The Earth’s Green Future is Forked

From Climate Etc.

By Planning Engineer  (Russ Schussler)

Do we care more about keeping CO2 emissions lower in just the western world, or do we want to reduce emissions worldwide?

Currently most of the western world  is seeking collectively to reduce global CO2 emissions and achieve “net zero”. The fatal flaw is that the success of approach hinge on two premises:

  1. The western world will be able to greatly reduce their CO2 outputs through the use of wind, solar and other renewable resources.
  2. The western world will be able to inspire, convince, cajole or command other nations to do the same.

How will the west stop other nations from acquiring “affordable” power  to improve their standard of living? What carrots and sticks might be employed? The World Bank attempts to exercise control through what types of development might be funded or not. The US Energy secretary recently said, “”(W)e want to get to net zero [emissions] by 2050. We are really pushing other countries to do the same… countries are susceptible to peer pressure because no nation wants to be the “outlier.”

Long term, the efficacy of  these tools and approaches seems weak compared to the great pressures associated with providing for the health , safety and economic development of third world nations. It is at best tragically naïve to expect that China and third world nations will peacefully agree to be kept back long term by the CO2 goals and machinations of the western world.

Countries that will likely rely on coal and diverge from the western approach have very large populations. There are over 1.4 billion people in China as well as in India. Will China support energy development in  Africa? China is currently supporting various African nations in their efforts at modernization. Each of these three areas on their own have as large population as the US and Europe combined. While emissions from the US and Western Europe are shrinking, emissions from Asia are skyrocketing. India and Africa may just be starting a steep ramp upwards.

From the above chart ,several things are evident. If trends continue, the emission increases from Asia and Africa will dwarf any impacts from reductions in North America, Oceania and Europe. This will be the case even if North America, Oceania and Europe  somehow all manage to get to net zero.

Consider that the western world is on a course towards more expensive electricity. If you understand that it will also likely result in greater unreliability,  you see the emerging concerns as intensely magnified.   Higher cost (and more unreliable) energy in the west will lead to a greater exodus of manufacturing, production, industry and emissions to developing countries. This seems highly likely as  today as efforts to implement green technology rely upon resources and technology produced within China and third world nations with energy sources which are not as clean as what is being replaced.

Does it make sense to continue on a plan which calls not only for massive technological leaps, higher costs and reduced reliability for the participants, but also virtually ensures that that the developing world will go in a different direction? Or does it make more sense to consider plans that might be more effective globally, considering  the most likely scenarios to play out worldwide?

A Better Scenario?

The numbers provided below were developed informally for illustration purposes. But rest assured that with a complex sophisticated computer model relying on a host of inputs, we could tweak the parameters to arrive at essentially the same results presented below.

Scenario A represents the forked future that will likely emerge if present strategies are continued. In Scenario B, the US strategy is to develop and improve affordable “cleaner” technology for use domestically and worldwide. The impact of this focus will be to raise C02 emissions in the US, but lower net emissions in China, India and Africa. Further, with lower cost differentials, less energy consumption will be exported to foreign manufacturers with higher emissions. US efforts that make marginal improvements toward moderately cleaner technology can potentially show far more sweeping impacts, than 100% reduction targets that are ignored by the third world. Below are the sample illustrative numbers.

Under these hypothetical alternative scenarios, one can see the possibility that the US may be more effective with focused goals that are less stringent. Our greatest strength may be as a leader in developing technology that works for us and the third world as well, rather than excelling in a path that others cannot and/or will not follow. To the extent that other developed nations also participate in developing affordable effective approaches, the potential results described above may be even more substantial.


Is it reasonable to expect that a coordinated  single global approach requiring high cost zero emission technologies can work without enforcement from a central world government?  Probably not. Self-interest works on both sides of world-trade. Consider that today cheap dirty third world resources support the manufacture of much of our “clean” technology. These trends are likely to persist and perhaps worsen. Increased development in China, Africa and India likely will work to insulate them from western pressure.  A world with independent and broadly divergent power supply approaches will not be optimal.

In the end, do we care more about keeping CO2 emissions lower in just the western world, or do we want to reduce emissions worldwide? The “green solutions” that are being developed within the US, Oceania and Europe are showing themselves to be increasingly costly, cumbersome, complicated and unworkable. Because of the cost, complexity and challenges they cannot transform Africa, or support great improvements in India and China. The best strategy might be to seek out technologies that can support a balance between economics, reliability and social responsibility on a global basis.

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April 4, 2023 6:13 am

In the Net Zero world nothing is reasonable. It isn’t supposed to be.

