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Future Cringe: What Were We Thinking?

A special post sponsored by Saudi Aramco


On Thursday, The New York Times posed the question:1

The question, answered:2

Double-page full-color advertisement by Saudi Aramco in The New York Times, January 27, 2023.

Saudi Aramco, which already produces “10 per cent of the world’s oil, is boosting its maximum production capacity from 12 million barrels a day to 13 million barrels per day.” The state-owned corporation lies just behind Apple for the world’s highest market capitalization at $1.9 trillion.

This month, the Saudi petrostate ruled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sentenced two Wikipedia editors to a combined 40 years in jail. Several academics and activists have been sent to prison for their tweets in the last few months; others have been sentenced to death. To be fair, the government is not known to have kidnapped and dismembered any journalists more recently than 2018.

Boy, I sure am proud to be a paid print subscriber to The New York Times.

So—what do you think? What are the things corporations and governments do today that will seem embarrassing or otherwise regrettable to our future selves — the stuff that will make us cringe when we look back on how the wealthiest and most powerful among us lived their lives and ran their institutions in the early 2020s?

Hill Heat is back in full production next week, as Congress begins committee work in earnest (or in the case of the House Republicans, when they’re not fighting among themselves in the bathroom).

1 The piece consists of edited responses to the question by celebrities of varied stature. The result of a collaborative effort of two reporters and five producers, it is perfectly self-describing.

2 The New York Times has a proud history of climate-polluter propaganda, including the first climate denial op-ed in 1971, and Exxon’s weekly opinion-page advertorials from 1985 to 2000. The Times has been running these full-page Saudi Aramco ads since at least 2021.

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