Western leaders are madder than I thought
They are more willing than I predicted to immiserate their populations
Europe is belatedly grappling with the (entirely foreseeable) consequences of imposing sanctions on Russia. The Nord Stream pipeline has been intermittently closed over the summer, reportedly for “maintenance” (which no one believes). Another closure has just been announced.
As a result, prices are rocketing across the continent, with the ripple effects already being felt by businesses and consumers. “The electricity market is no more a functioning market because there’s one actor — Putin — who’s systematically trying to destroy it”, EU President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday, as she pledged emergency EU action to mitigate the impact of soaring costs on consumers and businesses.
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It’s anyone’s guess whether families and businesses already on tight margins, and struggling to recover from the impact of Covid measures, will survive the many weeks these “emergency” measures will take to devise. Regardless, the news prompted me to revisit my own predictions on Putin’s weaponisation of energy six months ago, back when the Western response to Russian aggression was still largely at the sabre-rattling stage.
I pointed out then that all of Europe was structurally dependent on Russian gas, and that Putin had timed his Ukraine excursion to coincide with an already tight energy market. Elites might well be blithe, I suggested, about the downstream political consequences of quadrupling ordinary families’ energy bills in pursuit of abstract principles such as “rules-based international order”. But this policy might not garner mainstream support further down the socioeconomic food chain.
More broadly, I argued, despite the wishful thinking of liberal internationalists, the End of History has well and truly ended, and geopolitics should adjust accordingly. Looking back, I was both right and wrong.
I was right about the predictable consequences of sanctions. The “cost of lockdown crisis” is already bad enough for the just-about-managing; piling a cost of Ukraine crisis on top is tipping millions into grim hardship. I was wrong, though, about two things: firstly, political leaders’ willingness to immiserate their own electorates in pursuit of abstract principle (they are more willing than I thought); and secondly, the ability of electorates to join the dots (they are taking surprisingly long to work it out).
A café owner in Ireland yesterday posted a photo of her electricity bill (above), amounting to nearly €10,000; it wasn’t this which excited comment, though, so much as the Ukraine flag in her Twitter bio. It’s a small detail, but one that strongly suggests the café owner continued to lend at least passive support to the very foreign policy measures chiefly responsible for the swingeing energy price rise now threatening the survival of her business.
We were always going to have to transition away from fossil fuels. And it was always likely to be a bumpy ride. Now, thanks to a concatenating series of leadership blunders, it looks as though it’s all going to land at once. It’s not just about Ukraine: less than joined-up thinking on renewables, the rose-tinted Merkelist view of dependence on Russian energy and short-sighted decisions on nuclear all play a part.
And arguably the European willingness to follow the American lead on prioritising “democracy” over affordable energy is, in its way, a realist one. The United States does, after all, underwrite European military security. If the Land of the Free also happens to have more abundant domestic energy supplies than Germany, well, that’s hardly Joe Biden’s fault.
In any case, from here it seems clear that businesses and consumers face a grim winter (or, more likely, several). And I’ll hazard being only partly right again, and predict that over the next six months, as the weather gets colder and more people join the dots, the popular European appetite for foreign grandstanding will begin to disintegrate. Quite possibly along with a great deal else besides, that we currently take for granted in our social fabric.
This certainly has to do with Russian sanctions, but that isn’t the whole story… by any stretch.
The serious misery we are only just beginning to experience is far more the result of decades of short-termist policy making re energy security, and pandering (and I would argue ‘elite capture’ – an almost cult-like groupthink among the elite/governing classes) and their naive wholesale stampede toward the ruinous policy of Net Zero …well before we have any adequate infrastructure or technology in place to replace the ‘old’ energy types [namely oil, coal and gas].
The fact that Boris is cavorting about telling people to effectively suck it up, and bleating about how he’s going to “supercharge” more windmills tells us that we are in for YEARS of very hard times. These people are energy illiterate grandstanding dilletantes, who are not remotely learning the correct lessons from the crisis yet. In fact, they appear to be doubling down, and the result of that will be the destruction of the western middle class. The last remaining pocket of stable wealth outside the hands of big business and the trans-national oligarchs is going to be bled out into their coffers. The question is: can our society survive that?
Forgive them father, for they know not what they do …or do they?
“Energy illiterate grandstanding dilettantes.” Quite. But their lack of prudence is offset with a seemingly unswervable belief in their own righteousness and the cult of Net Zero.
In California they announced last week that they are forcing everyone to use electric cars, but today their energy suppliers put out a formal plea for people to not use air conditioners, large appliances and electric cars because the power grid is at risk of failing next week. The German Prime Minister came to Canada and basically publicly begged Canada to supply liquid natural gas to Germany. Trudeau of course said ‘no’ – but said maybe in several years we can give you hydrogen from windmills. You can’t make this up.
You would think this would cause them to change their behaviour — not necessarily publicly admit error, but privately start to make a quiet pivot.
The fact that they don’t is to my mind indicative of mass formation/cult strength group think/mental capture. The governing classes are collectively locked in a prison of their own design, that they built with high minded and increasingly hysterical rhetoric. At what point with reality smash through and wake them up? …I hope it’s soon, for all our sakes.
It’s hard to make sense of.
I think individual politicians, parties and even nations must be held in place on NetZero by direct campaign funding incentives on the one hand, and by a sense that the electorate has been corralled by the media into a climate crisis narrative that no single politician, scientist or even corporation can challenge with any hope of survival.
Once the bandwagon is rolling who dares call it out?
We are obligated to call it our lest we cede our right to self-governance.
I think they know exactly what they are doing. It is the planned collapse of the middle class so they consume less, saving the planet and remaining resources for long term use by the oligarchy.
Brilliant four paragraphs.
“The question is: can our society survive that?” – I’m not sure that it can, if it stays on this course.
“The fact that they don’t is to my mind indicative of mass formation/cult strength group think/mental capture… …At what point with reality smash through and wake them up?” — I think this is true for most, for others, the radicals, this may be simply part of the plan to take down the West.
