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Meanwhile in the real world

31 Jan 2024 | OP ED Watch

Because reality is tricky, Robinson Meyer at Heatmap Daily instead invites readers instead “to dream. Envision a future where the U.S. has succeeded in slashing emissions faster than any other country on Earth. What will our policy priorities look like then?” Alleviating the resulting poverty, we are tempted to say. Though in fairness, according to Robinson Meyer of Heatmap Daily, America’s “carbon emissions went down” in 2023 “even as its GDP went up”, primarily because of “the ongoing collapse of the coal industry and its replacement by natural gas, which is a fossil fuel.” Yet none other than Robinson Meyer of Heatmap Daily is doing a victory dance because “the White House has decided to pause approving new liquified natural gas export terminals. This is undoubtedly a big deal: It’s one of the most significant triumphs yet for the global climate activist movement” because it means foreigners will um uh keep burning coal? Tricky.

It was worse over at Climate Home News, which emailed “Gas attack halted”. Not over an attempted military atrocity but over Biden’s decision. They appeared to applaud his moronically belligerent phrasing that in contrast to “MAGA Republicans…my administration will not cede to special interests”. Oh no. Democrats never do that.

CHN even managed to seem pleased that:

“A new German pipeline designed to import mostly American gas is out of action after someone drilled tiny holes into it. A spokesperson for the activist group who celebrated the suspected sabotage (without claiming responsibility) told us they stood in solidarity with marginalised communities on the US Gulf Coast, battling export terminals and the health damage they do.”

As opposed to the health damage done by unemployment. As for practical considerations, they did admit upfront that:

“One of the tricky nuances of the last few years is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked a European scramble both to find non-Russian gas and to get off gas.”

Off it onto what? Unicorns? Uh no, that’d be coal, including in Germany.

Meyer is actually a bit worried on this point. He concedes that the policy is bad for “Biden’s foreign policy”, in quite an awkward way:

“Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 and throttled gas supplies to Europe, the United States has used its vast stores of liquified natural gas to supply allied countries with energy that conventional estimates say is less climate-polluting than coal.”

Also, polling results that he rightly flags as confusing suggest that Democrats believe in death to fossil fuels, and while younger leftist voters also want to see Israel brought down and hate Biden on that score, independents are against deep-sixing hydrocarbons. (As Democrats will be when the lights and the furnace go off, of course.)

As for the politics of it, Meyer frets that:

“in trying out the policy, the Biden administration is probing the climate movement, too. The pause represents a profound test for the movement in the U.S., particularly – a test of its messaging strength, of its electoral strength, and of its viability in the Democratic Party’s coalition. As you’ll see, I’m not certain the movement will pass.”

Nor will they pass the test of getting from where we are to where we want to be via small practical steps. Instead just imagine it happened, and then cherish the resulting utopia while finding new windmills to tilt at. No, wait. Windmills are good.

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