For someone who grew up in Newfoundland, Rex Murphy certainly seems to hate the wind. In his latest climate change-denying diatribe for the National Post, Murphy decided to use the unfolding crisis in Texas as an opportunity to suggest, yet again, that renewable energy is not worth our time or trouble.

In addition to recycling some of his favourite arguments (yes, there’s the obligatory mention of Al Gore) and pretending not to understand the difference between climate and weather (“I thought we were not to have winter anymore,” he writes), Murphy opined that “it will take events like the singular storm in Texas to finally awaken the critical spirit, to contest the ‘inevitability’ of planetary extinction brought on by global warming, and to put policy-makers on alert that hurling vast sums of public money on renewable energy is not only a folly, but dangerous.”

Never mind that Texas’s enormous boom in wind capacity is the result of markets and economics, that it was underwritten by policies enacted entirely by Republican governors and legislatures, or that its $7-billion investment in transmission and other infrastructure has been dwarfed many times over by the jobs and wealth created by the state’s wind industry.

Murphy’s central premise about its central role in the collapse of Texas’s power grid spread like wildfire on social media, even in the face of attempts to contain it with actual facts. As the Associated Press noted in a story that attempted to correct the record, of the 45,000 megawatts of power that were offline, the majority — nearly two-thirds — were supposedly reliable sources like gas, coal and nuclear. Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin’s Webber Energy Group, told AP, “it’s not like we were relying on (wind) to ride us through this event. Nor would it have been able to save us even if it were operating at 100 per cent capacity right now. We just don’t have enough of it.”

This irony — that supposedly reliable sources of energy like coal, nuclear and natural gas are far more to blame for Texas’s woes than wind — seems lost on Rex Murphy. So, too, most likely, is the fact that the state’s vaunted oil industry was also hit hard by the winter storm, with as much as three million barrels per day of production (or 27 per cent of total U.S. production) shut in because of frozen wellheads and pipelines.

The truth is, this crisis resulted from the confluence of bad weather and the state’s unwillingness to require companies to prepare for it. And because the vast majority of the electricity grid in Texas isn’t connected to those that power the rest of the United States, it’s unable to lean on the surplus capacity of others in times like this. These are wholly inconvenient truths for the climate change skeptics and fossil fuel propagandists who would prefer to use green energy as the scapegoat here, and it’s safe to assume they’ll continue to ignore them.

Texas will, in due course, recover from this tragedy, albeit at a substantial human cost. But while it’s easy enough to dunk on the obvious and provable stupidity of those who want to blame wind energy for it, that misses the real danger that they and their hurricane of misinformation pose. Although the days of people publicly denying the scientific reality of climate change may be mostly at our backs, the people who once openly traded in it haven’t given up the fight.

Instead, they’ve retrenched to the higher ground of whataboutism, where they sow confusion by downplaying the urgency of acting on climate change and disparaging the technologies that would help us do that. And make no mistake: that ground will be far harder to capture for those who are engaged in the fight against climate change.

Take the recent Forbes piece by former journalist Robert Bryce, which argues against increasing our reliance on wind and solar energy in favour of natural gas. Bryce, who once wrote that “we should be cheering the news that coal use is rising,” doesn’t deny the reality of climate change or the role that natural gas plays in feeding it. He makes a more nuanced argument, noting that he’s “pro-electricity and electrification,” but worries that natural gas bans are “a regressive tax on the poor and the middle class because they compel consumers to use electricity.”

When it comes to the conversation about renewable energy and climate change, the falsehoods fly faster and farther than ever before, @maxfawcett writes. #climatechange #climatedenial

He closes by invoking the spectre of Sept. 11 and hurricane Sandy in order to suggest that “a robust natural gas grid helps our resilience. Electrifying everything will do the opposite.” That earned a glowing retweet from TC Energy, which just happens to be in the business of selling natural gas.

It would be nice if we could have a conversation about climate change that stayed within the bounds of accepted fact and science. But while technology has changed almost everything about how and where we communicate, one key aspect remains very much the same. As Jonathan Swift wrote more than 300 years ago, “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.” And when it comes to the conversation about renewable energy and climate change, those falsehoods fly faster and farther than ever before.

At some point, publications like the National Post are going to have to decide if it’s worth the cost of carrying these sorts of easily disproven myths. But until it decides that the truth about our shared future is more important than Rex Murphy’s pageviews, those of us who care about climate change will have to keep fighting.

Updates and corrections

| Corrections policy
February 15, 2021, 08:18 am

This story has been changed to reflect that a small part of the Texas power grid is connected to others outside the state.

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At some point, it might be good to drop the mask and admit that there is no need to pretend that the discussion is in any way intellectual or scientific; but simply a contest between the truth and suborned propaganda. Murphy is paid well for his efforts at destroying our children's lives.

Ha Ha! The National Post and Rex, ‘the mouth’ Murphy are anachronisms and can be safely ignored.

That's a dangerously apathetic perspective. Other people's opinions can never be ignored safely when those opinions show up at the ballot box and threaten to govern you and your country. We have to "fight it where we find it," whether it's in a newspaper or around the dinner table. And keep fighting it.

