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 diplomaticconcessions.
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?
Unlike Trump, Biden Puts Moscow First
Over at Newsweek Josh Hammer has a good piece on the Biden Administration's capitulation on Putin's Nord Stream 2 pipeline which, among other things, highlights the American Left's Russian schizophrenia.
We all remember the Obama years which brought us the Hillary Clinton "Russia Reset'" button; then- President Obama's famous debate smack down of Mitt Romney for his pugnacious attitude towards Moscow, "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back;" and Barack's assuring Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” in dealing with his country once the election was over. Things were all candy and flowers.
Then came the 2016 election, which saw Trump, like every U.S. president going back to Reagan, indicating a preference for improving relations between the two powers. The Left lost its collective mind in response, to the point that watching Rachel Maddow's nightly show got to be like hanging out with Joe McCarthy while he was on a bender, only a lot less fun.
Hammer does a good job of illustrating how little their accusations actually matched the facts on the ground:
The irony is that Trump, on the actual substantive merits, toed a very hawkish line on the Russian Federation. He shored up missile defense in Central and Eastern Europe, which the Obama administration had undermined.... He repeatedly stood strongly with America's ex-Iron Curtain allies, delivering a powerful, Reagan-esque 2017 foreign policy speech in Warsaw that was aimed squarely at Moscow. He unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from certain bilateral and multilateral accords... that buttressed Russia due to the simple fact that it did not comply and America did. Trump also adamantly opposed and issued strong sanctions to try to prevent the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline."
That was because Nord Stream 2 would, as I wrote in May, increase Germany's addiction to Russian energy (since their own electricity rates have skyrocketed due to their foolish Energiewende program), replenish the Kremlin's coffers that had been hurt by several years of low energy prices as well as Covid, and alienate our Eastern European allies who are understandably anxious about Russian domination.
Hammer calls Biden's decision to greenlight the project "a stunning about-face." After all, the president never shied away from the Dems' constant assertion that when Trump said "America First" he really meant "Moscow First." Biden frequently calls Putin a "KGB thug," and claims to have once looked him in the face and said "I don't think you have a soul." And on Nord Stream 2 specifically, the Biden administration frequently reiterated that their position is essentially that of the last administration, right up until the day before it changed completely.
So who does this benefit? Putin, obviously, as well as the Merkel government, whose energy failures can be papered over with Russian oil and gas. And who loses out? Aside from America's allies in the region, the biggest losers are America's natural gas exporters, who are effectively locked out of a key European market.
So tell me again, which president actually puts Moscow first?
Net-Zero: the West's Suicide Note
In the 1983 U.K. general election, the Labour Party under the amiably leftish leadership of Michael Foot published a manifesto that amounted to a wish-list of extreme socialist policies long sought by the party’s Marxist wing. It leant so far to the left that one of Foot’s closest colleagues, the late Gerald Kaufman, described it privately (in a bon mot that was soon leaked) as “the longest suicide note in history.”
Not any longer. The last few weeks have seen two longer suicide notes by two organizations more important than an opposition U.K. party. They are the G7 nations, which Marx might have described as “the executive committee of the global capitalist democracies”—aka the West—and the International Energy Agency which is a specialized committee of the United Nations system and as such the globalist bureaucracy serving all U.N. member-states.
The distinctions between the two organizations are not trivial, but they usually say the same things, especially on climate change. Indeed, the global organization of anxiety over climate change was initially launched by the U.N. Secretariat in a series of international conferences—Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen—at the end of the Cold War. Its greatest support to date has been found in the G7 countries, especially in the United Kingdom and the European Union (minus coal-producing countries such as Poland) where it has become unchallengeable dogma.
America has been the exception to the G7’s enthusiasm, having repeatedly refused to ratify any of the climate change treaties even when, as now, the U.S. administration was in the hands of climate “emergency” zealots who signed them. Partly as a result, the United States under the Trump administration was able both to reduce its carbon emissions and to re-emerge as an energy super-power by liberating “clean, green” natural gas from the land by fracking.
Everybody agrees: the end is near!
Oddly, even masochistically, President Biden was elected to reverse this policy and to embrace the Paris conference aim of achieving Net-Zero emissions by 2050. Seeing this as an opportunity to entrench Net-Zero as a legally-binding international obligation on all governments, the G7 and the IEA each issued a report at around the same time, respectively making the political and the technical case for the inevitability of Net-Zero.
