Planet Gore

While Gore basks, South America shivers for fuel

Call it a very inconvenient article. On Saturday, as the New York Times usual green posse of reporters – Andrew Revkin, Elisabeth Bumiller, Walter Gibbs, et al – wrote press releases celebrating Al Gore’s Nobel (three articles and they couldn’t find a single critic that thought the award was controversial?), another Times story (credit the paper for running it at all) – buried inside on A13 – should have been an eye-opener for readers lulled by media propaganda into believing that the world is both frying and that “going Green” is a painless solution.

Under the headline “Energy Crunch Threatens South American Nations,” reporter Alexei Barrionuevo’s lead graph grabs you and never lets go: “Santiago, Chile – For Chile and Argentina, it was the frostiest of winters, and not just the reading on the thermometer. During one of the coldest South American winters here in decades, neighboring Argentina cut at least 90 percent of the natural gas it sends to Chile 79 times along pipelines that connect the two countries.”

Warming, obviously, is the farthest thing from South America’s mind.

Argentina’s action has heightened tensions between the two countries. Because of imagined climate calamities as the Peace Prize committee would have us believe? No. Because they need energy to grow. To green cultists who believe that economies can run on windmills, this may come as a shock. South American economies are starved for Gore’s “immoral” fuels – natural gas, oil, diesel, hydro, nuclear.

“Energy is the Achilles’ heel of the governments in Brazil, Argentina and Chile,” continues The Times piece, “which are struggling to maintain sufficient natural gas supplies after several years of strong economic growth.”

Why is cheap energy so important?

“Energy concerns are at the top of the agenda for the region’s incumbent leaders, most of whom have high popularity ratings, thanks mostly to buoyant economies riding a wave of higher commodity prices.”

That’s right. Growth is good politics. Which is exactly why Gore stood by as veep in the ‘90s while CO2 levels soared by 14 percent. It’s the economy, stupid.

“But the steady economic growth has only increased energy demand, while governments have failed for a decade to invest enough in natural gas exploration and new power plants to expand their energy supplies. The other alternative is to raise consumer prices or impose austerity measures, something politicians have been reluctant to do. History shows they can help sink a president.”

The lesson for U.S. pols who want to choke off new power plant construction: It’ll sink you.

What of Chile, then, which finds itself cut off from Argentina’s carbon supply? Have they taken this “opportunity,” as Gore disciple Thomas Friedman might say, to build windmills and solar fields (it is very sunny down near the equator after all)?

Hardly.

“Two liquefied natural gas terminals should be completed by the middle of 2009,” continues reporter Barrionuevo. “Chile is also opening up some land for oil and gas exploration . . . . Ms. Bachelet received a government-financed study last week exploring the prospects for building nuclear power plants. ‘We can’t just wait with our arms crossed and hope for a miracle to happen,’ said Antonio Baciagalupo (a local fuel supplier).”

“Waiting for miracles to happen” might be Nobel laureate Gore’s preference, but it’s an empty promise for a growing world.

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