Dances with Unicorns.
This is another guest article by one of our regular commenters, Graeme No3. We homo sapiens are a tropical species but for the majority of our estimated 200,000 year existence, we’ve lived on an Earth locked in ice ages, which have always had devastating effects on us. Geologically speaking, we’re still in one but fortunately as of about 10.000 years ago we’re currently enjoying what’s called an interglacial, which in technical terms means a brief interlude when there’s an uptick in global temperatures during an ice age.
Believe it or not, but there have been millions and millions of years in the geological history of the Earth when there was little or no ice around. Life thrived in those intervals. It’s only in ice ages that life around the globe contracts and shrivels.
There is a growing body of opinion that we might be moving out of our interglacial and back into a colder world, perhaps a very much colder one. That’s happened many times before and there’s absolutely nothing to prevent it happening again. Should that turn out to be the case, this article speculates on our total energy unpreparedness for that scenario and the possible geopolitical ramifications of such a global change.
It is a truth rarely acknowledged that a young person with good intentions but no experience will believe in renewable energy. When ignorance thinks it bliss, folly is let run wild.
Among the expensively educated who have passed from school to university and remain there, faith in ‘carbon free’ electricity is paramount. Among the Chattering Classes the same wishful belief, it cannot be called thinking, is almost universal, and reflected in the output from their favorite media provider, paid for by others. Among these self congratulating circles any thought of electricity beyond the nearest switch is of a sort of nebulous big pond of electricity which is always available. It can be replenished from any source at any time, so moving to renewables is considered easy, and resistance has sinister motives. Murmuring base load is enough to get you classified as an expert.
No one appears to know about the electricity grid on which modern life is based. There is no big pond that can be filled or emptied at leisure, it is all split second timing. Introducing unpredictable and variable generation into this environment is a consequence of hysteria based on an unproven scare campaign. Yet these hysterics daydream of a supply based entirely on “renewables”. Verily, I say unto you “Unicorns live!”
Try to imagine life without a continuous supply of electricity; it is not called power for nothing. Power to heat or cool your living space, power for the appliances that handle so many mundane living tasks, power to communicate and to entertain around the globe. No electricity means no refrigerator, no microwave, no TV, no washing machine or dryer. There will be no computer and no telephone; don’t think that because you carry it with you that it will work, as the radios linking the cellular network will need electricity.
Cooling needs electricity, unless you’ve hired a punkawalla. You may think that heating can be replaced by gas, liquid or solid fuels but have a close look at your system; is that an electric fan? an electric circulating pump? And what is the ignition source for your fire or furnace? Is the timing mechanism dependent on signals through the mains connection? Ask yourself, how would you fare in the depths of winter if there was no electricity for 11 days?
And while you’re in a despondent and fearful mood, those of you with children of appropriate age may as well have a talk to them about The Facts of Life. Don’t mention sex; thanks to the internet and those sites you think they don’t know about, they will have explicit, if warped, knowledge.
No, I refer to the real facts, budgets, bills and debts which they will need to know about in the future. Explain that their mobile phone or pad needs electricity to operate the computers that route the signals AND send you the bill. Explain that debts have to be paid and that unicorns do not leave big bags of money at the bottom of the garden, even for plausible politicians. That generous credit means interest has to be paid as well as the amount borrowed, and borrowing to pay the interest only hastens bankruptcy.
Then comes the hard part. Point out that renewable energy is intermittent and expensive, and replacing 20% of cheap electricity with something costing 4 times as much pushes the whole price up, and ordinary consumer has to pay for that. About this time their eyes will glaze over and they cannot take in any more. They probably won’t believe you but you have done your duty as a parent. Take a break and a well deserved stiff drink. Let them exchange pitying glances; in years to come they may realize that you did know something.
They will need this advice in the near future for the climate is changing. No, the IPCC hasn’t finally got a prediction right! Forget ‘Climate Science’, within 5 years it will have been consigned to the rubbish bin. No, this is the real science. In the last 1,000 years the sun has gone quiet 5 times, and each time the temperature has dropped, agriculture has suffered, and a large portion of the population has died from cold, starvation, plagues or wars.
Don’t look at the pious chants of the eco-loonies as they recite the dogma of Global Warming, or whatever they call it this month, look at the actions of those who know. China has a long history and has been through many changes in the climate. They have never agreed to sign up with the IPCC to destroy their economy. Lately they have started buying up resources and agricultural land and produce in Australasia, Africa and South America.
The industrious ants are filling their larder, while Europe and the USA dance like demented grasshoppers. Russia is building nuclear powered ice breakers and casting eyes on the Ukraine – “the breadbasket of Europe”. They’ve plenty of oil and gas for those who can afford it, and vast pipelines are planned to China. Europe needs those fuels too, but will they be able to afford them when the price goes up again? And what will be Putin’s price?
Countries will need flexibility, financial reserves, political strength and credibility to adapt, yet this is what Europe lacks. For the past 25 years it has embarked on a stupid and destructive policy based on a nebulous threat. In the name of reducing emissions they have wasted hundreds of billions sending their industries abroad while spending even more on social welfare for those unemployed and without a future. And the World’s emissions have soared.
A captive breeding program for unicorns would have achieved as much, been as logical and a good deal cheaper.
California has been following the same road as Europe. Overspending by borrowing, then borrowing to pay the interest on the borrowing. Under stress expect it to declare bankruptcy, but it won’t. It will just be unable to re-pay its debts with anything other that weasel words. The result will be the same; a world-wide financial crisis that will end the US dollar’s time as the reserve currency. That will be bad news for the USA, but otherwise they will suffer less than most, although agriculture will have to move south.