There was neither deception nor coyness about this simultaneity; the G7 applauded the IEA for its help. And the joint advocacy is expected to generate overwhelming diplomatic endorsement all the way to the next climate conference this fall in Glasgow. You can read the G7 report here and the IEA report here.
But you should read both with a skeptic eye. Here, for instance, is one of the most important paragraphs in the G7 report [italics mine]:
In this context, we will phase out new direct government support for carbon intensive international fossil fuel energy, except in limited circumstances at the discretion of each country, in a manner that is consistent with an ambitious, clearly defined pathway towards climate neutrality in order to keep 1.5°C within reach, in line with the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and best available science. Consistent with this overall approach and recognizing that continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach, we stress that international investments in unabated coal must stop now and commit to take concrete steps towards an absolute end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021, including through Official Development Assistance, export finance, investment, and financial and trade promotion support. We commit to reviewing our official trade, export and development finance policies towards these objectives. We further call on other major economies to adopt these commitments.
Sounds impressive, right? It’s a wordy elaboration of the idea—relentlessly canvassed in climate emergency propaganda—that we can kill coal by cutting off government subsidies to it and thus making it a bad investment. But as my italics show, the governments are building escape hatches into their commitments at almost every point. They will phase out new and direct government subsidies to coal except in limited circumstances at the discretion of each country, i.e., when a government wants to subsidize coal.
Similarly, they’ll take concrete steps to end subsidies for unabated coal. That’s interesting. The official definition of unabated coal is “the use of coal without any technologies to substantially reduce its CO2 emissions, such as carbon capture and storage.” Carbon capture is the technology, still in large part theoretical, that’s cited as one important way in which carbon emissions can be reduced or eliminated in, for instance, the manufacture of concrete. You can be sure that when carbon capture has become a more practical possibility—or even before that—the governments of coal-producing countries will find that their coal is magically no longer unabated.
And they would have a point. The possibility of carbon capture makes the case against fossil fuels much less strong than it otherwise seems—and certainly more attractive than the policies and lifestyle changes that the IEA report lists as necessary to the achievement of Net-Zero.
I’ve written many times before about the lifestyle changes and their lack of electoral appeal. Here’s Irwin Stelzer, the U.S. economist and entrepreneur, making those points with dispatch:
It is simply unrealistic to expect the world’s politicians to rally support for net-zero emissions by 2050 by telling them there can be no more oil and gas furnaces for sale by 2025, half of air travel will have to cease unless emissions-free fuels are developed, car trips must be replaced with walking and cycling, no permits will be issued to develop new oil and gas fields, and no coal plant will be constructed unless fitted with currently unavailable emission-catching equipment.
That unrealism becomes more risky when we look at the IEA’s coldly realistic analysis of the innovations that will be required to make these lifestyle sacrifices worthwhile in terms of emissions reduction:
Innovation cycles for early stage clean energy technologies are much more rapid in the NZE than what has typically been achieved historically, and most clean energy technologies that have not been demonstrated at scale today reach markets by 2030 at the latest. This means the time from first prototype to market introduction is on average 20 percent faster than the fastest energy technology developments in the past, and around 40 percent faster than was the case for solar PV.
What’s being proposed by the G7 and IEA is a vast leap into the dark—maybe the literal dark unless renewables become much more reliable than they have been to the present.
And away we go!
That may be why the G7’s final plea in the quote above: We further call on other major economies to adopt these commitments” shows no sign of being accepted and implemented by either the big energy-producing countries (Russia, Saudi Arabia, Australia) or the big energy-consuming countries (India, China, and most of the Third World).
Maybe the G7 should heed the IEA’s warning that without such international cooperation, Net-Zero simply can’t be achieved. And if possible, before we’ve spent our children’s and grandchildren's inheritance on it.
Russian Pipelines, Da, American Pipelines, Nyet
Let me get this straight. Recently, Russian hackers shutdown North America's largest pipeline for days, massively disrupting the supply chain on the eastern seaboard and leading to shortages and price spikes. Eventually Colonial, Inc, the line's owner, paid a $5 million ransom to get it up and running again, a decision about which the Biden administration officially had no opinion. Of course, anyone with half a brain knows that's a lie, that they must have been working both sides, pushing Colonial to towards a course of action (presumably the one they took) on the one hand, and engaging their Russian counterparts about it on the other.
