wood pellets. Drax was in the news when the BBC investigated its source of wood pellets, yet no Green activist glued themselves to a Drax turbine & the BBC’s report hardly made the headlines.
The planet has survive hotter periods and the climate changes. We as a technological species adapt. We build cities that float (Venice) we dig drains to stop floods (although in the case of the UK Environment Agency we now ‘dredge’ the original drains put in centuries ago to stop floods) and the Dutch live below sea level. Japan built high rise buildings with technology to cope with the hundreds of Earthquakes Japan experiences daily, AND they build a Nuclear power plant that survive the largest earthquake recorded & the resultant tsunami that killed 10’s of thousands. The fact it is a mess simply means the next plant they built will be even better.
Then we have Chernobyl. The worst Nuclear disaster the world has seen, and which Green activist told us would render vast swathes of Ukraine uninhabitable. Well 30 years on that myth has been exposed, and again, by the PC BBC.
3 BBC programs to make a Green think.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/385SHpTG5M25Xr6G3FSMJTG/seven-things-that-happened-when-the-planet-got-really-really-hot
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47227767
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-63089348

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Spot on, well said.
You aren’t any relation to Frazer Bailey (formerly of this site), by chance?

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

You forgot to mention the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s meltdown. Was that on purpose? I’m not opposed to nuclear power plants, but they need to be built to survive all possible natural disasters.

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
1 year ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

Maybe he forgot to mention Fukushima Daiichi because emissions from that killed nobody. The gross overreaction to it is a different story.

Methadras Aszlosis
Methadras Aszlosis
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Duffett

People still invoke three-mile island as if it happens every day. Not a single accident of its type since. Where is my shocked face?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Sadly, Putin may yet succeed to do what Chernobyl failed to do.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago

To comment on an article one really should have read the whole thing; but after some time I simply couldn’t continue reading any more “evidence” consisting only of fiction, whether from novels or trash-TV. I should have realized where this was going, starting as it did with Upton Sinclair, a communist ‘useful idiot’ who turned lying into an art form.
If her point was that the oil economy has downsides, I couldn’t agree more. But what doesn’t, or didn’t? Would we like to go back to streets covered with horse dung?

Diana Silverman
Diana Silverman
1 year ago

Funny how people stuck in materialism attempt to call on science to repudiate the essays message about greed, selfishness, lake of foresight, power hungriness that has driven the oil industry from day one.

LaFonteCheVi
LaFonteCheVi
1 year ago

If you want to live in the mud and live a cold, hard, miserable life, be my guess. Sell your possessions. Get off the internet and get to it.
Do that instead of being a hypocritical twit lamenting and lecturing online (powered and created with fossil fuels) about materialism when you, yourself bask in it.
The only reason you have the free time, ability, and privledge to ramble on about the evil of oil is specifically because oil enables you to have the freedom to be, genuinely, that short-sighted and stupid.
But maybe you are right and we should abandon materialism and oil. And then people like you wouldn’t survive a day and we could finally be free of you self-important, naive egotists.

Last edited 1 year ago by LaFonteCheVi
Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

It is interesting to me how the essay, your comment Diana and both of mine have aroused such antagonism. To me, the essay is a rather interesting mix of cultural, philosophical and political criticism. It never crossed my mind that Helen Thompson was suggesting that mankind should never have dug for oil, or made the most of it. She might be forgiven for being critical of corruption, I certainly am. And yet to most people on here it seems to have been taken as a personal affront. Odd.
Perhaps fear is at the root of such an angry response, it often is.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
David Walker
David Walker
1 year ago

Cobblers!

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

Why all the references to ‘Dallas’ (schlock) and ‘Giant’ (an epic of its time) and no mention of ‘There Will Be Blood’?
Paul Thomas Anderson’s film version of ‘Oil’ is the greatest account of the boom and a Shakespearean tragedy besides.

Andrew In DK
Andrew In DK
1 year ago

It’s not the oil, it’s those people that are misusing it for greed and irresponsibly polluting activities. Oil is part of the natural world, it’s use can also be part of the ecology if used wisely.

Peter Grajczak
Peter Grajczak
1 year ago

Well, this is what happens when you use fiction art to learn facts. May I suggest to the dear professor to read the recent book by Alex Epstein titled Fossil Future? Then again, if she liked Dallas she may get bored by the facts and logics in the book. I just hope she will not get to teach my children.

D.C. Harris
D.C. Harris
1 year ago

“Westerners living lives far removed from the realities of the oil industry are now much more used to the idea of the commodity as a destructive force than those watching Dallas in its prime.”

Sitting in the ivory towers of the Cambridge poly sci department reading fiction and watching soap operas is about as far removed from the realities of the oil industry as you can get.

Last edited 1 year ago by D.C. Harris
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Blech. I rarely say this, but this article is unworthy of Unherd IMHO. This is greenwashing 101, picking green messages out of old works that the authors never intended. Dallas was a melodrama about the greed and bad behavior of wealthy people. Oil just happened to be the business, but modern dramas in the same vein (Empire, Power, etc.) are a dime a dozen. It was a bunch of generic anti-greed Aesops, which were common as dirt on television then and now. The same crap could have, and has, been written about any industry you can name. Moreover, the author could cite every book ever written or claim “Jesus was an environmentalist”, but it won’t change the laws of physics. Against the sophistry of greens, I submit that it is an indisputable fact that most of the advances we have achieved as a species in the past two centuries, such as longer lifespans, better health, less poverty, less starvation, less disease, are either a direct consequence of access to cheap energy, or an indirect result that would not be possible without it. So people are living longer, happier, more productive, and more fulfilling lives. Demonic power indeed.

