Thursday, March 27, 2014

It's Madness

Andrew Nikiforuk writes that petropolitics are behind what is going on in Ukraine:

Russia, a true petro state, sits on one-fifth of the world's natural gas supply. About one-third of the natural gas burnt in Europe comes from Russia via Ukraine, which once housed the Russian capital centuries ago. In addition, Russia almost exports as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

Not surprisingly, Putin gets his political mojo from oil and gas revenues just as Margaret Thatcher once secured her power base on proceeds from the North Sea. Nearly 50 per cent of Russia's total budget depends on the sale of hydrocarbons.

It's a familiar story these days:

The story should be familiar to most North Americans. In U.S. political lingo, Ukraine is a blue state dependent on energy imports from Russia, the powerful red state next door. They share a tense master-slave relationship.

And, of course, our prime minister plays the same game, although he lectures Putin on his wrong headed approach to international relations. Those relations these days have become toxic -- because oil and gas corrupt petro states.

It's time, Nikiforuk writes, to recognize a few petro truths:

As long as energy prices remain high and fill government coffers, Putin will use energy to keep the former Soviet Union in his fold and to strut his stuff.
• It is unlikely that Ukraine will break free of its corrupt energy relationship with Russia anytime soon. Expect more oligarchs and instability.
• The West ignores its greatest vulnerability: unsustainable energy spending. Cheap energy created energy-intensive, capitalist, growth-oriented and market-driven systems, and expensive energy will unravel the miracle.
• Extreme and high-cost energy from unconventional resources, such as deep ocean oil and bitumen, with lower energy returns, has now constricted much of the industrial world and locked it in stagnation.
• Industrial nations are cannibalizing their economies to run faster on an energy treadmill. Strangely, they think Putin is mad.
• In this brave new world, energy exporters will behave like masters and energy importers will submit like slaves. And there will be more and more Ukraines.

It's poisonous politics. And it's madness.


Hugh said...

Yes, it's like getting to the bottom of the gas tank, and it's full of sludge. The engine starts to sputter. Car slows down! Driver goes nuts!

ffd said...

Yet Germany is escaping total dependence on conventional energy producing countries by developing renewable energy. "Developing" understates the situation; they are inventing it from scratch, and Germany is not gifted as regards the usual sources of renewable energy such as sunshine.

By 2012 Germany got 25% of its energy from renewables, and they are aiming at 35% by 2020 and likely to get it.

In Germany even individual households produce energy from solar panels and sell any surplus to others. I don't know how they do this but it gives even small units some independence from outrageous energy prices.

In Canada we haven't moved one step past 1970, even though Canada is extremely gifted as regards sources. We even have the Bay of Fundy, an enormous tidal bore, an energy factory in itself. It's not necessary for us to lead such stupid, narrow, dependent lives though of course our dependence and ignorance is exactly what the power people want.

Canadians are marshmallows, just sitting there waiting to be toasted, and it's time people woke up.

Owen Gray said...

And a few people get obscenely rich, Hugh.

Owen Gray said...

And Mr. Harper wants to keep it that way, ffd.

Hugh said...

Renewable energy is fine, it's just that it would supply less energy, IMO.

So switching to renewables would mean economic de-growth. Ok, but de-growth conflicts with the current economic system, which appears to depend on endless economic growth.

In BC we are absolutely blessed with publicly-owned BC Hydro, which is about 95% renewable hydro.

But it is now partly-privatized, and is being driven deep into debt.

Anonymous said...

In reality the people of Albituma(Alberta) and its government are the slaves the masters are clearly big oil. Peter Lougheed* set Alberta on a path like Norway every premier since has been big oils puppet as is Harper I wonder how much indirect money he gets from the Koch brothers?


We need people like Lougheed in Edmonton, Ottawa and Victoria instead we have a bunch of push-over pansies who are afraid to confront big oil and glower over the scraps left for them while ignoring the massive debt piled on for future clean-ups.

Perverted antiquated foolish economic fantasies have taken over political thinking in Canada. Redford, Christy Clark and Harper and his gang of mutants, the whole lot of them should go to China, do not pass go; do not collect $200! Perhaps there they may become humble instead of the entitlement minded egotistical louts they have become.


Owen Gray said...

Privatizing public resources is part of the Right's agenda, Hugh. They claim that the private sector can do a better job of managing them.

The truth is it's all about privatizing profits and socializing losses.

Owen Gray said...

