By William S. Becker
Recent statements by several public figures indicate that they are suffering from a relatively new malady known as “petrodementia”, where brain cells calcify after sustained exposure to oil industry propaganda. Symptoms include an inability to recognize irony and to differentiate facts from fiction.
Three leaders have shown those symptoms in recent days: U.S. President Donald Trump; EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler; and Mohammed Barkindo, Secretary-General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
In a 45-minute speech from the White House Monday, Trump claimed that he will be remembered as an environmentalist because of his strong support for fossil fuels and his campaign to roll back scores of regulations designed to protect the environment.
Since Trump became president, his war on federal regulations to mitigate climate change has resulted in more than 130 lawsuits. So far, none of Trump’s actions has survived legal challenges.
Wheeler, the warm-up act for Trump’s speech, told reporters that critics of the President’s environmental record are ignoring all of the progress the United States has made since 1970. Yet Trump has been president for only 2.5 of those 47 years, and he’s used them to scuttle the environment-friendly policies of presidents before him.
Barkindo, the head of the powerful OPEC oil cartel, showed clear signs of petrodementia this past week when he complained that climate activists and “unscientific” claims are “the greatest threat to our industry going forward.” The reality, of course, is that the greatest threat to the oil industry is the oil industry itself. It continues producing fossil fuels with no regard for their global-warming pollution.
Psychologists note that petrodementia is often accompanied by another malady known as “karmatime”, in which oil industry officials are confronted with the environmental impacts of their actions. Recent estimates put the cost of climate change at nearly $69 trillion by 2100.
“It is unsettling to witness these maladies in highly placed people,” one activist said. “There apparently is no cure. The humane response is to remove them from their positions so the rest of us can get on with the business of preventing a climate catastrophe.”
Author’s Note: In case there is any doubt, the comments of the three officials are real, but the diagnosis is a satire.