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climate dystopia

friday, january 26th, 2024

The global climate is always changing, but contrary to the popular narrative, the science on the exact causes is far from settled. Alarmists claim that humans burning fossil fuels for energy will catastrophically ruin the climate, and they demand a “net-zero” future to save the world.

[Full Title: "CLIMATE DYSTOPIA: How Life Would Get Worse If Climate Alarmists Carry Out Their US Agenda"]

What would happen if the climate alarmists actually succeeded in the United States?

Although it is impossible to predict the future, early warning signs from President Joe Biden’s policies don’t paint a pretty picture.

Decreased Individual Mobility

First, if the federal government bans gas-powered cars, individual transportation would get less reliable and more expensive.

If you don't read the newspapers, you're un-informed; if you do read the newspapers, you're mis-informed.

Americans prefer gas-powered cars over the electric cars favored by climate alarmists. In November, a coalition of nearly 4,000 auto dealers sent a letter to Biden explaining that his plan to force Americans to buy electric vehicles won’t work.

The auto dealers warned that “the supply of unsold [battery electric vehicles] is surging, as they are not selling nearly as fast as they are arriving at our dealerships—even with deep price cuts, manufacturer incentives, and generous government incentives.”

Despite subsidies to encourage manufacturers to make electric vehicles and tax credits for drivers to buy the cars, only 7% of new vehicle sales are electric, compared with Biden’s goal of 60% in 2030 and 66% in 2032.

Americans have many reasons to prefer gas-powered cars, as explained by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate and Environment. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news outlet.)

Drivers may refuel gas-powered cars in five or 10 minutes at a gas station, while recharging an electric vehicle may take 45 minutes or longer for a full charge. Most drivers of electric vehicles prefer to keep their battery above 20%, and the charging process gets longer when the battery reaches 80%.

Batteries lose range in cold weather, and electric vehicles cost more than gas-powered cars. Furthermore, not everyone has a garage at home, so charging overnight might present difficulties.

These electric cars may improve over time, but the climate alarmists push an aggressive timetable that limits the chance for a natural transition. Biden has proposed regulations that would penalize automakers for selling gas-powered cars. California, meanwhile, will require all new-vehicle sales to be electric after 2035.

If cars become less effective and more expensive, Americans may be forced to accept less mobility. Many Americans no longer may be able to afford a car, and may have to move to areas with more reliable public transit.

The suburbs would get more expensive, and Americans would have fewer options in where to live.

The 21st century may become less free for most Americans, just in terms of transportation alone.

Higher Prices for … Everything

Individual transportation may become more expensive and more difficult with government-forced transitions to electric vehicles. But if all vehicles shift to electric, that also may hobble delivery trucks, driving up costs for all sorts of goods that must make it from the manufacturing floor to the sales floor.

Whenever a transportation system becomes more expensive or less reliable, that change worsens the “last mile” problem.

In telecommunications, the “last mile” refers to the final stage of extending a cable or wire all the way to a customer’s home. Similarly, in a supply chain delivering goods to customers, the final leg often represents a rising marginal cost of getting goods from point A to point B.

A less efficient transportation system would make goods more expensive, as sellers pass on the added cost to consumers. Inflation, which already has made life more difficult for Americans in the past few years, would get even worse.

Decreased Quality

Earlier this week, a federal appeals court shot down the Biden administration’s efforts to impose energy- and water-efficiency standards on dishwashers and clothes washing machines, because “it is unclear that [the Department of Energy] has statutory authority to regulate water use” in these appliances.

Yet if the climate alarmists are successful, regulations such as this would become more commonplace, and dishwashers and clothes washers would become less effective. Americans may have to wash their dishes and clothes for longer periods of time, and they may still find food on dishes and stains on clothes after running the machines.

Increasing regulations also would make toilets, showers, and sinks less effective, as government forces a rationing of water.

Increased Electricity Costs

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 60.4% of all American electricity in 2022 came from fossil fuels. Natural gas represents the largest share, at 39.9%, and coal powers about 19.7% of the U.S. electrical grid. Nuclear power accounts for 18.2% of the grid and renewables 21.3%.

If the federal government outlaws fossil fuels, or even just coal, that would prove a tremendous hit to American energy production. Costs would skyrocket, leading to rolling blackouts or electricity rationing. California has gotten a taste for this dystopian nightmare with its rolling blackouts.

