Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Climate Change Sanity

Will this be the year for climate change sanity? Will it be the year when people stop listening to deranged schoolgirls and try to follow the science? Will it be the year when the cost of greening the world becomes clear even to the most obtuse among us? 

Strangely enough, it does not seem to be all about greenhouse gases. It isn’t even about apocalyptic visions of the end of the world. It is not even about proper or improper messaging. 

In the end, it’s about reality. The reality in question is the price of the new energy regime. In Europe and America people are going to see increases in the cost of energy. They are going to suffer blackouts when the newly green energy grid, chock full of unreliable renewables, fails.

So says Holman Jenkins in the Wall Street Journal this morning.

Hard to believe, but politics sometimes exhibits a pull toward the rational, especially when voters find it difficult to pay their bills, heat their homes and keep their jobs.

Of course, green Europe has been leading the way. Shutting down coal and nuclear plants has produced a fuel shortage and a spike in energy prices. How could anyone have failed to see it coming:

By undiversifying its base-load power supply away from dirty coal while also dumping nuclear, Europe has invited all the consequences you read about: ill-advised reliance on Russian natural gas, frantic bidding wars with China for liquefied-gas shipments, fear of rolling blackouts whenever a French nuclear plant needs maintenance or the wind dies down or the sun goes behind a cloud.

One research firm has seen the light. The firm does believe in climate change, so its backtracking on the subject is worth our attention. Jenkins presents their conclusions:

Though firm believers in the risks of man-made climate change, analysts at the commodity research firm CPM Group cogently argue in a recent report that 2022 will be the year when energy and climate realism finally break through:

The gestures governments have been enacting are “not meaningful in the race to combat climate change.”

The electric vehicles that politicians particularly love to subsidize “will not significantly reduce carbon dioxide output, only shift its location.”

“There are real constraints”—surprise—“to moving toward clean energy industries,” starting with the unwillingness of voters and consumers to pay for it.

Electric vehicles… hmmm. We are all for electric vehicles. We note that the infrastructure needed to charge fleets of said vehicles is still a distant dream. And yet, we have not heard many people tell us how we are going to produce all of that cheap electricity.

Will we need more coal powered plants? Will we need more nuclear reactors, at a time when the climate change warriors are largely opposed to nuclear.

In Europe, it’s virtue signaling gone amok. Even if Europe reduces its energy production, the rest of the world has more than made up for the slack. Besides, developing countries, in places like Africa, need cheap energy to build industry. They do not have the luxury of indulging adolescent fantasies:

Even so, Europe’s claimed 20% reduction in emissions since then is not merely a drop in the bucket when the world increased its total emissions 50% overall. It’s a bit of fraud since European investors simply relocated their emissions-heavy processes to places outside the European Union.

Leading the charge toward a green new world was former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Not only did she shut down coal plants, but she shut down Germany’s nuclear power plants. And then she retired from the scene before the consequences of her absurd policies caused financial pain. 

Now, American natural gas is bailing out Europe, but how long will that last.

An unspoken pillar of Merkelism is its touching faith in the power of markets to compensate somehow for the irrationalities of public policy.

This week, European energy prices have been mercifully moderating thanks to LNG cargoes, a product of America’s fracking boom, being diverted on the high seas from Asian ports to European ones.

As for renewable energy, it might be renewable, but it is also unreliable. The state of Texas, not a place you associate with climate change hysteria, found itself with a very large problem last winter when the windmills froze over:

And yet the U.S. is not immune to these pathologies. Texas discovered as much in last winter’s epic blackouts. After the state chose for decades to throw money at renewables rather than freeze-proof its energy infrastructure, the out-of-state power supplies that were supposed to be its insurance policy never materialized. 

California has the same problem, and rolling blackouts. The same will eventually arrive at our doors in New York City:

Ditto California, which invested in renewables rather than fireproof its grid and now is beyond out-of-state rescue. Its citizens suffer recurrent intentional blackouts to reduce fire risk. One of these winters, the Northeast will experience its own calamitous outages due to its refusal to authorize the gas pipelines and power plants needed to support a crowd-pleasing rush to renewables.

Simply put, Jenkins argues, when government fails the movement toward populism accelerates. And it tends toward conspiracy theories, because who would possibly believe that the people who are running government are just plain stupid. In truth, it's easier to deal with evil than it is to deal with stupid.

Sophisticated state failure is an unadmitted father of the Western world’s drift to populist politics. Recall how the convoluted financial-system meltdown and bailouts of 2008 gave rise to the tea party and birtherism, how the resulting rise of Trumpism spawned the countervailing Russia-collusion panic. A new culture war is blossoming over Covid policy. The worst always rise to the top in such situations: progressives who believe that with enough coercion utopia is in reach; discombobulated middle-class voters whose soured faith in government curdles into technicolor conspiracy theories.

A lot more of this may be on the way if the developed world keeps playing Russian roulette with its energy supply, a vital underpinning of a modern society and foundation of every voter’s well-being.

Other parts of the world are paying sanctimonious lip service to the need for renewable energy, all the while building more coal plants and more nuclear plants. Is the Western obsession with climate change just another sign of a civilization sinking into terminal decadence?


BobJustBob said...

The last six years has lowered my conspiracy theory threshold considerably.

Mark Matis said...

Will Jews tolerate any such thing? Who do YOU think owns St. Greta?