Lougheed was one of the last of a dying breed, Mogs -- a progressive conservative.

ffd said...

Germany is not suffering from de-growth, quite the opposite, it is the most successful economy in Europe. They are creating a whole new industry with many jobs.

Germany may never provide all its energy needs from renewables as it is almost landlocked, with limited sunshine. But even 25% or soon 35% gives a certain stability to the economy and resistance to foreign bullying from oil providers.

Furthermore all the knowledge they are developing is highly exportable. Most Canadians think you just plunk a wind mill anywhere and then find out that the location was poor. Actually you study wind patterns for at least two years before setting up wind mills. It's not a hobby.

A few years ago Europeans were negotiating a trans-European renewables grid with countries like Spain using their abundant sunshine to create energy and northern countries using wind. A trans-European grid was planned so that there would always be renewables from somewhere. I don't know what is happening here; maybe the recession makes such development difficult.

In Canada there is no information on renewables on MSM and most Canadians reject them automatically, without a single question. I guess all the brainwashing is paying off, but not for Canadians. We have everything in this country for ALL of us to live very well.

Anonymous said...

Hugh it is a fact here in BC that Clarks Liberal government is purposefully running BC Hydro in red ink because they have planned to privatize it under Gordon Campbell. Once the red ink is so top heavy they think the voters won't mind them eliminating it, in order to pull this off the Clark government is forcing BC Hydro to buy power from private run of river for profit companies (IPP's) at more than they can sell it for, some of them are foreign US money grabbers. This is BC, The Tyee has covered this in great detail and if you live here Hugh get informed. The way the Gordon Campbell gave away BC rail (Clark was in on it) is what BC Hydro and BC Liquor Distribution is going. Our elected reps do not represent us they now openly represent big business and corporate greed for profit.

"4. This means that BC Hydro, because the contracts imposed on them say so, must pay IPPs more than double the market price! And up to 10 times what they can produce it for!

5. BC Hydro, under government imposed contracts, must pay IPPs for this power they don't need: $50 billion over the next 25 to 30 years, meaning about $2 billion per year, indexed to the cost of living. This assumes that no more IPP contracts are let -- yet new ones are being negotiated now." -From; BC Hydro's Darkening Future-How BC Liberals are shutting off our province's energy options. By Rafe Mair, 2 Sep 2013,'s

Our elected officials in Canada are forfeiting their duties enmasse to worship at the alter of corporatism, it sucks to be Canadian anymore. In a few very short years BC Alberta and Ottawa have led the charge into crass commercialization of everything that used to be public property.

Time to out all the twisted corporate/government alliances that ruinate our representatives.


Anonymous said...

By the way Hugh because of this they are tripling the cost of Hydro this year to us the citizens whom BC Hydro was set=up for in the first place all to put money into the IPP;s (Independent Power Producers) and much of this money leaves Canada, we BC Hydro consumers are footing the bill every-time we use electricity and I find it annoying that my government does this to us knowingly and willingly without consent. At the same time bankrupting a public utility.


Owen Gray said...

Renewable energy is a good idea economically, ffd. But this isn't the first time that oil companies have blocked a good idea.

They fought the idea of building electric cars fifty years ago. It's only in the last decade that electric cars have made a comeback.

Owen Gray said...

I'm not well informed about B.C politics, Mogs and Anon. But it strikes me that, if Christy Clark succeeded Stephen Harper, we'd get more of the same.

Anonymous said...

Owen it would actually be much worse under Clark, but then of course her top advisors were/are transplanted fed-cons:

"The new chair of the B.C. government's Multicultural Advisory Council, Tenzin Dargyal Khangsar, courted ethnic voters for the Conservatives while working as an aide to federal Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney,... (Feb. 2014)

"Why has Clark hired three ex-Conservative operatives closely connected to Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- her chief of staff Ken Boessenkool, communications director Sara MacIntyre and senior advisor Dimitri Pantazopoulos?..." (March 2012)'s+federal+conservative+advisors

We know ex-premier Gordon Campbell who left office in disgrace over lying about HST(he also got a DUI in Hawaii while in office-not the reason he left) was rewarded by Harper with a cushy appointment 'Canada's High Commissioner to Britain' the BC Liberals and the federal Conservatives are joined at the hip. They are one and the same and absolutely fearless in ripping off the citizen/taxpayer for their masters in corporate governance.

Campbell, Clark and Harper consummate and compulsive liars all.


Owen Gray said...

The Conservatives do look after their own, Anon.