Issues: A Brave New Word

By February 8, 2013Issues

By Tony Eberts: As Exxon slips back onto the throne of Big Oil. the world’s biggest commercial enterprise, Canada faces another round of gasoline gouging at the pump, oil pipelines and tankers raise the threat of ecological disaster and we begin what is expected be the hottest year ever recorded, the fossil fuel industry is taking protective action.

Part of the action is to dump that scary word ‘oil’ and replace it with the upbeat word ‘energy.’ There is a recent Financial Post article worrying about this year’s cautious approach in the development of Alberta’s oil sands, which its enthusiasts predict will eventually involve churning up a piece of the planet twice the size of New Brunswick.

But while the FP piece is about oil, oil promotion, oil pipelines, oil tankers, oil sands investments of $18.5 billion this year alone, and the outlook for oil companies and oil investors, it is labelled “FP ENERGY.” FP Oil Editor Jeff Lewis is now Energy Editor. If FP had a food writer would he/she speak of extra virgin olive energy?

Possibly that’s because of all those unhappy stories about the Gulf of Mexico, the Kalamazoo River, the wreck of the Exxon Valdez and many smaller incidents involving oil. Why do U.S. diplomats often choose to call water boarding “enhanced interrogation”? Could it be because that sounds nicer than “torture”?

So let us be spared thoughts and fears of polluted seas and rivers, lost fisheries, ruined wilderness and decimated wildlife by speaking of energy, not oil. Energy pipelines, energy spills, waterbirds coated in energy—how nice. Can the day be far off when you drive your car to a service station (still running on petroleum products thanks to the deep pockets and great energy of oil lobbyists) and ask for an energy change?

Photo: Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace.

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