by Kyle Johnson
Spend enough time online and you’re bound to run into it—11 out of 10 experts agree, this is indeed The World’s Most Annoying Meme:
Presumably after a lifetime of hard work, an elderly man makes a sincere and modest request for a small change in hopes of a better life—if not for himself, then certainly for future generations. Eager to make a snide and argumentative retort, the young man misses his point entirely.
This meme is exclusively used by those who miss the forest for the trees.
Here’s an example.
In October, two climate protestors from a group called Just Stop Oil received global attention after throwing a can of tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and supergluing themselves to its frame.
The Independent Speculator, Lobo Tiggre, went viral on Twitter after posting this meme in response:
On cue, numerous trolls replied with The World’s Most Annoying Meme.
Let’s assess the facts around the incident to determine the sincerity and modesty of the protestors’ requests.
What do Van Gogh and his painting from 1889 have to do with oil, fossil fuels, and climate change?
Do the protestors own the painting?
Why should society permit such an act of vandalism?
Apparently because this time the climate emergency is urgent… unlike before. [i]
Should the protestors have to address previous failed climate predictions?
Apparently not. Failed climate predictions over the last 50 years [ii] are irrelevant. New predictions must be accepted at face value and without question.
How much credit will you earn for biting your tongue about all this?
Not a smidge from the spreaders of The World’s Most Annoying Meme.
Don’t remind them that shoes and clothing did, in fact, exist prior to Big Oil.
Don’t you dare laugh at the decision to make superglue (an oil derivative) a central component of an anti-oil protest.
There’s no time for nitpicking.
You’re supposed to believe that oil’s pervasiveness makes hypocrisy acceptable.
But if oil is inescapable, then wouldn’t a modest recognition of its usefulness be in order?
“We should dramatically curb our oil use… but I must admit, modern smartphones are technological marvels and only possible because of oil. I appreciate how much my phone has improved my life,” said no climate protestor ever.
And you can forget about asking the oil protestors to lead by example.
Eliminating or radically minimizing one’s consumption of oil and its derivatives would result in a difficult and primitive lifestyle. However, these protestors have no interest in becoming hermits in the woods.
Browse the Just Stop Oil website or Twitter feed and you’ll see claims such as this: “Oil & gas are killing people and plunging families into poverty.” [ii]
If this is true, then perhaps oil protestors should learn to survive without pink hair. Given the claimed stakes, a serious society should never entertain demands to “just stop oil” from people who use it for such frivolous and extravagant purposes.
Yet here we are.
In case you’re unaware, I’m happy to report that the three paintings attacked by Just Stop Oil in this fashion were behind protective glass. We understand they’re unharmed.
I wish the story ended here. It’d be nice to share a chuckle at the misguided exuberance of a few crazy kids and move on to more important matters. But Just Stop Oil has expanded beyond smearing art—they’re now literally playing in traffic.
Bear with me—this next bit is rather confusing, but extremely revealing.
Around the globe, oil protestors are sitting down in the middle of roads or walking slowly down them, causing traffic delays.
Their goal isn’t to chastise or punish motorists for using internal combustion engines. Like billions of others, many Just Stop Oil protestors also make use of vehicles with internal combustion engines. But they’re not hypocrites, you see; they’re victims.
Just Stop Oil explains that causing traffic jams is aimed at “getting the government to stop being criminals and start being responsible. It’s really important that we don’t shame and blame victims, as we are all victims of this horrendous crime against humanity of fossil fuel production in a climate emergency.” [iv]
Even if we assume all these claims are true, Just Stop Oil’s plan to save the world involves annoying, disrupting, and inflicting pain on random “victims” of the oil industry. They want to hurt the victims until the “criminal” and “irresponsible” governments which currently aid and support a “crime against humanity” decide to shape up. This should “liberate” humanity from the only known substance capable of facilitating the lifestyles they themselves live.
But predictably, causing traffic jams has serious consequences. People will reroute to avoid further delay and rush to make up for lost time. Two people have been killed during a disruption caused by Just Stop Oil. [v]
Barely a whisper in the media.
While COVID-19 lockdown protestors were swiftly met with violence, police allowed Just Stop Oil protestors to decide if they would permit an ambulance en route to a nearby hospital access to a barricaded road. [vi]
Whatever words you use to describe the oil protestors, you might want to consider adding “protected” to the list.
A few protestors will go to jail here and there, but they’re not being met with the response required to put an end to the cost they’re inflicting on society. It seems that certain privileges can be gained by aligning with the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) agenda. Governments, big business, and institutions like the World Economic Forum are powerful allies.
For investors, our little story about The World’s Most Annoying Meme ends where most financial content begins:
“Prior performance is no guarantee of future results.”
But this time it’s not a warning. It’s the modus operandi of fear-mongering scientists, politicians, and bureaucrats.
“Ignore the past! Be scared! This time it’s for real! We must act now!”
Right or wrong, billions are scared. Actions permitted in the name of saving the planet seem to have no limit.
Time will tell if the doomsayers are right this time around.
Meanwhile, investors might as well lean in to the prevailing narrative.
Governments are increasingly stingy with drilling permits for oil. The entire industry is being starved for capital investment. Investors should exercise caution, because anything can happen in the short term, but longer term, prices seem destined to rise.
Theoretically, natural gas is intriguing. Reality is more complicated. Global infrastructure for natural gas is currently being overhauled. There are many unknowns in play.
Coal has seen an extraordinary rebound, but it’s not cheap. It’ll be the first thing governments ax as soon as the current crisis moderates.
Thankfully, one energy resource stands out above the rest: uranium.
If you’re a longtime reader, you likely already understand the technical arguments in favor of uranium. But you might have missed some important news that got lost in the shuffle.
California grabs a lot of headlines for political insanity, and rightly so. But recently, California legislators quietly voted to extend the life of the state’s last nuclear power plant by five years. This has been likened to Hell freezing over.
Not that you should base your investments on the geopolitical musings of a teenage girl, but Greta Thunberg recently came out in favor of Germany using nuclear power. Where she goes, millions will follow.
More important for future demand is that Europe has seen the light and is now visibly turning back to nuclear power—even as BRICS countries are building scores of reactors.
Never before have humans progressed by moving to a less-dense form of energy.
I wouldn’t bet on this changing anytime soon. It seems that even radical green energy supporters are beginning to acknowledge that wind, solar, geothermal, etc. are unable to meet demand on their own—at least the ones who care about results.
Momentum is building.
Investors would greatly benefit from getting in before the climate activists concede en masse that uranium’s time has come.
Fortunately, recent market fluctuations have many great uranium stocks well off recent highs. Here’s a primer on this space, if you’re interested.
Due diligence is still required, of course. My Take can help you get started. We also guide readers on when it makes sense to buy oil stocks, “green energy” minerals like copper, and other resources impacted by all of the above.
The main takeaway for investors is that use of The World’s Most Annoying Meme is bullish for key commodities.