Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Putin’s Green Fifth Column

German environmentalists have made the country dependent on Russian energy, a weakness with geopolitical implications we are seeing now.

It is now apparent that unless further actions are taken to deter him, Vladimir Putin intends to proceed with his plan to mount a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Yet any effective military or economic deterrent is being undermined by Germany, which has refused to agree to any meaningful threat of sanctions. Indeed, Germany has gone so far as to attempt to block other NATO nations from sending Ukraine any arms to defend itself. According to the Germans, Putin needs to be free to slaughter and subjugate Ukrainians, because otherwise he might cut off Germany’s natural-gas supplies.

In fact, Germany’s dependence on Russia for its natural gas is an entirely self-inflicted weakness.

Let’s compare the sources of German and French electricity.

A number of important points stand out from this data. In the first place, note that the Germans get far more energy from coal than from natural gas Note also that while Germany now only gets 4 GW of power from nuclear energy it previously obtained 22 GW of nuclear power, nearly twice the total amount it gets from all gas, not just the 40 percent that comes from Russia. Finally note that Germany’s “green” power has resulted in 541 gms of CO2 emission per kWh. This is six times the 95 gm/kWh of nuclear-powered France.

In short, Germany’s dependence on Russian gas is entirely an artifact of Germany’s decision to shut down its nuclear-power plants. This dependence is not only driving Germany to sabotage any effort to deter Russian military expansionism, it is also funding the Russian war effort itself.

Russia’s foreign gas sales totaled $54 billion last year, while its defense budget was $62 billion. Through their gas purchases, the Germans are literally financing Russia’s war on Ukraine.

There is no limiting principle to this dependency. While Ukraine is not a member of NATO, the German argument for passivity in the face of Russian aggression would hold if Russia attacked the Baltic states or Poland as well. Sorry we can’t help you, dear Poles. Germany needs Russian gas.

Not only that, but like a drug addict seeking to induce his friends to join him in enslavement to his pusher, they are trying to increase Russian leverage over all of Europe by pushing the EU to replace nuclear power with natural gas on a continent-wide basis. Thus, in the EU’s deliberations over its energy “taxonomy” they are arguing that natural gas should be considered carbon-free, but that nuclear power should not.

In making this case, the Germans are maintaining a position that is precisely the opposite of what all know to be physical reality. Not only that, but the Green movement, which effectively dominates Germany’s political ideas, has had a continent-wide campaign — with vocal Russian backing — to prevent Europe from becoming independent in natural gas by fracking its abundant shale resources

The Greens have also acted to block the establishment of liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals that would allow the importation of LNG from the Unites States or the Mideast. So the Germans and their Green international allies are not really in favor of natural gas. They are just in favor of Russian natural gas.

In the United States the Green movement operates primarily through the Democratic Party. While they do not completely control the Biden administration, they have a strong voice in it. Accordingly, to appease his Green supporters, President Biden has acted to sabotage American oil and gas production while calling on OPEC nations to increase their output, lest prices rise too high.

These actions do not align with the claim of the Green movement that it is simply trying to protect the global environment. Oil and gas produced in Russia and OPEC nations do not merely create the same amount of pollution as the oil and gas produced in the West, they create considerably more. This is because Russia and OPEC countries have much weaker environmental enforcement than Western countries. Furthermore, many of them flare enormous amounts of natural gas associated with oil production.

In contrast, because the United States has a well-developed pipeline system that can bring associated gas to market, only a small fraction of our gas is flared. Furthermore, the claim of Green advocates in Germany that they must close their nuclear-power plants because of fears that they might experience a domestic Fukushima is simply absurd. Germany has never, and can never, be swept by tsunamis. As for other kinds of accidents, the record is clear. Close to a thousand pressurized water reactors have been operating worldwide on land and sea since 1954, and not one of them has ever harmed a single member of the public. No other energy source has a safety record remotely as good.

The positions of the Green movement make no sense whatsoever from the point of view of their alleged goals of reducing pollution, carbon emissions, and risks to public health. They make perfect sense, however, if viewed as a central effort in support of Putin’s war on the West.

