(September 4, 2014) Limits on energy production in the West enabled conflicts in the Ukraine and the Middle East.
This article, by Lawrence Solomon, first appeared in the National Post
Global warming policies abet terrorism and global insecurity. If Western governments weren’t spooked by global warming, ISIS would be less of a threat to the West, the Middle East would be less of a cauldron of hate, Europe wouldn’t be held hostage by Russia and China wouldn’t be threatening its neighbours over islands in the South and East China Seas.
Over the last two decades, global warming activists succeeded in slowing the development of the oil sands, blocking major pipelines like Keystone XL, phasing out coal plants and banning shale gas and oil projects. Without their activism, the Western world would have years ago not only become self-sufficient in fossil fuels, it would have become an exporter. Even with the roadblocks, the U.S. managed a miraculous transformation — once the world’s largest energy importer, it is now becoming a major exporter. Only Europe among the Western continents remains subject to dictates from energy exporters, most of them from unsavoury and hostile areas such as the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela.
Had the West earlier become a major energy exporter, these hostile economies would have lost their chief markets and the bulk of their revenues, particularly since prices would also have collapsed in a world awash in energy. Russia, for example, relies on energy for 30% of its GDP, Venezuela for 33%, some Middle East countries for more than 50%. Their economies would have retrenched, unable to finance social services at home let alone military adventures abroad. Their regimes would have focused on self-preservation rather than spreading ideologies abroad.
Funders of Islamic terrorism would have been strapped for cash.
In a world of low-cost, plentiful energy, ISIS could never have emerged as a major threat. This ultimate-Islamic-terror group largely relies on generous grants from energy-exporters like Qatar, a Muslim Brotherhood-friendly emirate, and on sales from its own oil fields, captured in battle. Without global warming dogma, neither of these revenue sources would have taken ISIS far.
Likewise Iran, Qatar’s rival for the title of No. 1 funder of Islamic terrorism, would have been strapped for cash. It would have been unable to bankroll such notables in the region’s terrorist gallery as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad in Syria, not to mention their terror cells in the West.
Russia would also have been sapped of strength and unable to threaten its neighbours, much as occurred in the 1980s, when the USSR’s failed economy led to its breakup and the release from its grasp of Ukraine and the rest of eastern Europe. The potent Putin we created would instead have been Putin the Impotent.
China, too, would have been less belligerent with its neighbours. Its territorial disputes with Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam often focus on barren islands — sometimes mere outcroppings — in the East and South China Seas. Their value lies mostly in the prospect that oil and gas will be found in their offshore waters. That value would greatly diminish, along with the logic of going to war for them, if energy became cheap and plentiful.
Ironically, the environmentalists who pushed global warming policies on the West thought they would be enhancing global security. Wars — particularly those in the Middle East — stemmed from the West’s desire for oil, they argued. By getting the West off oil and onto CO2-free renewables, the West would lose its lust for the Middle East’s energy resources, ushering in a new era of peace.
They were half right — it did make sense to rid the West of dependence on Middle East energy. And half wrong — the alternative to oil and gas from the Middle East was not renewable energy but oil and gas from Western countries. And they were entirely misguided — contrary to their claims, the planet has not warmed in almost 20 years now.
Today, most Western governments are reining in their global warming policies, slashing their ruinously expensive subsidies to renewables and aggressively developing fossil fuels. All that the global warming scare accomplished was to make people pay with their pocketbooks — tens of millions of Europeans now suffer “fuel poverty,” the household term in Europe for those who now can’t afford to pay their power bills — and to increase wars, terrorism and global insecurity.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental group. LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com.
See here for more by Lawrence Solomon on climate change.
This article forms the basis of a report by the Dutch political weblog Dagelijkse Standaard on the way in which climate policy has contributed to a worsening of the international security situation. It also references the beginnings of Lawrence Solomon’s interest in global-warming deniers. See: Climate policy and geopolitics.