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Renewable energy’s progressive halo The Left has been seduced by climate rhetoric


May 19, 2023   6 mins

When discussing what is needed to solve climate change, there is a knee-jerk response: renewable energy. As a result, forecasts showing renewables poised to surpass coal as the largest source of electricity by 2025 are assumed to be a positive and progressive development. And from a purely carbon calculus, this often is the case. But, because renewables — solar and wind energy in particular — are encased in a kind of impenetrable progressive halo, few actually examine the political economic forces shaping the industry.

Amid this collective myopia, we have not noticed that an economy powered by renewable energy does not guarantee a fairer or more equal society, or one that favours workers over the interests of capital. When you take a look at the dynamics of existing renewable energy production (particularly in the United States) you find that it intensifies and exacerbates all the worst aspects of our highly unequal neoliberal political economy.

To understand these dynamics, we need to look to the Seventies and the rise of neoliberalism. During this crisis decade, power and influence was shifted toward capital and an associated free market ideology. Though often portrayed as anti-government, neoliberals in fact promoted quite an active state, creating the institutional conditions for markets, the extension of private power, and above all the insulation of states from democratic control. One of their greatest influences, Friedrich Hayek, had argued against “central planning” in favour of a different kind of system: “Competition…means decentralised planning by many separate persons.” The expanded Keynesian redistributive state was their prime target, but this critique extended to all kinds of large-scale bureaucratic institutions: unions, universities, and even massive monopolistic corporations of the time, such as General Motors or IBM.

In other words, neoliberals set their sights on the very institutions at the heart of the post-war boom. Their vision of a new competitive market order aimed to demolish these large, rigid institutions in favour of smaller, more flexible production guided by a decentralised price mechanism. It was an ideology that seized the electricity sector at precisely this historical moment. For most of the 20th century, electricity had been provisioned by massive investor-owned and vertically integrated utilities — each given a “natural monopoly” service territory where they controlled the entire grid. State-run public commissions oversaw these utilities to ensure consumer prices and investor returns alike were “fair and reasonable”. Because electricity is in fact a complex infrastructure where supply and demand must always remain in balance to preserve grid stability, utilities centrally planned the grid by necessity.

In the context of the Seventies energy crisis, electric utilities epitomised the kind of inflexible and corrupt institutions targeted for demolition. And, interestingly, an associated environmentalist ideology conformed to this neoliberal critique of “big” and “centralised” utilities. Most prominently, Amory Lovins proposed a “soft energy path” based on small-scale and decentralised energy production and efficiency. Although Lovins promoted any kind of decentralised energy production — including many small-scale forms of coal generation — soon it became clear that renewable energy production from solar panels and wind turbines were the most attractive to environmentalists.

Advocates imagined a shift to renewable energy aligned with a “small is beautiful” approach, scattered about pastoral rural landscapes, and inspiring ideas of local or community ownership. Against a complex and centrally-planned system, “grassroots” local communities aspired to get off the grid entirely. In short, if most of the 20th century was about large-scale social integration of complex industrial societies, the neoliberal turn represents an anti-social reaction against society itself. For parts of the Right, there was no such thing” as society, only individuals. But the environmental Left made a comparable turn: large-scale complex industrial society was rejected in favour of a small-scale communitarian localism. In this framework, “communities” could opt out of society and usher in democratic control over energy, food, and life. As the icon of the German Green Party Rudolf Bahro said in the Eighties, “we must build up areas liberated from the industrial system…a new social formation and a new civilisation”.

It should be no surprise that Lovins’s soft energy path ideas gained the ear of proto-neoliberal and deregulator-in-chief, President Jimmy Carter, who invited him to the White House in October 1977. Carter personified this new decentralised energy ideology, wearing cardigan sweaters in his prime time addresses and decorating the White House with solar panels. But while environmentalists often lament the path not taken with Carter’s conservationist ethic, his approach to the energy crisis (among other things) was a political disaster. Ronald Reagan crushed Carter by nine points in 1980 and Carter only carried six out of 50 states. For a country that had just endured a cost-of-living inflationary crisis of its own, Reagan’s message of “Make America Great Again” and solving the energy crisis through increased production resonated much more strongly than Carter’s moralism and calls for sacrifice.

But what is crucial is how this vision of a decentralised renewable-powered utopia actually accompanied a broader project of electricity deregulation started under Carter himself. About a year after meeting with Lovins, Carter signed the Public Utility Regulatory Policies of Act of 1978. Deregulation eventually opened up the field of electricity generation to competition against utilities. The process was slow but by the Nineties it unleashed a totally new frontier of investment in electricity production for capitalists untethered from the utility system: so called “independent power producers” or “merchant generators”. The main beneficiaries of this process were smaller-scale natural gas producers, but it also included a new class of capitalists building renewable energy projects such as solar or wind farms. These producers need not care about the grid as a shared social system, and can focus instead exclusively on their private profits and efforts to outcompete other sellers in wholesale electricity markets.

Profit could also come from the state itself. As research by Sarah Knuth shows, by the Obama years, renewable energy capitalists were showered with lucrative tax credits to incentivise production. The credits allow renewable energy developers to partner with an exclusive class of “tax equity investors”: a special kind of wealthy person whose “tax burden” is so high they use renewable projects to shelter their wealth from public coffers. These tax equity investors represent some of the most powerful and wealthy actors imaginable, such as Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. Warren Buffett — whose company Berkshire-Hathaway is one of the biggest investors in renewables — famously said, “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them.” Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is simply a continuation of this policy of attempting to achieve climate goals through the tax code (albeit with a “direct pay” provision that will allow some public power entities to take advantage).

This shift away from utilities and toward decentralised merchant generation explicitly undermined the labour unions who had built up their power under the older, established utility system. As James Harrison, the director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America, told the New York Times, “The clean tech industry is incredibly anti-union… It’s a lot of transient work, work that is marginal, precarious and very difficult to be able to organize.” It was, therefore, no surprise that labour unions were on the frontlines fighting deregulation from the beginning in the Nineties. It is much easier to organise workers in centralised power plants than scattered solar and wind farms whose, after all, only provide temporary construction jobs.

Once these installations are built, the jobs disappear and the only plausible economic benefits besides rents flowing to private landowners are marginal increases in local tax revenues. Not only are renewable energy jobs temporary, they are also often simply bad jobs. Labour journalist Lauren Kaori Gurley’s profile of the solar industry has revealed dystopian labour conditions: temp agencies send subcontracted workers from site to site, separated from their family for weeks, and exposed to occupational hazards such as extreme heat, alligators, and snakes.

