Big Green Lie: Why Endless Subsidies to Wind & Solar Won’t Make The Weather Any Better
If climate change is a problem, then wind turbines and solar panels aren’t a solution: heavily subsidised and unreliable wind and solar are an economic and environmental disaster.
When climate alarmists managed to hijack energy (and with it economic) policy it was a case of lunatics taking over the asylum. In every breath, they exhort us that immediate action must be taken to prevent runaway climate change. Where “action” means – and only ever means – more (indeed endless) subsidies for wind turbines and solar panels to generate chaotically intermittent electricity at exorbitant cost.
In the veritable blink of an eye, hysterical claims about cataclysmic global warming and imminent catastrophe managed to capture the imagination of the anxious, fretful and foolish. Sadly, while a few sought to throw a bucket on the more ludicrous claims made by furtive doomsdayers, plenty of otherwise sensible characters went along with the herd.
STT has given a fair bit of coverage to Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans. Which was the first solid example of members of the hard-green-left seeking to distance themselves from the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time.
For some, however, it wasn’t just the fact that renewable energy rent seekers were making untold $millions cashing in on the state-sanctioned scam that they helped to create, it was the fact that climate alarmism quickly morphed into a pervasive evil, designed to strike an immobilising sense of fear in the youngest members of society. Greta Thunberg was probably the natural result of a generation terrorised by increasingly persistent and outlandish claims that the end is nigh, all thanks to human-generated carbon dioxide gas.
Presuming for the moment that humans have the unmitigated power to change the weather to more suitable settings, then throwing $billions more in subsidies to chaotically intermittent and thoroughly unreliable wind and solar won’t form part of that miraculous adventure. Holman W Jenkins explains why.
Why Pretend Green Pork Will Stop Climate Change?
Wall Street Journal
Holman W Jenkins Jr
29 July 2022
Lies told by government officials provoke little concern from the public until voters encounter a consequence: That mask or vaccine didn’t prevent you from being infected by Covid. You can’t keep your doctor. The half-trillion dollars you were asked to spend on climate change didn’t stop climate change.
Take the Joe Manchin-sponsored climate compromise coming together in the U.S. Senate. Despite panegyrics in the press, this euphoric proposal amounts to exactly the sort of subsidy regime the National Academy of Sciences in 2013, after a similar splurge, judged to be a “poor tool for reducing greenhouse gases and achieving climate-change objectives.”
One analysis pinpointed in the fewest possible words why: “Alternative energy is not replacement energy.”
Such packages are sold on the public’s faulty intuition that an erg of green energy consumed is an erg of fossil energy that stays in the ground. But it does not follow. The most widely celebrated paper in recent years on the economics of climate change concludes that green-energy subsidies mostly just increase total energy consumption rather than displace fossil fuels. The impact on CO2 and temperatures is “minuscule,” according to Princeton’s José Luis Cruz Álvarez and Esteban Rossi-Hansberg.
But organized green interests want your money; voters want a warm feeling from being told they’re doing something about climate change (as long as it doesn’t involve a carbon tax). Even so, notice that Joe Biden and his aides have been careful to voice their support for the Senate bill in terms of “energy security,” not anything that sounds like “green new deal.” They know the public is wising up.
Let’s go to the numbers: Fossil energy accounted for 82% of global energy consumption last year, down from 85% in 2016, so fossil fuels are headed to zero, right?
No, total energy consumption is growing—last year it jumped a walloping 5.8%, the biggest increase ever, including a 2.6% increase in renewables and a 5.7% increase in coal.
The demand for energy will keep growing as a billion-plus humans seek to rise from poverty. Renewables will be lucky to hold even their current share of the market. Millions will want air conditioning if the world is warming. It will be an excellent trade-off for them. The additional emissions will be a small price to pay for being able to live and work in healthy conditions right now.
But the saddest sound effect is the claim by the Senate bill’s admirers that China, India and other emitters will be so impressed with the Manchin compromise that they will fall in the line.
This flight of fantasy informed a hundred press reports on Friday. Unfortunately, Oxford University’s Eyck Freymann, a careful reader of Chinese policy statements in the original Chinese, delivers the bad news: Beijing has already decided it makes more sense to live with rising CO2 levels than combat them.
Two outcomes are guaranteed: The effect of emissions will continue to be felt whatever these effects are; and somebody will always use warming as a reason to relieve you of your tax dollars.
Right now, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change bases its forecasts on 40 or so climate simulations, none of which the IPCC believes is right. For the first time last year, it refined their averaged output by consulting the real-world track of temperatures, narrowing the long-predicted range of expected outcomes by half a degree on either end. The IPCC now sees an increase of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius late in this century over the pre-industrial average.
As good as any other estimate, a U.S. government study in 2018 predicted that a worst-case increase of 6.1 degrees would cost the U.S. economy about $500 billion a year by 2090, or less than 1% of expected GDP.
These are the costs only for mitigating the effects; the green subsidy money is assumed to go down the drain. In the meantime, though, it does produce consequences that go unmentioned to the public.
The handouts to wind and solar are so giant in relation to underlying project costs, they drive investors to build over-large installations far from consumers, which destabilize the grid and result in electrons being dumped wastefully into the ground.
The incentives dished out to auto makers lead Detroit to emphasize oversized electric vehicles like the new Hummer. While these vehicles are popular with consumers and help defray manufacturer costs, they likely do more environmental harm than good when the effects are totaled up.
Still, the biggest wonder is the sheer size of the taxpayer sum we are getting ready to spend on climate change when nobody can honestly pretend it will have an impact on climate change.
Wall Street Journal