Current Affairs - June 14, 2021

It would be a fascinating exercise to go back to the year 2000 and describe U.S. energy policy and geopolitics from 2000-2021 to environmentalist liberals. “Well, ramping up in 2009, we’ll have more than doubled oil production and ended up producing about 1/5th of the world’s oil,” you might begin. “Coal will run out of steam, but we’ll mostly just replace it with natural gas, building a vast pipeline network. In 2021 we’ll still be fighting multiple oil-based forever wars. We’ll have learned a lot more about climate change, and it’s a huge problem and temperatures are on track to rise by 3.3 degrees Celsius, rendering much of the world uninhabitable. We did all that stuff anyway.”

It would then be interesting to ask them what they thought would cause this. Given the increased enthusiasm for fossil fuels in 2009, they might assume an oil-baron Republican had won in 2008. Fundamentally, they would likely assume that we must have had several decades of tragically right-wing energy and foreign policy. And they’d be exactly right. They probably couldn’t imagine how environmentally-conscious Democrats would be fond of politicians at the heart of all of these policies, or how thoroughly the Democratic party would be invested in them. Unfortunately—like the proverbial frog sitting in slowly-heating water until it boils to death—we’ve all just grown accustomed to cynicism and inaction on the decisive challenge of our time. 

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