Alexandra Petri: Take a big, deep whiff of those molecules of freedom

FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2015 file photo, workers tend to oil pump jacks behind a natural gas flare near Watford City, N.D. Natural gas is being burned off and wasted at record levels in North Dakota because development of the pipelines and processing facilities needed to handle it has not kept pace. Natural gas production hit a record in March. But about 20 percent of it went up in flames through “flaring,” the process of burning off the gas when it can’t be captured. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Washington • Do you smell that? That aroma, like many spoiled eggs congregating in a hot locker room? That is the wonderful, pleasing scent of American freedom!

A statement from the Energy Department, which I am not making up because satire has been overfished and is now extinct, described natural gas as “molecules of freedom.” In the statement, Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes noted that “increasing export capacity ... is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy.”

The statement also included the profound remark from Steven Winberg, the assistant secretary for fossil energy, that he was happy “the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world.”

So inhale fearlessly! Feel free, too, to light some of that freedom on fire, if you want. Nothing says freedom like setting something dangerously ablaze. Four cheers for CH4! Whenever methane gas is released, that smell, that aroma, is — freedom. Specifically, American freedom, the best kind that there is. That is why people love to sit with me in enclosed spaces that I swiftly perfume with nothing short of Truth, Justice and the American Way, especially if my lunch has been rich in beans. It has never been so critical, as Benjamin Franklin entreated, to “fart proudly.”

This administration has long believed there is nothing wrong with the environment that cannot be cured by changing your attitude toward it. Maybe clean air is, after all, bad. Clean air is just air that has not been made sufficiently free.

And look how we have vilified poor CO2. Have we considered that maybe if we weren't getting so hot under the collar about carbon, there might be no climate change at all? No! Instead of appreciating all carbon does, what do we do? Sequester it; diminish its footprint; try to put caps on it, as though it were a little dog we wanted to make unhappy for the sake of a photograph! We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

Have we considered that maybe carbon is our friend? In another quote from Trump administration adviser William Happer that simultaneously illustrates Poe's and Godwin's laws, have we considered that, "the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler"? Well, have we? (Happer might head a new climate science panel, if we are lucky!)

Scientific models for how our climate is changing are very dire and depressing, so instead think: How bad can it be? We breathe carbon out every day, and it is in our bones. It is in our food! Freedom is everywhere, falling into the rivers and the lakes and the oceans, making the coral (unused to being so free) feel seasick.

Maybe it is not all the carbon dioxide in the air that is trapping heat, but our mean and angry attitude. That fish is not dying in a polluted river; he is failing to appreciate the wonder that America has made. It is his attitude that is truly poison.

Look in the sky. What if I told you those were not harmful greenhouse gases at all? Wouldn't you be happier to inhale them and watch them drift downwind? Mmm, look at freedom. Stop coughing; you are getting freedom everywhere.

Gaze with pleasure on the glorious fruits of freedom rising high above our somewhat sooty amber waves of grain. Instead of looking at the atmosphere and seeing it as harmfully, dangerously polluted, think vague, positive thoughts about this great nation, Mount Rushmore and the glorious gerrymander, a native species making a big comeback.

Methane is patriotism! Freedom is CO2! The only good thing about the First Amendment is that when people speak, they release trace amounts of carbon dioxide, a cherished substance, into the beautiful American air!

That is not smog. It is a lot of freedom proceeding toward heaven one molecule at a time. Hasten the day, I say, that we may join it!

Alexandra Petri | The Washington Post

Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter, @petridishes.

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