It's not often that meteorology intersects with geopolitics - but Europe could be in store for another Cold War, literally.
Accuweather.com's chief long-range and hurricane forecaster Joe Bastardi observed that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's recent cut of gas flows to Europe via Ukraine may have been done so in anticipation of a global cooling cycle on the Jan. 6 "Glenn Beck Show" radio program. Bastardi has a solid reputation among Wall Street traders for understanding weather's impact on energy commodities.
"The thing I want to bring up here - very interesting - most of the solar cycle studies that we know about and that guys like me read have come out of the Russian scientists," Bastardi said. "But when Glasnost developed, the Russian scientists, a lot of their ideas on the coming cool period that a lot of us believe is going to occur - ice, rather than fire is the big problem down the road here 2030, 2040, and the reversing cyclical cycles of the ocean - it came out of the East."
According to Bastardi - Putin is relying on the data from the Russian scientists and wants to bring some European nations to their knees by exploiting their reliance on natural gas when the weather is at its coldest.
"Now my theory - something that I put out and it's something that's not something that people want to hear is that Putin knows what is going to happen - or he believes the same way I do about the overall climate pattern. So, if you control the pipeline into Europe, you literally can control Europe without firing a shot - if you control the energy."
Bastardi cited former President Ronald Reagan's 1982 Cold War-era staunch resistance to a then-$10 billion pipeline that was proposed to deliver natural gas 3,500 miles from Siberia to the heart of Western Europe, as a July 12, 1982 Time magazine article pointed out. Reagan's stance was criticized by Western Europe Cold War allies and was said to be "riding roughshod over Western Europe's economies," by Time.
Bastardi also noted Russia's invasion of Georgia in August 2008 was evidence of Putin's willingness to use energy as a strategic tactic, since the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, located in Georgia, transports about a million barrels of oil a day from the Caspian Sea through Georgia to ports in Turkey - and then throughout Europe.
"That is why Reagan was so dead set against the Europeans looking east for their energy," Bastardi said. "And now we're seeing it. I believe the invasion of Georgia was nothing more than saying, ‘Hey I can take that pipeline whenever I want' and he shut the gas off to the Ukraine when it got brutally cold."
In a follow-up interview with the Business & Media Institute, Bastardi explained that a lot of Putin's personality traits are at play here - that he is using intelligence, going back to his days as at the KGB.
"The weather's most certainly involved in this," Bastardi said. "If look at what those Russian scientists, where a lot of these studies on it getting cold come from - you can see that, what makes you think that Putin doesn't have some knowledge of that? Here's the head of the KGB - and forever what you want to say, I'm sure he's privy to the same kind of information the head of the CIA is privy to here about studies and what people are thinking on a scientific nature."
And according to Bastardi, Putin's use of the flow of energy into Europe is just one of the weapons in his arsenal of tactics that he, as the head of Russia, has perfected using - comparing him to a wrestler with a perfected move.
"He's definitely a type-A alpha male and we can both agree on that," Bastardi said. "I mean look at him and he is more likely to use weapons - and I use weapons in terms of for instance a wrestler - a single-leg take down is a weapon. If you perfect it, you can use it the entire match. He's more likely in the art of war to use what he knows how to use, even if it's only two or three things than try to go use something he doesn't know how to use or try to create something - that's a waste of time to use it."
It's not a personality fault Bastardi contended on Beck's program - but just what he considers proper for his country.
"And so, there are a couple of things that line up here that indicate the guy is trying act on behalf of his country and what he believes his country should be," Bastardi said. "And I believe that he wants to use nature, rather than change nature and that may be what's going on over here."