Source Gatestone Institute

NEW YORK, US: Even before it started, it was evident that the COP28 jamboree to "save the planet" would not satisfy the high expectations, some of them contradictory, of the 198 nations and dozens of non-governmental organizations attending the event with different agendas, including some hidden ones.
It is, therefore no surprise that some participants pronounced the event "a big failure" even before the conference president, the UAE's Sheikh Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, struck the final gavel.
The next move was to blame "the Arabs" and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as a whole.
The fact, however, is that OPEC as a whole accounts for just over a third of global oil production.
Of the top oil producers, only two Saudi Arabia and Iraq are Arab states. The United States, Russia and Canada claim first, third and fourth slots as largest producers. Of the top 20 consumers of crude, oil only two, Indonesia and Iran, are OPEC members.
If the "Big Bad Oil" octopus exists, its tentacles reach beyond Arabs and OPEC, from China and India to the European Union, the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
But why did "Big Bad Oil" come into being in the first place?
Oil became the indispensable element for building what was to become known as "the modern world" that promised a lifestyle of movement and speed in the service of free global trade based on the comparative advantage theory.
From the start, that is to say sometime in the 19th century, the oil business has been dominated by a handful of Western nations that, except the United States, all had state-owned oil companies and a military machine to protect and expand their oil interests.
The "modern world" meant rapid urbanization, growing distances between places of work and of abode that necessitated transport, including automobiles, hailed as the latest symbol of individual freedom.
The new lifestyle also meant building energy-devouring vertical mega-cities seen as the most effective symbols of wealth and power.
Even today, building skyscrapers is regarded as the entry ticket to the "modern world". Cheap oil also made unprecedented mobility of labor and immigration possible.
Ironically, many Western eco-warriors who blame the "Big Bad Oil" forget all that and a few more facts.
The first is that Western governments earn more money from taxes on oil and its byproducts than the average OPEC member.
At the same time, the bulk of investment in exploring and producing new oil reserves comes from Western and to a lesser extent Russian and Chinese companies.
While Western eco-warriors speak of the need to end oil, hardly a year passes without their own companies cutting the ribbons on new oilfields in the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Guinea, the Black Sea and even the Arctic Circle and Antarctica.
If global warming is a real threat to the planet it should not be treated as a technical problem to be solved by technocrats. It is a civilizational problem that can only be dealt with if we are prepared to contemplate and start working for an alternative lifestyle less dependent on speed, movement, mega-cities and consumer-led economic growth.
The alternatives offered so far lack credibility.
Keeping the present lifestyle, which incidentally is expanding into China, India and many more "emerging nations" while trying to replace oil with alternatives, involves a number of unknowns not to mention the unknown unknowns.
Nuclear energy may sound attractive. But the fact is that we still know little about its impact in the long run, especially when it comes to disposing of the waste it produces.
The reopening of long-abandoned coal mines in Australia, the US, Poland, Germany and the UK, among others, amounts to trying to use a bigger evil to deal with a lesser one.
Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and others are still in their infancy and, provided current levels of investment and technological progress are maintained, could take decades to sustain the "modern world" as we know it.
Such radical ideas as "the end of obsession with economic growth" and a new culture of recycling are unlikely to secure the public support needed for a serious transition from one way of being to another.
In any case, history shows that civilizations based on recycling and no growth end up disappearing, the most glaring example being ancient Sumer.
Blaming the "big bad oil" may provide a ready excuse for the failure of political leadership, especially in the more powerful countries, to present the problem as one of building a different, hopefully more sustainable global lifestyle and not a collection of discrete issues such as the submersion of ocean islands and the spread of air pollution beyond the 300 or so mega-cities that are already poisoning their inhabitants.
Since the currently popular model took almost two centuries to take shape it would be naïve to expect an alternative to emerge with a few COP28-like gatherings and duplicitous pseudo-solutions such as the sale of "carbon offsets" by some nations to others.
Since the Paris Conference of 2015, those leading the "save the planet" crusade have opted for a piecemeal approach to a problem that, if it exists, cannot be solved by diplomatic gimmicks, fixing sectorial targets such as a maximum of 2 degrees increase in global warming by an arbitrary date, and the inevitable passing-of-the-buck game.
At the other end of the spectrum, eco-warriors are struck by short-termism by pretending that throwing paint at a Van Gogh in the National Gallery or blocking access to the metro in Paris are the best ways of inviting people to think of the transition that may have become inevitable.
Guess which industrial nation has had more success in reducing its carbon footprint, mainly by replacing classical cars with electric ones.
The answer is Norway. But it is also the world's fifth-largest exporter of oil and third-largest exporter of gas.
And, which country has the biggest solar-energy production? The answer is China, which is also the world's number one importer of oil.
Gauging the impact of "Big Bad Oil" isn't that simple.