Rosebank: Omnicide for the People

omnicide noun
the destruction of all life or all human life 

The approval of Rosebank oil field, and the narratives surrounding it, are terrifying.

Chris Packham, Britain’s radicalised broadcaster called it an ‘act of war against life on earth’, the Green MP, Caroline Lucas called it ‘a moral obscenity’. Naomi Klein called it a “horrific decision… Canada is still partially on fire… this is an act of environmental vandalism”. Greenpeace said: “The ugly truth is that Sunak is pandering to vested interests, demonstrating the stranglehold the fossil fuel lobby has on Government decision making…”

Rosebank is the next step in the grotesque experience we are all living through: omnicide.

We know all of the facts about this travesty, we know all the carbon figures and inevitable subsequent emissions. But the financing of the project is also mortifying. The UK taxpayer is covering 91% the cost of developing Rosebank. Rosebank’s owner Equinor is set to receive £3.75 BILLION in tax breaks for the field.

As trade unionist and activist Howard Becket put it: “Equinor, Norway’s state-owned oil company gets taxed at 78% for extracting fossil fuels in Norways waters. To extract fossil fuels off the Shetland’s Sunak is giving them a 91% tax break. We are paying foreign state owned companies to destroy the planet. You couldn’t make it up.”

[Equinor made £62 BILLION in profits last year.]

While subsidising such vandalism is obscene, so too is the gaslighting around it. It’s no longer publicly acceptable to be an outright climate denier, so politicians and media supporters instead entertain various fantasies about these projects and the world we inhabit. These fantasies include magical thinking such as: “these actions in no way inhibit the path to ‘Net Zero’; “we need oil and gas in the interim in Scotland / UK” (no timeline is given for ‘the interim’); such new oil fields will improve ‘energy security’ and new oil and gas production will ‘reduce bills’.

Last year 75% of the UK’s oil production was exported. The same will be true of Rosebank.

Oil from the field will be sold on the international market at the going rate, and it will have no little or no impact on the cost of living crisis or energy security.

Even though each of these arguments is easily dismantled within second they persist. Our broadcast media is complicit alongside the predictable gibberish of the tabloids.

Earlier in the week on Radio Scotland’s Call Kaye phone-in show – in the aftermath of Rishi Sunak’s u-turn on Net Zero actions – the presenter posed the question: “Has the green agenda gone too far?”

There is no sanity in the media but nor is there any credible opposition. The Labour Party are tying themselves in knots – at first condemning the Rosebank approval – and then Sr Keir Starmer coming out to say he wouldn’t rescind any approved oil fields because to do so would ‘hinder growth’. Here’s Gordon Brown:

Here’s Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh:

There is no timeline from the gas-lighters, there’s just a commitment of no-change, a promise of helping nurture inevitable destruction. What’s really in bad faith in all of this is it’s done of behalf of ‘the people’. But in the real world there’s a timeline and we’re watching it unfold every day. If the media is too stupid, compromised or damaged to process serious editorial content, and the political culture too redundant and doped to create any form of leadership, then it is up to the rest of us to respond by whatever means necessary.

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  1. Cathie Lloyd says:

    We must keep repeating the truth about this act of vandalism. And I’d like to see us linking with Norwegian Greens – to have a joint campaign revealing just what is being done especially to future generations.

  2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    The GMB Union supports oil and gas exploration and extraction and supports the greater deployment of nuclear energy, ergo, The Labour Party supports it.

  3. John says:

    I watched Chris Packham on Channel 4 News yesterday evening I would not describe him as radicalised but someone who is entirely reasonable.
    The actions of Westminster government over last few weeks against global consensus on climate change and path to net zero surely marks them out as being radicalised?
    Labour do not appear to know what side of fence to sit on – but always come down on not wishing to upset the right wing media in UK.

    1. 230928 says:

      Or upset the workers and their unions, who are the Labour Party’s main donors.

      1. James Mills says:

        ” … Labour Party’s main donors ”
        True , until recently when certain individuals and corporate donations have eclipsed the traditional funders of Labour .
        We are reasonably aware of what the Trades Unions would want in return for their money – what about these new ”sponsors” ?

