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Page added on October 25, 2020

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Not transitioning away from fossil fuels will kill the economy — and our planet. Who wants to tell right-wing media?

Public Policy

During last night’s final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the former vice president suggested that to combat climate change we must ultimately move away from fossil fuels.

The right-wing media latched onto his plan to “transition” to a clean energy economy as proof that Biden will eliminate oil and gas jobs and kill the economy. In reality, this narrative is a dangerous adulteration of Biden’s plan and a complete rejection of what the scientists say is necessary to preserve a livable planet — a transition that is already well on its way.

And it needs to be, because the longer we wait to transition, the more costly it becomes.

Right-wing media are up in arms about Biden’s oil transition comments. But this statement isn’t the earth-shattering admission they portray it as.

Almost immediately after Biden made his comments on energy transition, many right-wing commentators voiced their disingenuous criticisms on Twitter.

Biden’s comments were also discussed at length the next morning on Fox & Friends. Guest Sean Parnell called Biden’s remarks “unbelievable,” while Corey Lewandowski called it “draconian” that “we’re going to transition to this Green New Deal.” The GOP might also try to exploit these comments in the final days before the election. But these attacks may not have the sway that right-wing media think they do.

Climate scientists have repeatedly stressed that to preserve a habitable planet, we need to decarbonize our economy. According to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, global emissions must fall by close to half by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050, if we have any chance of staving off the worst effects of global warming. The world is not close to meeting these targets, hence the urgency to solve the issue.

There is a huge economic incentive to fight climate change as well. Despite Trump’s lies that Biden’s climate plan will cost $100 trillion, and trillions more to rejoin Paris, decarbonization will be far less costly than climate inaction. Climate disasters and extreme weather events cost the United States an estimated $91 billion in 2018, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that a 1.5 degree C rise in the global average temperature “would cost the world’s economies $54 trillion.” And it gets precipitously worse the longer we wait to transition to a clean energy economy.

Biden’s climate plan specifically calls for eliminating carbon emissions by 2050. It also calls for rapid investment in the new clean energy economy and vows to those working in the fossil fuel industry that they will not be left behind. Further, it does not “call for a ban on fossil fuels and includes measures for continuing their use by capturing their carbon emissions.” His debate comments merely articulated what is already in the climate plan he released in July: We will have to transition away from the oil industry in order to fight climate change.

Biden’s climate plan is hugely popular — a recent poll found that two-thirds of voters support it. Action on climate change is popular as well, with poll after poll showing that voters really want government action on climate change. In addition, we are already in a transition period from fossil fuels to a cleaner energy economy — and voters support this as well. Vox’s David Roberts notes that the oil industry’s growth hopes are “pinned on plastics,” and that it probably “won’t end well”; additionally, the pandemic has exposed numerous structural problems within the industry. Renewable energy is insanely cheap and competing with fossil fuels in most places, and we may have already hit peak demand for oil and natural gas.

Unfortunately, for most of establishment media, the oil transition is still a dicey subject to talk about. But with the reality being that climate action is popular and that fossil fuel workers themselves talk about the need for a transition, right-wing media’s embrace of Biden’s comments may not have the intended effect that they expect.

Once again, Biden does not support an outright ban on fracking

It’s not a presidential climate discussion without right-wing media fanatically claiming that Biden intends to outright ban fracking, or that he flip-flopped on the issue.

Fox News has spent months obsessing over Biden’s supposed plans for fracking. And the coverage is chock full of lies and other misinformation. Biden will not ban fracking if elected; he would only block new permits on public lands (which is a small issue, as the vast majority of fracking is done on private lands). In addition, his climate plan doesn’t even mention fracking, and a president doesn’t have the authority to issue a ban on fracking. Numerous outlets have already verified Biden’s claim that he will not ban fracking, but of course that won’t stop the right from distorting it.

As Biden’s climate plan seeks to have net zero emissions by 2050, it’s obvious that fracking will have to be phased out over time. This probably explains why his plan does not call for an outright ban on fracking. But to continue to say he supports an outright fracking ban is just disingenuous. The Trump campaign may seek to hit Biden’s fracking comments in places like Pennsylvania. But whether that will work is a different story:

Right-wing media’s focus on oil and gas jobs is extremely dishonest

Fox News and other right-wing media figures are gaslighting their audience about oil and gas jobs. Shortly after the debate concluded, Sean Hannity and a number of his guests, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, claimed that Biden’s statement on transitioning away from fossil fuels would destroy the economy, in part by eliminating jobs from the oil and energy sector.

Other right-wing media figures and politicians also pushed this narrative:

But even before the coronavirus severely hobbled the oil and gas sector, the industry was in decline. As Vox’s David Roberts explains:

For years, the industry has been shedding value, taking on debt, losing favor among financial institutions and investors, and turning more and more to lobbying governments to survive.

