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Follow the carbon molecule

24 Feb 2021 | OP ED Watch

Can someone explain to us why it’s OK for the EU to buy natural gas from Russia but not to produce its own, and at the same time it’s OK for Australia to sell coal to China but not to burn its own? We didn’t think so. We also can’t remember who first asked this question. But we’d love to hear an answer. Though ideally not “because that way we cripple ourselves geopolitically while tyrannies flourish.”

The issue of Russian natural gas to the EU is a friction point between Europe and the United States. And now between Congress and the White House, with two Republican and two Democratic members of Congress writing to new Secretary of State Anthony Blinken asking why the Biden Administration had not reported on which companies working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should be subjected to sanctions, as required by a law that Donald Trump unsuccessfully vetoed.

The pipeline is opposed by a variety of nations including Ukraine, Poland and France, as well as a bipartisan Congressional majority because they do not want Europe dependent on Russian natural gas. And there is no doubt Putin is willing to use energy supplies as a geopolitical weapon. (Except apparently in the mind of Angela Merkel.) But has it really eluded all these would-be Metternichs that Europe is dependent on imported gas less from Putin’s cunning than from their own folly? The EU doesn’t produce enough of its own methane because of twin panics over fracking and climate change. But it requires fossil fuels to eat, stay warm and other non-optional lifestyle choices because of the laws of physics. Unless they opt for nuclear, which Germany and France are both rejecting due to a third rather unfocused panic over radiation or nuclear war or some other ugh factor.

Over in Asia, the trade in coal between Australia and China has curdled for geopolitical reasons. With Australians increasingly pushing back against China’s ataxic lunge for world domination, the Chinese government imposed an embargo on Australian coal only to discover that they had been importing it for a reason, namely their huge and growing dependence on the stuff for energy.

A writer in The Guardian denied the obvious, claiming China was weaning itself off coal imports. But as with much Communist economic planning, the substitution of the fist for the handshake has backfired producing widespread misery.

In Australia, too, it is becoming awkwardly clear that unicorn power is not producing results including votes for those who backed it. So they may develop a more friendly attitude toward burning their own coal for economic reasons. But they should also give serious consideration to the geopolitics because as Leon Trotskii once said, “You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.”

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