        1. 230928 says:

          The last figures I saw were for 2021, when the balance of donations from other supporters and those from trades unions was about 50:50, with another third of its income coming from public funds. I’ve no idea what those other supporters want; there are a lot of them, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Who knows; some of them might even want social democracy?

          1. James Mills says:

            In the second quarter of 2023 the Labour Party received £6.5 million from donors , of which £896,000 came from the Unions .( Lord David Sainsbury gave £3 million )
            This may not be repeated each quarter but does suggest a shift away from the traditional sources of Labour revenue .

          2. 230928 says:

            Well, Lord Sainsbury is a long-standing member of the Labour Party; so it’s hardly surprising he’d support it financially.

            He joined as a twenty year-old in the 1960s. He did ‘defect’ to the Social Democratic Party when it was formed in 1981, opposed its merger with the Liberal Party to form the Lib-Dems, and rejoined Labour after the remaining rump of SDP was wound up in 1990. He later became the Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation, where he remained from 1998 until 2006.

            Since 1990, he’s donated a total of £18.5 million to the Labour Party, believing that ‘Labour is the only party which is committed to delivering both social justice and economic prosperity’. (Of course, unlike you, I don’t know what his ‘real’ ulterior motive is; maybe, as Alasdair Macdonald would no doubt suggest, it’s to ensure that Labour ‘supports oil and gas exploration and extraction and supports the greater deployment of nuclear energy’.)

            He also (no doubt for some nefarious ulterior motive) bankrolled the Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum, donating a couple of million each to both the Labour and Lib-Dems campaign funds. He’s also a long-time patron of the socialist Scientists for Labour.

            Curiously, since 2019, while he’s still a Labour member, he’s donated over twice as much to Lib-Dem campaigns than he has to Labour campaigns. ((I don’t think he’s a big fan of Sir Keir Starmer.) He’s clearly trying to buy influence with the next Lib-Dem government.)

            He still identifies as a Brownite: he’s less enthusiastic than the Blairites about market driven reforms, such as tuition fees and foundation hospitals, and more keen on the role of the state; he’s less critical of Labour’s links to the unions and more critical of media management techniques such as the use of spin doctors; like Gordon Brown, he espouses a belief in a pluralist and equal society, social mobility, and marrying economic efficiency in the creation of wealth with social justice in its distribution.

            If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s a billionaire (and, of course, a unionist), he could almost be one of the good guys. As it is, he’s a stereotypical bad guy who buys influence with politicians.

          3. James Mills says:

            I make no claims of knowing the ”motives ” of donors – I suggested that union donations were becoming less important to the Labour Party . I have no insight as to the motives of corporate or individual donors or even of your motives . LoL !

          4. 230928 says:

            They’re just as important as they’ve always been, James. The party wouldn’t have nearly as much clout as it does without its affiliation fees. And it’s always relied on non-affiliate donors to help fund specific campaigns; all political parties do.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    Even if it was done on behalf of ‘the people’, it would still be wrong, because the Earth is home to a lot more than just humans. This is the uncorrectable flaw and gross ethical deficit in democracy. Hence the need for biocracy, and enforcement of laws against omniciders, ecociders and other actual (in planetary realistic terms) traitors, terrorists and mass-murderers. Short of that, world war.
    #biocracynow

    1. 230928 says:

      I’m still not sure how biocracy would work practically. I keep asking, but you never tell us. Who speaks on behalf of the non-human world? Whence comes their biocratic legitimacy? More fundamentally still, given that ‘nature’ is a human construct, is there even such a thing as a non-human world?

      1. 230929 says:

        I did read an interesting book anent the subject during lockdown; a 2018 reprint of Lynton Caldwell’s Biocracy: Public Policy and the Life Sciences, which was first published in the 1990s and is a collection of essays Lynton wrote from the early 1960s onward.

        Lynton traces the history of ‘biocracy’ as a concept to a lecture, entitled ‘Biological Fact and the Structure of Scoiety’, that the horticulturalist, William Bateson, delivered at Oxford in 1912. Bateson’s basic biocratic thesis is that the principles of law and policy governing human society should be consistent with the facts of life as revealed by biology.