It is, in short, a turkey. CNBC financial analyst Jim Cramer put it best, back in late January, before Covid-19 had even become a crisis in the US: “I’m done with fossil fuels. They’re done. They’re just done.”

“We’re in the death knell phase,” he said. “The world has turned on [fossil fuels].”

In the U.S., over 200 oil and gas companies have gone bankrupt since 2015 and the industry’s stock sector is the worst-performing on the Standard & Poor ratings. In August, Exxon was dropped from the Dow Jones Index, where it had been ranked for 92 years. At the time, a Politico energy reporter quipped, “So when do we stop calling it Big Oil?

The Trump administration has repeatedly extended handouts to the industry while systematically rolling back regulations in an attempt to shore up the industry. But it is only throwing good money after bad.

The industry is not rebounding and continues to hemorrhage jobs. Over 100,000 jobs were lost in the oil and gas industry this year. In Texas alone, the oil industry shed 26,300 jobs in the month of April. And yesterday, Exxon, which in the spring said it had no plans to layoff its workforce, announced that layoffs are now inevitable. Moreover, despite the dominant narrative that the oil and gas industry is a huge job creator, it actually employs far fewer people than right-wing media suggest.

As political analyst Jacob Rubashkin pointed out, the oil and gas extraction industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Management, employs approximately 150,000 employees, which is 10 times less than Walmart.

Even the Trump administration is having a hard time squaring this narrative with reality. An October 21 report from the White House on the Pennsylvania energy industry notes that the oil and gas industry “employs approximately 26,000 workers” in the state. But as Food and Water Watch pointed out:

At recent campaign appearances, Trump has attempted to rally voters by saying that a Biden fracking ban would cost somewhere between 600,000 and 900,000 Pennsylvania workers their jobs.

Notably, the state has more than 90,000 jobs in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean technologies. And in fact, clean energy is the fastest-growing industry in America, and clean energy jobs pay well above the national average, have good benefits, and they can’t be outsourced to other countries. Moreover, economists say that investing in bold climate and clean energy policies would likely create over 10 million more high-quality jobs over 10 years.

Right-wing media are deliberately ignoring the writing on the wall. Denying the need to decarbonize is reckless, and doing so without a transition plan will hurt workers.

media matters



14 Comments on "Not transitioning away from fossil fuels will kill the economy — and our planet. Who wants to tell right-wing media?"

  1. DT on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 8:51 pm 

    The sad truth is that their is nothing humans can “transition” away from oil and go to at scale. The entire transportation system of trucks, cars, trains, air travel, ocean shipping, even bicycles is based on burning fossil fuels. What are humans going to use for big agriculture when the diesel, gasoline, natural gas fertilizers, oil based insecticides, herbicides and all things green revolution are eliminated? How will tires for all of those millions of electric cars be produced without the eight gallons of oil per tire? How will roads be built and maintained with no fossil fuel inputs for asphalt, concrete, steel, and heavy duty equipment for installation and maintenance?

  2. FamousDrScanlon on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 9:13 pm 

    DT, which is the sad part?

  3. DT on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 9:27 pm 

    The sad part is that people are believing the entire green washing of an energy transition.

  4. FamousDrScanlon on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 9:36 pm 

    If you’re a 2pk a day smoker for 50 years who was recently diagnosed terminal, the only thing you’ll be transitioning to is worm food.

    Smoke em if you got em because it don’t fucking matter. Never did. We were heading here all along. No choice.

    Once the humans evolved full behavioural modernity, they were doomed to self destruction.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity

    *This applies to all humans except clog. Don’t sweat it clog we don’t mind waiting for you to catch up.

  5. lana repaer muzz r gaslighting us 3gd gona croak soon water over 174m wouldn't be nice supertard bochen777 allow us to post on chink website what kind of perverse fairness doctrine is this on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 10:51 pm 

    Oh ye we need to amputated whitey supertard thunderfoot

    Only master race chink can harvest master muzz

  6. lana repaer muzz gaslighting us On This Day... Oct 25, 2018: Homs, Syria The Islamic State executes a prisoner by driving a tank over him: 1 Killed on Mon, 26th Oct 2020 12:23 am 

    Peaceful

  7. lana repaer muzz gaslighting us DT on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 8:51 pm The sad truth is that their is nothing humans can “transition” away from oil and go to at scale on Mon, 26th Oct 2020 12:26 am 

    I beg to differ I’m a firm believer in permacultism so never worry ok

  8. zero juan on Mon, 26th Oct 2020 4:46 am 

    Hey anon, you stupid dumbfucks west coast Canadian loser, look at what your lunatic JuanP spewed last night. Are you impressed? LMFAO. He is completely insane and will be moderated today. All day the fuck will be stalked and dealt with. Got it widdle! The stalker gets stalked the troll get trolled. Love it!

