Sometimes a news story's structure has just the right cadence and sequence of thought to hit the reader with its most cogent point like a hammer blow- not on the first swing (ie in the lede) but just a bit below. And it's not the smack that readers may expect.
- The Guardian – Fiona Harvey: Peak oil theories 'increasingly groundless', says BP chief/ The US will be self-sufficient in energy by 2030, with only 1% coming from imports, the company's analysts predict.
One learns here that advanced methods of extraction, including of "unconventional and high-carbon oil" – such as from the Alberta oil sands that are glimpsed in that AP photo that the Guardian used – means that fears are probably groundless that worldwide economic turmoil is looming when oil and gas production hits the wall.
Well, even among us greenies that sounds like goodish news to be found in the story. I'm all for a prompt plateau in fossil fuel emissions and orderly transition to renewable energy within the next few decades, or to fossil CO2 sequestration (might as well sequester the burnt biomass fumes too), or both. But who would be all for one morning to wake up and gas lines are stretching for miles, everywhere, factories are closing and air fares soaring?
Anyway, the business-story tone of the piece erodes and bit and then wham, half-way through the third graf the word disaster comes up. It's not quite the disaster the story's lede suggests, although a lot of readers will be thinking it. The piece is, perhaps consciously by Harvey but probably not, a natural reinforcer for Bill McKibben's landmark report in Rolling Stone last year on the political meaning of privately-held oil, gas, and coal reserves. This is not to suggest Harvey's report is a typically award-winningly brilliant or novel construction. But it is one, savvy daily news story that works just exactly right for its purpose. The piece returns to its initial arc – that of a report on fossil fuel prospects – but the tail end of the third graf remains on the mind.