walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Feed
Features
Reviews
Podcast
Europe’s Hot New Energy Source: Imported Coal

For years, American greens have looked with envy at the situation across the pond. If only we were nice and green like Europe! If only we had higher energy taxes and a cap and trade law!

But Europe’s green policies, though expensive, have a way of coming up short in the results department. More evidence appeared this week as BusinessWeek reports Europe is now burning dirty coal at its fastest rate since 2006. Where are they getting this coal? The U.S.:

Arch, which opened a London sales office on March 1, “expanded our reach with a dedicated sales team in Europe because we see increasing energy demand,” Kim Link, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based company, said in an e-mail yesterday.

Companies in the world’s biggest economy are spending at least $530 million to expand coal-export capacity to meet overseas demand, David Host, chief executive officer of shipping agent T Parker Host Inc., said June 22 at the IHS McCloskey Coal USA Conference in New York. Capacity will grow 35 percent to 285 million tons annually by 2015, he said.

Meanwhile, in gas-guzzling brown America the opposite is happening. Despite our lack of a cap and trade program or any similarly strict anti-carbon measures, America is moving away from coal as an energy production source due to the wide availability of cheap natural gas. Coal’s share of total energy production fell from 41 percent to 32 percent in the past year, and as shale gas discoveries continue this is likely to fall further as gas prices drop.

Europe may not be quite as bad at energy policy as it is at currency policy, but it’s hard to argue on the basis of results that Europe is much of a role model. Gaia can’t be very happy with her European advocates these days. Let’s hope she doesn’t smite them too hard.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Eric from Texas

    Law of Unintended Consequences meets Anglo-American socioeconomics. And to think how much the Germans are paying to use solar panels when they have a solar profile similar to Seattle. What a waste!

    I’ve been told by people in the oil and gas industry that shale gas isn’t moving as fast in Europe and China because the governments aren’t allowing the free-wheeling experimentation in fracking techniques that allowed the industry in the North America to succeed.

    This divergence is consistent with VM’s view that the Anglo-American approach will uncover and exploit technological advances far faster than elsewhere.

    No need to rely on unicorns.

  • http://inthisdimension.com alex scipio

    Frankly, it is difficult to come up with ANYTHING at which europe excels.

    Tax policy? Nope.
    Employment? Nope.
    Innovation? Nope.
    Democracy? Nope.
    Freedom? Nope.
    Individual Liberty? Nope.
    Treating subjects as adults, or as citizens? Nope.
    Affordable social policy? Nope.
    Sane immigration policy? Nope.
    Self-interest? Nope.
    Energy policy? Nope.

    … well, anything positive anyway… They DO excel at civilizational idiocy as they waste-away, an entire culture committing suicide because they are too lazy to work, marry, have kids, govern themselves….

  • Atanu Maulik

    Now you know why socialism remains an intent driven enterprise. Because the consequences of their actions always produce the results which are opposite to what they intend.

  • Eric from Texas

    Alex Scipio @ 2,

    There is one thing in which Europe excels. The desire and efforts of its elite to entrench themselves in power and undermine anything that could threaten that power over time. In “God and Gold”, WRM talks about how static religion and reactionary conservatism over the centuries have mostly succeeded in undermining the dynamic change associated with democratic capitalism. (The Anglosphere being the exception to that rule)

    Gaia worship is the secularists’ latest version of “static religion”, with the Euro project providing underlying support to suppress “bottom-up” democratic forces in Europe.

    Surprising how powerful unconscious biases and fears influence such “sophisticated, worldly” folks, who lecture others on how knowledgeable and wise they are compared to the rest of us who just want to live in a world that increasingly rich and free. A real lack of self-awareness among our elites in Europe and the US.

  • Kris

    alex@2: I am sure thibaud will promptly come along to lecture you. In the meantime, I am reminded of one of the great American movies:

    Williams: When [downfall] comes, I won’t even notice.
    Han: Oh? How so?
    Williams: I’ll be too busy looking gooood.

  • Corlyss

    The nations are broke and need cheap energy, the Envirothugs’ Devil’s Spawn, the thing they have pledged every effort to destroy.

  • Mark Michael

    The underlying “green” goal of reducing atmospheric CO2 densities in order to prevent (or slow down the onset) of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) remains stuck in the minds of lots of our governing elite.