There will be no more orange groves in Florida, but a lot more people fleeing the cold north. The rising population of Texas along with the antagonism against anything or anyone tarred with the “Washington” tag, by the declining populations of the western states may lead the country being split by a Union of the Western States, leaving California and the Eastern states divided. It is unlikely that Mexico will seek to reclaim Los Angeles, because that would mean inheriting the mess.
In North Africa and the Middle East not one country is self-sufficient in food, especially wheat. When the World was warmer in Roman times, Egypt and Libya were the granary of Rome. When times turned cooler and the rain bands shift south, the desert expanded. The Canadian wheat crop will be much reduced, even non-existent, during these cold years, and reduced in many other places, so the price will rise beyond the point that the populace will remain docile. They won’t be able to supply more than a fraction of their population, and their inflexible social order guarantees violent troubles. Only Turkey and Israel have the modernity and flexibility to survive the crisis.
Europe, too, is doomed. Europe will collapse in on itself. The money, the flexibility to ride out the crisis has been thrown away on a false assumption. The chattering classes may indeed not notice any problems for a while, then pass them off as passing irritations and call for “business as usual.” But “this time it’s different” we will be told. “World wide trade will ensure a flow of food” will be the assurance, so the supply won’t be inadequate. “Wars are a thing of the past”, will be the claim of fools. “Things aren’t that bad” and “It will all be over by Christmas” will be as true as they were the last time they were used.
The EU will go, and a vast crowd of bureaucrats will gain first hand knowledge of the difficulties of getting employed in a shrinking economy. Their supporters, the Green parties, will be in disarray by their widespread rejection and lacking influence, indeed outlawed in some countries. Nor will they be helped by the fissioning of the various states. Expect Italy to split into north and south; with South Italy overwhelmed with refugees from North Africa (and who can blame them) but law and order broken down. Lombardy will have some of the toughest borders in Europe to deter any thinking of moving north.
The takeover by Nazi-like Golden Dawn in Greece, where they invented xenophobia, will make climate refugees even more desperate to get into what was Spain. The civil wars in there would make it uninviting, with the Basque, Catalans, Galicians and the southern Union (Andalusia and Murcia) all off anybody’s holiday list. France is their only hope, and may their God help them with the mood that the National Front will be in then. A few survivors may be allowed to remain to do the menial, the dirty and the dangerous jobs.
There will be a rising tide of nationalism in Germany, which will frighten its neighbours. The Flemings (Belgium having split under the pressure) will joined with Holland and Denmark (and possibly Norway) in a self-protection league. In the east, Poland and the Baltic states will be casting nervous glances at Russia also, and talking with Finns and the Czechs about history repeating itself.
Turkey will looks very dicey once Israel supplies it with nuclear weapons, as the renewed alliance looks east towards an unstable and threatening Iran. They will hope that the internal troubles there will cause Iran to disintegrate before the clergy starts a war.
Russia will have a second time of troubles, but there their foresight and the advantages of modern technology will operate in their favour. With plentiful oil and gas supplies they will be able to buy extra food. Life may be tough, but there will be hope and they will draw in on themselves to survive. They certainly won’t want to have anything to do with the Balkans and the troubles there. Panslavia is one thing, Pansuicide is another.
China will struggle along, having foreseen the coming crisis. Enough food can be imported because of their huge financial reserves. Indeed dribbling aid and the reduced american presence will lure more asian countries into the chinese block. That said, the tropical far east will be less affected. The Chinese will patiently gain their revenge as they let Japan slowly die.
India will not threaten China. The continued failure of the monsoon will destroy the population and any resemblance of unity. Pakistan will disappear into murderous chaos, which won’t be confined to its original borders. In times of troubles politicians are too prone to think that slaughtering some of their neighbours will act as a pressure relief.
Australia will find it drier north, a help in deterring boat people. A few hundred miles of desert are an effective barrier to those trying walk to a better life uninvited, particularly if well stocked with crocodiles in the waterholes and with venomous snakes lurking in ambush. A thriving agriculture and a much bigger population will be in the well watered south. With a record crop of wheat and record prices, the economy is able to support the many lucky or prescient recent immigrants.
NZ will be little changed and continue to beat the Aussies at rugby, and occasionally at cricket.
And what of the United Kingdom? Either united or re-united as Scotland won’t long survive on its own in the cold hard world. The upper classes still wonder what has changed. They now take their holidays in the West Indies, where it is still warm, if expensive now that the pound is worth so little. Still, the islands are exciting, if overcrowded, thanks to all those lucky enough to have had grandparents from the West Indies so they could emigrate back there.
The middle classes will be complaining about the cost of everything going up, since the pound lost so much value. The last winter, they moan, was the worst ever. They will envy the luck of their former neighbours who got into Australia before it closed its borders.
The poor will be sullen and despairing. Their life will be grim indeed after the slashing of welfare payments by the Grand Coalition (Cons. & Labour) following the last currency crisis. Tens of thousands will die of cold each winter. The poor never get the best houses. They rarely bother to vote, and increasingly against the coalition government. Surprisingly there may be an upturn in religion, with evangelical churches gaining huge attendances. Some might claim it is all the funerals the masses have attended recently that has brought them back to Christianity, others, more pragmatic, will point to the evangelicals habit of heating their meeting places and the free hot refreshments afterwards.
But the sun will not remain quiescent for long, and warming will start again after several decades. From their lairs in the Himalayas the few remaining believers of AGW will stir. The time is ripe, they will say, and soon the glaciers will dry up as predicted in the sacred books of the IPCC, and the mountain shall split and in great radiance, accompanied by seraphim and cherubim, will the prophet William Connolley appear, riding on a Unicorn. Then, and only then, will we hear the truth.
Yet again they will be wrong.