Nuclear power and fracking are essential to the defense of the West. In fighting to shut them down, the Greens are serving as Putin’s fifth column


As Biden doubles down on his War on Energy, prices keep shooting up

Think energy costs are high now? Just wait: President Joe Biden is doubling down on his War on Energy, and that’s sure to keep prices zooming up, up and . . . up.

Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency is writing new rules that will raise costs for fossil-fuel-based power plants. And, as Kenneth R. Timmerman noted in The Post last week, Team Biden has also moved to kill the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline, which would’ve brought Israeli and Cypriot natural gas to gas-starved Europe, helping ease shortages there.

The prez is also reviving Obama-era loan guarantees for “clean energy” producers, starting with $1 billion in backing for a Nebraska company that will make “clean” hydrogen.

That guarantee could cost taxpayers; think Solyndra, the solar-panel company Team Obama aided to the tune of $500 million before it went belly-up — only with the stakes now twice as high. Favoring such companies also puts traditional energy producers at a competitive disadvantage.

Meanwhile, a Russian invasion of Ukraine would worsen European energy shortages; Russia provides 30% to 40% of Europe’s oil, gas and coal. Team Biden is working on a plan to get global producers to increase output and divert gas shipments just in case, but many are already near maximum. Brace for worldwide prices to skyrocket even more.

Americans are already paying about $3.33 a gallon for gas at the pump, nearly 40% percent more than a year ago. US benchmark crude oil just hit a seven-year high, $87 a barrel. Home heating fuel costs are up more than 40%.

High gas-pump prices are particularly painful for lower-income workers who can’t work from home and must commute. But rising energy costs also fuel higher price tags for other goods and services — food, clothing, other manufactured products, transportation. Last month’s Consumer Price Index pegged overall inflation at 7%, the highest in 40 years. That, too, hits the poor hardest.

Biden’s green agenda clearly deserves blame for pushing up energy prices: He killed the Keystone XL pipeline, threatened to shutter another critical conduit between Canada and Michigan, halted oil and gas leases on federal lands and is discouraging production and investment by vowing an ever-greater crackdown on fossil fuels.

Think about it: Though oil prices were much higher in 2021 than in 2018, US shale producers’ capital investments were down by about a third last year; production fell from 2020, which was already down from 2019. And fewer supplies mean, yep . . . higher prices.

Indeed, the extremists driving Biden policy want higher energy prices — to make renewables seem more competitive.

The green agenda is all about pain and sacrifice in the name of fighting climate change. Yet with countries like China and India pumping out massive and growing amounts of CO2 each year, Biden’s measures can barely dent the rise in global emissions — but they’re doing a great job of inflicting pain.


Larry Fink of BlackRock and His Global Crusade to Advance Green agenda

Larry Fink has emerged as the point man for environmental, social, and corporate governance capitalism, broadly known as ESG. As chief executive officer of BlackRock, which holds a $10 trillion global portfolio, Fink leverages this immense power to compel companies that BlackRock invests in to comply with an aggressive climate change and diversity agenda in their operations.

Fink’s BlackRock is committed to a net-zero carbon strategy, and seeks global conformity across its clients on sustainability reporting measures, i.e., they must prove that their companies are seeking this goal.

His annual letter to CEOs is closely read, and, it would seem, followed. In 2020, he stated that BlackRock “will be increasingly disposed to vote against management and board directors when companies are not making sufficient progress on sustainability-related disclosures and the business practices and plans underlying them.”

His 2021 letter noted the valiant protests for racial justice in 2020. And it concluded that companies must meet the demands of protesters: “We ask that your disclosures on talent strategy fully reflect your long-term plans to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, as appropriate by region.”

All of this, we are told, leads to more profitable companies. For those corporate doubting Thomases, they too must learn to become profitable by following a detailed ESG disclosure regimen. But something does not quite sum here.

Last year, BlackRock sided with “Engine No. 1,” an activist investment fund that replaced directors on ExxonMobil with three of its selections because of a belief that the corporation was not seriously confronting the challenges of climate change in its business strategy. The new directors then attempted to compel the company to divest oil and gas fields in Mozambique and Vietnam. The gaping need is to look for more environmentally sustainable investments in green energy, they argued.

As a slow-rolling energy crisis and its increase in demand for conventional energy emerged in 2021 and 2022, that view is a bit precious.

