Norwegians Love Oil & Gas

Among the best television programs of the past decade or two is the Norwegian geopolitical thriller Occupied. It tells the story of a near future, where an extremist Green party is swept into power in Norway on a pledge to ban oil and gas extraction. Fulfilling this promise provokes an energy crisis throughout Europe, leading the E.U. to deputize Russia to enter Norway, under not-so-subtle threats of violence, to get production started again. Once that has been accomplished, however, the Russians aren't too keen on leaving, and the Norwegian government soon becomes a Quisling regime whose prevailing preoccupation is keeping Russia happy, while patriots (and eventually the military) begin an I.R.A.-like campaign against it and, especially, against the Russkies.

Don't let the climate stuff put you off (it quickly falls by the wayside) -- Occupied is a brilliant show which explores questions of sovereignty and nationalism, and with more nuance than any other popular production I've yet encountered. But even with environmentalism being a comparatively minor aspect of the show, I was interested to read that the environmentalist fervor which put the greens into power in the first place is not particularly realistic.

Sure, Norwegians have an affinity for electric cars -- they own more E.V.s per capita than any other nationality -- but they are also quite fond of their resource industry. This is likely due to the fact that their oil and natural gas has made them the richest nation in Scandinavia, with the second highest GDP per capita in all of Europe. Oil and gas comprise more than 40 percent of Norway's exports and almost 20 percent of GDP. One thing that Scandinavia-loving American lefties will never tell you is that Norway's generous welfare system is utterly dependent upon its resource wealth -- almost a third of all government revenue comes from oil and gas. And this has given the nation a strong sense of economic independence -- it's not for nothing that Norway has twice voted down proposals to join the E.U. They can't have Brussels attempting to regulate their most important industry out of existence.

Which is to say that, even though the Conservative coalition which has been governing Norway since 2014 looks likely to fall in next month's general election, popular sentiment is such that the nominally environmentalist Labor Party will likely find it extremely difficult to turn off the taps.