'Green' Belgium Nukes Itself

On Friday, September 23rd, at precisely 9:31 p.m., Belgium's Doel 3 nuclear reactor was disconnected from the nation's power grid, beginning the process of its complete decommissioning. It should be noted, there is nothing wrong with this reactor. It's just that the Belgian government, intoxicated by environmentalist platitudes, passed a law in 2003 which stipulated that all nuclear power plants must cease producing electricity 40 years after they went online.

This is madness.

As we've discussed before, Europe is in the midst of an energy crisis, with various countries throughout the continent preparing for oil and natural gas shortages this winter, and related blackouts. Meanwhile, according to The Brussels Times, "keeping the reactor open would safeguard over 50 percent of Belgium's yearly electricity needs."

That's a pretty big carrot, while the threat of energy shortages in freezing temperatures should serve as the stick. Consequently, the current government (whose prime minister, Alexander De Croo, has been sounding increasingly pessimistic about Europe's energy situation over the next decade) has belatedly seen the light on nuclear power -- on September 14th Interior minister Annelies Verlinden called for the plants closure to be delayed, only to be told by the company which operates Doel 3, Engie, that "[t]o change plans at such short notice is just not feasible."

Other than the logistical challenges that renewing the reactor would bring, there are also legal barriers that would need to be overcome: "It is legally prohibited for the reactor to produce any more electricity after 1 October 2022," [Engie spokesperson Nele] Scheerlinck stated. This is written into Engie's operating license. Furthermore, the power plant's director Peter Moens told Belga News Agency that delaying the shutdown was "neither wise nor advisable," not least given that most of the staff working on the reactor have already planned to work elsewhere.

Maybe they shouldn't have waited to ask until nine days prior to the shut-down. Or, even better, maybe they shouldn't have passed that inane regulation in 2003 in the first place. No doubt at the time Belgian Greens imagined that this was a risk-free move, because, surely, the world would have long-since developed a magical energy source which could satisfy their exacting (re: unrealistic and irrational) standards before it would matter. Yet here we are, twenty years later, and the energy sources they hate most -- nuclear, natural gas, etc. -- are still on top, and have even contributed more to worldwide carbon emission reductions than their animal-slaughtering windfarms and strip-mined rare earth mineral-requiring solar panels. Meanwhile, worldwide economies have been thrown for a loop by the WuFlu (and our absured governmental responses to it), and the energy markets have gone to hell thanks to Russia's invasion of Ukraine (and our absurd governmental responses to that).

Perhaps these things were unforeseeable in 2003, but it is any competent government's job to keep the country as ready as possible for such disasters. Semper paratus, as they say.

Boris Gives an Energized Curtain Speech

Yesterday Boris Johnson ceased to be the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister. A few days beforehand, in the dying days of his power, as the curtains swayed above the stage, about to descend and extinguish his premiership, the Old Pretender staged one last show of defiance and self-justification. And to the shock of the commentariat, it wasn’t the exercise in empty rhetoric and jokey bonhomie they were expecting.

Quite the contrary, Johnson announced an $800 million energy investment by the government in nuclear power; mildly rubbished the reintroduction of “fracking” for natural gas that his successor, Liz Truss, has promised; and strongly defended his “Deep Green” record of transitioning from fossil fuels to “renewables” like wind and sun in pursuit of the goal of Net-Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It didn’t sound like the speech of a man who was bowing out of public life. More than that, Boris was defending the record of his premiership on the very energy and environmental issues on which he’s accused by many Tories of betraying his and their conservatism. He was painting his record red-white-and blue, running it up the mast, and betting that in the end they would salute it.

Why didn't I think of this before?

In other words he’s not given up all hope of returning to Downing Street. Maybe not today, maybe not until the Tories have suffered an election defeat under its new leadership in two years, but not too long after that when he calculates the Tories will have abandoned their recent but growing opposition to Net Zero austerity.

Consider the real meaning of his three main points above:

First,  some critics see his decision to invest $800 million in nuclear power and his praise of the Sizewell C nuclear plant as a renunciation of his “Green” switch to renewables. That’s not entirely true. Unlike the Greens or even Labour and European social democrats, the U.K. Tories have no ideological objection to nuclear power as such. It simply wasn’t a priority in the fight against global warming, and besides it was horrendously expensive. So it became the neglected child of their family of energy policies.

