Articles from 2013
Goodbye to the New York Times Green Blog
- Published Date
- Written by Nick Grealy
It's ironic that the last words of the New York Times Green Blog come from Dieter Helm, who used to be the UK's name brand energy economist but suddenly persona non grata now he points out the utter failure of Kyoto to UK and EU policy makers at the same time he suggests natural gas is the obvious solution that lies if not under our nose, then certainly under our feet.
I'll miss the Green Blog but perhaps all the Green blogs of Europe can learn something.
The blog didn't actually solve anything. It provided a forum for countless environmentalists to nibble around the edges and to have counter productive vendettas. It allowed everyone to vent: Cuomo was a traitor. Shale gas is a Cheneyite plot. Everyone could argue about the best energy, completely losing sight of how the argument should have been against the worst. Assuming we all agree that whale oil is no solution, the blog got blindsided by the success of gas in replacing coal: The US's gift to the planet. In the meantime, they nibbbled around the edges, providing arenas for any number of 1% solutions or concentrating on which science fiction scenario was the most pure.
The Green Blogs of especially the Guardian, but also people like Business Green or 2 degrees or Ends long lost sight of actually wanting to accomplish anything except perpetuating themselves. The very last thing they would want to do is to put themselves out of a job. Solving CO2 would be the true environmental catastrophe, or at least to their little echo chamber cum eco-sphere portion of the environment. To varying degrees, they have all been hostile to natural gas, seeing it not as enabler of green targets but as enemy. To them, the simplistic all carbon fuels are bad narrative is getting carried away and threatens to take equally important issues along with it.
By shutting themselves out of the real world, where natural gas actually provides solutions, as imperfect as they are, greens run two risks:
1. All the sites, in common with allies like the CBI (!) and the Lib Dems, are so convinced of their righteousness that they are missing how the rest of the world is moving on. They too will one day wake up to find that it isn't 2004 anymore.
2. Most dangerously from a left/liberal perspective, they damage progressive politics by their all or nothing approach. We could end up not with the far off catastrophe, or not, of runaway climate change but with a far more dangerous threat.
Pretending climate change is the only problem of our time ignores the others. Pretending that natural gas has no role and is in fact the enemy of the green economy enables not only coal in Europe, but parties of the right and all they include.
In short, the Greens, if in fact they are true progressives, are walking us into a trap. We'll end up with the worst of all possible worlds: A dirty world built on right wing fantasy.