By “pixie dust” I mean that a lot of environmentalists make it sound like there will be no chaos from fossil fuel use to renewal energy systems and that is not true. Dislodging fossil fuel will result in job loses, factories closing and possibly the lack of transportation (for example) for chunks of the population. Especially those not preparing for it now. Lives will be lost. This is the fault of capitalism but it is what we have. Also the reverse is true, as demand for clean energy grows, whole resources will be created from scratch (rare earths for instance). The earth will be scarred, employment will be created with much wrenching and tearing. Lives will be lost. Capitalism will prevail. Just think of what happened when oil and gas took over and from the Luddites. This is a Really Long article about all of that and it only scratches the surface.
It is not hard to understand why people dream of a future defined by clean energy. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and as extreme weather events become more frequent and harmful, the current efforts to move beyond fossil fuels appear woefully inadequate. Adding to the frustration, the geopolitics of oil and gas are alive and well—and as fraught as ever. Europe is in the throes of a full-fledged energy crisis, with staggering electricity prices forcing businesses across the continent to shutter and energy firms to declare bankruptcy, positioning Russian President Vladimir Putin to take advantage of his neighbors’ struggles by leveraging his country’s natural gas reserves. In September, blackouts reportedly led Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to instruct his country’s state-owned energy companies to secure supplies for winter at any cost. And as oil prices surge above $80 per barrel, the United States and other energy-hungry countries are pleading with major producers, including Saudi Arabia, to ramp up their output, giving Riyadh more clout in a newly tense relationship and suggesting the limits of Washington’s energy “independence.”
Proponents of clean energy hope (and sometimes promise) that in addition to mitigating climate change, the energy transition will help make tensions over energy resources a thing of the past. It is true that clean energy will transform geopolitics—just not necessarily in the ways many of its champions expect. The transition will reconfigure many elements of international politics that have shaped the global system since at least World War II, significantly affecting the sources of national power, the process of globalization, relations among the great powers, and the ongoing economic convergence of developed countries and developing ones. The process will be messy at best. And far from fostering comity and cooperation, it will likely produce new forms of competition and confrontation long before a new, more copacetic geopolitics takes shape.
Talk of a smooth transition to clean energy is fanciful: there is no way that the world can avoid major upheavals as it remakes the entire energy system, which is the lifeblood of the global economy and underpins the geopolitical order. Moreover, the conventional wisdom about who will gain and who will lose is frequently off base.
Go there and reeeeaaad. More next week.