The Green Upper Class

As everyday Americans suffer, those who invest in “green technologies” would receive more government largesse to solve a problem that arguably does not even exist.

As the government bans other sources of electricity, Americans would have no choice but to buy “green” options, and the government likely would incentivize wind and solar energy, as it has in the past.

In 2009, President Barack Obama notoriously oversaw the Energy Department’s $535 million loan guarantee to the solar energy company Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy two years later. Solyndra closed down in 2011, and other subsidized green energy companies also collapsed.

Ron Klain, chief of staff at the time to then-Vice President Joe Biden, suggested that Obama visit Solyndra in 2010. Klain, later serving as President Biden’s chief of staff, pushed Biden’s green initiatives, including a Climate Corps and a program to encourage utilities to sell carbon-free energy.

In 2021, Biden visited a South Carolina factory for the Delaware-based electric bus-maker Proterra. Last August, the company filed for bankruptcy. In June, the Department of Transportation announced nearly $1.7 billion in awards to fund 1,700 American-built buses, nearly half of which would emit zero greenhouse gasses.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm held stock in Proterra, a manufacturer of electric vehicles, and once sat on that company’s board. Granholm sold her shares for $1.6 million in May 2021, shortly after Biden touted the company as president.

As government cuts away alternatives and invests in green boondoggles, green businessmen stand to benefit—while life worsens for everyone else.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

The United States remains the world’s No. 1 producer of oil, but it stands to reason that climate alarmists want to eliminate all oil production in the U.S. In the words of then-candidate Biden, “No more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling, including offshore—no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill—period.”

Yet American politicians cannot prevent other countries from drilling for oil, or from using it to power their electrical plants and automobiles.

Germany’s turn toward green energy didn’t free the country of fossil fuels, it merely made the Germans dependant on Russian oil. This emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin and arguably contributed to his decision to invade Ukraine in 2022.

If the U.S. withdraws from its position in the global oil markets, that would inspire bad actors such as Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and others to leverage their oil production. It also could embolden them to take aggressive action, as Russia did in Ukraine and as Venezuela is threatening in Guyana.

Steve Milloy, founder and editor of junkscience.com, told The Daily Signal that the Russia-Ukraine War was “caused by green policies.”

“All the wind and solar and getting rid of fossil fuels and getting dependent on Russia just enriched Russia,” Milloy said. “All the bad actors in the world, none of them are going green.”

He noted that “slave labor in the Congo” produces many of the parts for electric vehicles.

In short, if the climate alarmists succeed in the U.S., life would get worse for most people, but green activists and investors would benefit, while the world becomes less stable. Fewer people would be able to live in the suburbs, and air conditioning and heating could be rationed in the summer and winter. Appliances wouldn’t work as well, and a green upper class would continue to entrench itself.

Americans already are getting a slight taste of this climate dystopia under Biden, but it could get much, much worse.

© 1.19.2023 by Tyler O'Neil , "Daily Signal".

FUTURE TOPICS (revised 1/28/24): https://amgreatness.com/2024/01/28/our-democracy-a-deep-dive-into-democratic-weaponization-and-the-need-for-decentralization/ https://freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/4213428/posts https://amgreatness.com/2023/12/18/world-war-iii-is-not-possible/ https://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/4207674/posts https://amgreatness.com/2024/01/04/harvard-out-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire/

A Day In The Life.

Up at 6a on Friday, I went thru my finger stick to check my BSL (Blood Sugar Level) and recorded it on my Diabetes 2 chart, made coffee and breakfast, took two 50mg Tramadol and a 300mg Gabapentin for various pains, fired-up the Win-7 Pentium HP desktop to let 32 million lines of code load, had a couple smokes in the semi-cool garage and checked the leftover errands list.

It was a cold 23° and snowing, so I fired-up the furnace and garage heater. to take the chill off, and scanned the news and weather sites. A revised upward 3-6" now is forecast, and as I have no errands -- got them all done yesterday -- I'll be staying inside. The ***Winter Weather Advisory*** was still in-place. Giddy, giddy, giddy about the snow! I tuned into my Daily Talk Radio fix: "Chris Stigall Show LIVE" (CS Show) from 6-9a, and then the "Chris Plante Show LIVE" (CP Show) 9-12noon, and Rob Carson Show LIVE (RC Show) 12-3p. My lower R/S back pain said "good fraking morning!", so I took two 50mg Tramadol and a single 500mg Bayer Aspirincaplet; that helped a little. The heating pad will help a little more, later.