They did little or nothing about it until the combination of rising inflation, higher energy prices, and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine changed the cost calculations and made energy security a much more important element in the total policy blend. But since no other party had done much about nuclear power since the early 2000s, that let Boris off the hook. His embrace of nuclear power now means that he can add an extra strand to the U.K.’s energy mix and so reduce the risk of blackouts and rationing as it transitions to Net-Zero. Plus, hyping his commitment to nuclear power means he can’t be accused of being a fanatical Greenie. Altogether, a clever mix, but maybe too clever.

Second, Boris criticized “fracking” of natural gas that the new prime minister, Liz Truss, proposes to introduce. That’s a natural headline story in the Guardian where it can be translated as “New Tory PM attacked by old Tory PM.” But there’s less in it than meets the eye. According to the Daily Telegraph, Treasury officials, in expectation of the new PM, have already started work on a program of encouraging the production of oil and gas in Britain that will include lifting the ban on fracking.

Given the current world energy shortage, that policy is likely to go ahead—especially since one company has told the Treasury that it believes it can deliver “fracked” gas to the market as early as next year. Until now, however, fracking has been unpopular in the areas where companies were proposing to do it. Environmentalist groups are strongly opposed to it. Long term, it’s not a political certainty.

Farewell but not goodbye?

So Boris (who has been on both sides of this issue) criticized it in a very tentative way: ““If we could frack effectively and cheaply in this country, that would be possibly a very beneficial thing. I’m just, I have to say, slightly dubious that it will prove to be a panacea.” This statement is almost a definition of hedging your bets. In three year’s time, he can jump either way on fracking. If fracking seems to work, he says: “All I said was that it isn’t a panacea.” (And it isn’t, by the way, since a panacea is cure-all.) If it fails, he’ll shake his head and say: “Well, I always had my doubts.”

Third, Boris said: :

Tell everybody who thinks hydrocarbons are the only answer and we should get fracking and all that: offshore wind is now the cheapest form of electricity in this country… Of course it’s entirely clean and green.

That’s the moment when Boris threw aside caution and declared that his embrace of Net-Zero policies to defeat global warming will prove to be correct. Politically speaking, it may be a fair bet. The political and cultural establishments will welcome it and congratulate themselves on bringing the populist to heel.

But what will be the effect of his approach in the real world? Wind and sun are cheap forms of energy if you ignore the costs of investing in technologies that capture them and if you dismiss the costs of building the stand-by power stations they require when the wind fails and sun doesn’t shine. And if you do that, then you will produce blackouts and create a need for rationing.

Boris’s speech was sharply criticized by the man who resigned from his government last December because of its “direction of travel” (i.e., stationary) and who is now rumored to be a candidate for Liz Truss’s Cabinet in charge of deregulating the over-regulated U.K. economy: (Lord) David Frost. In his weekly Telegraph column, Frost made the point that Boris’s approach (and indeed, Boris’s personality) are rooted in an avoidance of dealing in advance with the inevitable trade-offs that good policy-making needs. Boris even gave a name to this approach: cakeism, when he said during the Brexit negotiations: “My policy is to have my cake and eat it." And though written before Boris spoke, Frost’s article reads like a reply to it:

For example, on energy, the underlying problem is not Vladimir Putin (though he’s made it worse) but poor policy giving us a grid that can’t reliably supply enough power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun shine, leaving us exposed to very high spot prices for gas and the kindness of (semi-)friends for power through the interconnectors. The basic trade-off is that if we want more renewables, we will have a more unreliable and expensive grid, and probably rationing; if we want security of supply, we need more, and more modern, gas power stations and probably some coal ones, but this will affect the path to net zero. It won’t do to say we can have both – that net zero remains the goal but there will be no rationing.

Boris's curtain speech shows he has grown a little more prudent--but only a little. Today, he declares he will eat his cake now and hope to still have it in three years. But if he returns to Downing Street on that manifesto, he'll soon be eating his cake in the cold and the dark.

Want to Go 'Carbon-Free'? Go Nuclear

Technological solutions to crises real and imagined have been invented and adopted since time immemorial. Technological solutions to the non-crisis of "Anthropogenic Climate Change" have been discussed for decades. The “crisis” as the Klimate Kult sees it is increasing quantities of greenhouse gasses (CO2, methane) heating the earth to unsustainable levels. It is this fantasy that is driving “Net-Zero” and “de-carbonization” schemes, which now include reducing the global food supply and giving us the opportunity to eat bugs.

