Comment // Economy

Climate narratives and energy supply as instruments of power

Could it be that there is neither a “climate emergency” nor any significant “anthropogenic global warming” from man-made emissions such as carbon dioxide? Could it rather be that some lobbyists and scientists who are massively overamplified by the media are disseminating hypotheses without sufficient scientific evidence? So it seems. The idea that the mild warming we saw from 1850 onwards is a man-made dangerous climate crisis is incompatible with the observed data.

The warming we saw between 1800 and 1990—which seems now to be stalled—was most likely the recovery from the last mini-ice age, which began in the sixteenth century and ended at the beginning of the nineteenth. Why, then, are we being told these alarming narratives? What are the facts that reject the global warming theory? Why is it still propagated? The answer is worth seeking, because this commonplace yarn is a major component of contemporary ideologies of power and domination.


The case against anthropogenic global warming

It is the generally accepted scientific view, supported by geophysics, that during the Cambrian explosion, when the speed of evolutionary differentiation on earth was at its peak, there was ten to fifteen times as much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air as today. CO2 is the gas created by combustion of carbohydrates and by the metabolism of all animal lifeforms. The average temperature was seven degrees Celsius higher than today, and thus much higher than the “worst” predictions of the IPCC. That is basic geological knowledge.

The climate changes continually. The small rise in temperature since 1800 is insignificant within the Holocene, the current epoch of earth history. Since hominids have lived on earth (generally held to be 3½ million years, approximately), it has often been both much warmer and much colder than today. Though they lacked modern physics, and the technology it enables, our biological ancestors survived the changes using slow migration, the invention of clothes, and—later on—the rational application of fire.

On the German Wikipedia page about the Preboreal (the initial phase of the Holocene), you can see the evolution of the global average temperature and of the sea levels since 12,000 and 22,000 BC respectively. You will notice that the temperature has been oscillating around a high level for the last ten thousand years, but that the melting of the glacial ice shield which covered Europe during the last ice age ended roughly seven thousand years ago; since then, the global sea levels have been almost constant.

If there were major climate change ongoing now, the temperature would be increasing as it did eleven thousand years ago, and the sea levels would be drastically rising accordingly. Yet we see nothing like this today. Droughts or storms today are no more frequent than in other periods of the last 150 years since accurate weather records began. So there is no acute climate crisis.

Carbon dioxide is undoubtedly a greenhouse gas, but its effects are probably minor compared to other such gases. The geophysicists Van Wijngaarden and Happer have recently clearly proven that today, “the forcings from all greenhouse gases are saturated”. Positive radiative forcing is an increase in the net energy flux from outer space into the atmosphere caused by greenhouse gases. Van Wijngaarden and Happer’s findings indicate that a further increase in CO2 concentrations will not increase the net energy flux into the atmosphere, so that more CO2 has little additional effect on the climate.

Though there is a certain contribution of human activities to the global climate, it is not decisive and—more importantly—is an event now confined to the past. Two sources summarize these facts: Tony Heller’s and the website CO2 Coalition, to which the physicist William Happer is a major and knowledgeable contributor. It is important to note that the rise of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has increased the growth of plants, which boosts food production and contributes to the preservation of biological diversity.


The quality of climate models

But couldn’t the global temperature be on a sudden rise despite today’s absence of evidence? The climate models of the IPCC, an NGO hosted at the United Nations, assert so. But they are scientifically purposeless. There is no reason to design and build them, because there is no climate emergency. 

More importantly, they are unscientific, as they do not meet the classical criterion of science, which is to contribute to the scientific description, explanation or prediction of the phenomenon in question; in this case, the climate. The models seek to model the climate, a highly complex system in the sense of system theory, using a bare few variables and coupled partial differential equations.

Every physicist knows that such models are invalid for describing or predict complex system behaviour. These are systems with properties that prevent realistic mathematical models from describing the entire systems (partial models are possible). The results which the models give show that they are wrong with regards to modelling both the past and the future. Therefore, there are not the result of scientific work in the classical sense.

And indeed, nothing more could be expected from models created using methods inadequate to the problem. As Feynman, one of the best and most original physicists of the latter half of the twentieth century, wrote in the 1960s (and since then there has been no development in physics to invalidate his proposition), as “we get into the marvellous phenomenon of real nature—instead of the idealised spheres […]—we discover that we don’t know very much” (Feynman Lectures on Physics, II, 9–5).

Modelling complex systems holistically and accurately is out of scope for physics. The funding of these modelling efforts should be stopped, just as we stopped funding experiments to prove Fermi's interaction once we had the model of the weak nuclear force.


