Growing up in lefty and politically correct Norway I absorbed enviromentalist attitudes from a young age. As a youngster I won a book from a magazine crossword competition. The book was targeted at children and contained what I would describe today as green propaganda. My fellow Norwegians and I it seemed shared a deep respect for nature. We therefore obviously frowned upon the “big evil” polluting corporations. I enjoyed exploring nature as a child, especially the nearby forests close to my childhood home. Growing up in a political bubble, I didn’t question my beliefs until I approached adulthood. With life experience and exposure to the wide world I encountered different political arguments regarding the environment, energy use and energy production. Norway is a significant oil exporting country. It is a national hypocricy that we like to pat ourselves on our backs as “green” while at the same time shipping boatloads of fossil fuels abroad.
Becoming an adult I gained a newfound appreciation for the complexities of political topics. Enviromentalism, especially the debate over continued oil extraction is closel linked to social policy. Norway cannot continue to be a welfare state without the income from fossil fuel exploitation. The same people that portray themselves as greenies wanting to gut the oil industry typically want to expand the walfare state, or at the least avoid cutbacks. I and others ask “how?”. Contrary to popular belief money does not grow on trees. Energy production is a good thing. Where would we be without energy? I often ponder how long I could survive without the things I’ve grown dependent upon from modern society. Walking through forests this line of thinking frequently pops up. The truth is that I would die within a very short timespan. I would not be able to aquire fresh drinkable water (no clean streams nearby) and there are not enough edible berries and roots to satisfy my hunger. Any animals that I could hope to enjoy over a bonfire would run away. I’m enormously thankful to our energy dependent modern society. It is simply great. I challenge radical enviromentalists to live out my thought experiment. They would be in for a rude awakening to say the least.
Having established the benefits of energy one might argue for renewables as opposed to non-renewables. Norway for instance gets the vast majority of its electricity from hydroelectric dams. Isn’t that a start? Not so fast I say. Non-renewables offer many key advantages compared to the “green” alternatives. You press a button and you get energy, very simple and reliable. Using windpower, what if the wind isn’t blowing? (Not to mention that windmills are sadistic deathtraps for birds). What if your hydroelectric dam is suffering from a shortage of rain?. Clouds hamper solar panels. The undeniable truth is that as long as we don’t have enormous batteries that can store the energy output from renewables, their widespread adoption is folly. Germany to their misfortune has had to learn this lesson the hard way. I wish that the public debate would be reframed from renewable and nonrenewable to dependent and non-dependent energy.
Obviously there are problems with non-renewables that I don’t intend to shove under the rug. Coal causes significant air pollution. Oil and gas are subject to the risk of serious accidents. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy and the Exxon Valdez spill are examples. We all remember Chernobyl and Fukushima. But what has all this to do with war? A term coined in the political debate in the United States “energy independence” is useful for our purposes. A country can either A: produce enough energy for its own domestic comsumption or B: rely on energy imports from other countries.
Countries doing “A” don’t have any energy related geopolitical reasons for meddling in the affairs of other countries. Several wars in the Middle East over access to oil are a prime case study here. Lets use the United States as a case for this discussion. Why does the United States meddle in the internal political affairs of the Middle East. Why involve yourself in such a messy and unpleasant place? I put a large chunk of the blame on enviromentalism and enviromentalists. The United States is rich in coal, gas and oil reserves. Unfortunately the extraction of these precious resources get the enviroemtalists panties in a twist. Images of oil soakes pellicans, documentaries about “Fracking” and long standing political opposition to coal have dominated the debate in the US. This unfortunately leads to war and dead and maimed men, women and children in the Middle East. Energy is critically important for national security, the military, a “well oiled” economy and all the different sectors of modern society. The price is considered worth being paid.
In my mind the tradeoff is simple. I would gladly pay for the lives of human beings overseas at the cost of a few birds in the west. War is nasty, tragic and expensive. It should also be uneccesary. Enviromentalists should be confronted with the consequences of their prefered policies. Russia is holding many European countries “by the balls”, due to their dependency on gas from Russian pipelines. Another example is the many countries rattling sabres over the rich oil deposits in the South China Sea.
I cannot recommend “Merchants of Despair” highly enough. It should be required reading in High Schools across the world. It is definitely one of my top recommendations for people wanting to gain insight into the history of modern enviromentalism. (Spoiler alert: It is a nasty one)