Nature calls but the world is not listening

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Remember that historic battle over teaching sex education in the public schools? One side demanded that any teaching on sex other than “Just say No!” was outside the lines, while the other side argued that too many teens were saying “Yes” anyway.

Today’s green police believe they have the moral authority to dictate public policy on human uses of energy – that when “EDF button” speaks, people had better listen.

Just last month Dan Welsby and some fellow graduates of the University College – London declared in a tome in the renowned journal Nature that, “most of the world’s remaining fossil fuels” are “unextractable in a 1.5o C world” and “must remain in the ground if we want even half a chance at meeting our climate goals.”

Politicians and pundits alike praised the report for its bluntness, but does anyone else really care about holding global temperature increases to a hypothetical 1.50 C? Or do they care more about keeping the furnaces on in winter and the air conditioning in summer, about keeping factories producing goods and services, and trucks delivering food and supplies without interruption?

Welsby, et al., laid down the climate catastrophe checklist as follows: Indonesia and Australia, the world’s leading coal exporters, must abandon 95 percent of their natural deposits; Middle Eastern nations will have to leave all of their coal reserves in the ground; the U.S. must leave 97 percent of its coal untouched.

Worldwide, nearly 90 percent of all coal reserves must be ignored, but only 76 percent in China and India. Worse, the world must also halt 60 percent of its oil and methane gas extractions, including abandoning projects already under way. Canada, too, must forego 83 percent of its oil and 81 percent of its fossil methane gas.

Yeah, right. just reported that “China is so desperate for coal” that it has released Australian coal that had been sitting in bonded storage for months because of a Chinese boycott of Australian goods related to human rights matters. Record-high energy prices in Asia, together with power outages and energy rationing in Chinese provinces, forced China’s hand.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reasserted his nation’s commitment to coal production, ignoring the Nature diktat, especially during this period of rising global energy demand. Morrison said Australia’s energy exports are necessary to power developing countries and predicted that technology will soon enable the burning of coal “in a much more climate friendly way” in the future.

Morrison’s assessment of world energy demand was echoed in a just-released Energy Information Agency report that predicted a near 50-percent rise in worldwide energy consumption by 2050. According to International Energy Outlook 2021, strong economic growth, especially with developing economies in Asia, is expected to contribute to global increases in energy consumption despite pandemic-related declines and long-term improvements in energy efficiency.

Even the European governments that just yesterday were crowing the loudest about “Net Zero by 2050” are backtracking in view of current-day energy demands and supply shortfalls caused in large part by adherence to radical green politics. says that the current coal demand surge could force the European Union to reconsider its policy of abandoning coal, but in the meantime high gas prices are driving a wedge between the EU and corporate interests that favor gas-to-coal switching on economic grounds. Euronews reports that the surge in Europe-wide energy prices threatens to derail the post-pandemic economic recovery, strain household incomes, and even tarnish the “nascent green transition.”

The 360-percent rise in European natural gas prices since January has had varying impacts on European countries, depending on their energy mix. Citizens in Spain, Italy, France, and Poland are facing all-time-high energy bills, said Euronews, such that energy ministers are scrambling to cushion the impacts with emergency measures that often ignore official policy pronouncements.

The British, too, are “facing a bleak winter of soaring energy costs,” reports the London Daily Mail. Natural gas prices there rose 37 percent in a single day, pushing energy firms to the brink of total collapse while the National Power Gride warns of electricity shortages. Labor shortages, rising energy costs, a shortfall of truckers, and gaps in global supply chains have left British families facing staggering cost of living increases.

Reality bites, so the saying goes, even for high-minded climate fanatics. The Spanish power firm Iberdrola even says the current rise in energy prices is threatening to overshadow the heretofore sacrosanct “COP26 climate summit” in Scotland in November. Who wants to talk cutting back on energy during a cold winter with energy prices too high for even the middle class?

Iberdrola’s director of climate change and alliances (huh?), Gonzalo Sáenz de Miera, admitted that, “The situation is threatening the case for a rapid shift to clean energy sources by some measures passed by some EU member states” and that “soaring energy prices could jeopardize EU climate action.”

Energy prices in the U.S., too, are surging, and reports that the economy is already feeling the pinch of higher fuel costs. One reason is a “perfect storm” of shortages and higher prices that begs the question of whether the U.S. economy is facing a tailspin or even a recession. Current energy policies that have reduced oil and gas production and impacted distribution lines may soon be joined with economy-crippling green legislation that will further disrupt real-world markets.

A recent editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal summed up the European energy crisis as the product of human stupidity. “Coal and nuclear power plants could have been picking up the slack,” they noted. But European countries had been shuttering coal plants for years as they sought to lower carbon emissions. Germany and Sweden have led the way in shutting down nuclear plants, worsening the energy shortfalls.

The United Kingdom and Germany outlawed hydraulic fracturing, thereby limiting natural gas production that left all of Europe subject to geometric rises in natural gas prices in the wake of U.S. policy shifts by the Biden Administration. Despite price fixing and furtive attempts to increase energy supply (even begging coal plants to reopen), shortages that will cripple industry and increase human suffering are inevitable, predicts the newspaper.

The Review-Journal concludes, “What’s happening in Europe should be a warning to the United States When it’s needed most, renewable energy isn’t yet prepared to deliver without significant help from traditional — and reliable — power sources.”

I could not have said it better myself. Is anyone in Washington listening?

  • Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas. A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, "Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout."

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