    Thankfully, more and more peer-reviewed scientific papers are being published that chip away at the underlying CAGW theory. The latest was published this month (July 6th) in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

    Anthony Watts posted about it Saturday. See:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/07/new-paper-shows-negative-cloud-feed-associated-with-sam/#more-66932

    If you know something about the key idea behind CAGW, it’s positive feedback due to reinforcing greenhouse gas factors when the atmosphere has more CO2 in it. CO2 by itself without any positive feedback factors will only warm the earth by very modest amounts (double the CO2 density, and the global average temp may go up 1 degree C – and that’s a high end estimate).

    A key feedback factor is water vapor and the increased humidity & cloud cover with higher temps. Is the net effect a positive or a negative feedback factor? The CAGW require it to be a strong positive feedback factor, and that’s built into all of their computer simulation models. But they have little or no experimental data to back up that claim. (Scientists usually insist on hypotheses being verified by independent teams of scientists conducting a series of independent experiments that confirm those hypotheses!)

    QUOTE FROM THE ABSTRACT:

    “This work investigates the cause and effects of extreme changes in synoptic-scale cloud cover operating at daily timescales using a variety of satellite-based and reanalysis data sets. It is found that the largest sudden increases detected in globally averaged cloud cover over the last ten years of satellite-based observations occur following positively correlated shifts in the phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index. The associated pressure anomalies are found to generate frontal cloud formation over large areas of the South American continent, increasing regional cloud cover by up to 20%; these changes are correlated to statistically significant reductions in local temperatures of approximately −2.5°C with a +1 day time lag, indicating the SAM index is associated with large scale weather fluctuations over South America.”

  • http://gregq.wordpress.com Greg Q

    So is coal just more energy dense than LNG? Or is coal just easier to transport across the ocean the ocean than LNG?

  • Eric from Texas

    Greg Q @ 8,

    The U.S. has very little LNG export capacity at this time. FERC approved import capacity a number of years ago when it looked like the U.S. would be an importer. The shale revolution changed all that, and it will take time to develop export terminals in the U.S.

  • Mark Michael

    There’s another peer-reviewed paper that challenges the conventional wisdom on catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) that was published this month. The UK’s Daily Mail had the story:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2171973/Tree-ring-study-proves-climate-WARMER-Roman-Medieval-times-modern-industrial-age.html

    This one challenges the famous UN IPCC “hockey stick” plot by Michael Mann of Climategate prominence with a new study on proxy tree rings for the 2,000-year period from 136 BC to the present. It claims not only that the “Medieval Warm Period” existed along with the “Little Ice Age” (and the Roman Warm Period, too), but there’s a secular trend (relatively slight – 0.3 degree C) of global temp cooling over those 2,000 + years. We’re slowly heading into another Ice Age per this new paper.

    EXCERPTS:

    Tree-rings prove climate was WARMER in Roman and Medieval times than it is now – and world has been cooling for 2,000 years
    Study of semi-fossilised trees gives accurate climate reading back to 138BC
    World was warmer in Roman and Medieval times than it is now

    How did the Romans grow grapes in northern England? Perhaps because it was warmer than we thought.
    A study suggests the Britain of 2,000 years ago experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today.

    German researchers used data from tree rings – a key indicator of past climate – to claim the world has been on a ‘long-term cooling trend’ for two millennia until the global warming of the twentieth century.

    This cooling was punctuated by a couple of warm spells.
    These are the Medieval Warm Period, which is well known, but also a period during the toga-wearing Roman times when temperatures were apparently 1 deg C warmer than now.

    They say the very warm period during the years 21 to 50AD has been underestimated by climate scientists.
    Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.

    ‘This figure we calculated may not seem particularly significant, however it is not negligible when compared to global warming, which up to now has been less than 1 deg C.’

    In general the scientists found a slow cooling of 0.6C over 2,000 years, which they attributed to changes in the Earth’s orbit which took it further away from the Sun.
    The study is published in Nature Climate Change.

    It is based on measurements stretching back to 138BC.
    The finding may force scientists to rethink current theories of the impact of global warming
    Professor Esper’s group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC.

    In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling.

    BACK TO ME: How much longer do we Americans have to endure the MSM ban on reporting objectively on research that contradicts the cw on CAGW? I guess it’s like waiting for Samuel Beckett’s Godot.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2014 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service