The world is changing – for the better? 5

We are witnessing a seismic shift in global affairs. The shake-up is a perfect storm of political, demographic and technological change that will soon make the world as we have known it for the last 30 years almost unrecognizable.

Those attention-gripping words open an article by Victor Davis Hanson at Townhall:

Since the mid-1980s there have been a number of accepted global constants. The European Union was assumed to have evolved beyond the nation-state as it ended the cycle of militarism and renounced free-market capitalism. With its strong euro, soft power and nonaligned foreign policy, the EU was praised as a utopian sort of foil to the overarmed U.S. with its ailing dollar. …

The Arab Middle East for the last 40 years seemed to be the world’s cockpit, as its huge petroleum reserves brought in trillions of dollars from an oil-depleted West, along with political concessions. Petrodollars fed global terrorism. Oil-poor Israel had little clout with Europe. In general, the West ignored any human-rights concerns involving the region’s oil-rich dictatorships, monarchies and theocracies, as well as their aid to Islamic terrorists.

Conventional wisdom also assumed that an indebted U.S. was in permanent decline, a cash-rich China in ascendency. …

But none of that conventional wisdom now seems very wise — largely because of a number of technological breakthroughs and equally unforeseen political upheavals.

The eurozone is unraveling. An aging, shrinking population and a socialist welfare state lead to serfdom, not utopia. …

The Arab Middle East is now in a free fall. Tyrants in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen were ousted, while one in Syria totters. But while the world hoped secular democrats would follow in their wake, more likely we are witnessing the emergence of one-election Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood. The region will be mired in turmoil whether these upheavals turn out to be like the hijacked Iranian revolution that ended in theocracy, or the Turkish democratic model that is insidiously becoming Islamist.

Horizontal drilling and fracking have made oil shale and tar sands rich sources of oil and natural gas, so much so that the United States may prove to possess the largest store of fossil fuel reserves in the world — in theory, with enough gas, oil and coal soon never to need any imported Middle Eastern energy again. “Peak oil” is suddenly an anachronism. Widespread American use of cheap natural gas will do more to clean the planet than thousands of Solyndras.

If the United States utilizes its resources, then its present pathologies — massive budget and trade deficits, mounting debt, strategic vulnerability — will start to subside. These new breakthroughs in petroleum engineering are largely American phenomena, reminding us that there is still something exceptional in the American experience that periodically offers the world cutting-edge technologies and protocols — such as those pioneered by Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and Walmart.

In comparison, China is not only resource-poor but politically impoverished. For decades we were told that Chinese totalitarianism, when mixed with laissez-faire capitalism, led to sparkling airports and bullet trains, while a litigious and indulgent America settled for a run-down LAX and creaking Amtrak relics. But the truth is that the Los Angeles airport will probably sooner look modern than the Chinese will hold open elections amid a transparent society — given that free markets did not make China democratic, only more contradictory.

Even more surreal, tiny oil-poor Israel, thanks to vast new offshore finds, has been reinvented as a potential energy giant in the Middle East. Such petrodollars will change Israel as they did the Persian Gulf countries, but with one major difference. Unlike Dubai or Kuwait, Israel is democratic, economically diverse, socially stable and technologically sophisticated, suggesting the sudden windfall will not warp Israel in the manner it has traditional Arab autocracies, but instead become a force multiplier of an already dynamic society. Will Europe still snub Israel when it has as much oil, gas and money as an OPEC member in the Persian Gulf?

Good, good – but Islam is still waging jihad and spreading sharia law; and the UN still exists; and Iran is still becoming a nuclear power; and Obama is still occupying the Oval Office.

Let there be light 0

Dark dark dark. Are we all going into the dark?

An unnecessary shortage of energy is being imposed on the industrially developed world.

Paul Driessen writes at Townhall:

As Britain suffered through its coldest December in a century, families were forced to choose between keeping homes warm and feeding their children nourishing meals – thanks to climate policies that have forced extensive reliance on wind power and deliberately driven energy prices skyward.

Barely two months later, the UK’s power grid CEO informed the country that its days of reliable electricity are numbered. Families, schools, offices, shops, hospitals and factories will just have to “get used to” consuming electricity “when it’s available,” not necessarily when they want it or need it. A new “smart grid” will be used to allocate decreasing electricity supplies, on a rolling basis or according to bureaucratic determinations as to which consumers most need available power – mostly from wind turbines that provided a pitiful 0.04% of Britain’s electricity during its coldest days last December.

Meanwhile, the EU’s Energy Commissioner warned that German electricity prices are already at “the upper edge” of what society can accept and businesses can tolerate. Taxes, levies and regulations imposed in the name of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and global warming are forcing companies to relocate to other countries and causing “a gradual process of de-industrialization” across Germany.

Welcome to the Third World, Europeans, where costly electricity is available only from time to time, at unexpected hours, depending on bureaucratic whims and how much power wind turbines and other “environment-friendly” generators can muster.

Is the USA next in line? …

America depends on abundant, reliable, affordable energy – 85% of it hydrocarbons. Coal generates half of all US electricity, and up to 90% in its manufacturing heartland – versus 1% from wind and solar. …

Unlocking America’s still abundant hydrocarbon resources and unleashing our innovative, hard-driving free enterprise system would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in leasing, royalty and tax revenues for federal, state and local governments. It would put millions back to work … help stanch the flow of red ink … keep tens of billions of crude oil spending and investment in America … and create enormous new wealth …

American technology powered by capitalism continues to invent ever better ways of providing energy and making all our lives easier and more productive:

Just consider the incredible revolution that the genius of American capitalists has presented the world: hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” to tap previously inaccessible oil and gas deposits. This technology has turned “depletion” and “sustainability” claims upside down. It has already doubled US natural gas reserves and given North America over a century of recoverable gas, at current consumption rates.

It is also unlocking oil wealth in the vast Bakken shale formation of Montana, North Dakota and Saskatchewan. Oil production there has already soared from 3,000 barrels a day five years ago to over 225,000 today. The US Energy Information Administration says it could reach 350,000 barrels a day by 2035; industry sources say it could top a million barrels by 2020. Related oilfield employment has soared from 5,000 to over 18,000 in the same five-year period, and could eventually reach 100,000 jobs. At $100 a barrel, even 350,000 barrels a day could mean $1.6 billion in annual royalties, from Bakken oil alone. …

It is a technologically possible and economically affordable solution that [could generate] bountiful jobs and revenues – as opposed to pixie dust solutions that require perpetual subsidies and address speculative problems. Offshore and ANWR drilling could do likewise.

But the Obama administration is enforcing its impoverishing energy policy:

Unfortunately, the White House, Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, and too many in Congress, courts and state legislatures are determined to restrict and obstruct this hydrocarbon revolution. They want to … force America to convert to expensive, subsidized, unreliable, land-intensive wind, solar and ethanol power – and tell people how much energy they can have, and when.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is using groundless claims about possible groundwater contamination to delay fracking operations. Because Congress rejected cap-tax-and-trade, she has rewritten the Clean Air Act to label plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide a “pollutant” and restrict CO2 emissions from power plants, refineries and other facilities. …

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has shut down leasing and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, put tens of thousands out of work, ignored court orders to end his moratorium, and issued decrees that make millions of additional onshore and offshore acres off limits to drilling. He has blocked exploration in ANWR because [ie. on the pretext that – JB] its oil riches won’t make us energy independent (as though even massive wind, solar, ethanol and electric car programs would do so).

President Obama wants oil, gas, coal and electricity prices to “skyrocket,” to make “green” energy appear more attractive. Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants to “boost the price of gasoline to levels in Europe” – over $8 per gallon! …

Why?