Monday, May 2, 2022

Limits to fossil fuel

Russia has started to cut off energy to countries that offend them. Poland and Bulgaria appear to be defiant. It certainly helps that this is May and not December. Countries have spring, summer and fall to figure out alternatives. 

It’s Germany who’s in a tight spot. They gambled heavily on Russian oil. Big mistake. It makes logical sense that economic ties should prevent conflict. That only works if economics is more important than other considerations. Apparently Russia is more motivated by imperialistic ambitions. 

Bear with me as I make a slight detour. Economic sanctions, by themselves, won’t change Putin’s behavior. He appears willing to fight to the last conscript and general. However, it does do things like prevent Russia from building any more tanks. Thanks to sanctions Russia lacks the parts necessary to build and repair tanks. It’s also taking a huge bite out of Russia’s technological capabilities. 

Moving on. So what Germany and other European countries are doing is a crash energy program. Germany absolutely must do this to keep its economy going, so it will. They might have a tough couple  of years but will sort it out. It also helps that Europe is working together on this. Their energy grids are now tied together more than ever before. France is running it’s nuke plants wide open. 

The United States is in a unique position of being reasonably energy independent right now. The US also has access to Canadian oil sand production too. Realize that this is not a long term solution. Fracked wells don’t produce forever. What North America should be doing is working hard on a more diversified energy system -for security reasons if nothing else. 

Now onto what the individual can do. Expect energy costs to be volatile and plan accordingly. I just paid my last heating oil bill -possibly forever. I’m in the process of greatly reducing the square footage of the house that will be heated next winter. The whole upstairs will be closed off. The basement will be better insulated and the area heated reduced to just the parts with plumbing. That’s about a 12 X 20 foot area. Even the washing machine will be moved to the center of the house so we don’t have to heat the mud room. 

My kitchen woodstove will easily be able to heat the remaining space. I’m going to have some backup heat so we can leave the house for a few days. Currently heating oil prices are so high in my area that electric heat is now viable. 

What I’d also like to do is spend the worse of the winter in the sunny south. That depends on a few factors but is certainly a consideration. While I want to do that, I’ll plan as if we are spending the whole winter in the frozen north. 



  1. Actually Russia is cutting off those countries who are refusing to pay in roubles.
    Which considering we've effectively stolen half a trillion dollars of Russian foreign reserves is pretty unsurprising.
    Even in WW2 we never seized Germanys foreign reserves. Its considered internationally beyond the pale.
    As a consequence over half the world no longer trusts us and is seeking to deal in anything but the dollar. The geniuses in DC have hammered the lid shut on the coffin of the petrodollar. In less than 5 years they'll have alternative systems fully functional and our influence will be vastly diminished as will our ability to pay our debts.

    1. Russia invading Ukraine is beyond the pale. Economic sanctions is war by other means. I'm not going to cry over Russia's lost money after they've committed war crimes.

    2. That's fine, but don't whine about energy costs when a big chunk of the world's supply is no longer available to us. Or that the dollar becomes increasingly worthless as nations dump it. The petrodollar has kept the economy on life support for years. Once it goes pensions, social security, Medicaid and medicare will all be unfundable and vanish like a fart in the wind.
      Anyway my point was that you were wrong about why Russia is cutting countries off.

    3. Oh and please as for war crimes you missed Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya did you. I didn't I was there.
      Hell when the ICC wanted to investigate us we sanctioned the head of the ICC.
      The hypocrisy is nauseating.