I had a couple slices of Bacon, Egg & Cheese Bread toast -- a meal in itself! -- for breakfast, and scanned the news sites. By 12noon, we'd gotten almost 8", over 2 days. Our snowplowing/shoveling crews came thru around 2:30p, just as I'd finished some lunch, and was getting ready for a short nap on the LR couch. Back up after 2+hrs, I closed down the condo, watched the news and switched-over to Discovery's "Gold Rush" for the rest of the evening. I unplugged at 11:30; Visiting Nurse from Geisinger Health System will be here at 8a tomorrow, for the yearly health check-up.

Up at 5a on Saturday -- heck, I could have easily slept 2-3 more hours -- to a clear sky, bitter cold 15° morning, so far, I upped the heat, made coffee, tuned into the "CS Show" Podcasts and got my files and paperwork ready for Nurse Chrissy's hour-long annual "Wellness Visit". (((sigh))) She arrived around 8:15, and we got right to the numbers. Mine were all good, with the BP just a tad too high, likely from all the wonderful, Turkish Grind Espresso Coffee I'd been drinking since 5a. Heh. By 9:30, she was leaving and I had a list of things to get done, here.

If I could, I would send a nuke-tipped cruise missile into the globalists' evil World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2024 annual conference in Davos, obliterating them all back to Hell. They are the worst of the worst globalist filth. I'd do the same to the leftist-wacko World Bank (WB) and the criminal, murderous United Nations (UN), ridding the world of the 3 top evil conspiratorial organizations and evil-doers -- all liberals, progressives, globalists, socialists, leftists, communists, Marxists, fascists, anarchists and other assorted subhuman filth on Earth. But I can't, unfortunately, end those 3 evil organizations who directly threatened our existence on this Earth.

After lunch, I tried to grab a quick nap, but couldn't, so I watched news and History's "Ancient Aliens" episodes until dinner. Then picked-up with "AA" again, until 10:30p, unplugged and headed upstairs.

"A majority of voters think former President Barack Obama is influencing President Joe Biden’s administration, and agree with a GOP congressman's claim that Biden is really a “puppet” for progressives" We've know that for 3+ years. Lunch Bucket Joey Bidet couldn't find his own ass, in a well-lit room, with both hands.

Sleeping-in until almost 8:30a on Sunday, I did the usual morning routines. It was a sunny, clear, 23° and very windy start to the day, with serious cold forecast of 6-7° tonite. That's real frigging cold, with a way-below-zero windchill, considering the 30-35mph wind. Morning routines done, I still had the laundry to do and decided to garage the Jeep tonite. After lunch, I finished-up some niggling paperwork, finally did laundry, and got the garbage bins out to the curb, as temps began to drop. I buttoned-up the condo around 5, had some dinner and settled-in for a night of Discovery's "Homestead Rescue" on TV -- Sunday is another "NBC Night" -- until 11; lights out.

Awake and up at 5a on Monday, it was a bitter cold 10° -- marginally better than the forecast 6° -- and I fired-up the furnace and both room heaters. I made coffee, had several smokes in the slowly-warming garage, and scanned the weather and news sites, and tuned into the "Chris Stigall Show LIVE" from 6-9a, on WCBM (Baltimore). Into my 2nd carafe of delicious Italian Espresso Med-Light Roast Coffee, the "Chris Plante Show LIVE" 9-12noon came on WMAL (DC), and I checked my day's "to-do list". 3 stops to make: Rutter's, DeVono's Cleaners and drop-off the problematic Dyson Cordless V8 Stick Vacuum, at the local Oreck Store, for possible repairs. I'd planned on doing that last week, but forgot.

Have you tried to reach out-of-town radio stations, on your vehicle's radio? I can't get diddly-squat of any distance. The 3 stations I listen to most for Talk Radio -- WMAL in DC, 105.9FM, WNTP 680AM in Philly and WCBM 680AM in Baltimore -- are just static on the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee's 'premium' AM/FM radio system, in a $65k SUV. I declined to use the included Sirius-XM Radio crap at $12.99/mo, and I now truly believe that Jeep & Sirius-XM Radio are in cahoots: buy our Sirius or you get nothing. I can get all local and Harrisburg stations, but nothing outside of 35-40 miles. RICO anyone?

