President Obama and environmentalists often say America should follow Europe’s lead on energy, climate and economic matters.
Recent events suggest that we should listen more attentively to the Europeans.
Two brutal winters have awakened Europe to the fact that global temperatures stopped rising in 1998 – and that frigid days and nights pose far graver dangers to the elderly and poor than warm weather and moderate global warming.
Germany and the Netherlands were gripped by near-record lows this past winter. People suffered frostbite and some froze to death in Poland and Russia.
Barely twelve months after its Meteorological Office said the 2009-10 winter was the coldest in three decades, Britain endured its coldest December-January since 1683. Because the United Kingdom’s ultra green energy policies have driven heating costs into the stratosphere, British pensioners rode buses or spent all day in libraries to stay warm, then shivered all night in their apartments. Tens of thousands risked hypothermia, trying to control costs by bundling up and turning the heat down or off. Many died.
In Wales, a third of all children live in low-income households, and a quarter of all households were in “fuel poverty” – forced to spend at least 10% of their income on heating. Many parents had to choose between keeping their children warm and providing them with nourishing meals, welfare workers said. Many Welsh children couldn’t sleep at night because of the cold, damaging their health and grades.
This isn’t proof that the world is entering a global cooling cycle. But the absence of sunspots is the most prolonged in a century, and scientists say the reduced solar activity is reminiscent of the Maunder Minimum, between 1645 and 1715, when the Northern Hemisphere suffered through the coldest weather, worst storms and shortest growing seasons of the Little Ice Age.
The frigid weather, freezing families, record budget deficits, soaring unemployment – and complete failure of global warming computer models to predict anything other than “a warmer than normal winter” – have caused a meltdown in Europe’s longstanding climate and energy policies.
In fact, many Europeans increasingly recognize that businesses, hospitals and especially poor families absolutely need reliable, affordable energy – which wind and solar cannot provide.
The British government is looking into cutting subsidies, feed-in tariffs and other incentives for solar projects, to prevent the boom-and-bust seen in Spain and predicted for the Czech Republic. Wind turbines, small hydroelectric plants and biomass projects are also on the block, as the government attempts to revive the UK economy, raise its competitiveness, radically reduce rising debt burdens, and chart a more economically and politically realistic course.
United Kingdom manufacturers say “green energy” policies and increased penalties for using fossil fuels are raising their costs to intolerable levels, especially for energy-intensive industries. Manufacturing is “reaching a tipping point,” they say, “where companies that are internationally mobile will say ‘enough is enough,’” and simply move to Asia. Millions of jobs are on the line.
The Netherlands is likewise reducing its renewable energy targets and slashing wind and solar subsidies.