We have a lot of fun here rooting around in the blogosphere. We set up scenarios where the scientists and activists are fighting the other scientists and the skeptics. Politicians, funding, NGOs and the mass media are all presumed to play a part in a struggle that, for some, pits the past against the future and for others pits free markets against a pitiless and planned economy.
It’s all bunk, of course. But it lets either side write a caption for images like this:
There is a titanic struggle for the future going on, of course–you just knew there had to be, right?
But it doesn’t involve any of the actors named above, at least not more than peripherally.
We are all in the middle of a fierce corporate fight between The Ghost of Energy Past and The Ghost of Energy Yet To Come.
This isn’t Hansen and Mann versus Lindzen and McIntyre. This is GE, Siemens and Vestas against Exxon, Chevron and Duke.
Starting after the Second World War, corporate interests have been lobbying legislators and paying distinguished people to promote their version of the future of energy. But it wasn’t the Koch Brothers or Patrick Michaels–it was Westinghouse and Dr. Edward Teller, going around laying the footwork for the growth of nuclear power. It was they who first brought the idea of global warming into the conversation, starting with Margaret Thatcher and her bright young acolyte now known as The Viscount Monckton.
We all know how the fossil fuel industry responded. And while we moan over the pennies both sides give to advocacy groups like The Heartland Institute or the Sierra Club, most of the money was spent on lobbying legislators and structuring legislation and tax codes.
All the stuff we are fighting about is just the foam at the top of the wave.
We can characterize this war in any way we like–old versus new, green versus brown, dirty versus clean. But in reality it’s just one group of corporations fighting another group over control of an industry–primary energy–that the world spent over $5 trillion on two years ago and is growing by 3% a year.
Neither side is clean–both are willing to do whatever it takes to win. But neither side can be blamed–both feel that their solution is vastly superior and better for their country and their countries’ economies. None of these people think they are villains.
What they are, are confident actors used to being on the world stage and influencing the world itself. From General Electric, started by Thomas Edison and partially financed by J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilts to Standard Oil, the trust that was busted but made John D. Rockefeller the richest man in the world, this is a battle of titans playing for the world as stakes.
And we’ve got a ringside seat.