The reader who asked me about this article on renewable energy from RealClearScience poses this follow-up:
So the article didn’t stress the importance of a “level playing field” which I understand is of major importance. So, your overall impression is that the article mentioned obvious problems in green energy without emphasizing the most important one. Correct?
Thanks for your note, and yes. The article’s purpose was to bring new people up to speed on renewable energy in the least offensive way possible, which required talking around the central issue, which I would summarize as follows:
Big Energy has simply bought the relevant set of representatives within government, and, as a result, a rapid migration to renewables is impossible in the U.S. Note that this stands in contrast to the Europeans and the Asians who are light-years ahead of us in the most important industry in the 21st Century.
With respect to commitments that represent a significant percentage of our GDP like the national highway system, the space program, or a revamped energy policy, market economics alone would never allow any of them to be possible. Right now, if you want cheap energy, you burn coal. Until there is considerable investment in renewables, the payback period from which would be unacceptably long for private investors, renewable energy will continue to limp along.
The other side of this is public relations — a field in which the energy barons can afford the very best. As long as the common voter can be made to believe that there is no problem with fossil fuels (“drill baby drill”), Big Energy can continue as the most profitable industry in the history of mankind. Of course, they’re doing it at the expense of every person and every other living thing on Earth, but they seem to have no compunction about that.
Maybe you think I’m exaggerating, or at least oversimplifying. Have you seen this ad from the (ultra-conservative) Heartland Institute? This is the level to which this conversation has sunk. Dear reader, if this doesn’t make you sick, I’m not sure what will.
This is why I wrote this piece the other day on the Koch Brothers. I’ve taken some flak on this as I knew I would. Too bad. :)
Again, thanks for your interest.