If the problem is too much CO2, the solution is reducing it. Do we have technological solutions that can do this? Yes. Plankton consume carbon in massive quantities.

Plankton remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere during growth and transfer it to the deep ocean when their remains sink to the bottom. Iron fertilization has previously been suggested as a possible cause of the lower CO2 levels that occur during ice ages.

A tested technological solution would be to “fertilize” certain ocean areas with iron dust causing a plankton bloom and removing CO2 from the atmosphere. This was, in fact, proposed in 1988:

“Give me half a tanker of iron, and I’ll give you an ice age” may rank as the catchiest line ever uttered by a biogeochemist. The man responsible was the late John Martin, former director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory, who discovered that sprinkling iron dust in the right ocean waters could trigger plankton blooms the size of a small city. In turn, the billions of cells produced might absorb enough heat-trapping carbon dioxide to cool the Earth’s warming atmosphere.

Plankton is served!

But would it work?

The research confirms Martin’s hypothesis, said Daniel Sigman, Princeton’s Dusenbury Professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences, and a co-leader of the study.

What does research show?

Ocean models as well as the strong correlation of the sediment core changes with the known changes in atmospheric CO2 suggest that this iron fertilization of Southern Ocean plankton can explain roughly half of the CO2 decline during peak ice ages.

Causing a plankton bloom anticipates additional positive effects:

[M]ore plankton might produce more of a chemical called dimethylsulfide, which can drift into the atmosphere and encourage cloud formation, thus cooling the atmosphere and helping to counteract greenhouse warming. And others argue that increased plankton supplies might enhance fish stocks.

Perhaps a “half a tanker of iron” and increased food supplies would be preferable to killing all the cows, plowing-under all the wheat and corn, reducing global energy consumption, and impoverishing the planet?

Doing what they do best.

The second technological solution is moving from fossil-fuel generation of electrical power to nuclear generation. After all, 41 percent of global CO2 emissions are from the generation of electricity, and our need for electricity isn’t diminishing any time soon.

At the current rate we're going, analysts and experts figure that 10% of the world's power bill will be spent on running computers.

The founder of Greenpeace, among millions of others, understands that only nuclear power can provide humanity the carbon-free, safe, base-load electricity we need for progress not only to continue, but not to reverse.

And new technologies are being invented to make nuclear safer and more widespread than in the recent past. U.S. regulators have certified the first new type of nuclear reactor in decades.

Small modular reactors have been promoted as avoiding many of the problems that have made large nuclear plants exceedingly expensive to build. They're small enough that they can be assembled on a factory floor and then shipped to the site where they will operate, eliminating many of the challenges of custom on-site construction. In addition, they're structured in a way to allow passive safety, where no operator actions are necessary to shut the reactor down if problems occur.

This newly-certified reactor design uses traditional fuel pellets to provide carbon-free, clean energy. Small Modular Reactors (SMR) using molten uranium salts such as thorium, rather than traditional fuel pellets, also are on the near-horizon. Far safer than Chernobyl or Fukushima-type reactors, Thorium Molten Salt Reactors (MSR)  cannot “melt down” for the simple reason that when their generation cycle begins to go “out of control,” an MSR heats up and shuts off. Because physics. No human involvement necessary. Walk away, turn off the controls, kill the power coming into the plant, drown the on-site emergency generator with sea water, and the nuclear reaction simply stops.

Add these benefits of a Thorium MSR to the mix:

SMRs of either type, traditional or molten salt, can create all the safe, non-polluting, steady, clean, CO2-free electricity we could want for millennia without digging up millions of cubic meters of earth for rare earth elements needed by batteries only the wealthiest nations and people can afford.

If we extrapolate Minnesota’s numbers to the U.S. as a whole, a rough conclusion is that getting all of our electricity from wind, solar and batteries would consume around 70% of all of the copper currently mined in the world, 337% of global nickel production, 3,053% of the world’s total cobalt production, 355% of the U.S.’s iron output, and 284% of U.S. steel production. Along with unfathomable quantities of concrete–which, by the way, off-gases CO2.

