The American shale gas boom is roaring ahead and the consequences are remaking our future. The FT reports:
Manufacturers have announced more than $90bn worth of investments in the US to take advantage of its cheap natural gas, according to new calculations, underlining how the shale revolution appears to be driving the country’s industrial renaissance.
Petrochemicals, fuel, fertiliser and steel companies are among those that have committed to or are considering multibillion dollar investments based on their ability to source cheap energy and feedstocks. [...]
Greg Garland, chief executive of Phillips 66, the US chemicals and refining group, said the boom in the country’s shale gas and oil production was a “huge change” for the economy. “This revolution is creating great opportunities to increase manufacturing capability, and has tremendous potential for economic impact and job creation,” he said.
Dow Chemical, which has announced its own $4bn investment plan in petrochemical plants in Texas and Louisiana, has calculated the total value of announcements in the past two years or so at $90bn-plus.
All this growth has taken place against the wishes of the green zealots so strongly represented in the Obama administration. Meanwhile, their much-vaunted “green jobs” agenda has failed to stimulate anywhere near the amount of money invested in the American economy or the number of jobs created for Americans that brown jobs have.
And shale gas has even helped lower our CO2 emissions to a twenty-year low. The fracking that unleashed this economic boom while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States can also happen in China, where vast reserves of shale gas could help that country shift from coal while continuing to grow. That change alone would do more for the projected level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere than all the greens in all the world can ever hope to accomplish.
Rapid changes in the global energy picture are making decades of gloomy punditry obsolete. The conventional wisdom is still only slowly shifting in response to the growing torrent of news from the energy revolution, but shift it will. The environmental movement — if it hopes to stay relevant — is going to have to rethink virtually all of its assumptions. It has been wrong about peak oil, wrong about green jobs, wrong about solar, wrong about the viability of the UN treaty process, wrong about Kyoto and wrong about America’s greenhouse trajectory.
One of the many benefits of the 21st century hydrocarbon boom may just be that this will be a tipping point for the green movement, and confronted with such a devastating overthrow of all their plans and assumptions, greens will decide at long last to become truly serious and truly engaged as they think through the choices and the dangers facing Planet Earth.