Remember the old hand-crank, party-line telephones from the early 50s? Do you remember when the telephone *DIAL* models came out, in basic black Bakelite material, and a video of instruction for use, had to be shown to all of America. I remember ABC/NBC/CBS running the PSA (Public Service Announcement) for a long time, as a service to the public. Watch it f you want a good chuckle.

I left for Southern York Count around 12:30p, did 3 errands, got a couple of Mickey D's Big Macs and Fries, unpacked at home amd began opening the QVC box that Sis had sent. I HAVE NEVER SEE ANYTHING PACKED LIKE THAT, IN MY LIFE. NEVER. In 20-25mins, I got about ¾ of it unpacked and unboxed. I HAVE NEVER SEE ANYTHING PACKED LIKE THAT, IN MY LIFE. NEVER. Each of the items was wrapped in heavy, die-cut cardboard boxes., I HAVE NEVER SEE ANYTHING PACKED LIKE THAT, IN MY LIFE. NEVER. My hands went numb in the bitter cold garage, and I had to come back inside to warm-up. I HAVE NEVER SEE ANYTHING PACKED LIKE THAT, IN MY LIFE. NEVER. Heh, I'll get over it. I finally got the $650 Dyson unit and all its many attachment, extra battery-pak, extra charging cords, and a huge stack of owner's manual, instruction sheets, written in 17 languages and in such a small typeface -- 2pt Eyestrain Condensed (LOL) -- it took a magnifying glass to find the English version. Whew

After dinner, I was watching History's "Greatest Mysteries" when two wonderful, long-time, good friends called -- Fred & Jean -- whom I've known since the my NJ-NYC years (1980s+), and we've pretty much kept in touch over the years. I was hoping to see them again over the Christmas Holidays, when they were up this way from their southern home, but life got in the way. We talked for almost an hour, and we'll catch-up again, sooner the next time. I watched several news programs on NEWSMAX, until 11:45p, and called it a day. JoAnne, my cleaning lady's in at 8:30a, and Sherry's gracing me with a visit, at 1p.

Up at ~6a on Tuesday, I upped the heat, made coffee, had a couple smokes, fired-up the desktop, and checked the news and weather websites. A cold 22°, the weather was at least tolerable, compared to the massive ice storm that the Midwest is getting blasted with, this morning, and coming to us and the Northeast this week.

OK, so DeSantis and Ramaswamy are gone, Haley's threatening to overtake and beat Trump, and Trump's just smiling. IMO, DeSantis was 4 years too early, Ramaswamy doesn't have a chance, and Haley will take her campaign right up to the deadline, but will lose, big. Dear Lord, I'm almost fully-sick of politics, and there's still 10+ months to go. (((SIGH)))

I got the new Dyson ready for JoAnne's use, and finally put all the 14 attachment and accessory packing boxes into the recycle bin, kept the large product box, sleeve and shipping box, for possible later use. Joanne finished her work at 11a, I had some lunch, and Sherry arrived at 1:30p. After some much-needed hugs and kisses, we spent several hours talking, and she left at 4:30p, to get a couple stops done and get home before dark. I had dinner, did the evening routine of 17 pills (Rx & OTC), watched some of the NH Primary coverage on Fox News -- no world news tonight -- watched History's "Curse of Oak Island", Motor Trend's "Iron Resurrection" and NEWSMAX'S "Right Squad with Chris Plante" until 11:45p, and unplugged.

Awake at 6a, I rolled over and went back to sleep until 8, a 37° morning, and finally got up. After upping the heat, I made coffee, fired-up the desktop, had a couple of smokes in the warming garage, and tuned into the "CS Show" on the computer. The doorbell rang at 8:30, it was my neighbor Joe, who wanted me to keep his 9mm daily-carry 9mm firearm in my garage safe, since he had to go downtown to the Federal/County Courthouse, for a legal matter. I invited him in and we put it away, for safe-keeping until later today. The new 10oz bag of "Columbian Supremo" Coffee was very, very good. Once again, no real "news" on anywhere; it's all the NH Primary/2024 election CRAP, all the time.

I lounged around until about 11:30, listened to the "CP Show" and the beginnings of the "RC Show", got ready for the day, and left for Weis Market, at 12:30p. It took 2hrs+ to get thru the traffic, shopping and get home. And I only needed "a few things', but wound-up spending $121.99 for an overflowing small cart! And I had breakfast before I went, so I wasn't even hungry. Ha! Too much stuff, darnit.

