2022 Theme: The Ultimate Truth On Carbon & Climate Change
This newsletter has - gratefully - grown quite a bit since we began when, to put the facts somewhat brutally, we were publishing to a (highly select!) handful of readers.
As a result we thought we would revisit one of our earlier arguments both because it has never been more relevant and also because very few people may have gotten the chance to absorb its lessons.
Here we go....
One of our least pleasant but deeply held beliefs has been the utter foolishness of Western countries' "virtue signaling" over climate change while their economies still remain extraordinarily dependent on large amounts of fossil fuels.
This reality may be both regrettable and dangerous but wishing it away does far more harm than help.
We have argued multiple times in the last year that forbidding and shaming Western companies from drilling for oil while still relying on cheap fossil fuels from autocratic and undemocratic countries was the height of moral hypocrisy and the definition of stupidity.
It was also incredibly unserious.
Being unserious signals to everyone - voters, other governments, companies, the average child on the street - that the key is not to solve a problem but simply talk about solving a problem. That it is the performance, not the result, that matters.
That is backwards.
In other words, the only thing worse for the planet than continuing to burn large amounts of fossil fuels would be boasting about our climate credentials while buying more from the likes of Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Our old argument is here.
Originally, we were somewhat nervous about broaching this argument because we wanted to carefully avoid any suggestion that we don't think climate change is "real" or a problem. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Rather, we were trying to make the vital point that taking climate change seriously requires facing the facts and keeping virtue signaling to the bare minimum.
Serious problems require not only serious solutions but also serious approaches. Ours was neither.
We re-phrased this argument in a later newsletter with a criticism of the Biden administration that was actively regulating its own fossil fuel industry (and bragging about it) while in the same breathe requesting that OPEC, the oil cartel, drill more petroleum to keep prices down.
We warned that this was not just poor economics, it was also poor geopolitics. It was a strategic error for the West to rely on foreign regimes that might not share our values, about the climate or much besides.
Well here we are.
Russia invaded Ukraine and the world has changed forever. We have detailed quite a few of these changes - including those for energy in previous editions.
But want to take this opportunity to reiterate a larger point that seems to be getting lost in the Western effort to rapidly replace Russian energy and end our foolish dependence after decades.
In the same way that stopping fossil fuel development in the West doesn't keep fuel "in the ground," removing Russian energy makes us more, not less dependent on other unpleasant regimes almost overnight.
Hence our pathetic and cringe inducing turn to the awful Maduro regime in Venezuela but also our efforts - probably very unwise - to sign a new nuclear deal with Iran.
For years, our "talk big, act small" climate policies provided a strategic weapon to Vladimir Putin. Now, coming to our belated but welcome realization of that colossal error is actually enhancing the prestige, the wealth and the strategic importance of many countries that are deeply inimical to our values, our priorities (climate and otherwise) and even our efforts to help Ukraine.
We will return to the later point in a few weeks time but for now this makes us both uncomfortable and highlights the real costs of our ESG virtue signaling. We haven't saved the planet and we have endangered ourselves and much besides.
We are only beginning to get serious - on the climate and otherwise.
Let us hope that, for Ukraine's sake as well as the planet's, that we begin to do more and signal less.
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