“When all else fails there's always delusion.” – Conan O’Brien
A short drive west of Düsseldorf in Germany sits the small town of Lützerath, the latest billboard advertising the intellectual and moral collapse of the country’s self-inflected Energiewende disaster.
Well, it used to sit there.
As you read this, the town is in the final stages of annihilation and will ultimately be replaced with a lake. Its raison de demolition? Lützerath sits atop a deposit of lignite coal – the cheapest and dirtiest form of the cheapest and dirtiest of the fossil fuels – and is an extension of the deposit currently being extracted at the controversial Garzweiler surface mine next door (an operation that itself is named after a town that no longer exists).
Although nearly all the residents of Lützerath were relocated years ago to make room for the coal mine, saving the town had become cause célèbre among German environmentalists, with many squatting in its otherwise vacant dwellings for years. As Germany scrambled to acquire every BTU of energy it could get its hands on ahead of this winter, the government – with the support of the German Greens – cut a deal with mine operator RWE in October to sacrifice Lützerath today in exchange for a phony commitment to accelerate the phase-out of German coal from 2038 to 2030. Of course, Germany will be mining coal long after 2030, but that’s tomorrow’s political problem. The current deal is thinly veiled cover to justify the ugly photos of protestors being forcibly removed from Lützerath to make way for some of the biggest earth-eating machines humankind has ever created.
Sensing an opportunity to capitalize on the German Greens’ spectacular sellout, Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg decided to parachute in from her comfortable home in Sweden to join the protestors, and photos of her being carried away by German police were splashed across news outlets and social media websites the world over. Naturally, the event was as fake as the deal that brought her there. Here is Thunberg, smiling and joking with the police while she poses for the cameras moments before her “arrest”:
Germany’s swan dive off the energy cliff is a striking example of Mass Dissonance™, a phenomenon under which entire societies believe things provably at odds with physics, truth tellers are ostracized as heretics, and real-world nullification of tightly held dogmas are twisted into proof of the need to double down on the absurdity. It was always impossible for Germany to execute Energiewende without collapsing the standard of living of its citizens, and the moment the latter could no longer be protected from the former, Germany retreated to the coal mines with a swiftness and efficiency on par with the British evacuation from Dunkirk.
Imagine if Germany had not scrambled to bring their coal plants back online as quickly as they did. Imagine if Thunberg had gotten her way. As we type this piece, more than 40% of Germany’s electricity is being produced by coal. Unplug those coal-fired power plants tomorrow and chaos of historic proportions would quickly follow.
But Germany will be done with the stuff by 2030. Got it.
Tragically, Mass Dissonance™ holds no allegiance to any one nation, and we take pen to paper today to highlight a related strain of the phenomenon infecting the minds of politicians, scientists, and environmental activists the world over: the belief that rechargeable batteries will enable us to fully electrify the transportation sector and simultaneously solve the intermittency problem that plagues renewable sources of electricity.
Despite the plainly obvious fact that the world is, and forever will be, woefully short of the critical metals needed to enable transformation on the envisioned (nay, demanded) scale, do-gooders of all stripes are hurtling us toward the hard wall of physics at top speed. Mountains are being ripped open, waters are being polluted, and diesel is being burned in enormous rock-moving machines in an effort that is condemned to have practically no net positive impact on our carbon emissions in the decades ahead. The details are as mind-boggling are they are frustratingly humorous. Let’s dig in.