A heavily clouded-over day, the rain arrived mid-afternoon, with a Big Mac & Fries in my gut, I crashed from the morning's coffee high, and headed for the LR couch. After an hour, my cellphone rang, it was the Oreck Store, and they'd found the problem with my old Dyson Cordless V8 Stick Vacuum -- the fan motor needed replacement for $58, on top of the $35 bench fee I'd already paid, and I told them to make repairs. Okay, I was up, mostly awake, opened a bottle of La Crema Chardonnay Wine, and scanned the news sites.

After the rain arrived, some dinner and the TV news, I nodded-off in one of the director's chairs in front of the wall-mounted Samsung 82" QLED 4K UHD TV, and woke up at 2:30a. Whoooops, time for bed. I could hear the rain coming down heavily.

Sleeping-in until almost 8:30a on Thursday, an almost "balmy" 41° morning w/ heavy fog, I did the usual routines, fired-up the desktop and caught the end of the "CS Show", as the "CP Show" began. No errands or app'ts today. Much of the snow was gone, from the warm temps and heavy rain, but since the ground was frozen, *** FLOOD WARNINGS *** were posted everywhere. After taking 2 50mg Tramadol for lower R/S back pain, I waited an hour and had a fresh Onion Bagel, lightly toasted and lathered with KerryGold Irish Butter. Mmmmmm, good!

Do you remember The Blizzard of 1978, as I do? It was >not a fun time for more than a week, trying to get it all cleaned-up and get back to "semi-normal".

No errands today, so I worked on the basement's "prepper goods inventory" for a few hours, finished off a small pile of paperwork, had dinner and watched the news. I watched Motor Trend's "Iron Resurrection until 11p, and called it a day.

Tomorrow starts a new week here in the "Journal", and with my PCP Dr's app't, it's the start of the 'Drs/lab tests etc Parade', for the next 2-4 months. January's pretty much over and we've had a relatively 'mild Winter', so far; not what I thought was coming, and we've gotten off easy. I'll take it.

Biden's Continuing “War on Things That Work”.

The Biden administration’s War on Things That Work ran into a significant setback in the courts recently. At the start of Biden’s second year in office, he directed the Department of Energy to issue new “efficiency standards” for a variety of home appliances and plumbing fixtures. They went after everything from gas stoves and toasters to shower heads and toilets. They were seeking to undo regulations regarding “short-cycle appliances” put in place by the Trump administration which offered more flexibility to manufacturers and consumers in terms of water and energy conservation standards. But now, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the Biden regulations, effectively putting the Trump regulations back in place. (Washington Examiner)

[FULL TITLE: "Biden's Pointless War on Appliances Hits a Snag".]

The Biden administration took a major action in 2022 to show it meant business in a war that had quietly raged for years.

The action was not related to the war in Afghanistan, which had just ended, or the conflict in Ukraine, which was about to begin. The administration’s action related to a battle of a different kind: the war on cleaning appliances.

In January of that year, the Energy Department finalized a rule to restore “efficiency standards” for consumer appliances -- residential dishwashers, dryers, and washing machines -- that had been rolled back during the Trump administration.

“The Trump rule,” Bloomberg Law reported at the time, “had created new short-cycle product classes that weren’t subject to any water or energy conservation standards.”

The court described the Biden regulations as being “arbitrary and capricious.” I would have added “ineffective and pointless,” but it’s still a fairly good description. This fight isn’t over because the appeals will no doubt continue up the chain, but at least the courts have the opportunity to review the White House’s power to effectively ban things based on a perceived “climate emergency” by imposing performance restrictions on products that are either impossible to meet or make them unaffordable for consumers.

In terms of energy restrictions, the effort to eliminate gas stoves is one of the more ridiculous items on a long list of nonsense. Natural gas is plentiful and cheap, releasing almost no excess gases into the atmosphere when compared to coal or even wood. We’ve been relying on it for ages and it has served us well. Using regulatory leverage to force everyone to switch to electric stoves accomplishes nothing because all of that electricity has to come from somewhere and a great deal of it still comes from fossil fuels, including natural gas.

© 1.23.2024 by Jazz Shaw, "Hot Air". (H/T Pastor Tom)

Biden Administration Is 'Sowing The Seeds For The Next Energy Crisis', by Blocking Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Despite Wars in Mideast and Europe, Threatening Energy Flows, Top US Trade Group Warns.

