Yesterday got a little weird, so today we’re getting serious and bringing you some useful climate and energy fact-check content. Perhaps you saw that the EU’s special committee on foreign interference in democratic processes, like the IPCC, recently acknowledged the threat and harms of climate misinformation and called for coordinated responses from official institutions.
Facebook actually took one such (extremely small) step and is giving group page admins the ability to auto-reject posts containing content that’s already been fact-checked. That’s still not as good as actually deplatforming repeat disinfo spreaders, but it’s a start!
So let’s take a look at some claims that are now too false for even Facebook, and one that’s not.
Kate Aronoff is suffering through CERAWeek, and reported (among other things) that there was a long line of energy industry types waiting to get serially debunked Steven Koonin to sign their copy of his book. The latest in his long line of rebuttals comes from ClimateFeedback, which took a look at Koonin’s latest Wall Street Journal op-ed. Lauren Simkins called it “intentionally misleading and flawed” and Anders Anker Bjork suggested that “the WSJ title could just as well have been: ‘Last decade showed highest mass loss from Greenland ever measured.’”
Koonin’s critics include the authors of the very study Koonin (mis)cites, and they responded in a letter to the WSJ, in which they write that Koonin’s argument is “an incorrect” and “invalid interpretation” that “is often referred to as ‘cherry picking,’” confirming that, as we pointed out, Koonin’s op-ed accusing climate scientists of cherry picking was itself cherry picking. Kind of a "you're rubber and I'm glue" situation.
The popular disinfo these days is to blame some combination of Greta, Greenpeace, and Joe Biden for Vladimir Putin’s fossil-fueled invasion of Ukraine is, you'll no doubt be shocked to learn, also something experts don’t consider accurate. For example, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo mostly false-ly claimed that the U.S. is “reliant on Russian oil” and “have doubled our imports from Russia in the last year,” when we went from 1% of crude oil imports being from Russia in 2020 to just 3% overall in 2021. And though facts aren’t stopping those who attack Biden for not drilling enough, the fact is that oil production under Biden has been greater than during three of Trump’s four years in the Oval office (and adjacent TV-viewing rooms).
And on the Keystone XL front, it’s only “half true” that KXL’s potential to ship 800,000 barrels of oil a day would “offset what we import from Russia” because yes, that would’ve been its capability. If Biden hadn’t canceled it, it was only 8% complete so it still would’ve faced years of construction and legal challenges, and the oil was never guaranteed to even make it to U.S. markets. As Tom Kertscher summarizes, “it couldn’t have solved today’s demand needs. Even in the future, there would be no certainty that the pipeline could produce a net increase of 800,000 barrels per day, rather than just transporting oil from Canada that is currently being transported some other way. Nor would producers be obligated to sell that entire amount to the U.S.”
What is true, though? At least, “mostly”, is Biden’s point that the industry has over 9,000 permits to drill that it’s sitting on, and could increase production and boost supply to bring down prices for consumers. Why only “mostly true”? Because “once the permit is approved, drilling doesn’t start overnight,” and, of course, “some companies choose not to drill for corporate reasons — because they can raise funds from investors by not drilling on leases with proven reserves.” It's an ironic twist that the thing that makes Biden's statement not completely true also further undermines the oil and gas industry's claims.
Well look at that! Turns out Wall Street’s been making money hand over fist on Russian fossil fuels, while the 18 CEOs from the Biggest of Big Oil firms have made over $8 billion since Biden took office. That’s the topline of a new report from Bailout Watch, which also found that the top five Big Oil execs alone have cashed out $99 million of their stocks.
BailoutWatch data analyst Christopher Kuveke said “The actions of these oil executives make it clear that no matter how much they groan about the Biden Administration's environmental policies and blame Putin for high prices, their focus remains entirely on lining their own pockets.”
Oil companies are exploiting a moment of crisis to squeeze more money out of the public and into their bank accounts? No need for a fact check on that one!