Sometimes, the significance of a cataclysmic event is not immediately apparent. The bombing of Pearl Harbour was an event that shocked the world. Many realized – even as it was happening – that it would bring America into a war it didn’t want to be in. But few predicted what would follow. The end of that war lead to a Pax Americana that would not only let the world live in peace, but would allow a couple of generations of Earthlings to live longer, richer lives.
Unfortunately, that long peace also preoccupied us with less important issues. Navel gazing about which pronouns to use, or what a woman is, are relatively harmless, but some of our new culture war obsessions are not. Obsessing about race, in a western world that has never been less racist, is one example.
But that long peace always had a Potemkin Village quality to it. It hid the fact that we live in a dangerous world, containing dangerous people and ideologies. Now, one such man has broken that long, artificial peace. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought us back to reality.
What it has also done is to expose the worst of our navel-gazing obsessions – climate change extremism.
In the natural course of advancing humankind, we will find new, non-polluting energy sources. Amazing new technologies, such as modular nuclear units, will undoubtedly provide the clean energy that the world needs. However, the simplistic belief that fossil fuels are irredeemably bad, and must be eliminated by a date invented by politicians, is doing great damage. Unfortunately, Biden and Trudeau have both accepted this extremism.
However, no country has become so extreme as Germany. Perhaps it is in the nation’s character. How else to describe a nation of educated, hardworking people succumbing to the ravings of a madman in the 1930s? How else to describe that same, otherwise sensible nation, following a Swedish child – like lemmings to the sea – in their determination to divest themselves of all fossil fuels, and make themselves subservient to Russia, and a Putin determined to recreate some twisted Peter the Great version of Russian greatness?
And now Germany’s grand vision of sun and wind power overnight ending the reign of fossil fuels has been shown for what it is: a pipe dream. The billion dollars a day they pay to Russia for the fossil fuels that they hope will keep them from freezing in the dark this winter is guaranteeing that the slaughter of brave Ukrainians will continue indefinitely. In a strange twist of history, the Russians have become the Nazis, and the Germans have become their puppets.
So, how will all of this end? We don’t know. But one possibility is that Russia’s Wehrmacht-style invasion of sovereign Ukraine will begin to bring a soft West back to the basics. Pronouns are not important, or the nonsense that a man becomes a woman by declaring himself to be one. And no, we are not racists. And most importantly, while we need better, environmentally friendly sources of energy, the reality is that fossil fuels will be here for a long time to come.
The transition from wood to coal took a million years. The transition from coal to natural gas that is now taking place has not even begun in some parts of the world. It will take generations. And oil is not evil. It is absolutely essential for plastics, and many vital products – quite apart from providing fuel. The fact is that fossil fuels are largely responsible – as was the Pax Americana – for making our lives longer and better. The natural gas that Canada has in abundance should be helping Europe right now to end its dangerous Russian dependence.
But, as the protesting farmers in the Netherlands and elsewhere show, citizens are on to the jet-setting politicians, and their secret plans to end all fossil fuels on the backs of the ordinary people. Carbon zero agreements made privately between privileged leaders at Davos, and foisted on a public that would never have voted for such extreme measures, will no longer cut it. The public is demanding basic honesty. More turmoil lies ahead.
It is becoming more and more obvious that Pax Americana is no longer there to protect us. Europe – and even dependent Canada – will have to get back to the basics. The fossil fuel energy independence and exporting power that have been so recklessly sacrificed must be restored.
The extremists must be shown the door.