The natural gas shale revolution has upended energy markets, geopolitics, and quality of life. Despite American innovation and disruptive technology delivering this positive Black Swan, there is a war being waged against it.
The media, environmental groups, academia, and certain political leadership lie, obfuscate, and slander this noble industry; that cannot continue to go unanswered. As leaders, we have an ethical and moral responsibility to respond.
The good news is that science, fact, data, and reason favor the shale revolution and the carbon economy. The following proffers nine irrefutable truths about the energy industry and our world.
Irrefutable Truth #1: The Natural Gas Industry is the Picture of Epic Success
At first blush, this is counterintuitive. Times are tough. Mid-2020 brings low natural gas prices, oversupply, stressed balance sheets of upstream producers, and looming consolidation. Yet these are the things we hoped for 15 years ago when we embarked upon the shale revolution.
This is what success looks like. Disruptive technologies of horizontal drilling, advanced completions, automation, and big data unleashed the methane molecule from the rock at prolific rates. That innovative application of disruptive technology massively increased the supply and reduced the cost of natural gas for society.
The supply tsunami overcame the demand growth in the short term, creating price stress, as any economist would expect. But demand for natural gas will grow tremendously in a free market. Prices will stabilize and everyone will benefit.
This is the same story of disruptive technology experienced in computers, software, semiconductors, social media, and a host of other industries. Henry Ford’s disruption of the assembly line spawned over a hundred car manufacturers that consolidated down to a few.
A 2020 bankruptcy of an upstream producer or a canceled pipeline is the result of disruptive technology and innovation successfully increasing supply and reducing cost of energy; they are not indicative of a bust.
Irrefutable Truth #2: Pro Carbon = Pro Human Being
You can’t be a fan of homo sapiens and not be a supporter of carbon. Somehow, the elites have twisted the storyline into carbon being the doom of humanity.
An elitist is someone with the arrogance to dictate which opportunities the middle-class working man and woman will enjoy and which opportunities they will be denied.
To the contrary of elitist claims, carbon is humanity’s salvation. Data prove that as carbon use grows in a society, life expectancy increases, infant mortality plummets, individual rights (particularly of women) increase.
Consider famine deaths as a good proxy for the benefits of increased carbon use.
In the 1870s, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) was 285 ppm and the world experienced 1,400 famine deaths per 100,000 people. By the 1940s, CO2 rose to 310 ppm and famine deaths fell to 785 per 100,000. Today, CO2 sits above 400 ppm and the world posts only 3 famine deaths per 100,000 souls. Famine has been effectively eradicated from planet Earth despite a massive increase in population.
To steal a sound bite from a former president: renewables didn’t do that; carbon did that. Carbon is the savior of humanity: past, present, and future.
Irrefutable Truth #3: Renewables Are Losers
Too much ground has been ceded and too many facts glossed over regarding renewables. The name itself is a farce.
There is nothing renewable about wind and solar. Both are non-renewable like all energy, just more so when you run the numbers.
An analysis must factor in the mining of the materials for the solar panels and turbine blades; the energy needed for their manufacturing, often in China, and their transportation; the intermittent, inefficient nature of solar and wind power; their massive surface disturbance and footprint; the backup generation needed for them; and the tax subsidies and protected markets they require.
So-called renewables need to be on constant government life support. They don’t improve the environment; they degrade it and attract rent seekers looking to feed at the public subsidy trough.
So-called renewables are losers on both a dollars/kWh and a CO2/kWh basis. Natural gas-fired generation is superior on both metrics when an honest analysis is performed. Such an analysis would shock the taxpayer, homeowner, and business owner—billions of dollars pilfered.
Irrefutable Truth #4: A Zero-Carbon Anything is a Myth
It doesn’t matter if it is a household, a company, a state, or an economy, ; there is no zero-carbon future waiting for any of them. The zero-carbon lie defies science and the laws of thermodynamics. Engineers know energy cannot be created nor destroyed in the isolated system called planet Earth. That rule applies to all, including Al Gore and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a.k.a. AOC).
The zero-carbon fraud hinges on its sister fraud of solar and wind being legitimate renewable forms of energy. Since renewables are just as, if not more, carbon intensive than natural gas generation, there is no zero-carbon possibility. One lie hinges on the other; disprove one and you expose the other.
Outrage should be directed at academia, particularly STEM disciplines and faculty across universities. These PhD scientists and engineers know better and fully understand a zero-carbon economy is impossible. To continue to perpetrate it is unethical, and perhaps illegal, when you consider these academics are procuring tax dollars to fund billions in research.