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Yes, the article you say is unworthy pretty much said that: “it is the rise of oil as an energy source that has made it possible for there to be so many of us alive in the world today”

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
1 year ago

I enjoyed the philisophical start of the article, then it deteriorated into a recount of entertainment portrayal of the oil industry. Nonetheless, we are not likely to soon escape the grip oil has on our lives. I would specualte that multi-national oil companies control our lives more so than ever before. The question has always been; how do we regain control?

Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
1 year ago

Petroleum. It warms my hearth and lights my home. Oil keeps my grandmothers from freezing to death in the winter and dying of heat stroke in the summer.
Of course Man is hard on nature, but nature is far harder on Man.
I love petroleum and hope I die before the Luddites take over from the sane and good.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
1 year ago

Yeah, and without it, the world would STILL be in the horse and buggy days – and the good professor would be a harried housewife hauling water from a well.

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
1 year ago

This line of thinking reaches its fictional apotheosis in John Birmingham’s Dave vs the Monsters series, which is kicked off by an offshore oil rig literally unleashing demonic spawn from the underworld.

Methadras Aszlosis
Methadras Aszlosis
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Duffett

Are they covered in oil coming to get us all and tar and feather us for our sins?

Methadras Aszlosis
Methadras Aszlosis
1 year ago

You must be one of those professionally trained imbeciles who believe you are our better on the subjects of the day. May I just offer a small bit of advice? Please stay in your lane and theorize ways to ruin economies with nonsensical ideas of monetary policies that no one gives two craps about hoping that the nonsense you peddle that you’ve learned from other professionally trained imbeciles will yield some kind of accolade or recognition that might lead to a Nobel prize in economics.
You neither understand what oil is, what it means, nor what it has gotten you and the rest of us. The world’s economies run on two things that come from the ground and they start with the letter O, Oil, and Ore. Without those two things, we would not be living in the current lap of luxury where you can sit in your lofty space, hacking out solemn vapors replete with the horrors of that which you clearly hate and don’t understand.
Oil/nat gas and other hydrocarbons aren’t remnants of the fossils of prior lifeforms on the planet millions of years but rather a by-product of the inner workings of the earth as it deposits those chemistries within rocks and deep beneath pockets, sitting and waiting for someone industrious to find new and meaningful uses for it. This is a proven fact. Suffice it to say that other hydrocarbons have been found on other celestial bodies in the solar system without a human being or fossil in sight. If you’d like me to source that for you, I’d be happy to. Reach out to me here and I’ll do it.
Without it, you wouldn’t have the fuel for your home, your car, or your electric playthings. You wouldn’t have lubricants, plastics, detergents, and the various other things that make modern life possible. Without Oil or Ore, you wouldn’t have the technologies that springboard humanity to hopefully the next level of technological advancement. Nope, you sit in your lofty space seeing the dower nature of doom and gloom and grace us with Adhoc hyperbolics and pseudoscience thinking that the cache of your esteemed title will somehow propel us to nod our heads in quiet acquiescence or acknowledge that you actually understand what you’re talking about. You don’t and I have secondhand embarrassment for you from the result of it.
You and your ilk are a pox on the body politic and culture. You think you know more and are better than us. It’s disgusting. You want to eliminate an entire industry and energy source because it doesn’t comport with the indoctrination that’s rewired that ill-firing synaptic grey matter you call a brain to the detriment of not only yourself but everyone else. You’re ridiculous Gaiaist nonsense has transmogrified into the current Climate Change cultist/Eco-fascist trend de jour and it is harmful and you’re an agent or an acolyte of it, which in reality makes a danger to society. Stop what you’re doing here and now for your sake and ours. We can’t take any more ill-informed nonsense from you and people like you.

Last edited 1 year ago by Methadras Aszlosis
Jason Highley
Jason Highley
1 year ago

Oil isn’t a commodity. It’s the world’s reserve currency now, because energy is life. That’s not something I’d expect a political economist to understand. I suspect that there are probably fewer people in government who understand the value of real things than I have fingers on my right hand.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jason Highley
Angus Melrose-Soutar
Angus Melrose-Soutar
1 year ago

Oil is the Earth. A treasure from a former epoch. From the hot jungles of the past comes warmth and power, medicine and plastics. We should use it, enjoy it, and conserve it.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

After reading this I think it is time that UnHerd became unheard.

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
1 year ago

As far as nuggets of thought-provoking opinion go, this appears in Unherd as a kind of xenolith. It feels more like a religious recapitulation of a certain point of view than an honest attempt to place the issues in the larger reality. Far too neat a package to be plausible. Yes, carbon resources are nonrenewables, and yes it is dirty (although in the USA its improved production methods have reduced concomitant pollution to almost half the pollution of other large powers…why the current administration shuts down our cleaner oil and condemns the world to run on dirty oil, produced in potentially inimical nations, is a mystery…BUT modern civilization as we know it runs on oil. It is cruel folly to abruptly devolve our principal energy source. When you try to change horses in midstream, you quickly discover you’re up crap creek, without a paddle. The author missed the biggest point, though, which is that “power” is aptly named. Control of energy sources, no matter what kind, is control of society. Abrupt departure from carbon energy is tipping us backwards into feudalism.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

I suppose there is something in this rather overblown and pretentious article. Oil drilling is messy, affects the land it is happening in, and is often not a blessing for the countries it supposedly benefits, though this depends mainly on the quality of governance. (Norway does well, Saudi ok and Nigeria is just a disaster). But let’s grow up – every form of energy and indeed material development of any kind – including all ‘green’ ones, impose environmental impacts on the planet. Indeed, wind and particularly solar power are much more extensive, covering vastly much greater areas of land for the same energy generation.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
1 year ago

Nothing and no-one outside yourself can corrupt you, any corruption is always self-inflicted.

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
1 year ago

Yawn