If we want safe, steady electricity to power our homes, our cars, our manufacturing, and our computer farms, even our ships, nuclear is the only solution. If we want to provide the developing world the energy they need without going through the two-century carbon cycle we now are trying to exit, SMRs are the only solution. If we want to lower the fragility of our grid, SMRs are small and sited locally, reducing the need for grid interconnects and for the thousands of miles of high-tension power lines which, in California, anyway, cause far more wildfires than “global warming” ever has or can.

Given the panic over carbon and the technologies and methods we have to address it today, one must ask, “What’s the problem our elites are trying to solve?” Because it isn’t atmospheric carbon. At some point, the Western world is simply going to have to come to its senses. Like the Germans just did.

California's Dreaming

We've all had the experience of scheduling an unpleasant event at a point so far into the future that it feels like it will never actually come. Of course, it always does -- that doctor's appointment you set for dreary February back in sunny June comes round eventually, no matter what you do.

This is a problem the environmentalists have been struggling with of late. First, because they've been making dire (and specific) climatological predictions for decades that never seem to come true. (Remember when New York City was supposed to have been underwater by the year 2015?) But also, because they've been thoughtlessly committing to policies favored by their leftist supporters they can't possible fulfill. Just a few years ago, mandating that transitions to "green" energy sources must happen by 2025 or 2030 felt like a way of doing something without actually doing anything. But today, in 2022, they're just around the corner.

Case in point -- California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, scheduled since 2016 to close by 2025. In 2016, one might have imagined that within a decade the vast majority of electricity would be produced by wind turbines and solar panels and we'd all get around in Jetsons-style flying cars powered by our sense of self-satisfaction. But in the year of Our Lord 2022 we're in the midst of an energy crisis, with sky-rocketing prices for gasoline and electricity.

Texas, one of America's major energy producers, had a massive power failure less than two years ago, causing hundreds of deaths and billions in damage. And Germany -- possessed by what has been called the "world’s dumbest energy policy" -- is gearing up for winter-long energy shortages because of their own mad plan of unnecessarily decommissioning nuclear power plants even as Russia has been cutting off their flow of natural gas.

Diablo Canyon: the devil is in the details.

Which is to say, this is a terrible time for California to shut down a power plant, especially one that supplies nearly 10 percent of the state's power as Diablo Canyon does, its largest single energy source. Consequently, Gov. Gavin Newsom has spent the past few months calling for the plant's closure to be postponed until 2035. He's even proposed giving Pacific Gas & Electric Co. -- the company that owns and operates the plant -- a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to encourage them to keep the juice flowing, and exempting them from state environmental regulations that the most extreme environmentalists might use to tie up the extension in court.

Newsom's motives aren't pure -- he has his eyes on the White House, maybe as soon as 2024 if the Democrats decide they can't keep up their current Weekend at Bernie's act for another election cycle. That's not happening if the Golden State can't keep its lights on. It would tarnish his reputation, as it did two decades ago when Newsom's predecessor, "Gray-out" Davis, failed to stop California's rolling blackouts, leading to his recall, when he was replaced a Republican.

And it is worth noting that postponing the closure by a decade is just another instance of kicking the can down the road. The bet is -- as it was in 2016 -- that by then wind and solar energy concerns will have solved the intermittency problem (which have been known to cause nighttime rolling blackouts across the state, as solar panels stop contributing to the mix) and developed scalable battery tech which would allow them to pick up the slack from nuclear and traditional energy sources.

They're dreaming. But if they succeed at keeping Diablo Canyon running, it's a dream they can entertain at least for a little while longer.

California 'Rethinking' Nuke Stance

Even the most deranged, suicidal liberal, it seems, dials 911 in the end. Especially when there's money on the table:

California promised to close its last nuclear plant. Now Newsom is reconsidering

With the threat of power shortages looming and the climate crisis worsening, Gov. Gavin Newsom may attempt to delay the long-planned closure of California’s largest electricity source: the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Newsom told the L.A. Times editorial board Thursday that the state would seek out a share of $6 billion in federal funds meant to rescue nuclear reactors facing closure, money the Biden administration announced this month. Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas & Electric is preparing to shutter the plant — which generated 6% of the state’s power last year — by 2025.

“The requirement is by May 19 to submit an application, or you miss the opportunity to draw down any federal funds if you want to extend the life of that plant,” Newsom said. “We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option.”