Neoliberal electricity restructuring is benefiting Wall Street above all, as well as Big Tech, who see it as a more efficient means to partner with renewable generators and claim green credentials for operations powered by “100% renewable energy” (these accounting fictions are provided by tradeable Renewable Energy Certificates while firms still rely on the fossil- and nuclear-powered grid for their actual electricity). Google has emerged as a fierce proponent of deregulation in the American South fundamentally so it can avoid utilities and partner with more scattered renewable capitalists. Naive environmentalists (who propose an extremely difficult vision of a grid powered by 100% renewable energy) have become unwitting allies of the Googles and Berkshire Hathaways of the world — and fail to recognise their renewable advocacy often enables the further neoliberalisation of electricity.

Seduced by climate rhetoric, the Left has become the unwitting ally of this programme. But the electricity grid is a shared social infrastructure that should be managed by a single entity. In other words, while private investor-owned utilities are often corrupt and negligent, the Left needs to defend and reclaim the general idea of electricity as a utility, or an essential service critical to the public good. A revived electric public utility system could indeed integrate some renewables in sunny and windy regions (on land and offshore), but grid planners will acknowledge some level of “firm” low carbon generation like hydroelectric and nuclear power will be required. But this vision of public energy development won’t come about unless we confront the power of renewable capital, their Wall Street backers and the general neoliberal political economic model that underpins the industry today. Sloganeering around renewable energy as if it’s a good in-and-of-itself may have drawn attention to the climate crisis — but it is no good at creating the politics we need to solve it.


Matt Huber is Professor of Geography at Syracuse University and the author of Climate Change as Class War: Building Socialism on a Warming Planet.

Matthuber78

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T Bone
TB
T Bone
11 months ago

With all due respect this is riddled with false assumptions.

One, the entire concept of a “Climate Crisis” is Socialist propaganda to trigger massive State spending.  Bjorn Lomberg  chronicled the number of Climate-related deaths over the past hundred years and the graph is a complete downward arrow. There may be warming it may even be partially caused by human emissions but Climate Emergency, No.

The term Neoliberalism is just getting abused now.  Neoliberalism is just the “Spreading of Global Democracy” to “Liberate the Oppressed from their Oppressors” in order to establish trade in the newly liberated region.  Is it Capitalist? Sure I guess, but with a dose of left wing Liberation Theology.  So effectively its Interventionalist which is completely incompatible with anything Hayek advocated.

Hayek like Friedman and Von Mises were Supply-Side Economists that believed in the basic law of Supply/Demand. That businesses competiting to produce more products that the public actually wants would result in lower prices and better quality of goods creating a productive and wealthy, society with plenty of resources to fix basic problems.

Demand-Side Economics which is basically a Command Economy; tasks “Enlightened” busybodies with deciding what’s best for everyone and tries to steer the Economy in the direction that creates the most “just society” without producing “excess supply.” Since Supply is driven not by Consumer Demand but by the Mind of “Experts” who decide what products are necessary, it always works to perfection.

After the “necessary products” are determined, certain industries are picked to receive subsidies.  The competition is no longer between companies incentivized by a risk of failure. That failure option is removed and the only competition is between Government Contractor A, B, C and D.  This is later withered down further after Company A swallows B, C and D so the State’s efficiency goals can be more streamlined by what the unenlightened might refer to as a Monopoly.

Soon enough supply shortages become a common report followed by price hikes and rationing of goods.  Luckily this is just in time for the Propagandists to explain that the Price Hikes are transitory and more centralization will be needed to ensure the problem is solved. After a period, it becomes clear that the Price Hikes are just the “New Normal.” At this point people are told they’re just going to have to make sacrifices because that’s what Mother Earth needs to survive and no good person wants to hurt Mother Earth.

Last edited 11 months ago by T Bone
Peter B
PB
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Excellent comment. Far better and far more readable than the article too.

Malcolm Webb
MW
Malcolm Webb
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Brilliant comment . Thank you.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Thank you for that erudite essay!
An excellent example of “Supply-Side Economics” was the railway system of Great Britain just prior to the Great War. Almost perfection itself.

Last edited 11 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Nik Jewell
NJ
Nik Jewell
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I sometimes think that Unherd should recruit their writers from their comments section. A terrific post, Sir.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Seconded

Last edited 11 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Seconded

Last edited 11 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Frank McCusker
FM
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

You sound American.
Which would explain a lot.
“There may be warming”, says you.
“May be” lol
“the entire concept of a “Climate Crisis” is Socialist propaganda”, says you.
You’re saying that this is “Socialist propaganda”:
https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/past-eight-years-confirmed-be-eight-warmest-record
and this “may” be happening, but you’re not sure lol:
https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20230513-the-country-is-becoming-a-desert-drought-struck-spain-is-running-out-of-water
and this:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-glaciers-melt-record-pace-315eeafe
“May be”
Any advance on “may be”?
Do you have a definite opinion on this?
In your opinion, is the planet heating up, or not?
I have been travelling to Iceland for 30 years. Even a casual observer like me can see the startling rate of shrinkage in the period I’ve been travelling there.
Perhaps, under cover of darkness, hordes of Socialist propagandists are hard at work chipping away at the glaciers with their pickaxes?
Yes or no?
Get off the fence, please.

Last edited 11 months ago by Frank McCusker
Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

no

Paul T
PT
Paul T
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

The last glacial maximum was around 24,000 to 28,000 years ago. Since then the climate has been “warming”. During that time sea levels have risen 400 feet with truly apocalyptic flooding from glacial meltwater oceans around 8,000 years ago. Why do you believe that this last tiny bit we are seeing is solely down to humans and not because of the sun?

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Because some people get easily deluded by false prophets. And some people think the history of our planet began the moment they were born.

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Because some people get easily deluded by false prophets. And some people think the history of our planet began the moment they were born.

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

“the entire concept of a “Climate Crisis” is Socialist propaganda”

Maybe it would be a good time to advise the author that it was Margaret Thatcher who first started talking about the climate crisis. But this is why it can be difficult to discuss the issue, with nonsense being spouted that it’s a political battle, when in reality it’s all humanity.

T Bone
TB
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

First off, no politician is completely consistent. Nor do they know what they’re walking into on every issue.

Margaret Thatcher completely reversed course. In her 2002 book she wrote: “The doomsters’ favourite subject today is climate change.” “Clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.”

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
11 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

At the time when Thatcher first talked about climate change the climate scientists were predicting a new Ice Age, not warming.

T Bone
TB
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

First off, no politician is completely consistent. Nor do they know what they’re walking into on every issue.

Margaret Thatcher completely reversed course. In her 2002 book she wrote: “The doomsters’ favourite subject today is climate change.” “Clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.”

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
11 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

At the time when Thatcher first talked about climate change the climate scientists were predicting a new Ice Age, not warming.

