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A Golden Age Delayed
Stalling Economies Slow Green Progress

The so-called “golden age” of natural gas may have to wait a little longer as the IEA reported this week that natural gas demand is sputtering as the economies around the world—China being the most notable among them—stall. The FT reports:

“China is still in the driving seat when it comes to [global] gas demand growth, but it is a lot slower than it was before,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. “This is one of the factors that stalled the golden age of gas.”

Subdued economic growth in industrialised nations — from the US to Europe — is also slowing global energy demand growth and creating “headwinds” for natural gas, just as it was expected to play a greater role in the global energy mix, Mr Birol told the Financial Times ahead of the release of the IEA’s six-year gas market outlook on Wednesday.

Any slowdown in natural gas demand has to be read as a setback for environmentalists, because the hydrocarbon—while undeniably a fossil fuel—emits roughly half as much carbon when burned as coal, and far fewer of the deadly local air pollutants. Old King Coal has been dethroned by natural gas here in the United States thanks to the shale boom, which has produced a domestic glut of gas that has depressed prices low enough to make natural gas-fired power plants one of the cheapest available options (this year the EIA expects natural gas will overtake coal as the country’s largest source of electricity production for the first time). We’re seeing gas outcompete coal on price elsewhere, too—natural gas prices have historically been linked to the price of oil, so the collapse in crude prices over the past two years has made it an increasingly attractive option.

The modern environmental movement seems to think that economic growth and green progress are mutually exclusive goals, but time and again that’s been exposed as a myth. Now, with natural gas, we’re seeing how economic doldrums can hold back a more sustainable energy option.

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  • Fat_Man

    “The modern environmental movement seems to think that economic growth and green progress are mutually exclusive goals, but time and again that’s been exposed as a myth.”

    You assume that their goal is green progress. It isn’t. Their goal is to immiserate the peasants. To that end, they want to stop economic growth. As best as I can tell, they doing an excellent job of that.

    • Lou Nelms

      Zero interest rates, $2.00 per gallon gasoline, the robbing of economic wealth by the financial sector, and the extreme inequities in the distribution of wealth ain’t exactly working wonders on economic growth either. You can find your boogie men in environmentalists if you wish, but the limits to growth are very real and they are not all resource related.

      • Jim__L

        Economic growth under a Left-leaning Democrat is never going to be robust. Even with zero interest rates (which primarily help the financial sector) and cheap gas (which primarily helps everyone else), any increasingly regulatory state is always going to add transaction costs into the system which tend to ossify the whole thing. Under Obama it’s particularly bad.

  • Blackbeard

    If you go back to the dawn of the Progressive movement, roughly a hundred years ago, you will see that eugenics was one of their founding and core principles. The central idea of eugenics is that the government should control fertility, coercively if necessary, to limit population growth and weed out those with “inferior ” genetics. No one talks about eugenics today, at least openly, but if you go back to Paul Ehrlich’s earlier books you will see he was a believer. Paul Ehrlich was author of, among others, “The Population Bomb” which forecast mass starvation in the 1960’s.

    Why do I bring up this ancient history today? Because Paul Ehrlich, a man who has been utterly, disastrously wrong about everything is nonetheless an esteemed emeritus professor of ecology at Berkeley. His disciple and sometime co-author John Holdren is Obama’s science advisor.

    Incredibly, these ideas, that mankind is a kind of “cancer” upon the Earth, are actually winning, at least in the West.

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