The shale revolution

We now know that globalwarmming is a fact, not a probability.  We also know that exceeding the limit of 2 degrees centigrade is very, very likely (see f.i. Shell scenarios: And we know that we are not making a basic transition to sustainable sources of energy. The main reason for this is the development of shale mining of gas and oil, so that cheap fossil energy is still available for two centuries to come. Especially in the US shale mining is big business today. In Europe there is more hesitation, because we are aware that the further development of a fossil fuel based economy is not sustainable.

There is also another reason for the difference between Europe and the US, and that is the law. When in Europe you own a piece of land, you own only the surface. What is underneath is collective (Government) property. In the US, when you own a piece of land, you own everything underneath, in a cone like shape until the center point of the planet. So in Europe you need permission to drill for shale gas or oil, in America you don’t if you own the land.

In passing: in my recent book I plead for a common economy: that is an economy in which all goods that originally belonged to no one, are collectively owned. These goods include: water, air, land and resources  (raw materials, including oil and gas)*. This would solve many of the ecological and economic problems we face today, but is is not very likely that populations will choose to move in that direction on the short term. But is is interesting to note that Europe in this respect didn’t wander away so far from the natural state of things as the US did.

Anyway, this shale revolution will have very far reaching consequences. 1. On the medium term it will mean that the US will become independent of fossil fuels. This will have enormous impact for its foreign policy. Probably it will not care so much anymore for developments in the Middle East. 2. The oil states in the Middle East and elsewhere will become poorer, and that will lead to political turmoil (because the governments can’t buy the consensus of the people anymore), maybe revolutions, maybe fundamentalistic-islamistic regimes (but they have to fear too). 3. Europe will become the ‘schlemiel’ of the world, with complete dependency of other countries for its energy sources and the related poverty (and maybe uprisings too). 4. In the long term it will mean that we will approach four degrees of global warming.  What that implies can hardly be assessed, but that the implications will be enormous is certain.

In the long run we are all dead as they say. But on the long term the US may suffer from the’ law of the handicap of a head start’. At that time we, just for survival, need sustainable sources of energy. Maybe Europe then will benefit of  ‘the law of the stimulating backlog’, and become leading in the production of sustainable energy.

Anyway, a green deal and a common economy is more necessary than ever.


* How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and sparkle of the water, how can you buy them ? (from a fake version of the speech of Chief Seattle:

Source: Christoph Schmidt, NRC/Handelsblad, 2013)

(I apologize for mistakes in my English. Blogs are cursory – not stuff for correction by a native speaker).


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