    JHK said How the hell did kunstler end up being a far right…

    lana repaer muzz gaslighting us DT on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 8:51 pm The sad truth is that their is nothing humans can “transition” away from oil and go to at scale said I beg to differ I’m a firm believer in perm…

    lana repaer muzz gaslighting us On This Day… Oct 25, 2018: Homs, Syria The Islamic State executes a prisoner by driving a tank over him: 1 Killed said Peaceful

    Theedrich said Fukushima has other, costlier, solutions. But Japa…

    lana repaer muzz r gaslighting us 3gd gona croak soon water over 174m wouldn’t be nice supertard bochen777 allow us to post on chink website what kind of perverse fairness doctrine is this said Oh ye we need to amputated whitey supertard thunde…

    FamousDrScanlon said If you’re a 2pk a day smoker for 50 years wh…

    DT said The sad part is that people are believing the enti…

    FamousDrScanlon said DT, which is the sad part?

    FamousDrScanlon said Gambling Addiction and the Brain “Recently,…

    DT said The sad truth is that their is nothing humans can…

    FamousDrScanlon said ‘I AM THE MOB on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 8:09 pm…

    DT said Yes of course the solution to pollution is dilutio…

    Davy said Thanks FamousDrShitface! It’s the best thing folks…

    FamouseDrShitface said You definitely are a fuck up JuanP

    JuanP said I fucked up and now I am the hunted

    Davy said Yeap. Were fucked eather way Famous. Don’t even ge…

    JuanP said When are we going to Italy REAL Green?

    FamousDrScanlon said If elected, Biden will do everything China asks o…

  9. zero davy on Mon, 26th Oct 2020 4:57 am 

    Hey anon, you stupid dumbfucks west coast Canadian loser, look at what my lunatic JuanP sock spewed last night. Are you impressed? LOFAO. I am completely insane and will be moderated today. All day my fuck will be stalked and dealt with. Got it widdle! The stalker gets stalked the troll get trolled. Love it!

    JHK said How the hell did kunstler end up being a far right…

    lana repaer muzz gaslighting us DT on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 8:51 pm The sad truth is that their is nothing humans can “transition” away from oil and go to at scale said I beg to differ I’m a firm believer in perm…
    lana repaer muzz gaslighting us On This Day… Oct 25, 2018: Homs, Syria The Islamic State executes a prisoner by driving a tank over him: 1 Killed said Peaceful

    Theedrich said Fukushima has other, costlier, solutions. But Japa…

    lana repaer muzz r gaslighting us 3gd gona croak soon water over 174m wouldn’t be nice supertard bochen777 allow us to post on chink website what kind of perverse fairness doctrine is this said Oh ye we need to amputated whitey supertard thunde…

    FamousDrScanlon said If you’re a 2pk a day smoker for 50 years wh…

    DT said The sad part is that people are believing the enti…

    FamousDrScanlon said DT, which is the sad part?

    FamousDrScanlon said Gambling Addiction and the Brain “Recently,…

    DT said The sad truth is that their is nothing humans can…

    FamousDrScanlon said ‘I AM THE MOB on Sun, 25th Oct 2020 8:09 pm…

    DT said Yes of course the solution to pollution is dilutio…

    Davy said Thanks FamousDrShitface! It’s the best thing folks…

    FamouseDrShitface said You definitely are a fuck up JuanP

    JuanP said I fucked up and now I am the hunted

    Davy said Yeap. Were fucked eather way Famous. Don’t even ge…

    JuanP said When are we going to Italy REAL Green?

    FamousDrScanlon said If elected, Biden will do everything China asks o…

  10. REAL Green on Mon, 26th Oct 2020 5:02 am 

    We should make a apology to the mods over on the sane intelligent side Davy. We heard they talkin about shit canning are insane ass. We had more warnings in six months then most other folk ever got in ten years.

    dumbfuck

  11. fireboy and watergirl on Mon, 26th Oct 2020 5:16 am 

    The article is very meticulous and insightful. it provided me with a fair amount of knowledge. help a lot for my work.

  12. Davy on Mon, 26th Oct 2020 5:22 am 

    fireboy and watergirl, a big thanks to both of y’all fer all yer support. What countries are you from freinds?

  13. Outcast_Searcher on Wed, 28th Oct 2020 10:46 am 

    The truth is NO mainstream politicians are willing to do nearly enough, as getting elected or re-elected is always job one.

    The right is clearly worse overall than the left on this issue, but the go slow and passive/timid approach of the US dems is PITIFUL compared to what’s needed.

    I feel bad for my nieces and nephews and their kids who will be really paying the price for the lack of meaningful change in 40 to 100 years, due to the politics of not trying to fix climate change if it isn’t destroying us TODAY.

    Meanwhile the science deniers will continue to deny. Having never had a bit of brains re science, facts, math, and logic, why should they start now?

  14. Dredd on Thu, 29th Oct 2020 2:03 pm 

    So, where da heat at (In Search Of Ocean Heat – 9)?

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