There is too much hyperbole on this forum. Renewables are now responsible for over 40% of Britain’s electricity generation. Wind and solar power are generated cheaply and entirely within our borders. Quite what is objectionable about that and their expansion is difficult to fathom.
Of course, wind and solar can’t do it alone, for obvious reasons, and some disastrous decisions have been made, most notably in the decision to remove gas storage capacity, (which by the way was done by the Cameron government for reasons of free trade ideology and cost and not Net Zero).
This certainly needs to be corrected and domestic supplies of gas developed where possible. However some parts of the Right now seem to believe in fossil fuels (only) as a kind of quasi-religious mantra, just the opposite extreme position to that of the green zealots. In the longer term Britain probably can’t be self sufficient in hydrocarbons, which means being subject to fluctuating and sometimes, as now, steeply rising world prices, including politically motivated restrictions on supply whether by Russia or Saudi Arabia.
So far the media has been very skilled in controlling the narrative. Inflation is still probably around 60% caused by lockdowns and money printing (close to 100% in the US, which is highly self sufficient in many commodities), based on what core inflation is telling us and but this is never mentioned now. As for the Ukraine, the article is right, the crisis is entirely, rightly or wrongly, the choice of our elected elite, however, you are more likely to see “greedy” energy companies blamed for price rises in the press than the reality of reduced supply. Voters are unfortunately are particularly guilty of magical thinking or simple ignorance when it comes to economics, it makes these narratives easy to sell to them.
Of course it is Conservative government pandering to the eco sandaloid zero emissions vote who, in the interest of keeping their own jobs, rather quietly stopped the UK producing its own oil, gas and nuclear and tidal energy:this is nothing less than criminal, and has received so little attention from the media and even less challenging comment to politicians.
Let us not forget that Britain, unlike Norway did not amass billions from North Sea oil and gas, as it chose to gain revenue via the award of ” drilling licences”and not the actual revenue/ sale methodology of selling the oil and gas. Again, a cheap compromise to avoid government investment into oil and gas at the time.
Long term energy policies in the west have been a catastrophic but I have to object to the comparison with Norway and it’s sovereign wealth fund and the UK, which aways get made made.
Norway has greater reserves of oil than the UK but a population around 13 times smaller! It’s easy to save for a rainy day when you have 13 times as much revenue per head as your neighbour.
You make an apt comparison, but a huge increase in wealth was nevertheless gained by Britain. This could have been used for (funded!) long term Investments but was largely squandered on current expenditure.
Shetland and Orkney did in fact negotiate their own wealth funds from British governments, much to the benefit of their societies.
Too easy just to blame the Tories. The rot started in 1997 when Blair stopped all new nuclear projects and was made worse by Milliband’s disastrous 2008 Climate Change Act. The 2010 coalition continued the nonsense with the LibDems insisting on having the Energy Department under their control.
And yes, it’s got worse since 2015 with undeliverable policies on gas boilers, petrol/diesel vehicles and heat pumps making a bad situation worse.
All political parties have been singing from the same hymn sheet and now we haven’t got a prayer.
Only 5 MPs voted against the 2008 bill.
Anyone who has read Tony Benn’s autobiography knows he admitted in writing that as Energy Secretary he actually started what the Tories carried on regarding the spending of the North Sea bonanza.
I don’t know why you include tidal power in your list. That form of energy has unfortunately not met high expectations or been developed anywhere to provide a substantial proportion of energy. There is one plant in France I believe. But there has been no ideological objection to it. As with all forms of energy, there would be significant disadvantages, in particular the effects on estuarine environments.
Most people still haven’t realised what a horrific mistake the lockdowns were, so I’m not holding my breath for them to twig what’s caused the energy crisis.
USA is becoming more an antivaxer nation every day. After the midterms the MAGA will be having Nuremberg Trials for the Covid leaders. Indite, Investigate, Incarcerate. It is due and right. The covid leaders have destroyed the global economy –
Re: the US being an anti-vax nation – that’s just silly and neglects the nuance of the vaccine issue. Too glib.
Cathy’s dead on here. US is not anti-vax in general.
I’m not sure how to interpret this comment. “Antivaxer” is saying we are nutbags. MAGA in the left’s usage means “fascist follower of the evil yellow man” but I guess MAGA is also a positive reference to some who rebel against the hard-left’s institutional takeover. Then the close is “It’s due and right… the destroyed the global economy.”
Is there sarcasm I’m too dim to catch going on here?
No, he is actually being serious! I know most people on here are more exercised by the excesses of the ‘woke’ left and the extreme eco-activists, but there are some absolute crazies on the US Right as well, as Douglas Murray has found out.
My goodness, what a fanatic! On what legal basis would those trials be carried out exactly? It is not going to happen. MAGA don’t by the way actually represent the majority in the US. But do keep in pushing for Trump to be the candidate in 2024, who repels more of the electorate than attracts them, and guarantee the Republicans losing again!
This article completely misses the point – this energy and cost of living crisis was not caused by western leaders’ failure to appease an aggressive tyrant’s unprovoked invasion of a democratic neighbour, but by them adopting energy policies which allowed them to become dependent on and at the mercy of this particular tyrant for many of their energy needs in the first place. An ultra-nationalist bully like Vladimir Putin was always going to start a major war eventually, and now he has. To suggest that western leaders should instead have looked the other way from the carnage and bloodshed which has resulted from this, and essentially bank roll it with business as usual, is absurd and completely unconscionable. Victory in Ukraine would simply have emboldened and strengthened Mr Putin militarily for his next bit of warmongering, most probably directed at the NATO members in the Baltic States. High energy prices would then be the least of our worries. Condemn these leaders for the policy failures that have contributed to this situation, not for taking (for once) a principled stance against a genuinely ruthless aggressor.
Well said. A good point, well made.