From where does Fink’s breathless enthusiasm come? And why does it find such a receptive, pliable audience? To take climate change, most of America’s, and presumably the world’s, progress in decreasing its carbon footprint will come through technological growth and the impacts this growth will have on numerous industries. Companies will find themselves more productive while using less energy.

Coerced investments in sustainable energy technologies, whose markets are heavily created by state intervention, will likely prove negligible in lowering carbon emissions by comparison.

To gain understanding of Fink’s actions, we need to go deeper into the spiritual awakening in identity politics that could reshape virtually every institution in America and the West. In “American Awakening,” Joshua Mitchell argues that identity politics is a religious revival seeking salvation by replacing the substance of justice with the supplement of mercy.

Justice is the arduous task of giving to each person what is due to them. Our voluntary institutions in work, politics, and civic associations are predicated on us attempting and generally getting this virtue right. Mercy, Mitchell observes, is the supplement when we don’t. We ask and hope to be granted forgiveness when we fail our neighbor.

Mitchell further observes that we live in two worlds, two economies, the visible and invisible. Both are necessary to the human person.

The visible, tangible economy concerns profit and loss, debt and credit. These accounts must be measured and settled if the work of a modern economy is to go forward. The invisible economy is also part of our existence. Here, we deal with perennial notions of sin, guilt, forgiveness, and mercy.

Accounts in the invisible economy frequently can’t settle. Sins are too great; forgiveness is not sought; and the guilty go unpunished. Biblical religion has provided us the means to understand the enormity of these unmet accounts, and to help us live under their weight. But they remain different worlds, separate economies that we live in.

Identity politics seeks nothing less than to input the invisible economy’s ledger of sin and guilt into the visible economy of profit and loss, debt and credit. But it redesigns the invisible economy by its conception of sin and guilt. There is no original sin, only an original sinner, the heterosexual white male. And there are victims, holy innocents.

The heterosexual white male’s guilt cannot be atoned, he must endlessly bleed and attempt to show his innocence. Mitchell notes this is the most he can do. On him hangs the sins of colonialism, slavery, racism, sexism, bigotry against sexual minorities, and the rank injustice of the capitalist economy.

These sins committed by the transgressor against the innocent are unforgiveable. And this also means that our inheritance, defined and made by the white heterosexual male, is poison and must be replaced. There are only two terms: sinner and innocent.

Thus, identity politics replaces the liberal politics of deliberation, compromise, and building institutions with others and proclaims an illiberal politics that supplants our irredeemable inheritance.

And identity politics must be illiberal politics because it seeks the mercy of the invisible economy in the visible economy, and that latter economy cannot pay what is without cost. As Mitchell observes, if you eliminate the visible economy, you also eliminate justice.

But mercy needs justice. Mercy without justice becomes tyranny. Does Mitchell not give us the needed leverage to understand not only what amounts to the corporatist hijinks of Fink, but the unpayable debts sought by today’s Democratic Party, whose motivations and thought increasingly reflect the mindset of identity politics?

If the visible economy of the capitalist world is bound up with patriarchal white male sin and must be replaced with the mercy of the invisible economy as understood by identitarians, then, Mitchell notes, we can understand “the impossibly expensive Green New Deal and the demand that there be free health insurance, or free college tuition, or socialism—which for the upcoming generation is a proxy, really, for the negation of the ‘capitalist’ world of payment.” And this “produces a citizen who demands everything and thinks he deserves everything.”

Might we also understand Fink’s incessant push to remake global capitalism into a crusade for environmental atonement and diversity and racial equity?

When identity politics approaches the environment, Mitchell reasons, it finds nature poisoned, another holy innocent besmirched by the white man’s economy. Accordingly, “the stain of ‘anthropogenic climate change’ must be wiped away, either by dismantling the world white, heterosexual men have built with ‘unclean’ energy or by sustaining that world only with ‘clean,’ green energy.”

Fink’s charge to the “international community” of transnational institutions, corporations, and governments to plan comprehensively for a capitalist net-zero carbon economy by 2050 becomes similarly rational once we grasp the identity politics component that drives it.

