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OWOE - Blog
The Cobra Effect
July 12, 2021

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: Most readers have probably heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences, the more good that one intends then the more harm results (see also the Cobra Effect). Politicians have an intrinsic ability to apply this without fail. Then to make everything worse, there is Pournelle's Law of Iron Bureaucracy, ensuring that even the slightest of good intentions are inevitably smashed by the insufferable protocols of bureaucracy. Such is the realm of politicians. But in the information age, the woke minority and sometimes business tycoons also suffer from these laws. Business tycoons can correct for such things, otherwise they go bust. Woke progs will often ignore reason and facts, those remnants of patriarchal suppression, in order to validate horrific outcomes. Eventually, though, the smoldering landscape or the increasing number of coal plants being built in Asia should overwhelm Woke feelings.  Unfortunately, politicians and governments are with us for as long as their privilege and pensions last and they rarely admit mistakes let alone mitigate or fix them.

In the early 2000s, fracking in Texas took off like wildfire. Fracking allowed Texas and the US in general to revitalize first gas production and then oil until the US became almost self-sufficient in petroleum production, which in turn shook the OPEC cartel and world markets. But the downside to all that fracking is the high water use. It has gotten so bad that ranches are bought by oil producers for the water rights associated with the land. As fracking increases, water resources for other activities, like growing foodstuff or drinking, diminish and become more expensive. It's a vicious cycle of fuel or food.

Similarly, the boom in EVs being heralded by many ignores the increasing demand for scarce metals like cobalt and rare earths. Too often these scarce metals are mined in far off places under abhorrent labor conditions or subject to control by dictatorial states. Where are the ESG scores for the state actors controlling these materials?  Sure, EVs are good, but at what cost?

Wind turbines are great, but the huge amount of trash they generate is not.  I've commented on this problem a few years back, and now the problem of wind turbine waste is becoming apparent to governments worldwide (see and  Again, wind energy, not counting bird impacts and negative effects to fisheries, is great until you must dispose of the worn out and broken turbine blades.

Another great example of a cobra effect involves bio-fuels and forests in America. Forests are being chopped down in North Carolina to make wood pellets to feed "green" bio-fuel power plants in Europe. How on earth is an industrial activity like this, that generates more CO2 emissions than simply burning coal for the equivalent amount of energy, a green energy solution?

Looking around the world and the enthusiastic rush to renewables and EVs, I wonder how many cobras we're unleashing into the world. We could very well end up corrupting and trashing the world before we save it.

Vive l'Alberta Libre

Shut Down Line 5.

Seriously, shut down Line 5. Hypocritical Canadians are now suing the US government in US courts for cancelling Keystone XL while at the same time ignoring US sovereignty to close the Line 5 pipeline. Get mad America! Tell the Canadian Prime Minister (use this link) to shut down Line 5 and to get stuffed with the Keystone lawsuit.

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