Well, the cyberterrorists got what they asked for, and now the Putin regime have gotten their dearest wish as well: the Biden Administration will allow construction of the Nord 2 pipeline project which will enable Russia to satisfy Germany's appetite for oil and gas (which has become more voracious since Germany embarked on its foolhardy Energiewende policy) without passing through Ukraine, a country where anti-Russian sentiment is rife. Moreover, Biden is waiving existing sanctions on the company building the pipeline and its president, Putin ally and former Stasi officer Matthias Warnig, to get the project done.
This is surprising, as Team Biden have been very open about their opposition to Nord Stream 2, fearing it would shift the balance of power in the region by getting Germany addicted to cheap Russian energy, boosting Russia's economy, and further subordinating the smaller countries in the region to the larger. Just this February, Jen Psaki was uncompromising when she articulated the administration's view on the matter:
Our position on Nord Stream 2 has been very clear, and it remains unchanged. President Biden has made clear that Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal. It’s a bad deal because it divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine and Central Europe to... Russian manipulation, and because it goes against Europe’s own stated energy and security goals.
And then suddenly Bidenettes backed down. Something strange is going on here. Foreign policy analyst Rebeccah Heinrichs tweeted sarcastically, "How absolutely wild is it that Russians attacked a US pipeline while gas prices were already high and like two days after the US company pays the relatively small ransom Biden lifts sanctions on Nord Stream 2." It's definitely suspicious.
Then again, the two events might be unrelated. What is indisputable, however, is that this move looks ridiculous in light of Biden's anti-pipeline domestic policy. As Dan Foster put it, "Killing energy jobs in Oklahoma and creating them in St. Petersburg is so comically inept and villainous you could never even try it without the entire press in your back pocket."
It isn't hyperbole to say Donald Trump (alleged Putin patsy, who was actually tougher on Russia than any president since the fall of the Berlin Wall) would have been impeached for this. After all, he was impeached for less.
The Colonial Pipeline Experiment
Here's some good news -- after several days offline, due to a ransomware attack by Russian hackers, Colonial Pipeline is back up and running as of Wednesday evening. And sooner then expected -- the initial estimates suggested that it might not be able to be restarted until this weekend. This has led to some questions about whether Colonial (perhaps with some encouragement from the Feds) simply paid the hackers' ransom demand. CNN says no, they just beat the hackers with an assist from the FBI, but Bloombergis reporting that that's exactly what they did:
Colonial Pipeline Co. paid nearly $5 million to Eastern European hackers on Friday... The company paid the hefty ransom in untraceable cryptocurrency within hours after the attack, underscoring the immense pressure faced by the Georgia-based operator to get gasoline and jet fuel flowing again to major cities along the Eastern Seaboard, those people said. A third person familiar with the situation said U.S. government officials are aware that Colonial made the payment.
Either way, this is an embarrassment for the Biden Administration, but allowing (maybe encouraging) an American company to pay a ransom to Russian cyber terrorists would be hard to come back from. Still, Joe must not have liked the prospect of gas lines -- that totem of Carter-era malaise and harbinger of the Reagan revolution -- lasting more than a few days.
Even so, this crisis won't be ending immediately. Colonial has said, "it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal," meaning that souring prices, panic buying, and even rationing are probably going to be with us in the affected states for at least a week.
On the bright side, this is about as close as we can get to a controlled experiment. It would be wildly irresponsible to shut down a pipeline just to spite our obnoxious anti-pipeline protestors and the limousine liberals who fund them. But to see those same liberals sitting in their limousines (or SUVs more likely) in northern Virginia waiting their turn to fill their tanks (and maybe a few plastic bags) with gas? Priceless. Here's hoping the Canadians are watching how this is playing out.
Perhaps the headache will even cause Biden to rethink a few of his own green commitments. As Kyle Smith reminds us,
If Biden himself were not on record as being himself a fan of shutting down fuel pipelines — Keystone XL not only was a menace to our American way of life by bringing us energy, Biden thought it had to be cut off before his first afternoon nap — this brewing crisis wouldn’t be so potentially damaging to him. Biden is an ardently pro-fuel-limits guy in a moment when fuel is limited. As one of his other first acts in office — “Let’s own Trump by endangering our energy future” — he also banned new fracking leases on federal land. Maybe it would be nice to have more energy supply rather than less given what’s happened since?
