COLM O'REGAN: Why would Trump say “let’s focus on digging out things and burning them rather than getting free stuff from space and the weather"?

There are times when you just have to appreciate the awesome power of your better than-bog standard fossil fuel.

For me it’s at a set of traffic lights when I’m on a bicycle. The lights go green. I huff and puff and grimace as I lean on the pedal to get going. There’s probably some courier-type who’s been balancing, as if touching the ground would cause the curse to come true and he’ll be 900 years old, just like Oisín. He gets away quicker but even he is eclipsed by the roar of an engine, as even the puniest car pulls comfortably away from us. You just can’t compete with the pent up energy in those molecules. All I have is porridge and evolution. Engines have at their disposal, millions of years of compression as dinosaur bones and old fern are crushed into 1.30-something per litre or less if you go for the carwash.

Donald Trump doesn’t need a bicycle to affirm his love for fossil fuels. To mangle a phrase, a Trump needs a bicycle like a fish needs a bicycle. But pulling out of the Paris Agreement just feels wrong, even if you didn’t give a hoot about the environment.

It feels like Trump is turning his back on the Wheel Agreement to placate his supporters in the Drag Stuff Along The Ground On Rudimentary Rollers lobby.

A lot of clean energy could be harvested from the sun and the wind which are additions to the rather zero-sum planet we live on. So why wouldn’t it be a good idea to try and have more of it? Why would anyone — even Trump — say “let’s focus on digging out things and burning them rather than getting free stuff from space and the weather?”

But free or cheaper things are a problem for people who own lots of things. This isn’t about a few thousand coal jobs. It’s about trillions of dollars — some of which are yours — that’s all tied up in the assumption: That burning stuff from the ground for the next 100 years is a good idea.

You probably didn’t sign up to Tar Sands or oil fields protected by stealth bombers when you were buying your pension plan.

There was a brochure of a photo of a man with salt-and-pepper hair leaning over a laptop with his wife who looked like Murphy Brown. You were just thinking about walking along a marina dressed in Littlewoods or taking up a pottery class in your retirement.

But there’s a lot of present money based on future drilling. And if there’s even a sniff that future drilling won’t happen, then a lot of present money isn’t going to be worth what it was in the soon-to-be-arriving past.

And that makes things tense for a certain cohort that can’t admit fossil fuels will eventually have their day.

It’s like why the Catholic Church can’t change their minds about compulsory priestly celibacy.

It’s not actually about whether married priests are a good thing or not.

It’s about the fact having spent hundreds of years saying they can’t, means there’s too much riding on it. (Which funnily enough was the reason priests were ordered to remain celibate in the first place.)

As it turns out some pension funds — $5trn worth — are getting out of fossil fuels. The writing is on the wall. So Trump or not, eventually none of these 10-gallon rootin-tootin Texans and sheikhs will be quite so influential in a few decades’ time.

Anyway don’t mind spending any more time reading this, go and enjoy whatever Bank Holiday weather is out there. It’s free after all.


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