Tom Halla
April 4, 2023 6:18 am

As if the Chinese and Indians are suicidal.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 4, 2023 7:06 am

Don’t hate them because they emit greenness.

Steve Case
April 4, 2023 6:22 am

“The best strategy might be to seek out technologies that can support a balance between economics, reliability and social responsibility on a global basis.”

The “Duck Test” says Climate Etc, and Russ Schussler are pushing ESG.

Reply to  Steve Case
April 4, 2023 7:01 am

The power system is a matter of extreme importance relating to economic development, quality of life as well as health and safety. In order to best meet the needs of any given area, it is necessary to balance the factors of economics, reliability and public responsibility. An imbalance in any area will lead to repercussions in other areas and may, in fact, prove to be counterproductive across all areas.

I’ll stand by that,

Reply to  Steve Case
April 4, 2023 7:05 am

Applying Cecile’s scalpel, that would be the unambiguous conclusion.

April 4, 2023 7:00 am

Sequester the Green blight. Go green, emit.

April 4, 2023 7:35 am

Ancient history is repeating itself.
While the West Europe was in dark ages there were flourishing civilizations in China, India and south America, maybe we’ll be there again but at a different level. /sc

It doesnot add up
Reply to  vuk
April 4, 2023 8:45 am

The difference then is that we remained largely oblivous of those other civilizations until we started to explore for ourselves. Marco Polo travelled late in the 13th century, Colombus not until the late 15th. Prior to that the religious/cultural war of the crusades and invasion by Ghengis Khan limited vision with a view that beyond here be dragons. Only the Viking expeditions made much attempt to explore, but they did not find the main civilizations.

April 4, 2023 8:16 am

The “Western World” has turned into a useful idiot for the Marxists.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
April 4, 2023 9:28 am

Something like 30 to 40% of Gen-Z’ers want to give Marxism a try.

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  MarkW
April 4, 2023 2:28 pm

All we are saaying, is give Marx a chance!

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
April 7, 2023 7:19 am

He’s been given far too many chances already. How many MORE have to die to prove him wrong?!

Last edited 1 month ago by AGW is Not Science
AGW is Not Science
Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2023 2:10 pm

Clearly history is a subject that should be mandatory, but the “universities” would just revise it to pimp their politics anyway.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  MarkW
April 7, 2023 7:18 am

Let tbe move to Venezuela for a year, then see how great they think it is.

April 4, 2023 8:22 am

I agree with the points the article makes. But the problem is that the western governments aren’t driven anymore by reason and science. The global warming religion is driven by vanity, virtue signaling, a lot of ignorance, a streak of puritanism, and a large amount of cynicism. Do you think that a guy like Joe Biden for example has ever read a single book or article about global warming? Do think Justin Trudeau for example has ever had a college level course on climatology? Do you think Greta Thunberg has ever read anything more complex than “The Cat in the Hat.”

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  Marty
April 4, 2023 2:30 pm

Sometimes I think those people who say we’ve had it too good for too long may be on to something. Not for the same reasons, but because only people who have it easy could think about trying this Net-Zero nonsense.

Paul Stevens
Reply to  Marty
April 5, 2023 5:56 am

The public, if educated, can and may select political parties that make sense. A political party that has 4 years to turn things around (which could be done relatively quickly in terms of regulations) should have enough influence on the costs of living and day-to-day life to get itself re-elected. If it can avoid totally alienating the voting electorate, it could get a second term. All of the above may seem improbable, but so does effective democracy. And effective democracy HAS existed in the past.

April 4, 2023 8:29 am

How about this? We just need not care about CO2 emissions. Instead, we work toward freedom, justice, health and prosperity (defeat forces of tyranny) and allow time for a natural, slow energy transition from predominant fossil fuels to nuclear power over a century-long timeframe? Everyone is a winner, and there will be no climate refugees or “unprecedented” natural disasters. We all get to experience mild warming (maybe, unless natural variability dominates after all), a greener earth, greater biodiversity, and extended growing seasons. What’s not to like?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  pflashgordon
April 6, 2023 2:46 pm

No indication that atmospheric CO2 has anything to do with the “climate” we get, aside from detached-from-reality hypothetical effects that don’t operate as they suppose here in this thing we call REALITY.

April 4, 2023 8:30 am

While the article tries to seem reasonable, it basic premise (CO2 — BAD) is faulty.

Reply to  pflashgordon
April 4, 2023 8:33 am

There must be times, I imagine, where sitting on the fence hurts.

April 4, 2023 8:40 am

Engineer Schussler, please study up on EROI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) of renewables to understand that the fatal flaw in renewables is that they simply cannot provide energy at a cost sustainable for our modern society. Solar and wind (plus backup) have EROI’s of 5 or less, which is about what we had in pre-industrial times. We need a minimum EROI of >10 to just maintain our current Western style standard of living. After fossil fuels, only nuclear (and perhaps deep geothermal) can provide us with the power density per cost. See “The Unpopular Truth: about Electricity and the Future of Energy” 2022 by Lars Schernikau & William Hayden Smith, and references therein.

April 4, 2023 8:46 am

A world with independent and broadly divergent power supply approaches will not be optimal
Optimal by what measure? Resiliency and self sufficiency are not the same as $/MWh.

The world has vast supplies of coal. It is the obvious fuel to industrialized the world. It can be stored, mixed with water and piped, scrubbed and co2 captured if need be. It is reliable and found almost everywhere.

But if you had hydro you can use it for irrigation, cities and power. No need for coal.

Last edited 1 month ago by ferdberple
AGW is Not Science
Reply to  ferdberple
April 7, 2023 7:23 am

There’s not enough hydro to power modern civilization. It can contribute to the extent it’s available, but yes we do need coal.

And not just for electric generation, we need coal to produce metals and everything made from them.

April 4, 2023 8:47 am

As Winston Churchill once said, “America can be relied upon to do the right thing…after exhausting every other option”.

April 4, 2023 8:58 am

If the “sustainable” energy programmed by the AGW acolytes is even partially implemented they will be able to say in the future, when any climate change won’t be observable, “See, what we advocated worked! We were right! The seas didn’t boil! If we had built more windmills and solar panels things would be even better!”

James Snook
April 4, 2023 9:07 am

Of course it’s forked. The recent projections of primary energy use by the US EIA showed demand for oil and gas continue to grow well into the second half of the century, with coal flatlining and not reducing. Wind and solar grow but are barely significant. The growth on energy demand is fuelled by developing economies trying to drag their increasing (often explosively so) populations out of poverty.

Western economies are besotted by the concept of net zero and will be severely damaged by the demand economies that they are putting in place to chase the unattainable. Developing nations cannot afford such self destructive luxury. They have to have an entirely different priority.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  James Snook
April 4, 2023 9:49 am

“Western economies are besotted by the concept of net zero” How right you are and so are the UN, The World Bank, IEA etc

Here is a quote from a recent IEA report ‘Energy Technologies Perspectives 2023’

“Changes in consumer behaviour that result in lower demand for energy products and services is an important lever in reducing the scale of the clean energy and technology supply chains required to get to net zero”

They know that they can’t stop the emerging and developing economies from growing so they concentrate on the “advanced economies” and advocate essentially de-growth.

James Snook
Reply to  Dave Andrews
April 4, 2023 10:19 am

Absolutely. The West views its net zero project entirely through the narrow prism of a comfortable developed economy.

This, coupled with the command economies that have been imposed to drive the project can already be seen to be leading to catastrophe in the car industry, for example, where the major players are being encouraged by carrot and stick to phase out cost effective IC engined vehicles. Not only will owners of IC engined vehicles keep them running for considerably longer than they otherwise would have done, depressing new car sales, but more importantly they will totally lose their export markets in developing nations, including the entire African continent.

it a death wish.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
April 4, 2023 10:55 am

“Changes in consumer behavior”
What “behavior” choices does a city dweller have? Urbanites already live in densely-packed, small-sized housing over which they have little control of energy use. Many don’t own cars. So they should shut off their HVAC (swelter in summer and freeze in winter), ride only bicycles, eat rats and wear clothes from Goodwill?

But how about those evil suburbanites? Sell their homes for “tiny houses,” sell their cars, walk or bike to work, plant their entire yards in victory gardens? Eat only fresh, uncooked foods and only at home? Take no vacations? Shower or bathe only once per week? Allow “smart meters” to shut off their power daily and at peak demand periods?

Insulate you say, then retrofit with solar panels and heat pumps? Not affordable for most people, no ROI, and poor performance..

To live comfortably at an affordable level in cities and suburbs, people really have very limited choices or control to make substantial reductions, unless they regress to the subsistence level “enjoyed” by the Indians and Chinese 30 years ago.

Of course, the tyrants would continue to live like kings while the plebes sacrifice for the “greater good.”

Anyhow, I bristle at the idea of calling people who have worth and dignity “consumers,” a dehumanizing term.

How about instituting an across-the-board pay cut for federal employees and contractors (top to bottom) so that none (even the president and Congress) are paid above the median national wage (The median annual wage in 2021 in the US was $45,760)? We could enjoy watching the rats fleeing the sinking ship. This could incentivize those that remain to institute policies that help raise everyone’s wellbeing. Congress holds the purse strings. Ratchet it down over a few years, like a NOx cap and trade program.

Reply to  pflashgordon
April 4, 2023 4:53 pm

Every form of public employee from school teachers to truck drivers to CDC potentates should have to bid for their job annually, lowest bidder getting the position. Why should it be any different than the requirements for bidding the supply of diesel fuel, copy paper or cement?

April 4, 2023 10:42 am

Forked is not a science word
The earth’s green future is all fluxed up
That there is science talk.

Reply to  Richard Greene
April 4, 2023 7:06 pm

You obviously haven’t watched “The Good Place” on Netflix.

The Dark Lord
April 4, 2023 11:10 am

you had me right up until you cited “social responsibilities” … keep your religion out of it …

Nick Stokes
April 4, 2023 12:42 pm

“The western world will be able to inspire, convince, cajole or command other nations to do the same.”

This is a very colonialist view of the world. We all share the same planet. Other nations have the same interest in keeping it habitable. They don’t need the West to tell them.

Here is a graph of the growth of wind energy. Asia generated about 800 TWh in 2021; the rest of the world about 1000. And Asia’s generation is growing faster:

comment image

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 4, 2023 8:33 pm

This is a very colonialist view of the world. We all share the same planet. Other nations have the same interest in keeping it habitable. They don’t need the West to tell them.

They may have the same interest, but they sure don’t put in the effort to keep the environment habitable.

April 4, 2023 2:52 pm

Is it reasonable to expect that a coordinated single global approach requiring high cost zero emission technologies can work without enforcement from a central world government? 

The current zero emission technologies are hydroelectric, managed forests and nuclear fission. It is inevitable that these will become dominant sources of energy once economics of fossil fuel extraction favours them.

It is economic suicide for any government to force transition to uneconomic energy sources.

The latter is playing out across the western world as the BRICS nations lift their populations out of poverty on the back of fossil energy sources. The wester embargo on Russian resources have resulted in record current account surplus. Western nations are now heavily reliant on the economies of the BRICS.

April 4, 2023 3:57 pm

The Green future is forked period.

April 4, 2023 8:27 pm

It sure is forked. It’s so forked I can’t believe it.

April 4, 2023 9:16 pm

Here’s another perspective. Let’s start from the fundamental principle that everyone’s security and wealth is dependent on the supply and the cost of energy, as well as the decisions we make about how, and on what projects, we use that energy.

If there were no scare about the dangerous consequences of the emissions from fossil fuels, the use of fossil fuels would escalate far beyond current levels, as the undeveloped nations strove to reach the living standards of developed nations, and as developed nations continued to increase their prosperity and wealth.

Imagine what could happen in, say, 50 or 100 years, as the cost of fossil fuels begins to rise substantially because all the affordable deposits have been fully excavated, and we have to start drilling for oil in the Anarctic, at great expense.

Whilst we still have abundant supplies of fossil fuels, is it not sensible to direct a portion of that energy towards research on other forms of energy, so that in 50 or 100 years time we have alternative sources of energy that are not only renewable, but better and cleaner for the environment, and ‘hopefully’ more efficient than fossil fuels.

I’ve read many claims that it is foolish to build windmills, and other renewables, when the amount of energy produced by the renewable devices, over their lifetime, might be no more than the energy used, from fossil fuels, to mine and transport the materials used to construct the renewable devices, and install and operate them.

If this is true, and it might be true in certain circumstances, then this is a part of the process of scientific enquiry and technological development. It’s part of a gradual learning process as to what works best.

The ‘net zero’ emissions target by 2050, or whenever, is just part of the drive and motivation to speed up the development of alternative energy sources. If energy prices rise significantly as a result, because the technological development of renewables is too slow and difficult, then the public backlash will cause a delay in that ‘net zero’ target, which will probably be moved forward.

The overall goal, as I see it, is to ensure that we will always have affordable energy supplies that do not contaminate the environment. If fossil fuels have an irreplaceable role in the production of fertilizers, plastics and other essential items, then let’s save the fossil fuels for those purposes.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Vincent
April 7, 2023 12:07 pm

Wind and solar wouldn’t see a nickel of investment without government interventions since they are non-solutions to an imaginary problem.

All of the resources used in there production, maintenance, and decommissioning and removal are being wasted.

Wind and solar are not energy sources, they are energy sinks.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
April 7, 2023 2:11 pm

s/b THEIR production.

Effing autouncorrect

April 4, 2023 9:37 pm

CO2 is not a problem stop suggesting easier ways to do with less. Build a bullet proof grid and let’s move on.

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