Don't hold your breath.
Russian Hackers Shut Down North America's Largest Pipeline
If you live in the eastern United States and notice the price of gasoline jumping over the next few days, you can thank a group of Russian hackers who call themselves DarkSide. Though they deny that they're the culprits, ransomware with DarkSide's signature all over it was at the heart of a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline last Friday, even to the point of being coded not to attack computers which have Russian as their default language. The attack ultimately shut down the company's Texas-to-New Jersey line, the largest pipeline in North America. That pipeline delivers roughly 45 percent of the east coast's diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel.
Colonial are confident that the pipeline will be fully operational by the end of this week. "The question now,' says Bloomberg, "is whether regional inventories held in storage tanks are enough to satisfy demand while Colonial works on resuming operations." To that end, the White House declared a state of emergency on Sunday, which according to NBC,
[L]ifts regulations on drivers carrying fuel in 17 states across the South and eastern United States, as well as the District of Columbia, allowing them to drive between fuel distributors and local gas stations on more overtime hours and less sleep than federal restrictions normally allow.
Hopefully easing those restrictions will help, and oil and gas shipments -- via truck or ship -- will stave off real shortages. But it's worth noting that, even with a shut down of such short duration, Gulf Coast refineries, concerned about running out of storage capacity, are preparing to cut back production, meaning that this could have implications for the price of oil for some time to come.
In any event, this episode should serve to remind us that pipelines are central to the our everyday lives. Kirsten Gillibrand was brutally mocked recently for claiming that basically every plank in the Democratic platform is infrastructure (and could therefore be included in an infrastructure bill), but this is the very definition of infrastructure, and vital infrastructure at that.
Let's not forget it.
Saudis, OPEC Emerge as Losers from New Oil Deal
The oil-price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia has at least temporarily come to an end.
Saudi Arabia, Russia and the U.S. agreed to lead a multinational coalition in major oil-production cuts after a drop in demand due to the coronavirus crisis and a Saudi-Russian feud devastated oil prices. The deal, sealed Sunday, came after President Trump intervened to help resolve a Saudi-Mexico standoff that jeopardized the broader pact.
As part of the agreement, 23 countries committed to withhold collectively 9.7 million barrels a day of oil from global markets. The deal, designed to address a mounting oil glut resulting from the pandemic’s erosion of demand, seeks to withhold a record amount of crude from markets—over 13% of world production. The U.S. has never been so active in forging a pact like this.
Mr. Trump, on Twitter, said the deal will “save hundreds of thousands of energy jobs in the United States,” and he thanked the Russian and Saudi Arabian leaders for their cooperation.
Trump will get no credit for this, of course, but he also had no choice but to intervene. The rebirth of the American oil industry has been a cornerstone of the formerly booming economy under this president, and a vivid reproach to his predecessor's gleeful defeatism.
The Left, however, has seen the price war as (curiously) a good thing, hoping it will cause the collapse of the energy industry and thus allow them to continue to peddle their "green" snake oil. The stabilization of prices is meant to tightrope-walk the line between cheap gasoline and the maintenance of jobs in the oil fields of North America; under the terms of the deal, the U.S. will maintain production at current levels. With the Wuhan virus currently keeping the western world confined to quarters, demand for oil has fallen precipitously, but should Europe, Canada, and the U.S. return to normal soon, the summer driving season could be a record-breaker.
The deal is slated to take effect on May 1. What effect the deal will have on prices remains to be seen:
After a week-long marathon of bilateral calls and video conferences of ministers from the OPEC+ alliance and the Group of 20 nations, an agreement finally emerged to tackle the impact of the pandemic on oil demand. Prices rose about 1% to around $32 a barrel in London after swinging wildly in the first few minutes of trading following the deal. The focus now shifts to whether the cut will be enough to dent the massive glut that keeps growing as the virus shuts down the global economy.
The talks had almost fallen apart late last week -- amid resistance from Mexico -- but came back from the brink after a weekend of urgent diplomacy. President Donald Trump intervened, helping broker the final compromise. “Unprecedented measures for unprecedented times,”said Ed Morse, a veteran oil watcher who is head of commodities research at Citigroup Inc. “Unprecedented in historical discussions of production cuts, the U.S. played a critical role in brokering between Saudi Arabia and Russia for the new OPEC+ accord.”