Stephanie Surface
SS
Stephanie Surface
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

https://youtu.be/YBdmppcfixM
Might be interesting for you …

Last edited 11 months ago by Stephanie Surface
T Bone
TB
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

First, I need to know more about your Lived Experience of Climate Change so I can catalogue it in the Encyclopedia of Authenticity. How did you feel when you were experiencing the Climate Change? Did you have physical symptoms or were they mostly spiritual?

Please provide barometric pressure readings from your 30 year chronicles along with timestamps on your passport. I want to be sure you didn’t fall victim to Erik the Red’s enduring Iceland/Greenland Prank.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

no

Paul T
PT
Paul T
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

The last glacial maximum was around 24,000 to 28,000 years ago. Since then the climate has been “warming”. During that time sea levels have risen 400 feet with truly apocalyptic flooding from glacial meltwater oceans around 8,000 years ago. Why do you believe that this last tiny bit we are seeing is solely down to humans and not because of the sun?

Robbie K
RK
Robbie K
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

“the entire concept of a “Climate Crisis” is Socialist propaganda”

Maybe it would be a good time to advise the author that it was Margaret Thatcher who first started talking about the climate crisis. But this is why it can be difficult to discuss the issue, with nonsense being spouted that it’s a political battle, when in reality it’s all humanity.

Stephanie Surface
SS
Stephanie Surface
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

https://youtu.be/YBdmppcfixM
Might be interesting for you …

Last edited 11 months ago by Stephanie Surface
T Bone
TB
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

First, I need to know more about your Lived Experience of Climate Change so I can catalogue it in the Encyclopedia of Authenticity. How did you feel when you were experiencing the Climate Change? Did you have physical symptoms or were they mostly spiritual?

Please provide barometric pressure readings from your 30 year chronicles along with timestamps on your passport. I want to be sure you didn’t fall victim to Erik the Red’s enduring Iceland/Greenland Prank.

Michael McElwee
MM
Michael McElwee
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Yes, I cannot unpack even the first paragraph of the article. The writer seems to assume that renewables (wind and solar) will entirely replace, and in only 25 years, the energy we now get from fossil fuels. Without adding nuclear to the equation, I can’t see how that is possible.

Rob C
RC
Rob C
11 months ago

Try reading it again. He’s obviously against renewables as a solution.

Rob C
RC
Rob C
11 months ago

Try reading it again. He’s obviously against renewables as a solution.

George Tobias
GL
George Tobias
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

If climate change is ‘socialist propaganda’, then why is it being peddled to us by our very much capitalist economic elites and corporations who profit from it? That doesn’t seem socialist, unless of course you do the mental gymnastics and claim that they are secret socialists in disguise, which would earn you a gold medal at the Annual International Mental Gymnastics Tournament 2023.
Nor is neoliberalism just about ‘spreading global democracy’ or ‘liberating the oppressed from their oppressors’. If this was true then anything could be claimed as ‘neoliberal’ as it is such a broad and vague definition. The most basic definition of neoliberalism is ‘market-oriented reform policies such as eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets, and lowering trade barriers‘. This is not ‘capitalist, sure I guess’, this is ‘capitalist, definitely’. The whole neoliberal project is a form unfettered market capitalism first and foremost, and this is it’s whole point, as any reading of Hayek or Friedman would confirm.

Rick Frazier
RF
Rick Frazier
11 months ago
Reply to  George Tobias

I don’t think there is any need to become too concerned about “unfettered market capitalism” today. It doesn’t exist anywhere on earth.

Kent Ausburn
KA
Kent Ausburn
11 months ago
Reply to  George Tobias

Because most large multi-national corporations are not really free market capitalist. They represent what is more akin to facsistic corporations, euphamistically referred to as corporatism, eagerly conjoining themselves to governments in order to reap the rewards of being a favored industry via regulatory and financial subsidies, tax breaks and even grants. This corporatist formula also shields large corporations from upstart competition who can’t afford the armies of lawyers necessary for compliance with the sea of corporate and environmental regulations that the large multi-nationals routinely employ.

T Bone
TB
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  George Tobias

The Climate Change Agenda is called ESG and better known as Stakeholder Capitalism. It’s a Dialectical Synthesis of Productive Capitalism and Market Socialism= Productive Socialism. It resolves the perceived contradictions of both.

First it eliminates the negative stigma of Free Market Capitalism. IE that Businesses only care about Profits and allows them to signal to the people that they care about them. This is why so many brand commercials now portray a Social Justice Message. Second, it eliminates the Socialist problem of Production by harnessing the power of the State to greenlight projects for preferred contractors. Preferred contractors generally are the ones with the most capital and resources so it’s a preferential plan for firms already at the top of the Hierarchy.

In your Neoliberal Analysis you left out Globalism from your definition. Answer this- How does an Economic Vision achieve Globalism if so many markets are isolated from western trade? Hint- you free them.

Rick Frazier
RF
Rick Frazier
11 months ago
Reply to  George Tobias

I don’t think there is any need to become too concerned about “unfettered market capitalism” today. It doesn’t exist anywhere on earth.

Kent Ausburn
KA
Kent Ausburn
11 months ago
Reply to  George Tobias

Because most large multi-national corporations are not really free market capitalist. They represent what is more akin to facsistic corporations, euphamistically referred to as corporatism, eagerly conjoining themselves to governments in order to reap the rewards of being a favored industry via regulatory and financial subsidies, tax breaks and even grants. This corporatist formula also shields large corporations from upstart competition who can’t afford the armies of lawyers necessary for compliance with the sea of corporate and environmental regulations that the large multi-nationals routinely employ.

T Bone
TB
T Bone
11 months ago
Reply to  George Tobias

The Climate Change Agenda is called ESG and better known as Stakeholder Capitalism. It’s a Dialectical Synthesis of Productive Capitalism and Market Socialism= Productive Socialism. It resolves the perceived contradictions of both.

First it eliminates the negative stigma of Free Market Capitalism. IE that Businesses only care about Profits and allows them to signal to the people that they care about them. This is why so many brand commercials now portray a Social Justice Message. Second, it eliminates the Socialist problem of Production by harnessing the power of the State to greenlight projects for preferred contractors. Preferred contractors generally are the ones with the most capital and resources so it’s a preferential plan for firms already at the top of the Hierarchy.

In your Neoliberal Analysis you left out Globalism from your definition. Answer this- How does an Economic Vision achieve Globalism if so many markets are isolated from western trade? Hint- you free them.

