Apparently, the Fox News article “Four Dirty Secrets about Clean Energy” is going viral, as I just got it from a friend who is normally not too closely connected to the subject. I have to hand it to these guys; they’re sure good at getting their word out.
In addition to admiring the sheer aggression with which Fox promotes its beliefs, one has to like their cleverness as well. Even the ploy of referring to their enemies’ concepts as “Dirty Secrets,” implying as it does the existence of some clandestine group with a malicious, hidden agenda is really a very bright idea from a public relations perspective.
In any case, I promised my friend that I would take a few minutes and respond to each of these damnable “dirty tricks,” so here goes:
Dirty Secret #1: If “clean energy” were actually cheaper than fossil fuels, it wouldn’t need a policy.
The cost of renewable energy is anything but a secret. No one disputes that, in each of its many forms as they currently exist, clean energy is more expensive than coal – especially when it’s burned in the absence of scrubbers on the plants to remove the most damaging components of their emissions. And, though the prices of renewables are falling constantly, this inequality will remain in place for at least the next few years. The larger issue that the author elected not to discuss, of course, is that fossil fuels come with huge but generally unseen costs in terms of the health of our people, our society and our environment.
Dirty Secret #2: Clean energy advocates want to force us to use solar, wind, and biofuels, even though there is no evidence these can power modern civilization.
This ties into #1 above. No one who has seriously looked at the matter doubts that clean energy can power the civilization, but the issue is cost. As Dr. Peter Lilienthal, world energy expert whose software is used by power utilities in more than 80 countries says, “There’s plenty of clean energy, if you don’t care what you pay for it.” Most clean energy advocates suggest weaning ourselves off fossil fuels using the market forces that would be created by establishing a level playing field in which the true costs of all forms of energy are taken into consideration and “internalized.” We also hope for a bit of help from government; it would be good (as well as fair and wise) to remove the enormous subsidies bestowed upon the fossil fuel companies – and perhaps send the funds thus freed up in the direction of renewables, as the latter clearly represents a public good (as opposed to a public hazard).
Dirty Secret #3: There are promising carbon-free energy sources–hydroelectric and nuclear–but “clean energy” policies oppose them as not “green” enough.
Oh, you’re concerned about carbon? That’s interesting, since it’s the direct opposite of your usual position. In any case, it’s true that most clean energy advocates see obvious and serious dangers in nuclear power. I’m not sure what planet someone would have to be living on not to share these concerns.
Dirty Secret #4: The environmentalists behind clean energy policy are anti-energy.
It is true that there are environmental extremists who are unwilling to make any compromises, and thus become de facto advocates for the end of economic prosperity, a return to an agrarian society, etc. Pointing to a few people with fringe views may stir up the passions of a largely uninformed audience, but it’s hardly to the point. I’m sure you could find a few who believe in astrology as well, though I can’t see the relevance of that either.
The vast majority of clean energy advocates are honestly looking for trade-offs that make sense. In fact, we don’t see this issue as “us vs. them,” as all seven billion of us live on the same sick planet. Our main agenda is doing what’s right for this sorry world; I’m not sure Fox News can say the same.
Again, I congratulate Fox on its cleverness, even though its command of the facts and the intellectual honesty it displays in dealing with them are dubious at best.