We live in troubling times.
First we’ve had to contend with the coronavirus pandemic. Just as we seemed to be emerging from this threat we have been beset with major flooding in Queensland and New South Wales. But now, the final straw, Russia has invaded Ukraine with the real prospect that Vladimir Putin could trigger a nuclear conflagration.
But when you are a climate change catastrophist you can only see the world through one lens. I was appalled to read the other day that the Biden administration’s climate change envoy (multimillionaire and private jet owning) John Kerry responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expressing concerns that Vladimir Putin might no longer be committed to reducing CO2 emissions!
Kerry declared, “You are going to lose people’s focus. You’re going to lose big country attention because they are diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact.”
The war in Ukraine poses a far greater and more immediate existential threat than climate change.
And, of course, we can’t dodge the issue that Europe’s precipitate adoption of renewable energy has facilitated Russia’s military adventurism. In its rush to reduce its own reliance on fossil fuels, Europe has not only shut down its coal-fired coal stations but also, inexplicably, its nuclear power plants. It has vastly reduced its own production of fossil fuels.
But in terms of reducing global emissions this has largely been a charade.
As I have indicated in previous essays, Europe and particularly the United Kingdom, have struggled to meet their demands for electricity. Reliable and affordable energy is one of the essential underpinnings of modern economies. That is essentially unachievable for countries solely reliant on wind and solar energy. Security of supply requires a basic foundation of base load power that is available 24 hours a day to cover the shortfalls when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow. The only alternative is to have the capacity to store energy which can then be used when the renewables are not producing. The most effective storage mechanism is the use of pumped storage hydro.
(Many people seem unaware of the role of this technology decrying the fact that is a net user of electricity and not a generator of electricity. They don’t understand that over the daily cycle of electricity usage prices fluctuate wildly. Hence it makes good sense when prices are low to utilise energy to pump water into elevated storage ponds and then release that water to generate hydroelectricity when there is a shortage of energy and prices are high. In this regards these facilities act exactly like a battery only they have far greater storage capacity than existing batteries.)
All the batteries currently installed in Western Europe have only sufficient capacity to supply the average demand for less than one and a half minutes! It is a myth that with current technologies renewable energy technology can give us energy independence.
Unfortunately Europe after closing down their gas and coal industries in their insane obsession with woke green politics have now come to rely on Russian gas supplies to not only provide backup for their intermittent renewable energy production but to also provide essential heating during the winter.
(Remember that despite the protestations of the climate catastrophists many more people around the world die from the cold rather than elevated temperatures.)
The futile attempt to decarbonise the European economy has resulted in an unhealthy dependence on Russia as a source of fossil fuels. Every day Europe pays Russia over a half a billion dollars US to augment its energy shortfall. This in effect is financing Russia’s war against the Ukraine.
Even the US, which under the Trump presidency was self-sufficient in energy, under Biden purchases 7% of its energy from Russia. One of the first things President Biden did on being elected was to cancel the Keystone pipeline designed to carry crude oil from Canada to the US. He also banned gas and oil drilling on federal lands.
Nobel Prize winning, Danish economist, Bjorn Lomborg reports:
…electricity makes up just a fifth of Europe’s overall energy consumption, nearly three-quarters of which is met by gas and other fossil fuels. Despite the hype, solar and wind deliver less than 4 per cent of Europe’s total energy.
Hence the insane rush to renewables has resulted in an unreliable electricity supply and an over-reliance on Russia for fossil fuels.
The US achieved energy self-sufficiency by using “fracking” to tap methane reserves in fossil fuel deposits. Europe has the opportunity to do the same. However anti-fracking sentiment among conservationists has precluded European countries from following the US precedent. It has been reported that Russia has financed anti-fracking propaganda, which is not surprising seeing how it has benefitted their energy exports.
Even the recently converted green advocate, Boris Johnson, faced with this scenario, is having second thoughts about his commitment to net zero by 2050.
So well done, climate zealots! You have succeeded in rendering Europe’s electricity supply unreliable and more expensive, undermined energy self-sufficiency and boosted the Russian coffers to finance a war with Ukraine. And all of this without making any discernible impact on CO2 emissions.
Now is it not instructive that those rushing to decarbonise their economies are only the “woke” Western democracies? There is no credible evidence that those major polluters, Russia, China and India, are likely to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels anytime soon. They value their economic progress more than virtue signalling.
Conservationists are always keen to remind us of the complexity and the interdependencies of the natural world. They tend to neglect the fact that human societies are also complex and interventions tend often to have unintended social, economic and institutional consequences.
Now I have always believed we should transition to renewable energy. But we need to do this in an ordered and considered way over decades. It is quite clear that the most fervent renewable energy proponents and the political fellow travellers they have captured have either no knowledge of or little concern for the deleterious effects of doing this in haste. Let us be clear that Greta Thunberg, John Kerry and their ilk are indeed false prophets.