The only thing I disagree with is the assesment of Putin. He has warned the West time and again that NATO expanding to Russia’s border is unacceptable and told us to honour the agreement we made with Moscow if they allowed Germany to reunite. The US would have gone to war last summer had a Russian politician turned up in Seatle and told the BLM rioters to overthrow the President. Which is the equivalent of Victoria Nuland saying that in Maidan Square in 2014.
These are, as I think we can increasingly see, threadbare excuses, not reasons! Not dissimilar to a certain Herr Hitler in the 1930s who had a rather similar list of supposed grievances. As we know the Russians have in fact far more egregiously been attempting to suborn western politics for years, so the hapless recorded comments of one US official musing about the Ukrainian government, the role of the EU etc (she said ‘f**k the EU’) don’t really past muster in comparison. And the comparison isn’t accurate anyway, because Ukraine is not Russia! A treaty and their mutual border between these states was agreed only in 1991.
The same excuses are trotted out for 2014 (was Russia satisfied?, no) 2022 (8 years later) and presumably whatever the outcome of this war, whenever else Putin and his circle want to attack a neighbouring sovereign state to re-establish the empire of Peter the Great, or whatever.
What about what the people of the neighbouring states actually want? It seems a more democratic less corrupt future, perhaps joining the EU (I am a Brexiteer but it is up to each nation to decide and they are rather more exposed geopolitically than the UK. I presume you believe that the Baltic States should be expelled from NATO?
It was rather mind-boggling that Germany closed half its nuclear capability and was/is on the way to finishing the job. What on earth were they thinking? Not strategic at all.
And in the USA – we’ve given the Ukrainians at least 40 billion dollars but refuse to protect our southern border for a cost of $6 billion. Give us Trump back (he also warned the Germans about their dependence on Russia for energy before Russia invaded the UK – but he makes nasty tweets so off with his head – there is little hope for us)
The problem is that many of the arguments attacking the development of renewables, for example, advocate the continuing dependence on fossil fuels, and sometimes it seems, only fossil fuels. The Ukraine invasion is not the first time geopolitics has strongly influenced world hydrocarbon prices; Saudi and Middle Eastern producers have of course also done this.
I don’t agree with arbitrary deadlines for Net Zero, but in the long term I don’t see that we can’t indefinitely rely on fossil fuels for our energy requirements.
That twitter post is hilarious and very telling about how much people think ahead before they open their mouths. Be careful what you wish for I say…
To Ukrainians, and many of the rest of us (especially the states of Eastern Europe), the invasion of their country was not an “abstract principle”.
Many thousands of people are dead or maimed. Millions of people displaced and vast tracks of a sovereign state have been colonised by an invading army. There is nothing abstract about a missile killing your child or foreign soldiers marching down your road.
It’s easy to say our leaders are idiots (which they largely seem to be) but far harder to suggest what they should have done. What do think should have happened? Should we have welcomed Uncle Vlad into Ukraine? Supplied him with western weapons to ensure easy progress up to the borders of the Baltic states? I’m sure we could have got some really cheap gas out of that. Could have had the hot-tub on all year.
And no, supporting Ukraine’s right to exist (even if it is just a gesture) and being worried about high energy bills does not make you an idiot or insane or whatever you are implying.
So never mind that everything the west has done has failed and caused more harm to us than Russia – we have good intentions, and that’s all that matters!
I didn’t say that, did I?
What do you think we should have done instead?
It’s implied. I reject the idea that war is the only option, or that those advocating war don’t have to have a coherent strategy to win.
Support implementation of the Minsk Agreement/s. That is what they were negotiated for.
YES!! Nearly everyone refuses to consider this, the 2014 US backed Coup, and the subsequent Ukrainian war against the provinces in the Donets River Basin, never mind the relentless NATO expansion eastward.
Provinces which were a part of its nation! Right, Ok see, the UK should have let the Provisional IRA conquer Northern Ireland.
An internal ‘coup’ against a stunningly corrupt government (which is usually another supposed justification cited by the pro Putin lobby) is not a justification for a full scale military invasion. Ukraine has held a number of free elections since then, Russia none! I think you guys are just trying to convince yourselves. Ukraine poses no threat whatever to Russia, except, and this is the real point, as a state improving its governance and democracy posing a rather obvious contrast to the Russian government. Meanwhile Russia, truly tragically, is regressing further and further towards outright despotism, based solely on the interests of a kleptocratic and criminal cabal. This is in many ways much worse than that of the Tsars.
Why was my response supporting Su Mac deleted? It seems that only those tweets supporting Ukraine are published.
stuck to the promise made to Moscow about not expanding NATO East IF they agreed to the reunification of Germany?
Putin even asked Biden to confirm Ukraine would not become a member of NATO before he invaded, and Biden refused to rule it out.
How anyone is surprised is beyond me, Putin has been warning the US and the West for years that sooner or later NATO’s expansion and fomenting of revolutions was, going to be a major issue for Russia.
Imagine if Kennedy was in power in Moscow, he’d have nuked the Ukraine by now and probably the US.
The impact of those sanctions are slow to arrive, but they are arriving. Whether Putin survives his problems remains unclear.
Well that’s the narrative, and never let the truth get in the way of a good narrative!
The best performing currency this year is the Rouble according to Reuters – because?
Russia’s current account surplus – largely reflecting the positive balance between exports and imports – more than tripled year-on-year in the first seven months of 2022, to a record $166.6 billion, as energy export revenues soared while sanctions caused imports to plunge.
Everything the west has done has failed including the supply of advanced weaponry so that the Ukrainians can defend themselves?
I guess it depends whether your goal is to fight a war or your goal is to end a war. Certainly we have been wildly successful at the promotion of the war.
Yes – that the biggest failure of all. Give high tech weapons which have a very short range and Russia does what it always have done, line up artillery and roll them forward smashing all before it, and long beyond the range of those high tech weapons.
By doing these sanctions and providing weapons we managed several self/foot shooting things, and destroyed Ukraine in the process, and bring huge suffering to all the world – And the corrupt Ukraine leaders expect one $$Trillion to rebuild in aid!!!! They will not get it, and just destroyed themselves at our instigating.
