No doubt the outcome of the Nazi unpleasantness resulted in attitude adjustment in Germany on a rather large scale. Clearly, however, it didn’t teach the Germans humility. At a time when a secular mutation of Puritanism has become the dominant ideology in much of Europe and North America, the Germans take the cake for pathological piety. Not that long ago the fashionable evil de jour was the United States, and anti-American hate mongering in the German media reached levels that would make your toes curl. In the last years of the Clinton and the first years of the following Bush administrations it was often difficult to find anything about Germany on the home pages of popular German news magazines like Der Spiegel because the available space was taken up by furious rants against the United States for the latest failures to live up to German standards of virtue. Eventually the anti-American jihad choked on its own excess, and other scapegoats were found. Clearly, however, German puritanism is still alive and well. An amusing example just turned up in the Sydney Morning Herald under the headline, “Merkel adviser lashes Abbott’s ‘suicide strategy’ on coal.” The advisor in question was one Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Chancellor Merkel’s lead climate advisor. A picture of him posing as the apotheosis of smugness accompanies the article, according to which he,
…attacked Australia’s complacency on global warming and described the Abbott government’s championing of the coal industry as an economic “suicide strategy”.
Alas, we learn that Schellnhuber’s anathemas also fell on our neighbor to the north. The SMH quotes him as saying,
Similar to Canada, Australia for the time being is not part of the international community which is cooperating to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Tears run down our cheeks as Schellnhuber describes Australia’s fall from grace:
…it had been disappointing to see Australia’s retreat on climate policy after it became “the darling of the world” when Kevin Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007.
As readers who were around at the time may recall, the Kyoto Protocol conformed perfectly to German standards of “fairness.” It would have required states like The United States and Canada to meet exactly the same percentage reduction in emissions from the base year 1990 as the countries in the European Union, in spite of the fact that their economies had expanded at a faster rate than most of Europe’s during the period, they did not enjoy the same access to cheap, clean-burning natural gas as the Europeans in those pre-fracking days, and, “fairest” of all, they weren’t the beneficiaries of massive emission reductions from the closing of obsolete east European factories following the demise of Communism. In other words, it was “fair” for the US and Canada to shed tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in order to meet grossly disproportionate emissions standards while Germany and the rest of the Europeans cheered from the sidelines.
What is one to think of this latest instance of ostentatious German piety? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. For one thing, the apparent concern about climate change in Germany is about 99% moralistic posing and 1% real. Solzhenitsyn used a word in The First Circle that describes the phenomenon very well; sharashka. Basically, it’s a lie so big that even those telling it eventually begin to believe it. The German decision to shut down their nuclear power plants demonstrated quite clearly that they’re not serious about fighting global warming. Base load sources of energy are needed for when renewables are unavailable because the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Practical alternatives for filling in the gaps include nuclear and fossil fuel. Germany has rejected the former and chosen one of the dirtiest forms of the latter; coal-fired plants using her own sources of lignite. She plans to build no less than 26 of them in the coming years!
It’s stunning, really. These plants will pump millions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that wouldn’t have been there if Germany had kept her nuclear plants on line. Not only that, they represent a far greater radioactive danger than nuclear plants, because coal contains several parts per million of radioactive thorium and uranium. The extent of German chutzpah is further demonstrated by a glance at recent emission numbers. Germany is now the worst polluter in the EU. Her CO2 emissions have risen substantially lately, due mainly to those new lignite plants beginning to come on line. Coal-generated energy in Germany is now around 50% of the mix, the highest it’s been since 1990. Even as the German government shook its collective head at the sinful Australians, telling them to mend their evil ways or bear the guilt for wars and revolution, not to mention the bleaching of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef, her own CO2 emission rose 1.5% in 2013 over the previous year, while Australia’s fell by 0.8% in the same period!
In a word, dear reader, for the German “Greens,” the pose is everything, and the reality nothing.