Beyond Pathetic

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BP logoIt’s revealing that the “greenest” of the big international oil companies is now responsible for one of the worst ecological disasters in history. Maybe BP should have concentrated on its core mission of efficiently and safely producing oil instead of trying to make us believe that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum.”

Most big companies zealously guard their brand names. British Petroleum seems embarrassed by theirs. Even as the Deepwater Horizon gushes into its 42nd day, the BP website proclaims:

Our brand is summed up by the phrase 'beyond petroleum'. BP recognises that meeting the energy challenges of today and tomorrow requires both traditional hydrocarbons and a growing range of alternatives. We are at the forefront of delivering diverse, material and real solutions to meet the world's needs for more and secure, cleaner and affordable energy.

The ubiquitous and annoying Beyond Petroleum TV ads always feature windmills, a tiny corner of BP’s business that shouldn’t even exist.

Wind energy is not economically viable, only existing because of government subsidies and tax credits. Moreover, new studies suggest that the supposed benefits of wind — reduced carbon emissions — are exaggerated or nonexistent because of the intermittency problem. Because the wind does not always blow, coal and natural gas plants must ratchet up or cut back production, creating new inefficiencies.

As with ethanol, which is speeding the wholesale destruction of Brazilian rain forests, the unforeseen consequences of “green” technologies can overtake the promised benefit. The world economy is based on petroleum for a reason. Only the free market can serve as the ultimate arbiter of efficiency, and yes, what is “green.” Too bad the major oil companies cannot express this.

The BP website also has a history of the company. The post-WWII period is actually identified with “progress” as “Cars flooded onto the streets of Europe and the US.”

For the “New Millennium” of “2000 and beyond,” the tone is a little different:

As a century drew to a close and a whole new millennium approached, people around the world turned their thoughts to the future.

Scientists did the same, naturally, and many of them didn’t like what they saw. Climate change, they said, posed a genuine and growing threat to the earth.

Strangely, this section is highlighted by a quote from former BP CEO John Browne:

We are all citizens of one world, and we must take shared responsibility for it's future.

Browne resigned in disgrace in May 2007, following media disclosure of a homosexual scandal. Browne sued British newspapers in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent disclosure of the relationship. Browne admitted lying under oath during that litigation. Browne also resigned as a director of Goldman Sachs.

Still, the BP “history” goes on to ballyhoo:

Browne had become the first CEO of a major energy company to acknowledge the near consensus among scientists about the global threat posed by climate change. And BP, he said, had a share in the responsibility for addressing the problem.

Of course, whatever “near consensus” existed on global warming no longer holds in the wake of the Climategate scandal. You would think that BP would be the first to welcome the rebirth of this debate, but it hasn’t happened. To its credit, BP did withdraw (along with ConocoPhilips and Caterpillar ) from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of corporations and interest groups that support cap and trade legislation. But it is yet to truly defend the interests of its customers, shareholders and employees.

Browne was knighted in 1998 and carries the title of Baron Browne of Madingley.  He is currently president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a member of the House of Lords.  The New Money Barons at Goldman Sachs, which has also embraced global warming, must have been thrilled to rub elbows with him prior to his flame out.

I think of the good people of Louisiana and Texas who do the dangerous work on oil rigs and all the related activity. They are being badly served by corporate and governmental elites for whom political correctness has become a substitute for doing their jobs.