The Biden administration is 'sowing the seeds for the next energy crisis' by restricting America's oil and gas sector even as wars in the Middle East and Europe threaten supply shocks, the head of a top trade group has warned.

Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), issued a stark warning that the White House was dragging its feet on allowing energy firms to drill on federal lands, threatening the economy and jobs.

The US oil and gas industry is booming, but the Biden administration is under pressure from climate activists to block oil and gas projects that scientists say raise global temperatures and cause more storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires.

Washington is on the cusp of spoiling the American energy advantage, undermining it with short-sighted policies and hostility toward US oil and natural gas,' Sommers told the API's annual meeting in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

Speaking with Bloomberg, he later said the administration was 'sowing the seeds for the next energy crisis.'

US oil production broke records last year, and it's on track to surge to a new high of 13.21 million barrels per day this year, says a forecast from the government's Energy Information Administration.

Still, Sommers warns, those were gains set in place by previous administrations that could be undone by the Biden administration's restrictions on hydrocarbons and the transition to wind, solar and other renewables.

Oil production has risen to record highs of about 1.6 million barrels per day since President Joe Biden took office, the API says, but most of this came from private lands and leases granted to producers under previous administrations.

The group wants more energy schemes greenlighted and licenses to export liquefied natural gas globally.

They also want more rights on federal lands, including in the Gulf of Mexico, where Congress forced the White House to sell drilling rights last year.

That's set to be the last auction of its kind until at least 2025, when there may be tighter limits and less available territory.

Sommers spoke of his 'huge concern' that three potential future Gulf lease sales could be scaled back or scrapped.

The energy boss spoke as wars raged in Ukraine and Gaza, threatening global energy flows and making prices volatile.

Iran seized a tanker with Iraqi crude destined for Turkey on Thursday, the latest flare up of tensions in the Red Sea.

It follows weeks of attacks by Yemen's Tehran-backed Houthi militias targeting one of the world's most important shipping routes.

'Our adversaries have shown time and time again their willingness to weaponize energy,' Sommers said.

'Our energy leadership is our security advantage,' but 'unrealistic timelines' and government mandates toward 100 percent renewables and electric vehicles surrender that advantage to other countries.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, touts his Inflation Reduction Act and America's switch to renewables as a boost for workers, the economy and the planet, and part of his reelection campaign message.

But Republicans say the administration is switching over to renewables too quickly, threatening oil and gas jobs. The party's likely nominee, former president Donald Trump, has vowed to 'Drill, baby, drill' if re-elected.

© 1.11.2024 by James Reini, "Daily Mail".

The Coming War of Civilizations.

Media coverage of world events focuses on one crisis at a time, as if each was a separate phenomenon. But Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, the assaults on shipping in the Red Sea, China’s threats on Tawain, the closing of the Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthis, and even Venezuelan plans to conquer much of oil-rich Guyana are not separate events, but highly related.

America’s decline is not irreversible

All follow patterns laid out in Samuel Huntington’s 1986 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order which predicted the rise of “revanchist” powers seeking to recover perceived past glory. The most critical struggle will be with China, whose stated aim is to emerge as the leading global superpower by 2050. Yet China’s rise as a totalitarian surveillance state is just one part of the ascendency of autocrats who seek to topple the long-standing liberal capitalist order and replace it with something more feudal in nature, essentially a world dominated by absolute rulers and their satraps.

To be sure, each of these malefactors, including China, suffers significant weaknesses that could limit their ambitions and leave an opening for a strong Western response. Yet the West’s current power structure seems to lack the will, much less the way, to fight back. Attacks on innocent civilians, particularly in Europe, and assaults on American military bases and commercial shipping, not to mention the use of social media to undermine Western resolve—most evident with the rise of TikTok—are met with weak responses.  

Realpolitik Trumps Moralism

The response to the Ukraine war epitomizes the shifting power dynamic. As the West, particularly the traditionally pacifist Left, has rallied with dollars and heightened emotions to the Ukrainian cause, the rest of the world, including rising economic powers like Vietnam, has showed little interest. Virtually no power outside the West has stood by the Ukrainians, except the democracies of East Asia, notably Japan and South Korea, which now have reason to think they too will be abandoned eventually by the West as well.