Fink proclaims not his virtue; he proclaims his innocence. As a white male capitalist, he is inherently tied to the “unclean” substance—carbon dioxide—and the sins it commits on holy nature. Can it be redeemed under a new order dictated by the invisible economy of identity politics?

Fink’s calling is to make it so. So limitless are the debts of this economy that even BlackRock must acknowledge the inability of the visible economy to settle the account. BlackRock remains invested in unclean companies. And the protesters in front of BlackRock’s offices accusing them of hypocrisy and backsliding remind them of it. In the old religion, the path to hell was easy, the road to heaven was hard. Something of that remains.

ESG requirements on publicly traded companies are expensive and can lead to competitive disadvantages. Many companies will refuse them or accept them and then shirk. To deal with these sinners will require government orders, and the Securities and Exchange Commission now attempts to fill the void with proposed rules to mandate disclosure about sustainable business models and diversity metrics on their boards and employees.

Even here, BlackRock and others implore the SEC to go beyond its public company statutory mandate by similarly mandating private companies to comply with ESG disclosure requirements.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, BlackRock’s public comment to the proposed SEC rule stated, “We encourage the SEC to explore its existing regulatory authority to mandate climate-related disclosures with respect to large private market issuers” in order “to avoid regulatory arbitrage.” No stone will be left unturned.

What to make, then, of BlackRock’s extensive operations in China, including being invited by the Chinese Communist Party to be the first foreign company to sell mutual fund investments to Chinese investors? BlackRock has poured its clients’ money into Chinese investments.

Of course, BlackRock also has ownership stakes in Chinese companies iFlytek and Hikvision, the former develops AI and voice recognition software while Hikvision manufactures surveillance equipment. Both companies were blacklisted by the United States government for participating in human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. BlackRock is invested in both and increased its holdings in Hikvision after the blacklisting.

Certainly, being a favored company like BlackRock in China’s strong-man economy guarantees a favorable return on investment. But BlackRock still must account for its actions in China under the standards of identity politics. The classic refrain of needing to be inside the system to change it surely will be voiced. But, ultimately, within the communion of holy innocents, American capitalism, led by the innocence-seeking hands of Fink, must become China’s carbon offset.

The invisible economy is a vengeful paymaster.


Green-tinged West shoots itself in the foot on energy

The absurdity of the West’s position in its confrontation with Russia over Moscow’s aggression towards Ukraine lies in this wretched equation.

If Russia invades Ukraine the only response threatened by the West – led by US President Joe Biden – is crippling sanctions. Chief among those sanctions must be stopping Russia earning the money to fund its army through its energy exports. Yet Russia provides a third of Europe’s gas, and half of Germany’s gas imports.

But Germany, in thrall to the excesses of Green enthusiasm, is abolishing not only its coal-fired energy but also its nuclear energy as well, making it hugely dependent on gas. Fracking is effectively banned in Britain, which is also moving to a ban on other gas exploration. Ditto other west European nations.

The greening democratic West is crippling its own energy production while in reality still relying overwhelmingly on fossil fuels. This has left much energy production, and therefore huge strategic leverage, to dictatorships which couldn’t care less about green issues, namely Russia, China and the regressive regimes of the Middle East.

The US-led Western alliance must deal with Russia AND China simultaneously, which is what the forthcoming Quad nations (US, Australia, India, Japan) foreign ministers meeting in Melbourne is really all about.

The Biden administration is rightly signalling, through the Melbourne Quad meeting, that while it is dealing with Russian aggression against Ukraine, it is not taking its eye off China.

This is a big assignment and the US needs all the help its allies can provide. US allies ought to be vastly more capable militarily, and they ought to be producing much more energy.

Russia is the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas and one of the biggest exporters of oil. Any conflict involving Russia will send commodity prices soaring.

Those European greens who think Australia’s climate policies are too permissive – especially, say, our natural gas production – may soon find their national governments paying to import Australian gas to keep European lights on.

They should be very glad there are still some Western-aligned, democratic, fossil fuel energy producers – especially Australia, Canada, the US and India.

The Biden administration itself is working through the agonising paradox of trying to restrict fossil fuel production domestically, while still relying on it fundamentally, and finding all its allies, including the progressive green Europeans, also rely on it.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


No comments: