Conclusions from the Georgia war
By nico on Aug 12, 2008
Georgia was simply not a defensible route for Europe to energy independence from Russia. Nor could it have been for years more, and because of its remoteness, and unless Turkey wished to have a very active role in NATO (which seems unlikely) then it was bound to stay indefensible for as long as Russia manages to keep up its military (i.e., for the foreseeable future).
Therefore Europe has two choices: become a satellite of Russia, or pursue alternatives to natural gas and oil from Russia.
To save Europe from subservience to Russia will require the development of new energy sources. Geopolitical plays can only work if backed by willingness to use superior military firepower. Europe clearly lacks the necessary military superiority and will-power, therefore only new nuclear power plants, and new non-Russian/non-OPEC oil and gas sources qualify in the short- to medium-term.
So, ramp up nuclear power production (as that's the only alternative fuel with a realistic chance of producing enough additional power in in the short- to medium-term). And, of course, build more terminals to receive oil and LNG tankers would help.
But any oil/gas to be received by tanker terminals have got to come from somewhere (and Russia's has got to have an outlet other than Europe). It would help enormously if new oil sources outside OPEC and Russia could be developed, as new friendly supplies would reduce the leverage that Russia has on Europe. That can only be Brazilian, American and Canadian oil.
Does Europe have the fortitude to try? Does the U.S. have the leverage to get Europe to try?
The big loser here is Europe. Europe now has to choose whether to surrender or struggle for independence. The U.S. probably can't force them. A European surrender to Russia will be slow, and subtle, but real. If Europe surrenders then NATO is over. Funny, that Russia is poised to achieve what the Soviet Union could not. But it isn't funny. And I suspect few citizens of Europe understand, and few that do object; anti-Americanism may have won.
The only thing Europe has going for it is that there is much less NIMBYist resistance to nuclear power there than in the U.S. Also, awareness that a power crunch is at hand, and a much more severe one probably coming is starting to sink in around the world (drilling for oil everywhere is now very popular in the U.S., for example, with very large majorities in favor; support for new nuclear power plants is bound to follow as well).
As for the environment, I don't for a second believe in anthropogenic global warming, but ocean acidification is much easier to prove, and appears to be real, and is much, much more of an immediate and dire threat to humans than global warming. Regardless of which threat is real, and regardless of how dire, there's only one way to fight global warming/ocean acidification: increase the wealth of Earth's nations, which in the short-term means producing more energy. American rivers were an environmental mess four decades ago, but today the U.S. is one of the cleanest places on Earth. The U.S. cleaned up when its citizens were rich enough that they could manage to care and to set aside wealth for cleaning things up. It follows that the same is true for the rest of the world, and if that's not enough, consider what would happen if the reverse approach is followed instead: miserable human populations that will burn what they have to to survive, the environment be damned.
Let us set on a crash course to develop new energy sources, realistic and practical ones, and let us set on a course to promote and develop international commerce like never before.