Laura DeMaria

Post image for The Strange Yin and Yang of German Environmental Politics

Last week I attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a German-based political foundation and think tank. The topic at hand was, “Sustainability in Energy Policy and Beyond: A Modern Conservative Approach in German Politics,” featuring Dr. Gunter Krings, a member of the German Christian Democratic Party.

I was warned beforehand by my colleague Myron Ebell that the event would most likely be “a lot of (E.U.) rubbish,” and it was, indeed, rubbish. Among the Dr. Krings’s most pressing concerns were the “social justice” aspect of sustainability and the imperative to plant as many trees as you take out and leave the world a better place for the children, etc. His presentation thus had the feel of a Sally Struthers television spot. He endorsed heartily the Precautionary Principle, which argues that even if the affects of global warming (or cooling, or whatever eco-disaster is being prophesied) are not entirely clear, it is better to err on the side of extreme caution and to return us all back to a simpler, more sustainable, caveman-esque lifestyle.

In a strange parallel, the same week that Dr. Krings explained his modern, conservative approach to environmental policy in Germany, Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, considered one of the fathers of Germany’s green movement,  published a book denouncing the climate change science “consensus” and the IPCC. The book, titled Cold Sun: Why the Climate Disaster Won’t Happen, points out the abundance of errors in IPCC reports which led Vahrenholt to his skepticism.

How does it happen that when looking for the voice of reason in German climate politics, one must turn away from the self-described conservative, and to a formerly radical, green, self-proclaimed Socialist?

Post image for Is It Fair for Government To Pick Winners?

In January 2010, Ener1, a manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for use in plug-in electric cars, received a $118.5 million Stimulus grant from the US Department of Energy. Today, it filed for bankruptcy. Their Chapter 11 filing lists around $100 million each in assets and debts and proposes a restructuring plan to reduce its debt and provide up to $81 million to recapitalize the company.

The bankruptcy follows in the footsteps of Solyndra ($535 million from the DOE), Beacon Power ($43 million from the DOE) and SpectraWatt ($500,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), all government-subsidized green energy companies which collapsed within the last year.

Ener1 cites heavy competition from Asia, a rough economy, bad investments and the slowly developing electric car market for its failure.  Even though Asia may have a cheaper workforce and more relaxed labor laws, the repeated failures of federally-backed green industry corporations—which according to CBS, will perhaps total 11 bankruptcies in the near future—is due to the Obama administration’s unrealistic insistence on creating a green energy industry out of subsidies, particularly when the demand for “green” products is virtually non-existent in the real marketplace.

[click to continue…]