Many countries have benefited from the war as Russian resources, notably oil, flow to their economies at reduced rates. China uses Russia’s oil, and that of allied states like Iran, to build the world’s most formidable industrial economy. Seeking a way around sanctions on Russia, China uses its considerable financial leverage to develop an alternative credit card system and lead a growing movement away from dollar dominated commercial transactions to ones based on currencies such as the yuan.

The war seems to have increased the sentiment in many emerging countries to free themselves—not from tyranny, but Western domination. This can be seen clearly in the expansion of the BRICs group of developing countries, which extends to China and Russia to Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Turkey, and, most importantly, India, itself increasingly a Hindutva autocracy. Many African countries, highly dependent on China and some with long standing ties to Russia, also have decided to ignore the West’s campaign for Ukraine.

All this follows the traditional script followed by emerging powers. The primary motivation is to achieve national greatness, particularly as it reflects despotic glory. This is not a repeat of the Cold War with its Manichean ideologies, but fundamentally opportunistic in nature. China seeks to control technology and trade to achieve global preeminence while Russia yearns to dominate its former imperial possessions. Venezuela wants to get its hands on oil to support its tottering socialist economy while other countries in Latin America seek more Chinese investment.

The Israel-Hamas war has further accelerated these trends. Given the geopolitical and economic shifts, it’s not surprising that Israel finds itself largely friendless, with increasingly conditional backing from the United States and even more flaccid support from Europe. Houthis attack Western shipping in the Red Sea with relative impunity, though seeming to leave China’s commercial fleet unscathed. This new pattern of alliances, as we see now in the Red Sea, may soon be evident in the jungles of northeastern South America, the Taiwan strait, and much of the South China Sea.

The Defenestration of the West

Rather than confront the reality of the global challenge, the West is throwing its moral and physical assets out the window. As in the 1930s, the West’s political elites seem more interested in diplomatic maneuvering than confronting a real and present danger. It is not too far from the bullseye to describe U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as Tablet recently did, as “Neville Chamberlain with an iPad.”

Power grows from the twin pillars of economic and military might, both of which the West has frittered away, largely to the benefit of China. Since the sixties, the U.S. and the E.U. have seen their share of value-added global manufacturing drop from 65 percent to barely half that today. China’s market share in manufactured exports is roughly equal to that of the U.S., Germany, and Japan combined while, despite much publicized efforts to “reshore” industry, American manufacturing has dropped recently to its lowest point since the pandemic.

Rather than a spur to greater production, the absurdly named Inflation Reduction Act seems more like the China Resuscitation Act. Even as China goes on a coal-plant building spree and emits more greenhouse gases than all developed countries put together, our “green policies,” notably the emphasis on solar panels and electric vehicles, consolidate the Middle Kingdom’s almost monopoly position on the EV battery supply chain. China controls 80 percent of the world’s raw material refining, 77 percent of the world’s cell capacity, and 60 percent of the world’s component manufacturing. China’s BYD already has passed recently Tesla as the world’s top EV maker.

The West’s military power is also fading. The humiliating retreat of the U.S. from Afghanistan clearly emboldened both China and Russia. Europe’s militaries are pathetic and getting more so. The U.K., with Europe’s strongest military, has only 150 tanks while Germany has enough ammunition for two days of battle. The U.S. is having trouble keeping its allies supplied without looking to other countries, like Japan and South Korea, to fill the gap.

Even more remarkable, many U.S. military goods now depend on components from China. Some advanced devices depend on critical minerals produced largely from China’s emerging vassal states in Africa as well as Latin America. Given the stress on our military resources already, some veteran commanders wonder if the U.S. Navy will be able to resist China’s oceanic expansion in the China Sea or its eventual move to take over Taiwan. China is already by far the world’s biggest producer of naval vessels and is rapidly catching up technologically with U.S. submarines and missile technology.

Faced with these challenges, financial and tech oligarchs either ignore or even embrace the Chinese ascendency. Wall Street remains a bulwark in support of China’s ambitions, as long as it remains a potential source of massive profits. Citigroup has even announced plans to start a China-based investment bank this year. At the recent APEC conference in San Francisco, which cleared away its encrusted homeless encampments in order to impress Xi, business magnates attended a $40,000 a plate dinner in his Imperial honor; the autocrat received a standing ovation.

Similarly, attempts to curtail China’s powerful TikTok, which exercises enormous influence on our younger generation, have been stymied by U.S. investors more concerned with protecting their estimated $8 billion investment than any implications for national security or subservience to China’s surveillance state. Meanwhile, most American apps are banned in the Middle Kingdom.