The role of energy

In industrial societies, energy has every bit the role which the land fulfilled in the agricultural age before the Industrial Revolution. Energy is used for every product that we consume, even in the water we drink and the air we breathe. Our water needs energy to be purified and transported to our homes, and exhausts need to be cleansed of nitrogen and sulphur oxides and other pollutants—an energy-consuming process built into modern fossil-fuel-burning power plants and the combustion engines in our cars.

The per-capita usage of energy will continue to rise, thanks to digitization, automation and ageing of our societies. Reductions in energy usage can only be achieved by means of a diminution of our quality of life. If our usage drops drastically, there will be famines, people will freeze to death, and there will be public unrest and serious political instability. As Arnold Gehlen pointed out in The Soul in the Age of Technology [1], modern societies will not accept deindustrialization, with its concomitant return to the chronic mass hunger and destitution characteristic of all the eras of humanity prior to the Industrial Revolution.

The earth can easily support 8–10 billion human beings and allow them to live in an equilibrium with nature if we produce enough energy do recycle the educts of our metabolism and products at the end of their life cycle. This is possible, but we need cheap energy to do it. Of course, this costs energy-bearing materials, but we have an unlimited supply of them on earth, if we consider nuclear fission and fusion, which will be accomplished long before all other sources of energy will be exhausted. Today, we are witnessing a massive pollution of the environment and a reduction of biodiversity, which is gravely concerning. With more energy usage, we could reduce both of these ills to physiological, pre-industrial levels.


Energy as an instrument of power

In feudal societies, the social power of feudal lords over the population was based on control of the land, which provided the main foundation of wealth (mines and mills played a certain role as well from the Late Middle Ages onwards). When it was impossible to conquer an enemy’s land, military campaigns often targeted the agricultural infrastructure with scorched-earth policies, burning down barns and farms or by poisoning wells to make it impossible to use the land for a certain period. Today, power depends on control over the production and distribution of energy, because it is the foundation of wealth in industrial societies [2]. Per-capita energy usage is directly proportional to the standard of living, as we saw above.

Since the early 1970s, when the Club of Rome published The Limits to Growth, a burgeoning movement to reduce energy consumption has taken shape. This is neo-Malthusian ideology. Thomas Malthus was an English cleric and economist who postulated that population growth must inevitably outstrip the growth of agricultural production and that it would therefore lead to regular famines. Its warmed-over intellectual heir, neo-Mathusianism, has been put into effect in serious policy since the early 2000s, when governments in Germany, Switzerland and other very rich countries started a programme to replace fossil fuel-derived energy sources with so-called “renewables”. These forms of energy, mainly water-, wind- and solar-radiation-based energy production, are unreliable and insufficient to cover the permanent energy needs of modern societies. Furthermore, we lack the metals to construct them in sufficient quantity.

Despite this all, fanatical politicians continue to call for “decarbonization” or “zero carbon” policies in order to “save the climate”, and continue to implement them. As we have seen, even if such decarbonization were brought about, it would not change the climate, since the influence of greenhouse gases on the climate has already reached saturation. We are now facing a situation in which the lack of cheap energy is starting to beggar Europe in earnest, and the US and Canada are likewise under threat of deindustrialization, due to the spiralling of energy prices. In Europe, reliable home heating was prohibitively expensive this past winter for the bottom third of the income distribution range.

For the oligarchic élites of the West, which possess 70 to 90 per cent of the means of industrial and agricultural production [4, 5], the climate and renewable energy policies are yielding an increase in their power, due to the nascent energy scarcity that is ensuing from them. With lower amounts of energy available, the power of those who control its production and distribution is increasing. This does not imply that the policy is consciously malign; it is rather a natural policy to emerge in a situation of extreme wealth concentration. 

The power character of present-day energy policies is apparent from the following observations:

  1. There is a massively-financed climate emergency propaganda drive to nourish the scientifically invalid climate narrative. It involves research funding for unscientific climate models, funding for NGOs and activism, and massive climate emergency publishing and broadcasting. Among the activists, there are neo-religious sects such as Extinction Rebellion and Letzte Generation (Last Generation), a German group of fanatics supported by public and private funding. Propaganda is one of the four fundamental modes of power described by Popitz [3]: authoritative power.
  2. Scientists and journalists opposing the climate myth are not mentioned in the highly concentrated legacy media suppressed and are censored on social media, whose platforms are controlled by a handful of US West Coast oligarchs owning them. This is another mode of power: instrumental power [3].
  3. Private corporations, such as the investment funds BlackRock and Vanguard, have formed a global alliance with sovereign wealth funds, the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the European Union and many other power organizations to promote so-called “sustainable development” policy, which is a social credit system for private companies to enforce carbon reduction policy via the control of bond emissions and other form of corporate financing. This network is a public-private partnership controlled by the Western oligarchs. This, again, is a form of instrumental power [3].
  4. Many countries are implementing carbon dioxide reduction policies, although they directly reduce industrial output and harm societies. These policies are justified by recourse to propaganda that aims to instil fear in the population. This policy changes the very infrastructure of society. It is an admixture of three modes of power: instrumental, authoritative, and data-setting power [3].

The ideological foundations of this policy are: (i) the well-documented ideological, Malthusian febrile belief in overpopulation that is shared by many members of the elite; and (ii) the aim of maximizing power by introducing energy scarcity. We see that these policies are pursued in the open: the actors and their motifs are publicly visible. Therefore, this is not a conspiracy, but the evolution of a global power enhancement process that we are witnessing.

There is, however, a snag: non-Western global players are unaccountably not following the script. On the contrary, Russia, China and India plan to increase the per-capita usage of energy. Therefore, the decarbonization agenda is imprudent, as it will weaken the West relative to these global, increasingly antagonistic, competitors and will make its citizens vulnerable to competition, or even to military attacks, in the medium term.

Historically, power domains which failed to keep up with the development of their competitors were conquered (for example, the once-mighty kingdom of Burgundy) or even annihilated (such as Carthage). If Russia or China were to take control over a country with a well-educated, law-abiding population that had recently been deindustrialized, the new masters would immediately increase the energy production again to exploit their new acquisition properly. It is a dangerous illusion to reduce energy consumption; it damages Western countries and renders them vulnerable to becoming subdued by other powers.


Power structures versus conspiracies

Why is the description of structures set out above a power analysis rather than a conspiracy theory? Power structures are a major aspect of historical and sociological analyses because, as Thomas Hobbes described, power determines many aspects of our lives and is therefore of interest to everyone. It is the historical norm that powerful élites use the spontaneous evolutions of society to pursue the aggrandisement and optimization of their power.

The history of European feudal societies from the seventh to the eighteenth century, for example, is the history of an inexorable accumulation and centralization of power from local lords to the powerful kings who dominated utterly by the period of absolutism, who waged the Great Northern War or the Seven Years’ War in the eighteenth century. The upper nobility was the winner of these historical developments, because members of these lineages were better at at or had more luck in exploiting the spontaneous evolution of societies to their benefit, at the expense of others.

We now see a similar evolution in Western countries: a concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a small élite. This process has been described in detail by Joel Kotkin [4] and by Nitzan and Bichler [5]. It is not a conspiracy, but merely the clever usage of spontaneous processes by an aristocratic layer which openly communicates its goals and which has been acting systematically and purposefully in the West since the end of the First World War [3].

A conspiracy is a secret plan created by a small group to change power structures without using the spontaneous evolution of society. A typical example is the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators in 1605. Analysts suspecting such conspiracies as the veritable causes of the social and political evolution of entire societies are conspiracy theorists and usually wrong—but the term is now massively overused to discredit any kind of sober analysis of power structures.

To return to our climate myth, how has it been capable of such success despite being in flagrant contradiction of the real situation which we observe and measure? The evolution of the climate narrative was made possible by the cultural situation obtaining in the West: a long period of peace and increasing wealth, leading to a certain decadence; the loss of religion, entailing a quest for new vessels to satisfy basic religious impulses; the prevalence of positivism (the view that only empirical facts can lead to knowledge) and Cartesianism in Western thinking; and the attractiveness of Malthusian ideas for the élites.

These are the trends which Western oligarchs have exploited to foster and propagate the climate narrative that now allows them to control the energy supply even more tightly than before the first oil crisis in the early 1970s. But they failed to factor in the stance of Eurasian powers, and so may be in a process of overextending their reach, as the coming years will show.



[1] Arnold Gehlen: Die Seele im technischen Zeitalter. Hamburg. 1957

[2] F. William Engdahl: A Century of War. Wiesbaden. 2011.

[3] Heinricht Popitz: Phenomena of Power. New York. 2017 (1993).

[4] Joel Kotkin: The Coming of Neo-Feudalism. New York. 2020.

[5] Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler: Capital as Power. London. 2009.


Article image: Robert A. Rohde, Wikimedia Commons | licence CC BY-SA 3.0