No kidding, Sherlock. A state that's experiencing regular blackouts, cutting back water usage, suffering from a soaring crime wave, and generally spiraling into the sewer needs all the help it can get. Notes (amazingly) the Los Angeles Times:

Newsom’s willingness to consider a short-term reprieve reflects a shift in the politics of nuclear power after decades of public opposition fueled by high-profile disasters such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, as well as the Cold War. Nuclear plants are America’s largest source of climate-friendly power, generating 19% of the country’s electricity last year. That’s almost as much as solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower dams and all other zero-carbon energy sources combined.

The governor said he’s been thinking about keeping Diablo open longer since August 2020, when California’s main electric grid operator was forced to implement rolling blackouts during an intense heat wave. Temperatures stayed high after sundown, leaving the state without enough electricity to keep air conditioners humming after solar farms stopped producing.

Don't be fooled by this sudden attack of common sense, however. Newsom, who has his eyes on the White House—stop laughing—is not only a dynastic scion of the four wealthy Northern California families who rule the state, but a hard-core Leftist, whose ideology trumps every other consideration. The Golden State can never return to its former glory until the Newsoms, the Gettys, the Pelosis, and the Browns are gone from Sacramento for good.

Kicker (you knew this was coming):

The U.S. Commerce Department, meanwhile, is considering tariffs on imported solar panels, which could hinder construction of clean energy projects that California is counting on to avoid blackouts the next few summers, as Diablo and several gas-fired power plants shut down.

It takes a heart of stone not to laugh at the Left. The problem is, their anti-human suicide cult is trying to take the rest of us with it.

E.U. Commission: Nukes and Natural Gas are Now 'Green'

Well this is a pleasant surprise: the European Commission -- the executive committee of the European Union -- has decided to propose a plan reclassifying natural gas and nuclear power as "green energy," at least for the sake of investment. From Reuters:

The Commission's proposal would label nuclear power plant investments as green if the project has a plan, funds and a site to safely dispose of radioactive waste. To be deemed green, new nuclear plants must receive construction permits before 2045. Investments in natural gas power plants would also be deemed green if they produce emissions below 270g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (kWh), replace a more polluting fossil fuel plant, receive a construction permit by Dec. 31 2030 and plan to switch to low-carbon gases by the end of 2035.

The background to this is, of course, Europe's ongoing energy crunch, which has seen record prices per megawatt hour in countries throughout the continent, as wind turbines and solar panels have failed to produce enough electricity to meet winter demand. Germany, which famously went all in on its green energy transition known as die Energiewende roughly a decade ago, has been forced to restart some of its closed, carbon intensive coal-fired power plants to keep up.

And it isn't as if they're actually lying about this -- as much as green activists hate to admit it, the United States has led the world in emissions reduction since the year 2000, largely because the fracking revolution has allowed us to increasingly lean on low-carbon natural gas for our heat and energy needs. Nuclear power, meanwhile, is effectively a zero-carbon power source. Consequently, if you're actually concerned about carbon emissions, natural gas and nuclear should be high up in your proposed power mix. They are as "green" as any first world nation's energy is going get.

Even so, it is worth noting the EC tries to stress that they're not proposing a permanent shift -- "[T]he Commission considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future," according to their statement. That is to say, they consider natural gas and nuclear as "transitional" energy sources whose role is to bridge the gap to their still-inevitable wind-and-solar powered future! Moreover Germany, which still has the largest economy in the E.U., remains fanatically committed to its Energiewende, to such a degree that they've just closed down three of their remaining six operational nuclear power plants, their soaring energy rates notwithstanding. Theoretically, Germany could lead a charge to kill this sensible proposal in the European Parliament, over the objections of France and other nations who have relied on nuclear for decades.

Still, let's focus on the bright side -- Europe's governing class is cracking under the pressure of sky-high energy rates and are being forced to admit that their current way of doing things just isn't working. If this reclassification actually goes through, activists will have a real fight on their hands when they try to change it back in a few years time. And officially classifying natural gas and nuclear as green energy is likely to take so much wind out of the green movement's turbines that it could eventually cease to exist.

History's Most Expensive Alphonse and Gaston Conference

In many ways the Cop26 conference resembles the poison cup scene in the 1987 movie Princess Bride. In the setup two full wine goblets are presented to the hero and villain, one containing normal vintage but the other laced with “iocaine powder," an undetectable but thoroughly deadly poison. Knowing this, neither wants to be the first to drink, at least without figuring out which cup is spiked.

