Life in a Realm of Scarce and Expensive Energy

In one of the Hornblower novels, set in the early 1800s, the protagonist is staying in a hotel. Thinking about the bill he is going to have to pay on checking out, he realizes that there is going to be a significant item for ‘light’…ie, candles.  I believe this is historically accurate–candles were expensive enough that they could not just be given away free with the room.

Whereas for most of the last 100 years in America, you could just turn on the lights in your hotel room without worrying about what the added charge on your bill was going to be.  And–much more significantly in terms of energy use–you could adjust the heater or air conditioner to suite your temperature preference, again without worrying about added charges.

With the unrealistic energy plans of the Biden administration and of most European governments, such luxuries may soon be a thing of the past.  I doubt that you will actually have to pay extra for keeping the lights on, but it’s entirely possible that you may have to pay extra if you want it cooler than, say, 78 degrees in summer or warmer than 64 degrees in winter–perhaps with those thresholds adjusted according to the balance of total grid power demand and availability, so that an extreme air-conditioning surcharge kicks in at 88 degrees on an especially hot and windless day.

And not just in hotels. It’s likely that stores, restaurants, etc will get significantly cooler in winter and warmer in summer.  And unless you can afford to not worry about your electricity bill very much, you will likely have to adjust your home temperatures to fit the current supply/demand profile on the grid–indeed, in some jurisdictions, it may be prohibited to violate the required limits no matter how much you are willing to pay.  (With likely exceptions for certain ‘public servants’.)

Above and beyond the impact on individual citizens and families, you can expect that many kinds of energy-dependent businesses, especially manufacturing businesses, will become increasingly uncompetitive in the US.  Again, there will likely be an exception for certain politically-well-connected businesses. But overall, expensive US energy will likely drive a new wave of offshoring.

And I haven’t even talked about transportation.

The above is not carved in stone, of course, there is still a good chance to escape it, as people begin to perceive (from experience) the realities behind all the idealistic talk, theories, and harangues.  But it will be a close-run thing.

Ready to Ride

In the apocalyptic visions of St. John, the third of the four Apocalyptic Horsemen is Famine, the other four being Pestilence, War and Death. Death is always with us, one way or another, and we’ve had pestilence, AKA the Commie Crud for the last two years and counting, and War, in the shape of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine … so why not Famine, just to round out the set? The four horsemen usually go hand in hand anyway. Famine is almost a guarantee, as the Ukraine was a major wheat exporter, and now it seems that chemical fertilizers will be in short supply as well. David Foster has already posted a story about this, and other commenters have chimed in regarding the woes of the supply chain and the potential for famine in places and nations which had been able to move past such misfortunes, because of technological advances … advances now in danger.

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Aristos a la Lanterne!

When the rage of downtrodden French peasants, living-on-the-edge city dwellers and frustrated bourgeois towards the ruling nobles and royalty final exploded into a kind of civic wildfire, there was no appeasing their collective anger. A handful of wary and fleet-footed aristocrats, or those who had made a good living out of serving the royals and the nobility fled from France in all directions. The slow and unwary made a humiliating appointment with Madame Guillotine before a contemptuous and jeering crowd, if they had not already run afoul of a mob with pikes and knives, and ropes at the foot of civic lampposts. (The fury of the French Revolution flamed so furiously that it that eventually it burned a good few leading revolutionaries themselves. As the Royalist pamphleteer Jacques Mallet Du Pan remarked pithily, “Like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.) For a long time, my sympathies as regards parties in the French Revolution tended to be with those who fell out with it, sympathies formed by popular literature and music: The Scarlett Pimpernel, A Tale of Two Cities, Dialogues of the Carmelites, and other tales which basically tut-tutted the madness which overcame all reason and discretion, and championed those who had the brunt of it fall on them, either justly or not. How fortunate that our own very dear revolution had been able to escape such conflagrations: Loyalists in the colonies might have suffered being tarred and feathered and ridden out of town or having to leave in an undignified rush when Yankee Doodle went to town and made their independence stick. But the jailhouse regrets of those who called up and inflamed that conflagration, even inadvertently is not my concern here.

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The Hash-Tag War

I’ve been cynically amused over the past couple of weeks at how efficiently the Laptoperati and Twitter-fixated media Powers That Be have swung to “Russia Bad-Ukraine Brave & Noble!!! Eleventy!!” since the Russian invasion-attempted-occupation-re-occupation of the place began in a big way nearly two weeks ago. How can it now be World War III already, when we still have our Covid-19 decorations still up? Watching practically every media outlet swing into action in being all sympathies for Ukraine and all-hate on Russia is … astonishing. All the parties who would have been lighting candles, holding vigils for peace, and lecturing us about how war is not good for children and other living things, and no blood for oil have changed tune without missing a beat, hardly. Suddenly Vladimir Putin is the enemy of all that is good and decent, and everyone is rushing to declare sympathy with and support of the Ukraine, declare anything Russian to be double-plus-ungood, and throwing Russian cats out of cat shows, Anna Netrebko out of the Met, and vodka with a Russian-origin brand-name down the drain. Celebrity fools with pretensions to adequacy issue hysterical demands that Russia be thrown out of NATO, or that NATO enforce a no-fly zone over the Ukraine – never mind that Russia wasn’t a member of that organization and instituting a no-fly zone would almost instantly involve the United States. The turn-around is purely astonishing to behold; a hashtag/social media war on steroids.

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This War Comes Already Pre-Nuked

So, the Biden (Mis) Administration, or whoever and whatever powers have the strings firmly attached to the puppet in the Oval Office seems determined to pick a fight and a war with Russia over the Ukraine. A fight in which most Americans might have some mild-to-moderate sympathies with the Ukrainians, as they were most viciously abused under Soviet rule, having the misfortune to be essentially the breadbasket of the Soviet Union and relatively unwilling to have their crops and livelihoods confiscated for the good of the Party of the Workers, and having in the interim since the fall of the Iron Curtain to have developed some pesky notions of a separate and rather rebellious national identity. The Ukraine, like Poland, is luckless geographically, in being the pathway of invading armies from either direction, so one can’t really blame them for being a little testy and proactive about another one.
But it’s not really our fight, and it seems to be one constructed in a Potemkin village fashion.
There was a story, most likely apocryphal regarding a proposed alliance sometime during the late 19th century, between (IIRC) Britain and France, likely against a bellicose Germany, wherein a high-level British diplomat and his equally high-level French counterpart began pounding out the details of the proposed military alliance. The British diplo asked his French counterpart; what would be the absolute minimum number of troops that Britain would contribute to the situation in an emergency in the case of German invasion. “Only one,” replied the French diplomat, “And we would make certain that he would be killed at once.”
That is what the Biden administration would like, apparently. They would like to be able to wave the bloody shirt, the blood-saturated BDU blouses of American military personnel as a cynical and calculated distraction from a year of epic fail.

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