OPEC+ will cut 9.7 million barrels a day -- just below the initial proposal of 10 million.
“OPEC+ started the fire, and it was their responsibility to put it out,” Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta, Canada’s biggest oil-producing province, said in a Twitter post. “Many challenging months ahead with very low demand and huge inventories, but at least now there is path to recovery.”
In the long run, breaking OPEC will continue to be a key tenet of American foreign policy, but thanks to the boom of the past three years, the Arabs and their allies can longer hold the industrialized world hostage with their monopolistic control of the oil fields. Already, the Mexicans are beginning to edge toward the exit. Another geopolitical upside has been the souring of the Russian-Saudi alliance, as the price war drove a wedge between Vladimir Putin (who relies on strong oil prices to keep his country, and his regime, afloat) and the Saudi ruling family.
Since 2016, oil has constituted the core of the deepening Saudi–Russia relations. Riyadh and Moscow have been coordinating under the umbrella of OPEC+ to stabilize the oil market and keep the oil prices at beneficial levels. In December 2019, the Saudi oil minister envisioned that OPEC’s deal to curb oil production with non-OPEC allies, including Russia, would stand the test of time, and remain steadfast “until death do us apart”. Three months later, Riyadh and Moscow waged an oil war against each other resulting in the sharpest drop in oil prices in around two decades.
The impact of the oil war on Saudi foreign policy is obvious. Feeling the pain of the low oil prices and the high costs of their regional adventures, the Saudis seem to be constrained now more than ever. Their priorities are shifting, and because of the pandemic and the oil war, they need to inject a lot of money in the domestic arena. Last week, Riyadh decided to announce a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen.
Who says there's never any good news?
The Return of Cheap Oil: Blessing or Curse?
Amid all the bad news of late, one trend that in earlier times would have gladden the heart of the driving public is the plunge in oil prices, both by the barrel and at the pump. Baby Boomers happily recall the days of 50-cent a gallon gasoline, and even the once-unthinkable dollar-per-gallon prices of the late '80s and early '90s seem remarkably cheap in retrospect. Even when gasoline prices in California soared into the $5-6 range at the end of the Bush administration, it seemed like there was still nowhere to go but up.
Now, however, they're dropping again, with a national average below $2/gallon. A perfect storm of events has hit the oil industry, most obviously the international shutdown of much trade and commerce and the questionably constitutional orders by state governors restricting public events and travel in defiance of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion and assembly, in the wake of corona virus pandemic. Throw in as well the ongoing price war between Saudi Arabia and and Russia, with each trying to drive the other out of the marketplace and seriously wounding domestic American oil producers as they fight it out, and you have a very rocky time for the energy industry.
Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to crank up oil production represents a dramatic shift in its thinking about energy markets and its own reliance on oil revenues. Gone are the days when Saudi oil reserves were prudently managed for future generations. By no longer maintaining a specific oil-price band or retaining spare production capacity, the Kingdom is stepping away from its longstanding role as the market’s swing producer.
The change reflects Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) view that Saudi Arabia has a relatively narrow window of opportunity to monetize its large oil reserves. He has embarked on a policy of capturing market share rather than trying to set the price, once again breaking with longstanding policies that he believes are no longer useful.
Why would the Saudis do that? Since the Arab oil embargo of 1973, which was directed at the West and in particular the United States, for supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur War that year, the Saudis have enjoyed lording it over the infidels and making them dance like marionettes as they manipulated the market. Now, they're doing it again.
If MBS persists with this strategy, he could significantly alter the dynamics of global energy markets. By keeping prices depressed, Saudi policy will not just drive more expensive forms of oil production out of the market; it will also make it harder for renewable energy to compete with fossil fuels – at least in the near term.
The source of this linked article is Project Syndicate, a radical leftist internet publication masquerading as "the World's Opinion Page," based in Prague, funded in part by George Soros' Open Society Foundations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and one notoriously sympathetic to Islam. If you read its columns and every day and follow on Twitter something called The Bridge Initiative, a "multi-year research project on Islamophobia" disgracefully based at once-Catholic Georgetown University, you'll have a pretty fair idea of what Islam and its western enablers are up to.
The new strategy became clear on March 7, a Saturday, when Saudi Arabia decided to cut its official selling price and increase its oil production to above ten million barrels per day, with output in April likely to be near 11 million, up from 9.7 million in recent months. When markets reopened the following Monday, oil prices suffered their largest single-day decline since 1991.