At Cop26 the nations are presented with a cup said to be full of planet-saving potion that will be wonderful for you in the long run but there is a chance -- nobody knows how big a chance -- that your economy might die of fuel scarcity in the meantime. The participants are hesitant to go first unless they are compensated for the risk.

"African nations and a group called the Like-Minded Developing Countries, which includes China, India and Indonesia" want at least $1.3 trillion to go first. But the Western countries are unwilling to ante up, having been unable to reach an earlier $100 billion target to begin with and being broke to boot. “We’re not feeling particularly capable now,” said one European official. “It’s really not the right time.”

In fact there could hardly be a worse time. The climate change conference is being held and pledges elicited to cut back on petroleum products just when the entire globe is reeling from a desperate 'fossil fuel' shortage that is causing inflation and hardship everywhere, even in the West. It's worst in the Third World.

“It’s humiliating,” said Ms. Matos, 41. “Sometimes I just want to cry… I buy gas to cook and then I can’t afford food, or if I buy food then I don’t have money to buy soap.” She said she can’t even afford the butcher shop’s leftover bags of bones.

But European politicians are also wary. "In France, the People the Climate Summit Forgot" are seething, writes the NYT. "Three years ago, Montargis became a center of the Yellow Vest social uprising, an angry protest movement over an increase in gasoline taxes... The uprising was rooted in a class divide that exposed the resentment of many working-class people, whose livelihoods are threatened by the clean-energy transition, against the metropolitan elites, especially in Paris, who can afford electric cars and can bicycle to work, unlike those in the countryside."

Nor were optics improved by  "the global elite arriving at Glasgow via 400 private jets... [which] created such a shortage of parking slots that some were obliged to fly the extra 50-70km to Prestwick and Edinburgh just to park."

The result, as with the movie poison goblet scene, has been an eyeball to eyeball standoff that has slowed Cop26 to a near-halt. "UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on leaders and delegates to just "get on and do it" as the COP26 climate talks appear to have stalled," says CNN. That sounds like an exhortation to suicide. Left-wing Greek politician Yanis Varoufakis actually concludes that COP26 is doomed, and the hollow promise of ‘net zero’ is to blame.

Any resemblance to a crime scene is purely intentional.

Whoever is to blame the next move in the drama is probably up to the engineers rather than the politicians. They are working to create safe, modular nuclear power stations that can further produce bottled hydrogen fuel for reasons not necessarily driven by the U.N. model. Freed from the Cop26 scheme engineers can innovate on the basis of utility, cost and local measurable salubriousness -- that is, on merits -- without reference to some political mandate. They might get nukes not windmills in this calculus but they will get something that works.

Only engineers and entrepreneurs, not ideological activists, can provide an escape from the Cop26 poison cup trap that's making everyone poorer and solving nothing. Don't drink it unless you've developed an immunity to energy poverty poisoning.

Reality Bites the Green Movement

Thomas Friedman had a very strange column -- even for him! -- in the New York Times recently entitled “A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don’t Blame the Greens.” The headline captures pretty well what Friedman obviously wanted to say, namely that the exploding energy prices we are already beginning to see, and the shortages that Europe, especially, is bracing for, are not the fault of the environmentalist movement. But Friedman seemed to struggle making any kind of a case to that effect. Perhaps that's because there is none -- environmentalism really is at the heart of the matter, if not the whole of it. So he just sort of talks around the problem, and his ramblings are ultimately rather revelatory.

Friedman begins by fretting that the mounting crisis will, 1- "[M]ake Vladimir Putin the king of Europe," 2- Empower Iran to build atomic weapons, and 3- (apparently worst of all) cause blackouts in the U.K. during the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, embarrassing the all-in-on-wind government of Boris Johnson. Friedman is very aware of how bad things are shaping up to be:

Natural gas and coal prices in Europe and Asia just hit their highest levels on record, oil prices in America hit a seven-year high, and U.S. gasoline prices are up $1 a gallon from last year.

He's concerned about predictions that this might be an especially brutal winter, and quotes with alarm a recent newsletter by market analyst Bill Blain who said simply, “This winter [in Great Britain and Europe] people are going to die of cold." But then Friedman articulates the thought which seems to central to his foreboding: If these concerns are realized, he says, "I fear we’ll see a populist backlash to the whole climate/green movement."

I'm glad he's got his priorities straight.

Tom Friedman, green as ever.

