Climate Change Hope

Russia Serbia Gas Pipeline

This blog is taken from the post Climate Change Hope.


I regard the Russian decision to cut gas supplies to western Europe as being one of the most important and hopeful climate change events of recent years.

The way we have responded to the climate crisis so far is to look for alternative sources of “clean energy”. The unspoken assumption is that we are entitled to maintain our current energy-guzzling lifestyle, and that “they” need to find an alternative to fossil fuels. The alternative approach - to reduce energy consumption - is rarely considered.

Two posts this month - A Forcing Function and Russian Gas and the Forcing Function - develop the theme that arbitrarily cutting the flow of gas from Russia could do more for climate change than all the reports and resolutions with which we are inundated. To reiterate:

A principle of lean management is to reduce intermediate inventories of goods and spare equipment. Companies do this, not because inventory is a bad thing in and of itself. They do it because the lack of intermediate inventory forces managers on both sides of the fence to make their operations more efficient. In other words, these companies do not increase efficiency to reduce inventory, they reduce inventory to improve efficiency.

But there is a deeper lesson here. In the second of the above posts, we suggest that the Europeans have three choices if they are to avoid a harsh recession. Those choices are:

  1. Drastically and swiftly reduce energy consumption;

  2. Find alternative sources of natural gas; or

  3. Develop alternative sources of energy.

So far, most of the discussion has been to do with Options #2 and 3, i.e., how do we replace the energy supplied by Russian gas so as to maintain our current way of living? (I have used italics for the final phrase because it is an unspoken and unstated assumption.)

To date, there has been little discussion of Option #1: drastically cutting our energy consumption. But, if Poland and Bulgaria can figure out how to do so without suffering an economic recession then there are grounds for real hope.

Watch this space.