There is a minor inaccuracy in this otherwise excellent aticle. "And because the electricity grid in Texas isn’t connected to those that power the rest of the United States, it’s unable to lean on the surplus capacity of others in times like this."

This information has been widely reported in the US. Interestingly enough, El Paso is on a grid that also includes Quebec.

"Millions of Texans were left in the dark for days after winter storms triggered power outages. But people in El Paso, the upper Panhandle and parts of East Texas kept their lights on — thanks to power drawn from other parts of the country."

Thank you, Patricia. We are making a correction. Thanks for having our backs.

There was a time when I respected Rex Murphy's opinion but that is long past. His denial of climate change was puzzling until I found out that he takes money from CAPP but his support of Trump really surprised me. I don't know if he is actually stupid or whether he's susceptible to Peer-pressure and is following the lead of his hero, Conrad Black, in that regard. At least Black got some quid pro quo out of his absurd, disgusting PR work.

The Posts - National and Financial - are proud outposts of Climate Change denial. Terrance Corcoran seems to be the guru of short-term greed. I have come to realize that these weasels won't see a downside to their wrong-headedness. They are mostly older and won't be on this earth to suffer the results of their avarice. Sad!

Climate scientist, IPCC participant, UVic prof and former BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sued Corcoran and the NP for defamation and won. This, of course, doesn't stop the climate denial / delay / doubt community from issuing codswallop, but it certainly slows them down and gives some pause.

Seriously, since Rex Murphy is using his platform on CBC to deliberately spread misinformation, the CBC should fire him.

I really enjoy Max Fawcett’s thoughtful and informed writing. What a perfect pairing - Max Fawcett and the National Observer.

And yes, Rex Murphy is a disgraceful relic. The sooner he is completely absent from media, the better.

Quite apart from my conviction that Rex Murphy is becoming even more senile than I thought, I agree with most of the sentiments previously expressed. This weaponizing and commercialization of climate change denial is part and parcel of the anti-commonsense, anti-elitism, anti-science mentality and proof positive of the too common failure of human minds to acknowledge the (perhaps incomprehensible) complexity of the planetary and cosmic systems that surround us.

Personally I rejoice in the on-going discoveries and expanding knowledge humanity is acquiring. It returns me to the three year old's eternal quest to know WHY?

I respected Rex Murphy when he was the irascible statesman of the lost cod, then again as verbosely cordial host of CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup—“the smartest man in the world,” I recall telling my wife.

Then 9/11 happened and he began to change his once-endearing Newfoundland-accented lexical gymnastics. Over the next number of years, he was gently sidelined by the MoCo and eventually left to lecture us on the virtues of the HarperCon government from more appropriate pulpits. I’d gotten off the Murphy Christ train along the way: like the bull-wary hobo who thinks he’s the only one riding the rails until he readies to disembark at a well-known, slow curve on the outskirts of the city, I realized a dozen others probably thinking the same also tumbling down the rail-bed embankment after hurling their bedrolls from interspaced railcars, scurrying into the bushes until sure there’s no bulls in sight, a friendly arm waving out the caboose winda.

But Rex perseveres, so long a voice of legitimate complaint from the rocky fringe of Canada that he might not notice he’s become the spokesman of a lost cause: the fossilizing petroleum industry now so plainly grasping at straws as it settles in for rearguard retreat to insular redoubts in a rising sea level of green energy.

Once, Rex was righteous in his ire. Now he’s self-righteous in his error. But that train left the station long ago.

So long Rex. A lonesome whistle blows in the distant sunset.

Unfortunately Rex Murphy has become the Don Cherry of political commentary - so far past his Best Before date that he should be irrelevant, but able to trade on his reputation to spread mischief. Sad to see.

"At some point, publications like the National Post are going to have to decide if it’s worth the cost of carrying these sorts of easily disproven myths."

The National Post has limped along, losing money almost every quarter of its 22 1/2 year existence while doing more than just "carrying these sorts of easily disproven myths." It gave a high priority to actively publishing disinformation and open lies. After Postmedia finally goes down for good it will be interesting to learn who actually paid to keep the lights on all those years.

After that occurs, will we refer to it as post-Postmedia?

Embarrassing uncle? Useful idiot? Shill? Or someone simply lost in the barrens too arrogant, unwilling or unable to read the sign posts back to the path of evidence and truth?

I like to try find the best in people but in 2021 he is a far cry from being an insightful commentator or trusted voice.

Great job Max. While this is pathetic it is clearly nothing new with Rex who has been doing this since at least 2006 when the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" came out. I literally stopped listening to Cross Country Checkup because of this. I would tune in occasionally to see if his political analysis changed but it didn't. It wasn't until 2015 when he retired that I began to listen to it again. Regrettably, there are so many who liked and agreed with him which is why he still has a platform. Fortunately there are many others who aren't going to put up with the lies and distortions of the likes of Rex and instead of cancelling them it would be better to critique them.

This is not surprising given his past commentary on the CBC and National Post. He has always championed the oil industry and he even spoke at a CAPP event where he implored the oil industry to stop apologizing for their industry. This is a serious delusion as I have yet to hear the industry apologize for anything. If anything, they double down on their propaganda:
There is every reason to be skeptical of the oil industry and its apologists like Rex Murphy.