Don’t Take Power for Granted

by Elliot Temple

Bill McKibben (whom CIP founder Alex Epstein just debated) isn’t a fan of power. McKibben says “we need to cut our fossil fuel use by a factor of twenty over the next few decades” (Eaarth, pp. 184-185).

What does that mean?

Fossil fuels are not the only kind of energy, but they are the most important kind. The next most important source of power is nuclear. In the debate, McKibben also refused to support nuclear power.

According to the International Energy Agency, 89% of the power produced in 2009 by all OECD countries was fossil fuels and nuclear. What does McKibben want us to use? Wind and solar, which produced an expensive less than 1.5% of our power. Note that wind and solar were actually too small to get their own category, so the statistic is being inflated with other types of energy.

In the BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2012, fossil fuels and nuclear account for 92% of world energy consumption, while “renewables” (only a portion of which environmentalists endorse) is 1.5%.

In the United States, where wind and solar receive subsidies, the U.S. Energy Information Administration provides a breakdown for 2011. Fossil fuels and nuclear were 89%, wind was 1.17% and solar was 0.09%.

The fact is, we get around 90% of our power from fossil fuels and nuclear, and attempts to subsidize solar and wind haven’t changed that. The modern world requires large scale energy sources. It’s non-negotiable. Try to imagine running your computer, lights, car, and refrigerator less than 10% of the time you do now. Try to imagine a factory only operating an hour a day.

Let’s face it. Bill McKibben doesn’t like power and doesn’t seem to care about civilization. It’s hard to comprehend how someone can think that way. Power plays key roles in life as we know it. For example, we use power to provide light, food, heating, cooling, and internet access. Without the power for modern agriculture, billions of people would starve to death or become subsistence farmers. Going without power is awful.

McKibben may never listen, but most people can understand these issues. My friend from the East Coast has been affected by the recent bad weather. He commented:

[Friend] still no power 🙁
[Friend] had to empty out my fridge and freezer to bring here
[Elliot] bring where?
[Friend] work
[Friend] work has power now, but my house doesnt
[Friend] so im using the company fridge to store my stuff
[Friend] it sucks

It’s so simple when you put it like this. Power matters a lot. It does things like keep our food from spoiling. People do not like blackouts.

By the way, he only gets to use the company fridge because he owns the (small) company. It’s worse for others who don’t own a company fridge.

Earlier, he brought up another simple fact:

[Friend] lost power again
[Friend] got 7″ of snow
[Friend] and power went out about 14 hours ago
[Friend] east coast is getting screwed

Snow is worse without power. Power helps us deal with all sorts of problems in life, including weather. McKibben claims global warming is going to make the weather worse, but he also wants to get rid of the power that would help us cope with that scenario.

Everyone understands how much power matters–when they don’t have it.

McKibben wants to be the storm that doesn’t end, doesn’t let up, and damages the whole country forever.

All it really takes to see this is any normal person who experiences for a week the sort of life McKibben advocates. But most of the time we have a modern industrial life and don’t experience the consequences of McKibben’s ideas. McKibben advocates a world everyone would hate, but not everyone realizes in advance that they would hate it.

We can’t let McKibben’s policies be put in place and then reverse them after we see what they are like. That would be like going back to the year 1800 and having to rebuild industrial society again. If you think the financial crisis was bad, try a 200 year setback! We have to stop McKibben before we have much personal experience with the consequences of opposing power.

[Friend] well im going to go get some dinner and lie down on the couch, then go sit in my dark cold house until power comes back haha

If McKibben gets his way, the power won’t come back.

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