We drove Russia into bed with China, our actual enemy.
We have brought about the end of the $ as the Global Reserve Currency
We depleted our own military arsenals
We ramped up our inflation by this huge spending
and we are killing ourselves by the energy weapon Russia naturally deployed against us in return
That food inflation by the energy, fertilizer, and grains/cooking oil being halted will kill a great many millions around the globe – that is just a side thing….
And likely by this after our insane covid responce destroying the global economy will hand the world to the World Economic Forum, and our enslavement by the New World Order for ever as their tech Iron Curtain descends on us all.
Nothing good, Nothing, came of us arming the Ukrainians, or the sanctions!
So let the Russians in to rape and kill Ukrainian civilians in the name of denazification? Do you think we should have allowed the Holocaust to happen too?
So who do you think will continue to fund the war?
The HIMARS out range any russian artillery. For Heaven’s sakes, keep up!
A little bit of a rant there, eh? But, you lost me with the last sentence. Putin would not stop at Ukraine, he was emboldened by the West’s earlier response in Crimea. Yes, highly likely that there are plans within plans by China, WEF, etc. at play – but, Ukraine could not be allowed to simply fall. They are actually less corrupt than Mexico. When Putin failed to take control via traditional corruption, he went to war. I also think he is afraid of the monsters he helped create in the West.
The best I can tell, the Ukrainian people, overall are not corrupt but are struggling to figure it all out and get things set straight enough to really prosper. You know, normal humans like the rest of us.
May I refer you to Kherson?
The impact upon Russian society is enormous. Much of their production has ground to a halt, even to the point of cannablising aircraft for spares. No vehicle production, no military production and hundreds of consumer durables disappeared. Much of their consumer IT is in a real mess; try buying a printer. It is a sweeping statement to say that Western sanctions have failed.
No, we have good principles, and stick to them – not just good intentions. Sometimes that has a price.
If the West had not thoroughly embraced Green energy and gone away from reliable, cheap coal and nuclear it would not be in the big crunch it is in now.
It will take more than 100 years to displace fossil fuels, if they even need to be displaced (AGW is BS). What is the big rush? Why immiserate the people for a pipe dream? (Oh, yeah, it makes them feel virtuous!)
Why? because it was the mechanism of destroying the West. If you do not realise the West has very clever and dirty enemies working to our destruction you do not understand the world.
Yes, as an (ex) academic I can safely say Critical Theory and all its surrounding nonsense is the pedagogy of a subjugated nation.
Coal is only ‘cheap’ in the shortest of terms. And please give us the brief and peer-reviewed argument against AGW – the generality of the scientific community is against you on this one, so details rather than sweeping generalisations required. Even here on UnHerd.
You mean the scientific community who receive funding as long as they keep saying the right thing. A bit like he 100% of doctors who insisted there were no adverse reactions to the vaccination, apart from the tens of thousands who were censored for speaking out.
Any climate scientist who offers in view that does follow the given narrative is Bellemized.
To *Ukrainians* the invasion of their country was not an abstract principle.
But we aren’t Ukrainians. We’re in the UK. (At least I am). And 99% of people who support Ukraine had no idea about Ukraine, Russia, the geopolitics of the area, or our reliance on Russian energy.
And it’s not just ordinary people. The EU’s and Germany’s political leaders have also been living in cloud cuckoo land for the past few decades.
Now they’re all shocked that Putin would turn off the gas.
“Oh… we didn’t expect that”.
So yeah, I’d say for all of them, supporting Ukraine absolutely was abstract. It was a nice ‘democracy-promoting’ idea and they paid no thought to the possible consequences. Completely delusional.
And now that it’s actually getting *real*, no-one has a clue how to cope.
The other irony is possibly, Putin may not have intended to invade, but just raise the temperature and warn off an expected assault by Ukraine on the Russian ethnic separatist areas . The gas price spike pre Xmas due to windmills and Hydro renewables not delivering presented him with the opportunity and I think he took it. I can’t believe the initial debacle was the result of months of planning.
And it is going to get even *realer* Toby. The brown stuff hasn’t even hit the fan yet.
Vlad has made many attempts to engage diplomatically with EU and US politicians, and in December 2021 sent Biden a blueprint on European security. He did not even receive a reply. So do not blame Putin for taking action on NATO’s continued encroachment on Russia’s borders.
Didn’t Putin understand that there’s no one ‘home’ at the White House?
Thats right Kevin – the senile (rather than 100% corrupt like Ukraine) French leaders in WWII saw they had no chance so surrendered and Vichy France was made. A puppet state, but one where Paris and the cities remained intact – the people had jobs, houses, factories, schools – and when it was over were intact.
Your like would have had them destroyed, for the pride of France I suppose.
”Many thousands of people are dead or maimed. Millions of people displaced and vast tracks of a sovereign state have been colonised by an invading army. There is nothing abstract about a missile killing your child or foreign soldiers marching down your road.”
This is because Biden/Boris. They were enticing Ukrane to join the EU, NATO, then giving 60 $Billion of weapons and aid – the West was the drug dealer who got the person hooked, than is selling them ever increasing doses of heroin laced with fentanyl as the addicts family starves and the lights have gone out…
How much evidence was there on Hunter Biden’s lap top of what he actually was offering Ukraine in return for all that cash? Did he in fact tell Zelensky that his Dad would have the Ukraine’s back if they rolled into the separatist areas? Who knows? But I wouldn’t bet against Ukraine poking the bear once too often based on such a belief.
It was only all over because thousands of allies died liberating them, the cost of keeping their cities intact? (Tell that to the then residents of Caen!)
I don’t recall much effort to save Poland from Russian annexation in ‘45.
Putin is not going to invade Europe. All his escapades have been to support ethnic Russian enclaves in former republics where the US/NATO has fomented a colour revolution and then advance almost to his borders. Read George Kennan on how the US & west should have treated Moscow. Curiously NATO was set up to oppose the Warsaw Pact, it should have disbanded when that did. Even more curious is how the defensive North Atlantic Treaty Alliance has defended itself in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and parts of the Balkans. I never knew the Atlantic stretched so far.