Stephanie Surface
SS
Stephanie Surface
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

As you said the author totally muddled up the term neoliberalism. I was so confused after reading the article, that I used the dreaded Wikipedia to find out that neoliberalism is basically explained as “free-market capitalism, competition, deregulation, free trade” etc..
In the article the author seems to substitute neoliberalism for corporatism, where government and big corporations are closely interlinked, and companies happily take as many tax credits as they can get. As the author says, when the “tax burden is so high, they use renewables to shelter their wealth from public coffers”, and W. Buffet: “We get tax credits, if we build lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason we built them”. These statements are of course the opposite of the Austrian School of economics. Hayek, Friedman et al. embraced competition, free capitalism and hated any interference of big government.
Nowadays it seems government and big business are so wedded to each other, that some of the CEOs of huge corporations are becoming so politicised, that they happily proclaim left-wing woke political agendas . Hopefully the public will wake up at one point and recognise the failed policies, when houses are cold, pockets are empty and no more money left for a holiday to escape all this misery.

Rob C
RC
Rob C
11 months ago

Since Liberalism has nothing to do with economics, using Neoliberalism to describe an ideology that is mostly about economics was stupid to start with. I think they are using this term to describe Leftists who aren’t opposed to capitalism because they believe they can achieve all the Leftists goals in a capitalist economic system.

Stephanie Surface
SS
Stephanie Surface
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

Wikipedia explains neoliberalism in terms of economics in connection with “free- capitalism”. “Liberalism” on the other hand is used in the US as a left of centre philosophy, embracing free speech, civil and political rights, but also endorses a regulated market economy, more used as “social” liberalism.

Stephanie Surface
SS
Stephanie Surface
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

Wikipedia explains neoliberalism in terms of economics in connection with “free- capitalism”. “Liberalism” on the other hand is used in the US as a left of centre philosophy, embracing free speech, civil and political rights, but also endorses a regulated market economy, more used as “social” liberalism.

Rob C
RC
Rob C
11 months ago

Since Liberalism has nothing to do with economics, using Neoliberalism to describe an ideology that is mostly about economics was stupid to start with. I think they are using this term to describe Leftists who aren’t opposed to capitalism because they believe they can achieve all the Leftists goals in a capitalist economic system.

James Kennedy
JK
James Kennedy
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Do you have any more convincing evidence apart from, ‘climate related deaths’ being on downward trend, to prove the non-existence of a climate crisis? Unless every major scientific institution in the West is peddling socialist propaganda, it seems human influenced warming is pretty well established.
The severity of the impact of said warming is, admittedly, still a matter of widespread debate, whilst most environmentalists seem to think it is a settled issue. However effects like rising sea levels and increased frequency pf natural hazards are some of the most obvious results, and will affect a large number of people. The fact that they aren’t directly killing millions right now, doesn’t mean they won’t become a more dangerous problem in the future.

Peter B
PB
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Excellent comment. Far better and far more readable than the article too.

Malcolm Webb
MW
Malcolm Webb
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Brilliant comment . Thank you.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Thank you for that erudite essay!
An excellent example of “Supply-Side Economics” was the railway system of Great Britain just prior to the Great War. Almost perfection itself.

Last edited 11 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Nik Jewell
NJ
Nik Jewell
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I sometimes think that Unherd should recruit their writers from their comments section. A terrific post, Sir.

Frank McCusker
FM
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

You sound American.
Which would explain a lot.
“There may be warming”, says you.
“May be” lol
“the entire concept of a “Climate Crisis” is Socialist propaganda”, says you.
You’re saying that this is “Socialist propaganda”:
https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/past-eight-years-confirmed-be-eight-warmest-record
and this “may” be happening, but you’re not sure lol:
https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20230513-the-country-is-becoming-a-desert-drought-struck-spain-is-running-out-of-water
and this:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-glaciers-melt-record-pace-315eeafe
“May be”
Any advance on “may be”?
Do you have a definite opinion on this?
In your opinion, is the planet heating up, or not?
I have been travelling to Iceland for 30 years. Even a casual observer like me can see the startling rate of shrinkage in the period I’ve been travelling there.
Perhaps, under cover of darkness, hordes of Socialist propagandists are hard at work chipping away at the glaciers with their pickaxes?
Yes or no?
Get off the fence, please.

Last edited 11 months ago by Frank McCusker
Michael McElwee
MM
Michael McElwee
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Yes, I cannot unpack even the first paragraph of the article. The writer seems to assume that renewables (wind and solar) will entirely replace, and in only 25 years, the energy we now get from fossil fuels. Without adding nuclear to the equation, I can’t see how that is possible.

George Tobias
GL
George Tobias
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

If climate change is ‘socialist propaganda’, then why is it being peddled to us by our very much capitalist economic elites and corporations who profit from it? That doesn’t seem socialist, unless of course you do the mental gymnastics and claim that they are secret socialists in disguise, which would earn you a gold medal at the Annual International Mental Gymnastics Tournament 2023.
Nor is neoliberalism just about ‘spreading global democracy’ or ‘liberating the oppressed from their oppressors’. If this was true then anything could be claimed as ‘neoliberal’ as it is such a broad and vague definition. The most basic definition of neoliberalism is ‘market-oriented reform policies such as eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets, and lowering trade barriers‘. This is not ‘capitalist, sure I guess’, this is ‘capitalist, definitely’. The whole neoliberal project is a form unfettered market capitalism first and foremost, and this is it’s whole point, as any reading of Hayek or Friedman would confirm.

Stephanie Surface
SS
Stephanie Surface
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

As you said the author totally muddled up the term neoliberalism. I was so confused after reading the article, that I used the dreaded Wikipedia to find out that neoliberalism is basically explained as “free-market capitalism, competition, deregulation, free trade” etc..
In the article the author seems to substitute neoliberalism for corporatism, where government and big corporations are closely interlinked, and companies happily take as many tax credits as they can get. As the author says, when the “tax burden is so high, they use renewables to shelter their wealth from public coffers”, and W. Buffet: “We get tax credits, if we build lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason we built them”. These statements are of course the opposite of the Austrian School of economics. Hayek, Friedman et al. embraced competition, free capitalism and hated any interference of big government.
Nowadays it seems government and big business are so wedded to each other, that some of the CEOs of huge corporations are becoming so politicised, that they happily proclaim left-wing woke political agendas . Hopefully the public will wake up at one point and recognise the failed policies, when houses are cold, pockets are empty and no more money left for a holiday to escape all this misery.

James Kennedy
James Kennedy
11 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Do you have any more convincing evidence apart from, ‘climate related deaths’ being on downward trend, to prove the non-existence of a climate crisis? Unless every major scientific institution in the West is peddling socialist propaganda, it seems human influenced warming is pretty well established.
The severity of the impact of said warming is, admittedly, still a matter of widespread debate, whilst most environmentalists seem to think it is a settled issue. However effects like rising sea levels and increased frequency pf natural hazards are some of the most obvious results, and will affect a large number of people. The fact that they aren’t directly killing millions right now, doesn’t mean they won’t become a more dangerous problem in the future.

