The American Petroleum Institute (API), the trade organization for the oil and natural gas industry, has just begun running a feel-good commercial that argues “America’s future” lies in drilling out domestic reserves of oil and natural gas off our coasts, in our western lands, and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Here’s what the ad says:
Oil and natural gas powered the past. But the future? Fact is, a growing world will require more. 45% more by 2030, along with greatly expanding alternatives. We have substantial oil and natural gas resources right here. Enough to power 60 million cars and heat 160 million households for 60 years. With advanced technology and smart policies, together we can secure America’s future. Log on to learn more. [TEXT: EnergyTomorrow.org / The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry]
The “facts” in Big Oil’s ad are based on a thirty-six page API document entitled, “The Truth About Oil and Gasoline.” This “primer” was published last week, with numerous figures and charts on oil company profits and gas prices, but nary a single mention of climate change or greenhouse gas emissions. Here are the facts Big Oil left out:
Future With 45% More Oil And Gas Demand Involves 60% More Global Warming Emissions. The projection of “45% more by 2030″ gas and oil demand is drawn from the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2007 report. The API accurately describes the increase in global oil and gas demand in the IEA’s business-as-usual scenario, although United States demand is only projected to increase by less than 5%. However, API fails to mention the business-as-usual scenario also predicts energy-related carbon emissions would “increase by almost 60%” by 2030.
Business As Usual Spells Catastrophic Future. The IEA business-as-usual scenario would put the planet on a pathway to “temperature change at equilibrium of about 4.9 to 6.1 degrees C [8.9 to 11°F] compared to pre-industrial levels.” That’s five to seven times as much warming as we’ve already experienced, and would make catastrophic global change — including mass species extinction, crop devastation, and significant sea level rise — unavoidable.
Big Oil Ignores The ‘Secure’ Scenario. The IEA’s report includes a “450 Stabilisation Case,” in which greenhouse emissions are limited such that atmospheric concentrations stabilize at 450 parts per million of CO2 equivalent — what the IPCC calculated is need to avoid catastrophic climate change. In this scenario, total global oil and gas demand only increases by 10 percent from current levels, not the 45 percent that API says the world will “require.”
The ad’s tag line, “Together, we can secure America’s future,” mimics the We Campaign climate activism spot that concludes: “Together, we can solve the climate crisis.” The path Big Oil envisions — even as warning signs increase — would instead destroy the future of America and the rest of the planet.