The next CEO that gets on CNBC or goes to Davos and starts lecturing about how his/her company is going to be carbon-zero by a certain year should be taken to task. How will that happen, exactly? Where is the math that shows that? If CEOs made undefendable and outlandish comments about revenues, cash flows, or net income, they would be sanctioned by the SEC and face charges. But the zero carbon bromides go unchallenged and are often lauded.
Irrefutable Truth #5: Carbon Equates to Quality of Life
If you ever doubted how vital carbon is to society, 2020 was the year all your doubts were erased. Carbon’s vital role continues to be highlighted during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown.
Carbon feedstocks are manufacturing surgical gloves, hand sanitizer, face masks, and ventilators. Carbon is transporting essential supplies all over the world. Carbon has, and continues to, fertilize, harvest, transport, and refrigerate our food from the field to the grocery store. Carbon is powering our hospitals.
Carbon saved us, just like it did prior to 2020 and will do so into the future.
Irrefutable Truth #6: Pro-Carbon = Pro-Freedom While Pro-Renewable = Pro-CCP
Recall not long ago when the one bipartisan issue the enlightened class agreed on was how China is the future, how it was liberalizing, how it was our friend, and how we enjoyed a wonderful partnership? Today, the elites have awoken to the reality that China is our rival and increasingly our enemy. That’s true politically, economically, and militarily.
A natural gas-driven economy is one that relies exclusively on domestic feedstocks, workers, companies, supply lines, and capital.
A so-called renewable-driven economy is the opposite: feedstocks come from China, components are built in China, our supply line for power infrastructure is extended across the globe to China, and our workers will be relegated to gig economy jobs, of which there simply aren’t enough to support a thriving middle class.
China understands this, which is why renewable manufacturing and rare earth minerals are viewed as of strategic importance.
Commitment to, and reliance on, renewables are a strategic blunder and risk to the U.S., and a victory for China. A commitment on our domestic natural gas economy is a bet on the American worker, and a strategic win for the US.
Irrefutable Truth #7: Carbon is the Ultimate Extension of Geopolitical Power
What would you pay for a proven, existing, plentiful, and safe energy source available that would do the following:
- Secure allies Japan and India and protect them from Chinese aggression.
- Secure Europe against Russia.
- Break OPEC’s back and stop endless Mideast wars.
- Pull billions of the planet’s poor out of poverty and provide better quality of life.
On top of all those benefits, what if this energy source would be manufactured in the U.S. with our own workers to deliver jobs, grow the tax base, and improve balance of trade? What then would you do to procure it?
What if when the planet fully utilizes this energy source, we would enjoy huge environmental gain through reduced particulate, reduced SO2 and NOx, and reduced CO2? What would you then do to support it?
That proven, existing, plentiful, and safe energy source is natural gas. Domestic natural gas is as big of a geopolitical extension of U.S. power as our carrier fleet or Marine Corps.
Irrefutable Truth #8: Carbon Sustains the Middle Class
The middle class is what makes America special. If you care about the middle class, you support the carbon economy.
The domestic carbon economy employs workers earning truly family-sustaining wages. Most positions do not require a college degree. There is not an industry that can match the pay levels, number of jobs, and years of opportunity that the carbon and natural gas economies represent.
Natural gas and associated industries like petrochemicals offer urban kids from high schools in Pittsburgh to rural kids in southwest Pennsylvania school districts the opportunity to progress to the next economic level: ‘solid middle class,’ where great things occur for the individual, the family unit, and the nation.
The working man and woman will not be relegated to the back of the line on economic opportunity because a bureaucrat, politician, or academic deems it to be so. A new alliance is afoot that reflects this reality: building trades, manufacturers, and energy producers are banding together to create an undeniably strong coalition. It’s called Pittsburgh Works Together. Check it out here.
Irrefutable Truth #9: Political Quietism is a Recipe for Disaster
Energy and manufacturing are the ‘doers’ of the economy. Without them, society stops dead in its tracks. Yet adversaries have been fabricating mistruths, looking to procure the fruits of the ‘doers’ labor.
It’s tempting to keep your head down, go to work, ignore the lies, and keep toiling. That’s political quietism.
But that will not work anymore because the elites have been taking more and more liberties with the truth, the data, the science, and the facts.
We have a duty to speak up and defend our noble professions, industries, and teams. That duty is a moral and ethical responsibility.
If you are not engaged in this battle on a regular basis against this insidious enemy, then you are not a leader.
Let’s secure the right to continue to achieve in a free market.
This is a fight worth waging and worth winning.