Biden Pushes GND As Informed Environmentalists Abandon It
By: Gregory Wrightstone – Executive Director, CO2 Coalition
President Biden and others who would stake the future of modern civilization on wind and solar technologies are ignoring former environmental activists who have now soured on so-called green energy. As better-informed people increasingly turn to responsible use of fossil fuels and nuclear power, political leaders continue to pursue a false “green” promise.
In Washington, D.C., radical anti-fossil fuel policies are being promoted that would devastate America’s economy. It continues to be promoted even though it is obvious that overreliance on wind energy contributed to costly and deadly power outages last month during a Texas cold snap and similar, but not so deadly results recently in Europe.
There are plenty of arguments against these “green” proposals made purportedly to save the planet from human-induced warming.
First, the underlying premise of looming planetary doom due to man-made warming is demonstrably false. By nearly every metric, Earth and its people are flourishing. As much as half the planet’s surface has become greener over the past 50 years because of slightly higher levels of carbon dioxide and natural increases in warmth. Secondly, investments in wind turbines and solar panels divert resources from more reliable and efficient fossil fuels and nuclear power that have produced unprecedented prosperity.
“Green warriors” who dismiss these arguments at least ought to consider that many of those who once embraced radical plans to “save the planet” now spurn them.
One is Michael Schellenberger, a green-energy activist who hosted on his 16th birthday a fund raiser to “save” rain forests. Now middle aged and author of the 2020 book “Apocalypse Never,” Mr. Schellenberger says, “The idea that we’re going to replace oil and coal and natural gas with solar and wind and nothing else is a hallucinatory delusion.”
Mr. Schellenberger tells of his realization that fossil fuels were key to an astonishing improvement of the human condition since the 18th century and are necessary to raise billions of third world inhabitants from crushing poverty and privation. “Green” technologies, he concludes, are expensive, unreliable, environmentally damaging and incapable of sustaining the globe.
“Human civilization would have to occupy one hundred to one thousand times more space if it were to rely solely on renewables,” Mr. Schellenberger writes. “If the United States were to try to generate all of the energy it uses with renewables, 25 percent to 50 percent of all land in the United States would be required. By contrast, today’s energy system requires just 0.5 percent of land in the United States.”
There are plenty of others like Mr. Schellenberger. In the 2013 video documentary “Pandora’s Promise,” he appeared with four former opponents of nuclear power to promote that technology over both of the green technologies they once endorsed.
Of nuclear power Mr. Schellenberger writes: “Between 1965 and 2018, the world spent about $2 trillion for nuclear and $2.3 trillion for solar and wind. At the end of the experiment, the world received about twice as much electricity from nuclear as it did from solar and wind.”
One of the better known environmentalists to have moderated his views is Dr. Patrick Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace who left the organization and wrote Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist. Currently a board member at the CO2 Coalition, he also has written a paper, “The Positive Impact of Human CO2 Emissions on the Survival of Life on Earth.” The paper concludes that carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels in the industrial age may have reversed a long-term, dangerous decline that threatened to bring CO2 concentrations below the level needed for plant life. That catastrophe would make the current climate scare an ironic footnote in the epitaph of humanity.
Another who first promoted but now rejects alternative energy is Michael Moore, a quintessential West Coast liberal whose 2019 documentary “Planet of the Humans” presents green energy as an environmentally dangerous, money-grubbing, capitalist con. However, the film falls well short of sensible when it concludes that environmental issues demand Earth’s depopulation.
Which returns us to the stubborn allegiance to green energy of people like those now in power in Washington, D.C, who are proposing economically crippling carbon taxation schemes. Why the insistence on punishing the technologies that provide affordable, abundant and reliable energy and supporting those that do not?
Mr. Schellenberger suggests that underlying extreme environmentalism is an anti-civilization view that rejects the very solutions that would solve the supposed problems. Those concerned about carbon dioxide reject nuclear power just as Malthusians who predicted mass starvation from overpopulation opposed birth control, he says. Alex Epstein, author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” identifies the affliction as an absence of clear thinking.
Whatever sociopathic or intellectual disorder drives the green obsession, a regrettably high number of our leaders suffer from it.
This commentary was first published March 15, 2021 at Real Clear Markets
Gregory Wrightstone is a geologist and the Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition in Arlington Virginia. He is bestselling author of Inconvenient Facts: The Science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know.