T Bone
T Bone
11 months ago

With all due respect this is riddled with false assumptions.

One, the entire concept of a “Climate Crisis” is Socialist propaganda to trigger massive State spending.  Bjorn Lomberg  chronicled the number of Climate-related deaths over the past hundred years and the graph is a complete downward arrow. There may be warming it may even be partially caused by human emissions but Climate Emergency, No.

The term Neoliberalism is just getting abused now.  Neoliberalism is just the “Spreading of Global Democracy” to “Liberate the Oppressed from their Oppressors” in order to establish trade in the newly liberated region.  Is it Capitalist? Sure I guess, but with a dose of left wing Liberation Theology.  So effectively its Interventionalist which is completely incompatible with anything Hayek advocated.

Hayek like Friedman and Von Mises were Supply-Side Economists that believed in the basic law of Supply/Demand. That businesses competiting to produce more products that the public actually wants would result in lower prices and better quality of goods creating a productive and wealthy, society with plenty of resources to fix basic problems.

Demand-Side Economics which is basically a Command Economy; tasks “Enlightened” busybodies with deciding what’s best for everyone and tries to steer the Economy in the direction that creates the most “just society” without producing “excess supply.” Since Supply is driven not by Consumer Demand but by the Mind of “Experts” who decide what products are necessary, it always works to perfection.

After the “necessary products” are determined, certain industries are picked to receive subsidies.  The competition is no longer between companies incentivized by a risk of failure. That failure option is removed and the only competition is between Government Contractor A, B, C and D.  This is later withered down further after Company A swallows B, C and D so the State’s efficiency goals can be more streamlined by what the unenlightened might refer to as a Monopoly.

Soon enough supply shortages become a common report followed by price hikes and rationing of goods.  Luckily this is just in time for the Propagandists to explain that the Price Hikes are transitory and more centralization will be needed to ensure the problem is solved. After a period, it becomes clear that the Price Hikes are just the “New Normal.” At this point people are told they’re just going to have to make sacrifices because that’s what Mother Earth needs to survive and no good person wants to hurt Mother Earth.

Last edited 11 months ago by T Bone
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
11 months ago

The climate workforce is already unionised. It works for the BBC, The Guardian and much of the rest of the media, producing the propaganda. It works for the universities, creating the narrative for the industry and in indoctrination. It works for NGOs, charities, in finance, in political lobbying … the list goes on.
Let’s not get started on the hypocrisy of our virtue signalling at the expense of outsourcing the problem or the total immorality of the infliction of regressive taxation and growing poverty on our own citizens and preventing the global south from developing the infrastructure they need to improve their lives, build flood defences and other climate mitigation measures. All the while neo-colonialists rape their countries for labour and natural resources.
We could talk about the Uyghur slaves or the environmental disasters of Inner Mongolia, Northern Myanmar or the Bolivian salars. We could talk about cobalt mining in the Congo where children work like slaves in scenes from Old Testament Hollywood films. There is no progressive halo here.
As for the wind farms and solar panels … let’s have another chat about these in 20 years when we will likely find that China stopped selling to them to us due to international frictions, and the ones we have now are rotting in our fields and off our coasts. 
There is climate change. There is no climate ‘crisis’ or ’emergency’.

Andrew Buckley
AB
Andrew Buckley
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

A rich mans pleasure.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

You really do not know what you’re talking about. No serious developer buys Chinese turbines. They can’t be used outside China as too much of their technology has been stolen and IP warranties are poor. Therefore not as bankable. Plus reliability and O&M issues. The best turbines are European. If I walked into an investor meeting and announced that I wished to use Chinese turbines, the investors would walk out.  

Last edited 11 months ago by Frank McCusker
Nik Jewell
NJ
Nik Jewell
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Where does the Neodymium come from?

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

It’s difficult to read your words accusing someone else that they do not know what they are talking about when, just above, you claim that traveling to Iceland for 30 years and seeing the glaciers receding is proof of a climate crisis. Can you grasp how utterly ridiculous that is? That’s 30 years divided by 4.5 billion years, which is how long our planet has existed. And you believe that forcing the world to transition to wind or solar during our meager lifetimes will change this dynamic in any appreciable way?

Nik Jewell
NJ
Nik Jewell
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Where does the Neodymium come from?

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

It’s difficult to read your words accusing someone else that they do not know what they are talking about when, just above, you claim that traveling to Iceland for 30 years and seeing the glaciers receding is proof of a climate crisis. Can you grasp how utterly ridiculous that is? That’s 30 years divided by 4.5 billion years, which is how long our planet has existed. And you believe that forcing the world to transition to wind or solar during our meager lifetimes will change this dynamic in any appreciable way?

Matt M
MM
Matt M
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

I refuse to use the phrase “climate change”.
“Global warming” is a clear statement of the hypothesis – the temperature of the globe is going up. Better still is Manmade Global Warming.
People started to introduce the phrase “climate change” during the 13 year stall in global temp increases. We shouldn’t let them do so. If the world is warming up due to man’s activity, why give it the euphemism “climate change”?
As for “climate emergency” or crisis. Complete propaganda.
This is very similar to the widespread adoption of the word “gender” to describe what was known until a few years ago as “sex”. By allowing the innocent sounding word change, you are allowing for the lunatic expansion of sex categories.

Last edited 11 months ago by Matt M
Kenda Grant
Kenda Grant
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

So true. When the temperature wasn’t cooperating (and people got confused between weather and climate) it was time to rebrand – from Global Warming to Climate Change.

Kenda Grant
KG
Kenda Grant
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

So true. When the temperature wasn’t cooperating (and people got confused between weather and climate) it was time to rebrand – from Global Warming to Climate Change.

Andrew Buckley
AB
Andrew Buckley
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

A rich mans pleasure.

Frank McCusker
FM
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

You really do not know what you’re talking about. No serious developer buys Chinese turbines. They can’t be used outside China as too much of their technology has been stolen and IP warranties are poor. Therefore not as bankable. Plus reliability and O&M issues. The best turbines are European. If I walked into an investor meeting and announced that I wished to use Chinese turbines, the investors would walk out.  

Last edited 11 months ago by Frank McCusker
Matt M
MM
Matt M
11 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

I refuse to use the phrase “climate change”.
“Global warming” is a clear statement of the hypothesis – the temperature of the globe is going up. Better still is Manmade Global Warming.
People started to introduce the phrase “climate change” during the 13 year stall in global temp increases. We shouldn’t let them do so. If the world is warming up due to man’s activity, why give it the euphemism “climate change”?
As for “climate emergency” or crisis. Complete propaganda.
This is very similar to the widespread adoption of the word “gender” to describe what was known until a few years ago as “sex”. By allowing the innocent sounding word change, you are allowing for the lunatic expansion of sex categories.

