2021年10月28日 星期四

A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don’t Blame the Greens. 能源凜冬將至 別責怪綠能

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2021/10/29 第356期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don't Blame the Greens. 能源凜冬將至 別責怪綠能
LeBron James Laughs at Your 'Old' Lakers Memes. After His Nap. 嘲笑湖人老態的網路迷因逗樂詹姆斯
A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don't Blame the Greens. 能源凜冬將至 別責怪綠能
文/Thomas L. Friedman

能源凜冬將至 別責怪綠能

Every so often the tectonic geopolitical plates that hold up the world economy suddenly shift in ways that can rattle and destabilize everything on the surface. That's happening right now in the energy sphere.


Several forces are coming together that could make Vladimir Putin the king of Europe, enable Iran to thumb its nose at America and build an atomic bomb, and disrupt European power markets enough that the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, could suffer blackouts owing to too little clean energy.


Yes, this is a big one.


Natural gas and coal prices in Europe and Asia just hit their highest levels on record, oil prices in America hit a seven-year high and U.S. gasoline prices are up $1 a gallon from last year. If this winter is as bad as some experts predict — with some in the poor and middle classes unable to heat their homes — I fear we'll see a populist backlash to the whole climate/green movement. You can already smell that coming in Britain.


How did we get here? In truth, it's a good-news-bad-news story.


The good news is that every major economy has signed onto reducing its carbon footprint by phasing out dirtier fuels like coal to heat homes and to power industries. The bad news is that most nations are doing it in totally uncoordinated ways, from the top down, and before the market has produced sufficient clean renewables like wind, solar and hydro.


But how did the bad-news side of this story emerge so fast?


Blame COVID-19. First, the pandemic erupted and signaled to every major economy that we were headed for a deep recession. This sent prices of all kinds of commodities, including oil and gas, into downward spirals.


This, in turn, led banks to choke off investment in new natural gas capacity and crude wells after seven years of already declining investments in these hydrocarbons because of lousy returns.


As Bill Gates points out in his smart book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster," the only way to reach our climate targets is to shift production of all the big heavy industries, like steel, cement and automobiles, as well as how we heat our homes and power our cars, to electricity generated from clean energy. Safe and affordable nuclear power has to be part of our mix because, Gates argues, "it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that's available 24 hours a day."


LeBron James Laughs at Your 'Old' Lakers Memes. After His Nap. 嘲笑湖人老態的網路迷因逗樂詹姆斯
文/Scott Cacciola


LeBron James has seen the memes and read the punch lines.


"The narrative about our age," he said, "I kind of laugh at it. I actually do really laugh. I'm not just saying that."


The Los Angeles Lakers are old. They are the NBA's Traveling Wilburys, an aging rock star collective hoping to produce one more chart-topping album. Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan have more mileage between them than a 2003 Honda Civic. Carmelo Anthony, 37, recalled first getting to know James, 36, when they were high school standouts — way back in the previous millennium. At 32, Russell Westbrook is comparatively spry.


"I don't think it's going to be like peanut butter and jelly to start the season," James told reporters ahead of training camp. "But that's all part of the process."


In his own small way, James reinvented himself, too, by slightly slimming down at this august stage of his career.


"He's made the decision to come back a little bit leaner," Rob Pelinka, the team's general manager, said. "And I think that's going to translate in his explosiveness and his quickness."


Westbrook, a former league MVP, spent last season with the Washington Wizards before he was traded to the Lakers in August. Westbrook called it a "blessing" to be playing in Los Angeles, where he grew up.


"I think it's because we both understand and know what it takes in order to win, and obviously LeBron knows what it takes to get to that next level," Westbrook said.


But the aging process is undefeated, and there are obvious concerns about the Lakers' durability. James, so indestructible for much of his career, has been hampered by injuries in recent years, and Davis limped through the team's abridged playoff appearance last season. For his part, Pelinka sought to downplay the suggestion that the Lakers were brittle by citing the example of Tom Brady, who, at 44, is still quarterbacking football teams to Super Bowls.


Amid the doubts and the questions about the Lakers, Anthony can make out a path that leads to a championship ring, which would be his first. There were moments in his career, he said, when he considered the possibility of teaming up with James, one of his closest friends. The opportunity never materialized. Perhaps neither player was ready for that to happen, Anthony said.


"But here we are now," he said. "Timing is everything."


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