Until the Pandemic struck the world, the desire of the progressive political movement in the United States and much of the world that was focused on ridding the planet of fossil fuels, said to be negatively altering the planet’s climate.
These folks are fully convinced that the world, at its present state of technological advance, could be run entirely on renewable refuels lead by solar and wind power. They have always ignored the intermittency of these sources when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. While they know we have no economic method to store such energy, they assume one will come along.
It has been futile yet interesting to continue such a debate in the face of a calm period where conjecture was but an intellectual exercise. Then reality hit us all in the face with a disaster never seen in our life times. Where would the two million Covid-19 afflicted people be today who depended on ventilators run by electricity from coal and natural gas if they were powered from the wind and the sun? The obvious answer is that many more would be dead.
While not much good will come from this world wide tragedy, perhaps more of the people deluded by the climate change fear mongering will come to their senses. Eliminating fossil fuels to produce electricity or power automobiles would not support life as we know it today but only life as we knew it a century and a half ago. It may also be time to rename the electric cars, beloved by many, to what they really are, coal, natural gas or nuclear powered cars.
It is a mystery that virtually all the electric car owners believe their power comes magically out of a wall socket at home or a charging station on the road. The power really comes from a nearby power plant all of which burn coal, natural gas or obtain heat from nuclear fuel. Even if the plant gets some energy from local wind turbines or solar photovoltaic cells this amount is minimal. If we really want a huge increase in the number of electric automobiles on the road we must build more fossil fuel burning power plants, not more wind or solar farms.
Perhaps a little history of the electrification of our nation is in order. It was the development of our fossil fuels that made possible the greatest contribution to health and prosperity which was to make electricity affordable everywhere.
In 2000 the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced “the 20 engineering achievements that have had the greatest impact on the quality of life in the 20th century”. The achievements were nominated by 29 professional engineering societies and ranked by a distinguished panel of the nation’s top engineers. They ranked electrification as the number one achievement.
It powered almost every pursuit and enterprise in modern society. Aside from lighting the world, it impacted countless areas of daily life including food production and processing, air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, entertainment, transportation, communication, health care and eventually computers.
In the NAE announcement regarding electrification it stated : “One hundred years ago life was a constant struggle against disease, pollution, deforestation, treacherous working conditions and enormous cultural divides ……. By the end of the 20th century, the world had become a healthier, safer and more productive place, primarily because of this engineering achievement”.
Fossil fuels brought electricity to the homes and workplaces of billions of people around the world. Wind and solar power in anyone’s wildest dreams can never support what electricity provided us in these past 148 years since Thomas Edison built the world’s first coal fired generating plant on Pearl Street in New York City in 1882.
Part of our collective problem as to energy and electricity is that technology has past us by. We all once understood how an automobile engine worked, how a home was wired, and what was a fuse. When computers, GPS and smart phones came along, most of us gave up trying to understand. Many believe there really is a cloud up there keeping our data safe.
So why not think electric cars reap the magic from the wall socket, the wind and sun can keep us doing all that we do. That scientists have high tech crystal balls to tell us the climate decades from now. It should become clear as technology advanced beyond the average persons ability to comprehend, we have actually become dumber. Perhaps being rationally ignorant of things we do not need to know is okay. Unfortunately people in leadership positions are then able to lead us astray. The elimination of fossil fuels is a poor path to follow.
Isn’t it a little strange that a century ago electrification and its fossil fuel source was revered and now so many despise the source but think they can just keep the electricity. No one told them you can not have your cake and eat it too, or that there are no free lunches.
Note: Portions of this article were excerpted from Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels (CCRII: Fossil Fuels), produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) published by The Heartland Institute, with permission of the editors Joseph Bast and Diane Bast. The authors strongly recommend the book for a complete exposé of the fallacies behind the climate delusion.