I think what we should have done is supplied sophisticated arms to Ukraine before the conflict so that Putin would have been afraid to invade. The Western powers contributions during lead up to the invasion were pathetic – sniper rifles from Canada – helmets from Germany. I am still convinced it was intentional with the goal of making the Ukraine another Afghanistan.
NATO had been arming and training Ukraine for 8 years at a large scale. In all that time they didn’t launch one successful offensive operation. They’ve had billions and this famous Kherson offensive is a disaster and Boris Johnson’s idea of invading the power ZNPP and kidnapping the UN inspectors,,,
Everything we’ve given them has been a waste, we’d have been better off implementing the Minsk accords as agreed.
Mary has previous form on insensitively blaming the Ukraine war for our current economic and energy situation, but I see that lots of commenters here are pointing out that the path to our current energy situation was embarked upon decades ago, though most precipitously in the last 10 years, well before Putin’s special military operation.
Who is going to keep sending money and equipment to the Ukraine? Europeans of course expect Americans to do it all – but trust me there is a backlash developing stateside.
Nice sentiments Kevin, but anyone well versed in macroeconomics, investment and energy could have a good guess as to what the result of these sanctions would be.
Some people might think it is worth any price, but as western economies start to crumble, civil unrest rises, poverty goes through the roof, inflation skyrockets, and the whole world order as we knew it starts to fall apart, people will look back and realize we messed up big time. Well, our leaders did.
This wasn’t the only option.
There’s a standard Irish response for any request for directions. They say “I wouldn’t start from here” surely that’s what we should realise. Becoming dependent on despots for energy or anything else is a mistake. Given where we are there are no good options. Europe has tethered itself to Russia and China neither of which is benign.
Do you consider the US benign? How many countries has it invaded, toppled governments, bombed directly or via proxies… or interfered in their elections ?
Fair point but the crucial difference is that the US is a democracy. There isn’t a Scandinavian liberal superpower or heaven forbid a New Zealand superpower. We need alliances and the US is the only one that makes sense.
TBH I’m not sure getting blown up by a democracy is any better than getting blown up by a dictatorship.
Ugh – Europe wants American $$$ and young American men to fight their wars yet again. This should not happen. Europe is rich and has the wherewithal to defend itself – or should!
Agreed- the USA should have left Europeans to handle fights in their region. I am not alone in thinking that NATO is over or should be disbanded. Why should the USA get involved in yet another European war?
I think it is 57 or 58 since WW2. But if America does it then it is known as a liberation not an invasion.
Russia could have been benign. Russia and Ukraine were both Soviet Republics, both are also corrupt oligarchies (Ukraine arguable the most corrupt) yet we can all fly Ukrainian flags and say ‘they are the good guys’ – The west was happy enough with a rotten Ukrainian Russia favouring President as long as he was about to sign a deal with the EU. Putin offered something the EU couldn’t – gas, so the President opts for Putin’s deal and there is a Coup – encouraged by Victoria Nuland for one! She turned up in Maidan Square and urged the crowd on. That Coup was the start of this. How I wish we’d got access to Hunter BIden’s laptop. What was on that hard drive relating to the Ukraine?
The background and history is complex but doesn’t erase the fact that Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring country on feeble grounds. If the West had taken no action against the aggressor it would have emboldened Putin and destabilised all of Eastern Europe. Our current situation will bring hardship but on balance seems the better option.
Ukraine – not in NATO.
Eastern Europe – is in NATO.
Easy to tell apart.
I cannot understand why Mary is so surprised at the wilingness to suffer hardship in the name of pursuing and defending abstract principles.
Abstract principles are what move millions of people to act in concert and define history. Religions are all about abstract concepts and principles. How many people have made sacrifices or voluntarily suffered in the name of a God you can’t be certain even exists? What are the legal systems we all live in other than a collection of abstract principles that define & govern the way we live together in a given society/organisation? Why do we accept the power of those rules and allow them to determine our behaviour? Because we believe in them!
To deny the power and relevance of “abstract principles” (like “freedom” and being willing to make some level of sacrifice to make sure Ukraine has it) is to reduce answers to any given situation or problem to a mere utilitarian calculation divorced from any kind of larger conceptual framework. Which gravely misconstrues human nature and history.
The problem here is not the power of abstract principles per se but an inability to think from the abstract to the specific and a lack of courage to tell your people: “OK, we believe in X and think X is worth fighting for, but this is what it means FOR YOU”.
The problem is that the ‘abstract principle’ behind renewable energy is flawed and the media have turned into propaganda machines on its behalf. Most of the public has been brainwashed by 30 years of disinformation and suppression of alternate views.
Terry, I honestly don’t understand what the problem is with renewable energy. Is it that you naysayers believe that the intermittency is a deal-breaker? Or that you believe that all renewable energy needs to be backed up by gas?
What’s your understanding of what a fossil-free generation portfolio looks like? How is baseload handled? How is peak demand handled? What do you believe are the relevant timescales are?
And when people say blithely that Net Zero is a disaster, what are they referring to? This was a phrase that wasn’t popularised until 2018 – what percentage of our current inadequate infrastructure is it responsible for? And as it refers to 2050, do these people believe that a later date would be better, or that overall the ambition of fossil fuel elimination is a fools errand?
Honestly, whenever I hear climate skepticism or people talking down renewables it always feels like I’m in the presence of an ill-informed political partisan who doesn’t understand engineering. There are loads of them, so I’m sorry to pick on you, but maybe you could speak for everyone here? 😉
I’m just another ‘Deplorable” from Nowhere, UK but I think you should take note of the writings, in the Boston Globe of one (Dr) Jim Hansen. His testifying before US Congress in 1988 started the ball rolling for your present ideas on energy generation and was VP Al Gores climate adviser. The dash for nett zero in the middle of this century will be an economic disaster for most of the world including Europe and the USA whether it be financial or ecological (or for some small countries – both). Other readings might be “Unsettled” by Steven E Koonin (American) – “False Alarm” by Bjorn Lomborg (European) and a long title which starts “Fake Invisible….” by Patrick Moore (Canadian) a Greenpeace founder member who left that organisation at about the same time as I stopped supporting it. I think you (and others like you) need help to remove the green wool that’s been pulled over your eyes.