Officially, the Saudi action was a response to Russia’s refusal to agree to voluntary oil production cuts at an OPEC+ meeting on March 6. Since 2016, the Russians and the Saudis have been coordinating their production to keep prices elevated at around $50-$60 per barrel. Yet the net effect of this cooperation has been to help the US shale industry boost its own production and sales, thereby capturing most of the world’s incremental demand. Having suffered declining exports since 2016, the Saudis were probably hoping that a reduction in output would shore up prices at a time of weakening global demand, owing to the coronavirus outbreak.
That "probably" is a nice touch. But of broader interest is the notion that "MBS" is actually looking toward a "renewable energy" future, and is trying to cash out now -- and ruin two of his chief competitors -- while the cashing's still good. This presupposes that the "Green revolution" is actually going to take place, something whose odds suddenly look much longer in the wake of the coronavirus and the Chinese culpability in its release.
There are strong arguments for why the Kingdom should pursue this path. For starters, Saudi oil is cheaper to extract and transport than many other reserves. It is also “cleaner” than that produced by Canada’s tar sands, and emits little methane compared to Russian oil. And Saudi Aramco is one of the world’s most technologically advanced and technically competent oil companies. In other words, Saudi oil has multiple comparative advantages over the competition, and therefore is perfectly placed to hold a privileged position in the global clean-energy transition.
In other words, under the guise of "clean" energy, which serves to keep the global-warming nuts at bay, the Saudis are actually pursuing a beggar-thy-neighbor strategy against its two chief antagonists, countries that also serve in Muslim eyes as archetypes of their religious enemies: the still-Christian U.S.A. and Orthodox Russia, the "Third Rome" that traces its spiritual descent directly from Rome and occupied Constantinople. This basically gives the game away:
The Kingdom’s policy shift should give pause to American politicians who boast that the United States has achieved energy independence through shale. In an all-out war for market share, US, Canadian, Russian, and other oil producers will have a hard time competing with the Gulf, given its lower costs and other competitive advantages... MBS may be gambling that he can outlast the competition. But given the structural features of the oil market and the world’s inevitable transition to renewables, he probably sees no other alternative. OPEC quotas and production agreements with the Russians have not delivered the results he needs.
So first we lose a price war with the Arabs, then the entire industry collapses as it "transitions" to unicorn farts and bird-annihilating windmills. That's the future, according to our friends the Saudis. It's up to us to make sure it doesn't happen that way.
Forget the Coronavirus: the Real Threat is 'Climate Change'
As I like to say on Twitter: they never stop, they never sleep, they never quit. I'm referring to the "progressive" Left, which firmly believes in never letting a good crisis go to waste, and never misses a chance to push its crackpot policy ideas, no matter how far the arc of history has suddenly just shifted. So, even in the midst of a world-wide panic over the coronavirus from Wuhan, China, the progs are somehow still able to find time and space to push their harum-scarum about "climate change." Herewith, a few recent examples:
Climate Point: Climate change has yet to be canceled due to coronavirus
We're in the midst of a pandemic, one that has exposed a continued hesitation to trust science and fault lines of fear that increase racist finger-pointing over the origins of the novel coronavirus. The problems are evident at the highest levels, where officials in the Trump administration have reportedly called the coronavirus the "Kung-Flu" and the "Chinese virus."
What this rhetoric completely misses, however, are the causes of deadly diseases spurred by exotic viruses. "Demand for wood, minerals and resources" clears habitat and disrupts ecological processes, presenting opportunities for pathogens ranging from ebola to coronavirus to pass from wildlife to humans, The Guardian reported this week.
Well, if Britain's notoriously left-wing The Guardian reported it, it must be true! Of course, the Wuhan virus couldn't possibly have anything to do with Chinese standards of hygiene or their culinary preferences, or the complicty of the Communist Party is making such delicacies available to the public. After all, how can eating live frog's innards, snakes, bat soup, pangolin pizza, and fricassee of civet cat possibly harm you? Not to mention boiled-alive dogs. (Where is PETA in all this, one wonders.)
But back to "global warming."