        The problem I have with this thesis is that it’s undemocratic in that it privileges the voice of a particular community in the republic or realm of public affairs (namely, scientists and biologists in particular) over others in much the same way that theocracy privileged the voice of a different elite community in different times. It’s a fundamental democratic principle, in both the liberal and social democratic traditions of Rawls and Habermas respectively with regard to justice, that no particular knowledge community or community of interest should be privileged or disadvantaged in the res publica. The political problem for Bateson is how to persuade a critical mass of people within the republic to accept his thesis and surrender their equal sovereignty to his special elite.

        Now, I as far as I can tell, your concept of ‘biocracy’ is different from Bareson’s. You seem to be saying that non-human lifeforms themselves should be given an equal voice in the deliberations of the res publica. The problem with this concerns how these non-human voices will be heard given the incommensurability of human and non-human ‘speech’. It seems to me that you can’t avoid need for some mediatorial elite that claims it can ‘read the minds’ of non-human life forms that functions in exactly the same way that priests function in a theocracy, only priests claim to be be able to read the mind of ‘God’ rather than the minds of chimps and viruses or ‘Nature’ in general.

        Again, your political problem is how to persuade a critical mass of people within the republic to accept your thesis and the ‘authority’ of a kind of biocratic ‘priesthood.’ Good luck with that!

  5. Caligula says:

    It is oil and gas consumption for burning that is the problem. We will be using petroleum-based products for a long time – I’m typing this on one and reading this on one. I went to the last ‘climate justice’ rally in Edinburgh and most people were wearing gore-tex made from oil. But consumption reduction far more difficult than moaning about new oil-fields. As such, the government’s decision to postpone the banning of new petrol/diesel cars and gas boilers because it won’t get many votes is far more important than ranting about Rosebank: Way more important for stalling climate change, but I see no significant protests? I think stopping Rosebank might make fuck-all difference to CO2 emissions – reducing consumption does.

    BTW, oilfield development and decomissioning costs are tax deductable in both Britain and Norway.

    1. Caligula says:

      I would also point out that the last Edinburgh climate change march was the most pale-skinned bourgeous rally I have ever participated in. This stuff looks like it is for the upper middle class, at the exclusion of everyone else. Something should be done.

    2. 230929 says:

      Agreed. But the battle of Rosebank has powerful symbolism; like Bannockburn, it’s totemic of a particular set of values, around such symbols of which a tribe can gather and distinguish itself from its enemy.

      Not only will refusing the development make fuck-all difference to CO2 emissions, contrary to what one tribe claims, neither will the oil be produced for use and thereby reduce our dependency on ‘foreign’ oil, as the other tribe claims. The oil extracted will be used for trading purposes, to help us reduce our balance of payments deficit and thereby raise our international credit rating. I suspect an independent Scottish government might still be tempted to use ‘Scotland’s Oil’ in the same way for all the greenwashing of the present Scottish government’s nationalism.

    3. John says:

      I agree that reducing use of fossil fuels is key in addressing climate change. You have omitted to mention the need to insulate homes effectively which will reduce energy costs and be most helpful to poorest in society.
      The case for Rosebank is dubious on an energy security case. Reducing fossil fuel consumption will reduce demand which will also diminish any economic case for Rosebank field.
      Due to procrastination we need to employ all means to reduce extraction and use of fossil fuels especially as we do not know what and when a tipping point could be arrived at.
      Lastly many social movements have been initiated by middle class who have time and resources to be involved. While I agree we need a wider class participation to be more effective this should not diminish the efforts of those who put their heads above parapet and protest. What is needed is more and deeper involvement of all sections of society but this will not be achieved by indulging negative inverse snobbery which is a tactic of climate change sceptics.

  6. Not-My-Real-Name says:

    I’m trying to see where Labour, via Starmer, announcing that they, Labour if the next UK government, will honour the Tory UK government’s current decision to approve the Rosebank oil field a licence….and where that then fits into their, Labour’s, much publicised Great British Green Energy company which was much publicised as one of their missions (which as a mission may end up being somewhat impossible if they are then compromised by the UK still drilling for oil in the North sea) ……surely they , Labour, would be more credible as ones supportive of green energy if they vehemently opposed it now and perhaps dare I say used the same arguments they made in their mission to support , promote and create a more Green energy UK…..when (if) they were next in power as the next UK government…..

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