Cheers Doug, I’ve scanned a couple of those titles you mention. So your point is; nuclear? Sure, nuclear, renewables, whatever – both contribute to net zero.
My point is that opponents of net zero are just as over-emotional as many of the greenies are. Everyone is so wrapped up in the politics, when actually this is an engineering topic.
Net Zero = abundant generation + storage. Neither nuclear nor renewables can offer peak supply or load balancing; only gas or stored energy can do this. Assuming we get to the point that there is sufficient storage in place to cover 100% of peak and load balancing (negating the need for gas to cover these duties), the only remaining challenge is to ensure that there is enough non-fossil generation to replenish the storage as well as cover 100% of non-storage demand. When this settles in, my guess is that government will have to mandate a minimum nuclear capacity for security of supply reasons, because the market will prefer cheaper renewables.
I’m only an armchair engineer, but the principles above are sound. You’re not calling this green wool, are you?
I’m upvoting you, Max. I haven’t seen your comments before, but you seem pretty reasonable to me and the engineering points seem right (based on what I know). Though, even if I bought into the catastrophizing, which I don’t, overly aggressive plans to eliminate all fossil fuels within decades are and will be catastrophic: starvation, people freezing, heat stroke, and general economic collapse, and the attendant social chaos (see Sri Lanka). Once the grids start to fail without baseload resources supply chain disruptions, which will be legion, will be the least of our worries.
Even the IPCC documents assume we will adapt. The press, activists, and government captured by groupthink tout only the most extreme worst cases and ignore the IPCC commentary that we will adapt and continue to grow!
For me, I can not in good conscience elect a path to “no fossil fuels by 2035” or other such nonsense that denies 10’s of millions of people in third-world countries access to the energy (including fertilizer) that enables our standard of living and has kept the world fed. If we follow Sri Lanka’s approach, re what the Dutch gov. is pushing, crop yields will plummet and people will starve. For what?
Scientific consensus <> science, replicable results == science and the computer models and “science” are simply not predictive. When we plug in past events, the last few hundred years, they dramatically overstate the temperature rises we experienced, i.e., the tests are not replicable and thus must be discounted rather than used to run the entire planet off a cliff.
For affluent radicals who claim to worry about “saving the planet,” it sure seems they are willing to disregard a huge number of humans living right now (not accusing you of this).
See the SEC testimony PDF I link to below. It turns out there isn’t “100% agreement” that we are heading toward a catastrophe if we don’t suspend fossil fuel use in the near future. Our history of energy transitions has been consistent, we keep finding better, cleaner, and more efficient means of generating energy – we have technical issues to address and we’ll do so.
With you, Doug.
Micheal Shallenberger’s “Apocolypse Never” adds to the dialog in many productive ways, Energy for Future Presidents does a great job at covering all the energy sources available on the planet (that we lack the tech to economically leverage) also read the latest presentation at the SEC found from two Standford Physicists (see next reply – links sometimes get blocked).
This war was never against, or for, the Ukranian people. There were no good abstract principals here – only lies from the Politicos and their puppets, the MSM and tech Social Media.
The people who fought for the Russian Revolution had been made to believe they fought for good abstract principals, but they fought to have their own chains put on themselves. Same for these stupid sheep like the coffee shop person with the £9800 bill and the flag of Ukraine.
War against China to save the Uighurs when?
So much for your principles.
Are you willing to let the elderly in the UK die of cold and kids go hungry to save the Yemeni people?
I remember the early days when the fraudulent Wind-Power outfits said that since Wind was free, our energy bills would be so cheap that they would not even be worth sending out !!
So what has gone wrong then ?
The vast windfarm off Yorkshire was opened today with the aim of supplying energy to more than a million homes. The photo showed them static or only moving very slowly, i.e. no wind. Wind and solar power can give us additional power but they will never replace fossil fuels or gas
It could be seen as a con from the beginning. Many years ago I looked, with buyer’s intent, at a household Wind Turbine in one of our largest home-improvement stores (B&Q for Brits.) The blurb in 4″ letters said that it would pay for itself in 25 years. Then I found a plate on the machine which said, in very small print, “The estimated service life of this item is 15 years”. I walked. now I have a Chinese vertical wind turbine on my boat but I’m not looking at its longevity, just so long as it gives my batteries a good charge when the wind blows so I don’t have to burn diesel to keep my lights on.
Actually. Actually – let us not forget that underneath and before the Ukraine scam, the NetZero scam, the pandemic scam and the WEF scam is the biggest scam of all.
Unpayable, unmanageable global DEBT of proportions more enormous than ever before. That is the root of much of the rest that of what is going on, one way or another.
I was wrong, though, about two things: firstly, political leaders’ willingness to immiserate their own electorates in pursuit of abstract principle (they are more willing than I thought); and secondly, the ability of electorates to join the dots (they are taking surprisingly long to work it out).
Yes, politicians are less empathetic and the population is more pathetic than you thought.
“We were always going to have to transition away from fossil fuels.” And we were doing that slowly and steadily via solar for homes. That transition was on it’s way toward local grids and storage via newer, sustainable batteries (not based on Li-ion). An EV cannot be the answer but hydrogen might be as technology develops. Trying to adapt quickly is a real issue
The gas crunch was totally not needed as Trump gave warning. There will be a severe price to pay because alternative supplies were not created. And the recent declines in China may lead to other shortages in other necessary supplies. Short term planning has doomed many.
That assumption (“We were always going to have to transition away from fossil fuels”) needs a lot more scrutiny than it’s been getting.
What is the evidence for it? Where can it be debated?
Debate has of course been completely suppressed for nearly two decades.