This type of thinking is so typical of the environmentalist approach to the real world problems that arise from the relentless pursuit of their ideological goals. Governments around the world have been giving way to their pressure for years, mandating the transition to unreliable energy sources and creating increasingly onerous regulatory hurdles the traditional resource industry must meet.

But then the wind stopped blowing and the sun didn't shine enough and scaled-back production meant the oil and gas companies didn't have enough product in storage. At which point Friedman & Co. say, not 'We screwed up,' but 'The populists are going to say we screwed up!' It's never the Green movement's fault.

Now, perhaps I'm being unfair to Friedman -- he does suggest that developed nations have attempted to transition to renewables too quickly, and criticizes the clearly foolish decision of the Merkel government in Germany to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by next year ("an overreaction to the Fukushima nuclear accident," he explains). Even so, his solution to the current problem includes "a carbon tax in every major industrial economy" and using nuclear power and natural gas as a bridge to wind and solar power. Sounds like just more of the same to me.

It's Not About the 'Climate,' Stupid

A series of interrelationships exists in the world of the Klimate Kult believers that needs to be understood to grasp what is going on and the impact it has on the future. These relationships aren’t about the climate. Look at Nordstream2. Germany, a country American taxpayers have been paying to defend from Russia (and its socialist (i.e. “failed”) predecessor, the USSR) for 76 years decided to buy natural gas from Russia instead of America. Why?

Why not?

As Bastiat notes in The Law (pp 9-10), “When they can, [people] wish to live and prosper at the expense of others.” Germans want stuff but want neither to make it nor make the energy necessary to make it, nor bear and raise and educate the children who would be required to make it (or create the energy) in a future they don’t believe in enough to populate, having among the lowest Total Fertility Rates on the planet: it’s just too much work.

Listen to Freddy.

But to pretend that Germans are making any of their decisions not to frack, not to nuke, but to support the fantasy of “climate change” is ignorant.

That any energy purchased from Russia will be dirtier under a regime bound by no environmental laws or regulations, than energy extracted in Germany or the U.S. under very strict regulations, belies any professed “concern” about the planet. Choosing Nordstream2 is choosing against the climate. Germans aren’t stupid; they know this.

Can Germany create any amount of energy they need for manufacturing, heating, transportation, etc., without adding to "greenhouse gases"? Sure. Build nuclear power plants; zero GHG. Can they frack their own natural gas? Sure. But that would be work, require having children to keep doing it, and that’s harder than just buying it. So they buy it. They’ve made a make-buy decision and bought from their preferred supplier.

America can pretend that Germany ought to buy from us because we defend them – as though Germans owe us for American taxpayers voluntarily paying for their welfare state for 75 years by funding their defense – but it’s just pretense. The first priority of any government is defense of its borders and people; money is fungible – we’re paying for their welfare state. Or Americans can think Germans buy from Russians for political reasons. It doesn’t matter. Buying dirty energy is buying dirty energy – and that’s the decision Germans have made.

Who loses in this exchange? American workers. Germans should care about American workers, because…? And, of course, the planet - at least that's what the Klimateers demand you believe.

Germans know American taxpayers will keep defending them and their barren future (why?), regardless of their Nordstream2 decision – so why pay more than they must? It’s not as though the American Military-Industrial Complex will give up their best gig to continue to have those same taxpayers funding the defense of all of Europe’s welfare states, and buy the haven’t-won-a-war-in-decades-military new toys, get promoted, and travel, right? What’s the downside for Germany? None.

Therefore it’s not about the climate. It’s about Bastiat. And lazy voters.

Sunset in California.

Look at California. By refusing to drill their own oil or frack their own natural gas or build their own nuclear plants, they are instead counting on oil from other countries (their voters doing their best to ensure no energy is extracted domestically… in any State), resulting in, as with the Germans and Nordstream2, dirtier energy.

California, too, has below-replacement fertility (all Blue States do), illiterate immigrants sweeping the streets and nannying their (few) children, and a desire to buy from others rather than make things themselves. California won’t even house its population let alone require it to work to buy stuff. It has the highest poverty rate in America and a third of the nation’s welfare recipients… buying stuff with other people’s money. Your money.