The West Needs a Heart—and a Brain—Transplant

There is nothing inevitable in the coming civilizational war. Autocratic states share the advantage of concentrating resources in a way difficult for nominal democracies. Certainly, dissenters in China, Russia, Iran, or Venezuela have failed to slow the trajectory of autocratic regimes.

But quiescence does not guarantee success. Both China and Russia face massive widespread alienation among their young people, particularly in China among the increasingly unemployed educated. They also face a rapid demographic decline faster than healthier Western countries like the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Meanwhile China’s once soaring IPO market is in a deep doldrum, much of it reaction to the country’s increasingly hostile climate for entrepreneurs.

In the past China could depend on Western investment to provide such jobs. But many Americans, Japanese, and Europeans are now leaving China in response to its mercantilist policies, rampant interference, as well as their own domestic pressure. Apple’s suppliers alone have pulled $16 billion out of the Middle Kingdom. At the same time Japan, Europe, and the U.K. are investing more in the U.S.

Rather than appease China, Russia, and Iran we might consider building our ties with allies like Japan and South Korea; opposing the Japanese purchase of U.S. Steel makes a lot less sense than if the purchaser was based in China. An enlightened nationalism does not equal blind xenophobia.

We also should seek to systematically undermine China’s growing hold on the developing world.

Despite common membership in the BRICs movement, countries like India and Vietnam do not want to become clients of Xi. We need to make clear to developing countries that allying with the West promises them a better economic future and more security. The idea of imposing carbon taxes on coal-fired Chinese imports is one thing; using the same approach on potential allies like India or poor Southeast Asian nations would be counterproductive.

The West should also take advantage of the presence of immigrants in their countries.

Many of these countries depend on remittances from economic migrants, which have grown from $200 billion to $600 billion since 2010, contributing mightily to their economies. The U.S. is by far the biggest source of remittances in the world.

The Middle Eastern conflict also has some nuances. The key player behind the Hamas pogrom, Iran, is deeply feared by Sunni-majority states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who are more threatened by Tehran than Tel Aviv. At the same time, we should point out that China and Russia are secular states which persecute their Muslim minorities, an awkward reality for supposed allies.

Yet all these advantages will be squandered if the West, and particularly American youth, no longer believe in liberal democracy. Our elite institutions—notably academia and the mainstream media—increasingly dismiss the validity of our core institutions. Many young people in Europe and America have been primed, sometimes from grade school, to follow the essentially anti-Western “oppressor” and “colonialist” narrative. A recent report from the Future of Democracy at the University of Cambridge found support for democracy in the West falling most among 18-34 year olds.

This rot has even expanded to the Western defense establishment and intelligence services. The obsession of NATO and the U.S. military in fighting climate change and white nationalism is borderline insane at a time when there are growing concerns about their war-fighting ability, from the quality of troops to the deteriorated industrial base that supports them.

Ultimately the West needs to wake up from its torpor and start building things again. Rather than head towards a new civil war along ideological lines, we need a new sense of civic purpose that includes focusing on skills training, improving basic infrastructure, and expanding hard technology, notably in space. We also need to embrace, not stymie, the status of the United States as the world’s largest gas as well as a major oil exporter. This fundamentally weakens the leverage Iran, Venezuela, and Russia seek to exploit, particularly in Europe, South Asia, and South America.

This is not an utterly hopeless situation. There is growing support, on the Right and Left, for what analyst Aaron Renn calls “a populism that builds.” This can be seen in the economic populism of Senators J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley, as well as Democrat John Fetterman. But the challenge from China, Russia and their allies cannot be met with seminars extolling the theology of free markets any more than policies that focus more on “social justice,” “anti-racism,” and gender fluidity. The common goal should be to provide ordinary people in the West, whatever their ethnicity, the means to create wealth while supplying our military with the capacity needed to guard their interests.

© 1.15.2024 by Joel Kotkin, "American Greatness"

Calling All Virtuosos.

You're invited to dive deep into the UCLA Music Library Collection -- an accumulation of 59 books, music scores, and manuscripts sourced from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dating all the way back to 1759, the collection houses various guides to instruments, compositions to view (and play!), and even a musical comedy in two acts from the early 1900s, as well as works from England, Italy, France, Armenia and more.

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