Energy poverty, not “climate change,” threatens poor countries

In this issue:

  • Energy poverty, not “climate change,” threatens poor countries
  • Power Hour: Eco-fascist mass murder, the Texas energy crisis, and “contaminating” the moon
  • Power Hour takeaways

Energy poverty, not “climate change,” threatens poor countries

This is a lightly edited excerpt from one of my all time favorite interviews. You can view the entire interview here.

Don’t people in wealthier nations, who are less impacted by climate, have a moral obligation to address climate change for the sake of people in poor countries that are very vulnerable to climate change?

That argument admits that wealth overcomes “climate change,” so the solution would be to make everyone wealthy. And if you look at climate related deaths, or any other metric of human life, our wealth and our industry has dramatically benefited the poor world. They need better governments, then they can become wealthy too.

So how do we make everyone energy rich? 

Send them a copy of the Constitution and have them form legitimate governments. They’re dictatorships now. It’s not a mystery that freedom is the key to success and wealth.

How does freedom allow you to become energy rich?

Freedom allows you to act on your ideas. So you have an idea, and then you can create something in reality. If you’re not free, you can’t act on your idea.

With a dictator, tens of millions of people can’t act on their intelligence. Without a dictator, they can do lots of brilliant things.

We’ve seen this in Asia and we’ve seen this in the history of the United States. American colonists were more free under King George than people in many countries today. And yet by increasing their freedom through the American Revolution they saw a dramatic increase in prosperity. 

It’s a moral crime that nobody talks about freedom in the energy and climate debate. Instead they’re obsessed with these little fluctuations in the weather. 

Power Hour: Eco-fascist mass murder, the Texas energy crisis, and “contaminating” the moon

On this week’s Power Hour, Don, Steffen, and I discuss six topics:

Power Hour takeaways 

Here are some key takeaways from Power Hour co-host Don Watkins from the most recent episode of our podcast. 

Eco-fascist mass murder. The Washington Post has a fascinating article drawing attention to the environmentalist influences behind two recent mass murders: the New Zealand Christchurch massacre and the El Paso massacre. These killings don’t represent a perversion of the green ideology, but the consistent implementation of it: if human impact on the planet is immoral, then murdering human beings means “saving the planet.”

Silencing climate skeptics. A recent paper titled “Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians” complains that “climate change contrarians” (like Alex, who made the list of contrarians) receive more media attention than highly credentialed climate scientists. The paper is rife with problems but one major problem is that it implies that energy experts should have no standing in a debate where one side is calling for worldwide bans on reliable energy. 

The Texas energy crisis. Texas has replaced much of its coal capacity with wind power, and saw wholesale energy prices spike by 36,000% as the wind died down during three hot days. Power users were told to voluntarily stop using air conditioning in order to prevent the grid from blacking out. As we increase our dependence on unreliable wind and solar power, we are increasing the risk of a national blackout crisis. 

Germany’s onshore wind capacity stagnates. Germany’s onshore wind industry has stagnated so far this year, adding only 287 MW of capacity in the first half of 2019. This is thanks in part to increasing resistance to new wind projects by local populations and regulations like minimum distance setbacks from residential areas. This is particularly troubling at a time when Germany is slated to phase out its seven remaining nuclear reactors by 2022. 

Wind and solar can’t scale. Wind and solar threaten the economic viability of our grid. Because their marginal cost is near zero, an increasing supply of wind and solar will lead to wholesale energy prices being bid down to levels so low that wind and solar producers won’t be able to recoup their fixed costs. Even worse, it won’t just put wind and solar companies out of business, but the reliable energy companies needed to “back up” unreliable wind and solar. (For an excellent breakdown of this issue, see J.M. Korhonen’s analysis.)

“Contaminating” the moon. In April an Israeli robot crash-landed on the moon. In the process it spilled some microbes called tardigrades from earth, leading some to complain that human beings were “contaminating” the moon. Since the moon is otherwise lifeless, this reveals that the green ideal of non-impact is not about protecting life but about opposing human life. As former Power Hour guest Robert Zubrin put it on Twitter, the goal is “…not to stop tardigrades from expanding into space, it is to stop humanity from expanding into space. If sending life to other worlds is defined as ‘contamination,’ then humans can’t go.”