Which is why China. Americans would rather buy than make; it’s why our factories are all in China now, using dirtier energy for manufacturing, transporting workers, feeding workers, etc. It’s why we import illegal aliens. We’d rather buy stuff from illegals – street sweeping, gardening, babysitting – than do the work ourselves. If we left our jobs here (and foreigners there), stuff might cost more, but our own standard of living would rise making stuff affordable – and providing jobs and energy for our own future. The idea America can be a First World country and not pay First World wages is so crazy even a fifth-grader would get it. Our elites get it, but destroying the Middle Class is their goal, not maintaining a prosperous nation.

Our entire welfare state is built on Bastiat – large portions of the working-age population would rather buy stuff with your tax dollars than buy them with the output of their own work. Since these people also vote, our politicians compete for their votes by allowing them to work less and buy more.

By rejecting energy extraction and creation domestically, we dirty the world by buying energy from the Third World that we refuse to extract or make here. And by exporting our jobs to China, we enable China to build large numbers of coal-fired power plants, consuming millions of tons of coal (54 percent of global consumption), creating zillions of tons of GHG (27 percent of the entire planet’s; more than twice the USA’s 11 percent)… all to make what we refuse to make here with cleaner – far cleaner – energy via extraction industries regulated far more heavily, and under a government that has reduced greenhouse gases faster than required by a Paris climate treaty that China isn’t following.

If you want a dirty world, export jobs to China so that everything is built with coal-based energy. If you want a clean world, onshore jobs and close the border and build nuclear power plants.

None of this is about the climate.

Sure, the useful idiots in the streets think it is, the low-info voters think it is. It’s about Make vs Buy, and our elites would rather have us buy our bread and circuses – regardless of the cost to the climate and our living standards – than to make our own stuff and demand the liberty to do with the fruits of our labor as we see fit.

Every decision made by the KlimateKult establishment (and their low-info voters) creates a dirtier planet: Oil from Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, Iraq, Kuwait, no nukes, offshoring jobs to coal-based energy nations, encouraging illegal immigration and the welfare state voters who vote to support the establishment dirtying the planet … rather than encouraging work and higher wages – and the always-present greater environmental concerns of richer nations – by ending illegal immigration.

None of this is about the climate.

Renewables: Is There Anything They Can't Do?

From the Wall Street Journal:

Natural gas and electricity markets were already surging in Europe when a fresh catalyst emerged: The wind in the stormy North Sea stopped blowing. The sudden slowdown in wind-driven electricity production off the coast of the U.K. in recent weeks whipsawed through regional energy markets. Gas and coal-fired electricity plants were called in to make up the shortfall from wind. Natural-gas prices, already boosted by the pandemic recovery and a lack of fuel in storage caverns and tanks, hit all-time highs. Thermal coal, long shunned for its carbon emissions, has emerged from a long price slump as utilities are forced to turn on backup power sources.

The episode underscored the precarious state the region’s energy markets face heading into the long European winter. The electricity price shock was most acute in the U.K., which has leaned on wind farms to eradicate net carbon emissions by 2050. Prices for carbon credits, which electricity producers need to burn fossil fuels, are at records, too... At their peak, U.K. electricity prices had more than doubled in September and were almost seven times as high as at the same point in 2020. Power markets also jumped in France, the Netherlands and Germany.

So the transition to so-called renewable energy has really been raking European energy markets over the coals. Literally, in fact, as coal-fired power plants are having to increase production to meet energy demands. And it's making Russia into a one nation OPEC, the only country in the region with an excess of natural gas which will happily export it.... for some significant diplomatic concessions.

Quite the bind the E.U. finds itself in. Perhaps they might consider changing course, accepting that shutting down their natural gas and nuclear power plants, not to mention banning fracking, is a mistake?

Doesn't sound like it! Reuters --

Record high power prices in European Union countries show the bloc must wean itself off fossil fuels and speed up the transition to green energy, the EU's top climate change official said on Tuesday.

That official -- first vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, who has appeared in these pages before, always singing the same one-note tune -- argues that, in fact, it is because they haven't transitioned quickly enough that things are so bad! "Had we had the Green Deal five years earlier, we would not be in this position because then we would have less dependence on fossil fuels and on natural gas," he said.

Never mind that the transition itself helped create the shortage by causing a shortage of the fuels that, for the foreseeable future, the continent continues to run on. That, and the fact that the wind doesn't always blow and the sun sometimes fails to shine.

Anyway, you heard it from Frans first -- renewable energy causes problems that can only be solved by... more renewable energy. Is there anything it can't do?