Anybody want to learn a new language? You don't need Rosetta Stone for this one - just a touch of gullibility.
The petroleum kings, fossil fuel führers and our prime minister are all behind this new lingo some label Petrospeak. It is aimed at calming public fears that the schemes of these profiteers, polluters and politicians may not actually be aimed primarily at improving the lives of the masses.
At the outset of the controversy over the world's dirtiest petroleum extraction project in northern Alberta, critics and realists called the resource "tar sands," because the gunk being recovered there bears a strong resemblance to the thick, smelly stuff we spread on highways.
This unpleasant word was immediately pounced upon by the Petro-people and the Petro-press, and they insisted upon calling the raw material "oil sands," raising thoughts of that delightful liquid known as "sweet crude."
Only a few media outside the control of the corporate press stuck with "tar," because this annoys Ottawa.
But "Petrospeak" is a living language, moving with the times, and gradually even the word oil is being replaced in discussions with the word "energy."
I mean, who's afraid of an energy spill? Even as Enbridge suffers the lash of U.S. investigators over the pipeline spill into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010, the idea of a ruptured pipe introducing energy into a B.C. river sounds pretty harmless.
Wouldn't we sleep better if we embraced the idea that energy tankers are dodging all those potential collisions along our middle coast and Burrard Inlet?
Ask the Petro-people why gasoline prices keep shooting upward, and the lexicon flowers again. The rise is because of market volatility, readjustment, restoration of refining costs, Hurricane Isaac or maybe moon phases. For some reason the term "gouging" never comes out.
There's some magic at work, too. Run massive TV ad campaigns in which the word "clean" is displayed beside the word "coal" and presto - coal that has fouled the air for centuries becomes a harmless additive our lungs should welcome.
Tony Eberts New Westminster