A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don’t Blame the Greens.
But the economy snapped back — thanks to government stimulus programs — far faster than anticipated. And so, too, did demand for energy. But this industry does not ramp up quickly. So, there was not enough natural gas, let alone renewables, to fill in the gap.
America has enough oil and natural gas to meet its own needs for now, but its ability to export liquefied natural gas to help others is limited, especially when every utility in Europe and Asia is trying to meet newly minted environmental, social and governance standards for clean energy and therefore is desperate to import natural gas.
When every country jumps in at once, the price goes crazy. Or the lights go out.
Don’t get me wrong. I am as green as ever. But I’m not a nice green. I am a mean green. Achieving the scale of clean energy that we need requires not only wind, solar and hydro, but also a carbon tax in every major industrial economy, nuclear power and natural gas as a bridge. If you oppose all those, you’re not serious about what scientists tell us needs to be done right now — put in place enough noncarbon-emitting fuels to manage the destructive aspects of climate change that have become unavoidable, so we can avoid those that would be unmanageable.
Sadly, in an overreaction to the Fukushima nuclear accident, Germany decided in 2011 to phase out all of its nuclear power by 2022 — nuclear power stations that in the year 2000 generated 29.5 percent of Germany’s power generation mix. All of that has to be replaced by wind, solar, hydro and natural gas, and there is just not enough now.
As Bill Gates points out in his smart book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” the only way to reach our climate targets is to shift production of all the big heavy industries, like steel, cement and automobiles, as well as how we heat our homes and power our cars, to electricity generated from clean energy. Safe and affordable nuclear power has to be part of our mix because, Gates argues, “it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day.”
Meanwhile, though, this energy crisis is coinciding with the stalemate in the talks between the U.S. and Iran about restoring the nuclear deal that Donald Trump recklessly tore up in 2018 — without any alternative plan to curb Iran’s nuclear program. To pressure us, Iran has resumed enriching uranium to levels such that U.S. officials now believe it could be only a few months, or less, away from having enough fissile material for a single bomb.
It would take much longer for Iran to build a warhead and delivery system, but some U.S. officials believe that Iran just wants to make itself a threshold nuclear power, like Japan, where it would stay just a few turns of the screw away from actually having a bomb. This would give it all the deterrence it needs. Both Israel and America have vowed not to let Iran get that close to the doorstep of a nuclear weapon. Alas, we are entering crunchtime.