I have never understood how ‘The West’ ever thought ‘Russia’ would not seek to return the favour of the collapse of the Soviet Union by any means and in any time scale.
There is a very good reason for that. The Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight. Nothing to do with the West. We just stood back and waited.
“We were always going to have to transition away from fossil fuels.”
Proof that you are just as mad as the politicians.
It is of course no coincidence that Putin chose his moment to invade Ukraine when leaders were holding the feet of their publics to the fire over the wholly unrealistic and unachievable Net Zero agenda. He has long been a student of the follies of western idealism and has been vocal in his reflections. Anyone paying attention should not be surprised by the hardship coming.
He also funded Green groups particularly anti-frackers.
You appear to believe that Putin is some sort of genius. The facts say otherwise. The Ukraine “special operation” will one day be made into a comedy film like “The Death of Stalin”. And like that film, it will be banned in Russia. As the truth always is.
The Western “hardship” is nothing compared to the hardship and misery he has brought to his own country as a result of his Ukraine blunder. Russia was dying before he took over – but he’s definitely accelerating the process. As I’ve said elsewhere, the country is becoming Saudi Arabia with alcoholics – a country that has resources and nothing else – no value-added products or services that anyone wants to buy. Add in the declining population and the current massive brain drain of skilled people and you’re not looking at a winner.
Who said Putin was a genius?
Do note that Putin didn’t do it while Trump was in power – but once Biden was in power, he saw on opening and given the mess that Biden made of Afghanistan he was right.
We somehow have the leaders we deserve. We are simultaneously sinking in the sea of irrelevant sensationalism supplied by the big tech and are set adrift with people with no soul at the rudder. Daniel Shmachtenberger’s summary is insightful in that regard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XCXvzQdcug
I love Daniel Schmactenberger!
I might have misinterpreted, but what are you saying the West should have done instead? Doing nothing would have had far more dangerous consequences in the longer term, and morally would have been indigestible for the vast majority of people. Perhaps we should have sent our own militaries in to push Russia out? If we could without wiping out most or all of humanity, sure, however that is unrealistic at best.
Western leaders were naive and idiotic in regards Russia and the recent past, it doesn’t mean we should stand by and let Russia have its way with Ukraine.
I believe you have hit the nail on the head, but on the ironic part of the story. The Weatern leaders of the world responded to the demands that we “do something”, completely onlblivious as to the consequences. Rather than leading the world by explaining the consequences, they gave into the notion. It’s no different than Covid lockdowns, which were their answer to “do something”! When a leader caves in to the demands of the people, who know nothing of the unintended consequences of their demands, they no longer are leaders. The people want free stuff, paid for by others, and you wind up with $30 trillion in debt. Oops.
I seemed to be in the minority back then who was asking how we’re going to pay for this later? With missed medical appointments and the energy crisis this winter, Covid might be the first pandemic in history to kill more people indirectly than directly.
”Doing nothing would have had far more dangerous consequences in the longer term, and morally would have been indigestible for the vast majority of people.”
Doing nothing was the correct answer. Putin wanted to go in, kill or imprison the Oligarchs who not only plundered all the wealth of Ukraine, but were trying to get into EU and NATO.
He wanted to kill those corrupt leaders, put his puppets in charge, and otherwise leave the country and its people alone.
The one point of this war which is knowable is it is totally to protect the wealth and power of the world’s most corrupt oligarchs – the Ukrainian Oligarchs. That it destroys Ukraine and the West and Russia in the process is just a huge bonus for China.
Yes – Doing Nothing Was the Correct Answer!!!!!!!
So why did he murder all those people in Bucha? Were they oligarchs too?
If you believe the Russians did that, there’s really no hope for you or more importantly our country.
The West never ‘did nothing’. The West was behind every Colour revolution in the East, and the expansion of NATO East.
We in the West are in a serious crisis, and a large part the globe is going to cheer if we fail.
The vast windfarm off Yorkshire opened today aiming to fuel over a million houses. The photo showed them to be static, i.e. no wind! If green energy is no longer subsidised by electricity companies and thus those with windfarms don’t get this subsidy, won’t that mean that it won’t be financial beneficial to put up windmills?
They also don’t work if it is too windy. They built one as a show piece on a mountain above my city – and it almost never turns. It is really not very sensible technology.
In the name of saving the environment, we disfigure the environment with tonnes of cement and metals that can only produce intermittent, unreliable energy. How did we become so stupid…
We are already past the point of saving the governing class from their folly. It is just that most of us have not understood it yet. The imposition of lockdowns destroyed our ecosystem and showed enough of us that it also facilitated the transfer of the remaining wealth of the middle and working class to a small number of the so called elite This class used the power of the state to do it’s bidding and trashed our old freedoms we stupidly had taken for granted.The tory and labour parties proved to be of one mind and chose their side. Now the imposition of charges for energy are of such a scale that many businesses will not survive and should in reality lock their doors at once. The responsibility for this is entirely the fault of the political class. Net zero in a huge rush and emotional spasm without making sure basic affordable energy was safeguarded and then taking on Russia on terms that were insane for countries that relied on Russia for energy.
We are in a pre revolutionary state. The governing class has nowhere to go except into tyranny and oppression if it is to survive . No democracy can risk destroying the ability of the middle class to thrive and build futures. It is impossible. The tory election is a farce. If history is any guide somewhere a man or woman is pondering the future and working out how to take power and change the world for good or ill . That is what happens and has happened many times before.
Justin Trudeau would get a smack in the gob if he tried to put his arm round me.
It seems to me that the first large European country to break ranks and de-sanction Russia will make a killing. What are the Americans going to do, invade?
There are reports that China is already selling Russian oil to some European countries. See ‘Zero Hedge’ blog.
Yes, dealing with freezing and starving citizens is worse than dealing with demands to do something about Ukraine. Perhaps they can wrap themselves in all those blue and yellow flags this winter to stay warm.
It sounds a little bit like the Amerikanos are being dragged into the blame, here, unfairly, I think.
Europe has made this bed by rightly or wrongly making itself reliant on outside powers and their competing ideologies for its energy, food, and manufactured goods, and competing outside powers for its security.
If Hitler had not happened, this latest Putin adventure might have been more tolerated. Then what?
Yes, just because we elected a demented moron who will spend $350+ billion on fighting global warming is no reason you all need to go along.
The Net Zero stampede certainly isn’t helping.
But the reality is that the commodity-market model is deeply flawed. Any 5% rise in price-in-bulk sets off a twitchy, wingey anxiety reaction among all the bulk buyers (brokers) down the line. Everyone immediately jacks up the price-to-consumer by 20%.
The supplies that are already purchased and on hand are sold on at the new price; a straight windfall for those brokers.
The 20% was always incredibly inflated. In effect we’re all stuffing money into the pockets of some very wealthy men just to cover the extra anxiety they’re supposedly suffering. The poor wee things.
And when the “emergency” ends it will take forever for the price-to-consumer to get back to normal. If it ever does.
Nice work if you can get it!
And the point is you can get it too, but you don’t, because you (quite sanely) don’t want to risk your money in commodity futures.
There’s a price to pay for the value they bring in making the future more predictable for traders and consumers.
Unless of course, the ultimate plan is to eliminate the middle class altogether through taxation and inflation, which is what Marxism is really all about, and it would leave the elites with much more latitude to enact the remaining pieces of their one world government strategy. From a Canadian, if you want the likes of our idiot Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the ruling council of such a leviathan, it’s all going nicely to plan.
All that Putin has done is bring forward by a decade the consequence of pursuing a foolishly shoprtside path to net-zero (install wind and solar renewables backed up by gas). In that sense he has done us a favour as we now will make sure we have alternatives to fossil fuels before shutting down investment in them. Until the hugely challenging problem of seasonal storage is solved only nuclear power can fully replace fossil fuels as a source of clean energy. Hydro is already near maximum and biofuels are an environmental catastrophe. To bridge the gap we need to keep fracking so that we access Europes vast gas reserves.
Actually those are very good points – and something positive in the whole fiasco !
As far as the Ukraine war goes, discontent with the energy fiasco may change policies in Berlin or Paris, but is unlikely to do so elsewhere. The Scandinavian countries can get energy from Norway. Finland has already hardened itself. Poland has already largely switched from Russian gas to Norwegian and American imports and is increasing coal production. Spain and Italy will of course be less hard hit due to already having more diverse supplies and, of course, a milder climate. The UK is a bit of an outlier because it has adequate sources but refuses to use them. In any case, the Tories seem to be already shifting to excoriating Labour for eviscerating the UK’s nuclear plants. If Germany and France suffer a hard winter, it will be hard for many in the rest of the EU to keep from giggling, given the heavy handed way both have exercised hegemony over the EU. In fact, Poland will probably use its comparatively better position to squeeze for concessions over the EU “rule of law” sanctions if Germany wants any assistance. Meanwhile, since the frontline states in the East are very unlikely to soften their stance towards Moscow and the US is footing most of the bill in financial and military terms, I can’t see how a volte face in policy by Germany or France will make much difference.
The reason we are unprepared is because recent benign conditions have allowed politicians to pander to the electorate, redirecting funding that should have been spend on infrastructure. Mary talks about abstract principles, but a new nuclear power station is probably even more abstract from the point of view of a comfortable voter.
There is talk now of the gas price creating the “political space” to take action. Indeed, it has proven essential to make us wake up (partially) from our decadent, consumer-orientated slumber.
So be it. Thanks to Putin we can now see more clearly the benefit of renewable and nuclear generation, understand that energy stored at £120/MWh is reasonable value, get creative in the energy markets to decouple the electricity price from that of gas, and show solidarity with those most vulnerable to cost increases. A little adversity goes a long way.
The alternative would be to look the other way in Ukraine and hope that we can keep sucking at Russia’s teat for the foreseeable…
Mary wonders about why it is taking so long for electorates to joint the dots. That is, to take a position on the trade off between the personal economic impact and standing up for liberal principles. She sees support for the fighting wavering once the personal effects hit home.
I wonder how this equation splits between the different demographics. And between the sexes, (if at all). I would wager that in fact, the majority have already made their choice, rationalizing that dealing with a bully in the neighborhood now, but at arm’s length, is the safer and more economical option for the longer run.
Let’s revisit this in February, shall we?
For sure getting the ‘hang’ of the energy shortage and inflation will concentrate minds wonderfully. By Feb, the basis for a NATO supported ceasefire/settlement (short of what the Ukrainians are saying currently) may be more apparent. In which case there will be a mandate for the NATO countries to impose a compromise, if their respective electorates have had enough of the pain.
On the basis that even an ill wind such as this has upside, the idiocy of net-zero, without recourse to nuclear energy will be buried.
Has the tweet had a lot of replies deleted? Over 13,000 likes but only 8 replies all of which are supportive? Where is all this excitement over the Ukrainian flag?
Funny there was just an article on ‘Green Dating’ !
Arguably Russia’s naked aggression should have met with the same response as Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939. Seen in that light, a multiplier on energy bills is a very small price to pay for most Europeans.
NB I’m not actually advocating that level of response. What I am saying is that for all that bad energy decisions e.g. on nuclear have made it much worse than it should have been, it’s not unreasonable for the people of all democracies to make sacrifices if it helps Ukraine.
“it’s not unreasonable for the people of all democracies to make sacrifices if it helps Ukraine.”
Thats a nice line for the left to trot out, or any government for that matter. It places the burden of guilt elsewhere. The situation of Ukraine may have contributed to Europe’s dark winter, but these problems also exist in countries unrelated. And anyway, even if it is the Russia/Ukraine war, our leaders failed to think ahead or prepare for what eventuated.
That photo is very telling: they look like a bunch of guys from the office out for a lads night on the town.
Who benefitted from the declaration of war against Germany in September 1939 exactly?
It’s time to re-examine the shibboleths of the Boomer Truth Regime.
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