Last edited 11 months ago by Matt M
Nik Jewell
NJ
Nik Jewell
11 months ago

The climate workforce is already unionised. It works for the BBC, The Guardian and much of the rest of the media, producing the propaganda. It works for the universities, creating the narrative for the industry and in indoctrination. It works for NGOs, charities, in finance, in political lobbying … the list goes on.
Let’s not get started on the hypocrisy of our virtue signalling at the expense of outsourcing the problem or the total immorality of the infliction of regressive taxation and growing poverty on our own citizens and preventing the global south from developing the infrastructure they need to improve their lives, build flood defences and other climate mitigation measures. All the while neo-colonialists rape their countries for labour and natural resources.
We could talk about the Uyghur slaves or the environmental disasters of Inner Mongolia, Northern Myanmar or the Bolivian salars. We could talk about cobalt mining in the Congo where children work like slaves in scenes from Old Testament Hollywood films. There is no progressive halo here.
As for the wind farms and solar panels … let’s have another chat about these in 20 years when we will likely find that China stopped selling to them to us due to international frictions, and the ones we have now are rotting in our fields and off our coasts. 
There is climate change. There is no climate ‘crisis’ or ’emergency’.

UnHerd Reader
EC
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

yawn….

but:

”Seduced by climate rhetoric, the Left has become the unwitting ally of this programme.”

Come on, unwitting? Do sheep even have wits? Because ‘The Left’ in the last 3 years begged for alien genetic material which was very harmful to be shot in their arms, and arms of their children – begged for lock-downs to destroy the young mentally and physically and also to destroy their savings, pensions, income, and future Economy.

That not being enough they begged for 500,000 young men to be killed and another 500,000 to be maimed and given PTSD wile the entire nation and peoples of Ukraine utterly destroyed ‘FOR NO REASON’- meanwhile wrecking the global economy and existing Western Fiat Currencies; but making some industries and politicians a lot of blood money.

Then seduced to destroy society by destroying the Family, getting boys and girls to self sterilize and otherwise live alone and lonely, in the name of Gender Equity and fluidity. To not know ‘Which Bathroom’ to use.

And to make every aspect of society to cause hate between races and cultures and religions and sexual situations in the Orwellian ‘Anti-Racism’ program. And for fun destroy the entire education system in the name of – well… just sick weirdness’s. All the wile importing millions of Developing world, completely unsuitable, immigrants to wreck the native culture and society of their own nations.

And as you mention, the Left is destroying the economy, and thus the world, in the name of ESG as well – a pathological self harm. Chinese , rare earth gobbling windmills to kill bats, birds, and wales wile producing the most expensive and destructive electricity ever envisioned – excepting the Chinese solar panels for where sun hardly shines.

So the Left are captured 100% by the Bio-Pharma, Military, Education, Energy, Finance, Social Media, Industrial Complexes.

They taught the Progressive Left that the greatest utility is to destroy all which is good, and to promote, violently, all which is evil. The Modern, Progressive Left fill exactly the role in modern West that the Vandals and Visigoths filled in the end of Rome. hahaa. Not even sheep – but locusts come to denude the lands of all which sustains life.


Rob C
RC
Rob C
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Agreed, but wrecking the economies and cultures of the advanced nations is a goal of the Left. It’s not like the old Left which at least gave lip-service to improving economic conditions.

Rob C
RC
Rob C
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Agreed, but wrecking the economies and cultures of the advanced nations is a goal of the Left. It’s not like the old Left which at least gave lip-service to improving economic conditions.

UnHerd Reader
EC
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

yawn….

but:

”Seduced by climate rhetoric, the Left has become the unwitting ally of this programme.”

Come on, unwitting? Do sheep even have wits? Because ‘The Left’ in the last 3 years begged for alien genetic material which was very harmful to be shot in their arms, and arms of their children – begged for lock-downs to destroy the young mentally and physically and also to destroy their savings, pensions, income, and future Economy.

That not being enough they begged for 500,000 young men to be killed and another 500,000 to be maimed and given PTSD wile the entire nation and peoples of Ukraine utterly destroyed ‘FOR NO REASON’- meanwhile wrecking the global economy and existing Western Fiat Currencies; but making some industries and politicians a lot of blood money.

Then seduced to destroy society by destroying the Family, getting boys and girls to self sterilize and otherwise live alone and lonely, in the name of Gender Equity and fluidity. To not know ‘Which Bathroom’ to use.

And to make every aspect of society to cause hate between races and cultures and religions and sexual situations in the Orwellian ‘Anti-Racism’ program. And for fun destroy the entire education system in the name of – well… just sick weirdness’s. All the wile importing millions of Developing world, completely unsuitable, immigrants to wreck the native culture and society of their own nations.

And as you mention, the Left is destroying the economy, and thus the world, in the name of ESG as well – a pathological self harm. Chinese , rare earth gobbling windmills to kill bats, birds, and wales wile producing the most expensive and destructive electricity ever envisioned – excepting the Chinese solar panels for where sun hardly shines.

So the Left are captured 100% by the Bio-Pharma, Military, Education, Energy, Finance, Social Media, Industrial Complexes.

They taught the Progressive Left that the greatest utility is to destroy all which is good, and to promote, violently, all which is evil. The Modern, Progressive Left fill exactly the role in modern West that the Vandals and Visigoths filled in the end of Rome. hahaa. Not even sheep – but locusts come to denude the lands of all which sustains life.


Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

Thought this article was kind of confusing. Wind and solar, other than tiny operations, wouldn’t exist without direct subsidies and tax credits. That’s well documented. The author mentions the small is beautiful approach to renewables, but these projects have to be many times larger than nuclear and fossil fuels to produce the same amount of electricity. Maybe I missed the point somehow. He also failed to mention the role of regulations, which have restricted fossil fuel development, especially coal, and infrastructure like pipelines.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

just as an aside, I was on holiday in Crete 20 years ago and visited the Lassithi Plateau which was dotted with windmills slowly turning in the breeze pumping water for irrigation purposes. I asked are guide about them and he said they were in the process of replacing them with electric pumps

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

just as an aside, I was on holiday in Crete 20 years ago and visited the Lassithi Plateau which was dotted with windmills slowly turning in the breeze pumping water for irrigation purposes. I asked are guide about them and he said they were in the process of replacing them with electric pumps

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

Thought this article was kind of confusing. Wind and solar, other than tiny operations, wouldn’t exist without direct subsidies and tax credits. That’s well documented. The author mentions the small is beautiful approach to renewables, but these projects have to be many times larger than nuclear and fossil fuels to produce the same amount of electricity. Maybe I missed the point somehow. He also failed to mention the role of regulations, which have restricted fossil fuel development, especially coal, and infrastructure like pipelines.

