Maybe Donald Trump is just not your type of guy, and certainly not the guy you would want to be President; but keep in mind who was the alternative. Before these things fade into the memory hole, bring back to mind a few of the wildly incompetent policies of the previous administration. Looking around today for a candidate as the policy of the previous administration that could be the very most wildly incompetent of all, with a very real potential to put the security of the country in serious jeopardy, my leading contender is the decision to declare "climate change" to be a top-priority national security risk.
Do you remember Obama doing that? It wasn't that long ago. In his second inaugural address in January 2013, Obama declared that “no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Then, over the next couple of years, he ramped up the claimed "challenge" of climate change from mere "greatest threat to future generations" to an "immediate threat to national security." Think about that for a minute -- how would it even work? Suppose the temperature goes up a few degrees over the next few decades. Does it mean that we don't have an army any more? Does it mean that our weapons won't work? Nevertheless, in a National Security Strategy document in February 2015, the Obama administration declared climate change to be “an urgent and growing threat to our national security,” Then in May 2015, Obama gave a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. Excerpt:
I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act, and we need to act now.
Supposedly, something like sea level, or maybe wildfires, or maybe floods -- all completely speculative -- would somehow make the country harder to defend. Meanwhile, when Obama talked about "acting now," what he meant was restricting production fossil fuels in the United States. What did he think was the fuel that powers the planes and ships and missiles, let alone powering the economy that provides all the logistical support to keep the military functioning? As far as I could tell, he had no idea. In the name of "national security" he would hobble and ultimately shut down our own oil and coal and gas industries, leaving us to go begging for the necessary fuel to -- where? OPEC? Russia? Venezuela? You really need to be delusional not to be able to distinguish the real national security threat here from the imaginary one.
As you probably know, in a new National Security Strategy document released yesterday President Trump reversed this ridiculous policy of President Obama. The new document does not contain any section explicitly dealing with "climate," but it does have a section titled "Embrace Energy Dominance." Key quote:
Access to domestic sources of clean, affordable, and reliable energy underpins a prosperous, secure, and powerful America for decades to come. Unleashing these abundant energy resources—coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear—stimulates the economy and builds a foundation for future growth. Our Nation must take advantage of our wealth in domestic resources and energy efficiency to promote competitiveness across our industries. . . . Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system. U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy secu- rity interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty. The United States will continue to advance an approach that balances energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.
Bullet dodged, at least for the moment.
Now, perhaps on reading this, you remain skeptical that hobbling U.S. fossil fuel energy production could jeopardize national security by making the U.S. dependent on the likes of OPEC or Russia for fuel needed to run the military or the economy. If so, I would urge you to pay attention to what has just been occurring in the UK. The UK is thought to have substantial natural gas-bearing shale formations (full extent unknown due to lack of exploration) that could be tapped to supply fuel for the country. However, during the whole time of the shale gas revolution in the United States, the process of horizontal drilling and "fracking" for gas has been essentially shut down by regulators over concerns of environmentalists. The first exploratory well after the moratorium finally got going just this August. From the Financial Times, August 17:
Drilling has started on the first UK shale well for six years even as debate intensifies among geologists over how much gas is available for fracking. Cuadrilla, the company leading the push to bring US-style shale gas production to the UK, said on Thursday it had begun drilling a vertical well expected to reach 3.5km beneath its site near Blackpool, Lancashire. . . . Fracking has been on hold in the UK since 2011 when two small earth tremors were blamed on exploratory operations by Cuadrilla at another site near Blackpool. Cuadrilla was given the go-ahead by the government last year to resume drilling, reflecting ministers’ hopes of replicating the shale revolution that has cut US gas prices and bolstered American energy security.
Lacking a home-grown, land-based gas supply from fracking, the UK has been relying on gas from the aging North Sea fields, as well as gas that comes from the Middle East and also Norway via pipelines across Europe. Both of those sources then suddenly experienced supply disruptions in the past couple of weeks. From the Telegraph, December 13:
Around 40pc of the UK’s domestic [natural gas] supplies have been wiped out until the new year due to the emergency shutdown of the North Sea’s Forties pipeline, operated by Ineos. Supply from Europe has also been constrained by the explosion at a hub in Austria and technical problems in the Norwegian North Sea.
Time to crank up the vast reserves of solar panels? No, dummy, those don't work in the winter. Wind turbines also have zero ability to step up in an emergency. The first result of the supply disruptions was a huge spike in natural gas prices in the UK:
[R]ocketing demand in Europe [has driven] the price for gas delivered to the UK to more than $10 per million British thermal units.
For comparison, a representative recent spot price in the U.S. was $2.84 per million BTUs. But you've got to get your energy somewhere. So who will sell you gas at a gouging price when you are desperate? The answer, of course, is Russia:
Britain has emerged as the unlikely first recipient of gas from a sanctioned Russian project after fears of a winter supply crisis drove prices close to five year highs. . . . Now a deal has been struck to bring the debut cargo from Yamal to the Isle of Grain import terminal via a specially built ice-breaking tanker by the end of the month.
The Telegraph includes this picture of a smiling Vladimir Putin:
It's really hard to believe how dumb these people are to have put themselves in this position. But then, when they make their decisions, they do it against the backdrop of the U.S. military shield, let alone of the frack-happy U.S. as an alternative emergency supplier when Russia puts on the squeeze. But if we had shut down our fracking over concerns about "climate change," we would have been dependent on OPEC and Russia like Europe and the UK are now. Who would have been our emergency supplier when those guys decided to put on the squeeze? And, rest assured, Hillary, following in Obama's footsteps, would have enthusiastically put the country in this position.