Just because our attention is on the coronavirus, that doesn't mean the elephant in the room — climate change — is going anywhere. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that this winter was the second-hottest on record, USA Today reports. Those logs extend all the way back to 1880. The most extreme cases of winter warming come from Russia, where temperatures were 12 degrees above average in some places.
Only somebody literally born yesterday could think that 1880 is "all the way back" to much of anything. Over the history of the planet -- some 4.5 billion years -- our available data accounts for an infinitesimal slice of planetary history. It would be like extrapolating the entire history of baseball statistics from a single spring-training pitch in (as it happens) 1870. And as for Russia, well... in case anybody hasn't noticed, Russia is a mighty big land mass.
One thing that provides solace to the otherwise disconsolate nutters, however, is the damage the virus is doing to the energy industry. Domestic fracking has made the U.S. energy independent, but now --
Goodbye, U.S. frackers? What the coronavirus has done, however, is to combine with an international oil price war and flawed domestic business practices to tank the U.S. fracking industry. Grist is out with a helpful explainer on how these factors are merging to expose small fossil fuel companies that are on shaky financial footing and likely to go under as prices remain in flux. The Wall Street Journal found that Texas has begun considering capping production in response.
Climate activism marches on. "Climate activists are retooling their strategy for an online existence during the coronavirus pandemic," Zack Colman with Politico reports. Instead of mass gatherings, groups led by youth activists are turning to social media and other digital tools to continue their fight.
And indeed it does. In the forefront is the United Nations, an organization originally created by the victors in World War II that has long since been hijacked by the losers, Third World thugocracies and failed states around the globe. And it's here to tell us that the planet is "way off track" in dealing with the imaginary challenge of "man-made climate change."
The planet is "way off track" in dealing with climate change, a new United Nations report says, and experts declared that climate change is a far greater threat than the coronavirus. "It is important that all the attention that needs to be given to fight this disease does not distract us from the need to defeat climate change," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday, according to Agence France Presse.
Although emissions have been reduced with travel curtailed because of the virus, Guterres noted that "we will not fight climate change with a virus. Whilst the disease is expected to be temporary, climate change has been a phenomenon for many years, and and will remain with us for decades and require constant action. We count the cost in human lives and livelihoods as droughts, wildfires, floods and extreme storms take their deadly toll,” Guterres said.
The report confirmed that 2019 was the second-warmest year on record and the past decade the hottest in human history.
That last line, of course, is a lie: "human history" did not begin in 1880. But the leeches, bed-watters, and rent-seekers who have glommed onto the "anthropogenic global warming" scam in the interest of frightening the horses and lining their pockets are desperate to keep the rubes coming into the circus tent in order to be fleeced as they're shepherded toward the legendary and elusive Egress.
The Eighth Wonder of the World!
Professor Brian Hoskins of Imperial College London told the Guardian that "the report is a catalogue of weather in 2019 made more extreme by climate change, and the human misery that went with it. It points to a threat that is greater to our species than any known virus – we must not be diverted from the urgency of tackling it by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible."
Well, that's what all used-car salesman say -- this offer expires the minute you head for the Egress! But still, the beat goes on. One last one:
Today, all attention is on the virus. But we cannot afford to ignore another deadly threat that is upon us: the climate crisis. Time is of the essence with the climate, just as with the pandemic. Every day that we delay in taking bold action increases the seriousness of the suffering that will result. Why have nations risen to the challenge of the coronavirus so quickly, while the far more dangerous threat of climate change has failed to inspire the bold response it demands?
Possibly because rational people understand that all the hugger-mugger is bunkum, while the threat from the virus is real.
Already we face spiraling dangers from catastrophic fires, droughts, floods, storms, excessive heat, sea level rise, and huge economic losses.
Here we might note that natural disasters have always been with us -- just ask the residents of Pompeii!
There will be unprecedented mass migrations and violent conflicts following global climate disruptions.
Assuming for the moment that there are "climate disruptions," a fact not in evidence nor even defined --
On our current trajectory, our world will be terribly changed: scarred and diminished and made far less habitable. And, unlike the effects of the virus, which should lessen before too many months pass, the effects of climate change will be with us for centuries, likely growing worse with time. Even now, millions die annually just from pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, utterly dwarfing even worst-case projections of deaths from the virus.
Why haven’t we taken bold action on the climate, changing course before it is too late? Our brains simply are not wired to engage with a danger that is not acutely present.
With that honest statement, this is as good a place to stop reading as any.