Ticiba Upe
TU
Ticiba Upe
11 months ago

Well, from birth to death, there is nothing green about solar panels and windmills…on a side note, I just drove through the Alleghenies where entire ridges are littered with windmills….PA…

Ticiba Upe
TU
Ticiba Upe
11 months ago

Well, from birth to death, there is nothing green about solar panels and windmills…on a side note, I just drove through the Alleghenies where entire ridges are littered with windmills….PA…

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
11 months ago

neoliberals set their sights on the very institutions at the heart of the post-war boom [unions, universities, and even massive monopolistic corporations of the time, such as General Motors or IBM.]

The problem with Leftist professors – forgive the redundancy – is they believe what they think.

Last edited 11 months ago by Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
11 months ago

neoliberals set their sights on the very institutions at the heart of the post-war boom [unions, universities, and even massive monopolistic corporations of the time, such as General Motors or IBM.]

The problem with Leftist professors – forgive the redundancy – is they believe what they think.

Last edited 11 months ago by Sisyphus Jones
Andrew Wright
AW
Andrew Wright
11 months ago

I do wish that someone would identify most actual capitalist systems correctly – the US, the EU & many others are not properly capitalist at all. They are examples of ‘crony capitalism’ which corrupts everything it touches, including the tax system, politics and democracy. The answer to most of the issues confusingly raised by the author is simply to get rid of it.

Andrew Wright
AW
Andrew Wright
11 months ago

I do wish that someone would identify most actual capitalist systems correctly – the US, the EU & many others are not properly capitalist at all. They are examples of ‘crony capitalism’ which corrupts everything it touches, including the tax system, politics and democracy. The answer to most of the issues confusingly raised by the author is simply to get rid of it.

tug ordie
TO
tug ordie
11 months ago

You’ve chosen a very tough crowd for this piece!

Paul T
Paul T
11 months ago
Reply to  tug ordie

What; people who can understand actual words?

Paul T
PT
Paul T
11 months ago
Reply to  tug ordie

What; people who can understand actual words?

tug ordie
TO
tug ordie
11 months ago

You’ve chosen a very tough crowd for this piece!

Nathan Sapio
NS
Nathan Sapio
11 months ago

This over-arching concepts here are tangled worse than a bowl of spaghetti…

Nathan Sapio
NS
Nathan Sapio
11 months ago

This over-arching concepts here are tangled worse than a bowl of spaghetti…

Daniel Lee
DL
Daniel Lee
11 months ago

“Warren Buffett — whose company Berkshire-Hathaway is one of the biggest investors in renewables — famously said, ‘We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them.’”
And people who don’t want to find those tax-shelter wind farms next door are fighting back: https://www.wsj.com/articles/indianas-cornfields-could-be-gone-with-the-wind-farm-power-plant-energy-renewables-coal-nipsco-11674841400?st=43tz12t1zljgi7g&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

Daniel Lee
DL
Daniel Lee
11 months ago

“Warren Buffett — whose company Berkshire-Hathaway is one of the biggest investors in renewables — famously said, ‘We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them.’”
And people who don’t want to find those tax-shelter wind farms next door are fighting back: https://www.wsj.com/articles/indianas-cornfields-could-be-gone-with-the-wind-farm-power-plant-energy-renewables-coal-nipsco-11674841400?st=43tz12t1zljgi7g&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

Anton van der Merwe
AV
Anton van der Merwe
11 months ago

The article makes some good points but because of its focus on criticising neoliberalism he does not diagnose the problem. It is essentially a technical/scientific one.

Given how incredibly important electricity generation is to human well being, any policy has to allow expansion of cheap and reliable electricity provision to the whole world.

Trying to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy will require an enormous increase is the space allocated to energy production, and in the amount of material consumed and waste produced. Apart from hydro, renewable energy also has a very low energy return on energy invested (ERoEI), making it difficult to sustain a high standard of living while relying on it.

In contrast nuclear energy has by far the smallest environmental footprint and is also the cleanest and one of the safest in terms of death per unit of electricity generated. It also has the highest ERoEI, enabling is to sustain the highest standard of living.

We have enough nuclear fuel (uranium and thorium) to power the whole planet until the sun dies out.

The waste can be recycled and is tiny in volume and safe after ~200 years of storage. Uniquely, nuclear waste has done any harm.

The technical solution is clear. Building nuclear.

Last edited 11 months ago by Anton van der Merwe
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

Nice post.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

Nice post.

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
11 months ago

The article makes some good points but because of its focus on criticising neoliberalism he does not diagnose the problem. It is essentially a technical/scientific one.

Given how incredibly important electricity generation is to human well being, any policy has to allow expansion of cheap and reliable electricity provision to the whole world.

Trying to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy will require an enormous increase is the space allocated to energy production, and in the amount of material consumed and waste produced. Apart from hydro, renewable energy also has a very low energy return on energy invested (ERoEI), making it difficult to sustain a high standard of living while relying on it.

In contrast nuclear energy has by far the smallest environmental footprint and is also the cleanest and one of the safest in terms of death per unit of electricity generated. It also has the highest ERoEI, enabling is to sustain the highest standard of living.

We have enough nuclear fuel (uranium and thorium) to power the whole planet until the sun dies out.

The waste can be recycled and is tiny in volume and safe after ~200 years of storage. Uniquely, nuclear waste has done any harm.

The technical solution is clear. Building nuclear.

Last edited 11 months ago by Anton van der Merwe
John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
11 months ago

This is an interesting article that nonetheless grates like chewing tinfoil, presumably because it’s written by a left-winger doing what they do best: trying to rescue the political Left from its own contradictions.

“But the electricity grid is a shared social infrastructure that should be managed by a single entity.”
This strikes me as a particularly indefensible non-sequitur. The electricity grid does not possess any social dimension just because it is a utility, or just because it spans approximately the same geographical dimensions as the society it serves. And because this is a fallacy, the rest of the logic in the article upon which it depends also fails: there is no basis for making the ideological conclusions in question.

However it’s a pity, because one thing stated above is true: the Left has indeed been seduced by the narrative on climate change. But it is important to emphasise that this is a case of falling for your own bullshit: this stuff didn’t start as a clever wheeze by a bunch of capitalists, it was conceived, driven and grown into a globally dominant agenda by the same stable of left-wing internationalists that have been trying the same damn thing for over a century and seem to have stumbled on a means of finally achieving it. It is true that this global boondoggle now contains a strong capitalist element – though it should of course be called corporatist – but markets and business are the latecomers to this party, of that there is no doubt.

Last edited 11 months ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
11 months ago

This is an interesting article that nonetheless grates like chewing tinfoil, presumably because it’s written by a left-winger doing what they do best: trying to rescue the political Left from its own contradictions.

“But the electricity grid is a shared social infrastructure that should be managed by a single entity.”
This strikes me as a particularly indefensible non-sequitur. The electricity grid does not possess any social dimension just because it is a utility, or just because it spans approximately the same geographical dimensions as the society it serves. And because this is a fallacy, the rest of the logic in the article upon which it depends also fails: there is no basis for making the ideological conclusions in question.

However it’s a pity, because one thing stated above is true: the Left has indeed been seduced by the narrative on climate change. But it is important to emphasise that this is a case of falling for your own bullshit: this stuff didn’t start as a clever wheeze by a bunch of capitalists, it was conceived, driven and grown into a globally dominant agenda by the same stable of left-wing internationalists that have been trying the same damn thing for over a century and seem to have stumbled on a means of finally achieving it. It is true that this global boondoggle now contains a strong capitalist element – though it should of course be called corporatist – but markets and business are the latecomers to this party, of that there is no doubt.

Last edited 11 months ago by John Riordan
David Mayes
DM
David Mayes
11 months ago

Most commenter are misunderstanding this article. His analysis is correct. In the last three decades of the 20th century small-is-beautiful leftists allied with free market advocates from the right to give us the energy mess that has infected most western nations.

The author advocates a centrally controlled electricity grid powered by mostly nuclear with some, and say 25% hydro, solar or wind.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  David Mayes

That’s what I found confusing. Wind and solar are anything but small and beautiful. Their footprint is massive compared to other forms of energy production.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  David Mayes

That’s what I found confusing. Wind and solar are anything but small and beautiful. Their footprint is massive compared to other forms of energy production.

David Mayes
David Mayes
11 months ago

Most commenter are misunderstanding this article. His analysis is correct. In the last three decades of the 20th century small-is-beautiful leftists allied with free market advocates from the right to give us the energy mess that has infected most western nations.

The author advocates a centrally controlled electricity grid powered by mostly nuclear with some, and say 25% hydro, solar or wind.

B Timothy
BT
B Timothy
11 months ago

Just to note, Jimmy Carter was by far the most pro-Coal President the USA has ever had. His administration coincided with the massive expansion of Wyoming Powder River Basin coal to replace the old oil burners and was a massive success.
But was the US government going to build new coal plants? No. Private companies were and did, and then competed with each other on price in a transparent marketplace. All Carter did was require diversification of fuel sources (to US-sourced) and let the market work.
But…The primary issue with “neoliberal electricity markets” today is the government subsidizing unreliable generators while forcing reliable generators offline! The cost of wholesale power drops when the subsidized renewables are producing (altogether, all at once) and rise mammothly once they stop (altogether, all at once). There is nowhere that has seen it’s wholesale prices fall due to renewables.
Please, let’s stop subsidizing this. Especially, as we often hear, “it’s cheaper anyway.”
P.S. Jimmy Carter is remembered fondly, and often poorly, for all the wrong reasons.

Last edited 11 months ago by B Timothy
B Timothy
BT
B Timothy
11 months ago

Just to note, Jimmy Carter was by far the most pro-Coal President the USA has ever had. His administration coincided with the massive expansion of Wyoming Powder River Basin coal to replace the old oil burners and was a massive success.
But was the US government going to build new coal plants? No. Private companies were and did, and then competed with each other on price in a transparent marketplace. All Carter did was require diversification of fuel sources (to US-sourced) and let the market work.
But…The primary issue with “neoliberal electricity markets” today is the government subsidizing unreliable generators while forcing reliable generators offline! The cost of wholesale power drops when the subsidized renewables are producing (altogether, all at once) and rise mammothly once they stop (altogether, all at once). There is nowhere that has seen it’s wholesale prices fall due to renewables.
Please, let’s stop subsidizing this. Especially, as we often hear, “it’s cheaper anyway.”
P.S. Jimmy Carter is remembered fondly, and often poorly, for all the wrong reasons.

Last edited 11 months ago by B Timothy
Hardee Hodges
HH
Hardee Hodges
11 months ago

Distributed power systems are possible with small nuclear reactors and smart grid interconnect. Large solar or wind farms require considerable transmission lines that are not as efficient. Worse we are seeing a leveling of solar panel prices with increases expected due to increasing materiel costs. So much for rooftop generation. The climate nuts hate nuclear but that’s the only way we really reduce fossil fuel plants.
While solar and wind might beat out coal now it’s only via the subsidies. And doubtful even by ’27, see Germany now.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

“To understand these dynamics, we need to look to the Seventies and the rise of neoliberalism. During this crisis decade, power and influence was shifted toward capital and an associated free market ideology. Though often portrayed as anti-government, neoliberals in fact promoted quite an active state, creating the institutional conditions for markets, the extension of private power, and above all the insulation of states from democratic control.”
Nonsense. This whole process started with FDR when when business and the state first cozied. Through business the employees of the state gained access to wealth that would never have been theirs’s as humble civil servants and business elite gained access to that inexhaustible supply of lovely money that is the US tax dollar insulating them from the harsh winds of competition and ensure that they nd their descendants remained elite come what may.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
11 months ago

Well, the author is right to the extent that land-owners are making huge sums out of renewable energy projects, paid for by consumers. However, his misrepresentation of Thatcher’s “no such thing as society” speech casts doubt on the rest of his analysis.

glyn harries
GH
glyn harries
11 months ago

This is bizarre. It’s clearly neo-liberalism that is the problem, NOT renewable energy, yet the author seems to tar the later with the former.

glyn harries
GH
glyn harries
11 months ago

This is bizarre. It’s clearly neo-liberalism that is the problem, NOT renewable energy, yet the author seems to tar the later with the former.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Complete rubbish.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

LOL. I didn’t look at the link, but I’ve heard the argument countless times. Fossil fuel companies in the west get tax deductions for things like equipment investment and exploration, standard deductions used across many industries. The deductions have no value unless the companies actually turn a profit. Wind and solar get tax credits, which have value even if they don’t earn a profit. They also get govt loan guarantees and fixed pricing. One isn’t like the other,

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Complete rubbish.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

LOL. I didn’t look at the link, but I’ve heard the argument countless times. Fossil fuel companies in the west get tax deductions for things like equipment investment and exploration, standard deductions used across many industries. The deductions have no value unless the companies actually turn a profit. Wind and solar get tax credits, which have value even if they don’t earn a profit. They also get govt loan guarantees and fixed pricing. One isn’t like the other,