New Q&A on 100% renewable policies, violating stay-at-home orders, and George Floyd

In this issue:

  • An idea for challenging “100% renewable” policies
  • Why I publicly violated Gavin Newsom’s stay at home orders
  • How I think about the George Floyd saga
  • Hearts and Minds
  • Accelerator update

An idea for challenging “100% renewable” policies

On this week’s Power Hour I answer some interesting questions I’ve gotten from listeners recently. One, from James, an Accelerator, is about the viability of a “True Green Challenge” that would “challenge any municipality in the USA to demonstrate the feasibility of powering a city with nothing but solar and wind energy.” As I discuss in the episode, I think this is a promising idea–because it would reveal that no one has any idea how to run on exclusively solar and wind energy. I think the best criteria for “winning” the challenge would be:

  • 100% self-sufficient solar and wind, including battery storage
  • No connection to the fossil-nuclear grid
  • Eligibility: Any town or city with a manufacturing or comparably physical industry (agriculture, mining, etc)

There is zero chance that any area will be able to meet this challenge. Still, to make it happen I think we’d need to credibly offer a significant prize. If any corporations are interested in sponsoring such a challenge, let me know. 

Listen to my full answer here

You can watch the full episode of Power Hour on YouTube or listen on Apple Podcasts

Why I publicly violated Gavin Newsom’s “stay-at-home” orders

Recently I was notified by an event that they were canceling a speech of mine later this year because of my public stance on COVID-19. 

Specifically, they objected to this tweet of mine. 

Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 3.09.39 PM

 Incidentally, everything I said in this tweet has been proved even more true since I wrote it. 

California has failed to protect nursing homes, and outdoor transmission continues to be a trivial cause of spread. 

But even if I was right, was it right to defy the Governor’s orders? 

As the event organizer said: “[Y]ou admit to violating orders put forth by the government focused on health and safety with which you disagree.” 

Instead, they said, if I “disagree with a particular regulation” I should not “violate the rule but work to change it.” 

This is a plausible position. But I disagree with it completely in this case. 

On Power Hour this week I answer the question “Why did you publicly violate Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order?” 

I considered the violation of this order in an extremely safe way (surfing with plenty of distance between me and others) as an act of civil disobedience at a time when it was crucially necessary. 

For more, listen to my full answer

One additional note: on occasion event organizers will say to me something to the effect of “We like that you are so effective supporting fossil fuels and the fossil fuel industry, but we don’t like this controversial stand you’re taking on some other issue.” 

This happened in 2016, when I very publicly opposed the Massachusetts Attorney General’s attack on ExxonMobil’s free speech

But my effectiveness supporting fossil fuels is a consequence of my commitment to doing what’s best for human flourishing and human freedom. 

People who hear me talk about fossil fuels can tell that I support it because I genuinely believe it’s right, not because it’s financially or socially convenient for me. 

The same commitment that leads me to support fossil fuels will sometimes make me feel compelled to support other “controversial” positions. 

If that is unacceptable to some potential customers, it’s a price I’m more than willing to pay. 

I know that there are many customers and Accelerators who want someone who will always try to advocate what is right, even when it is unpopular. 

How I think about the George Floyd saga

Speaking of controversial issues, in the final segment of Power Hour this week I discuss my take on the George Floyd saga, which many readers and listeners have asked me about. 

My main take on the issue is a set of questions I find helpful to think constructively about all kinds public injustices. 

1) What actually happened?
2) What, if any, mistakes in policy caused this to happen?
3) What changes in policy are being proposed?
4) What are the likely positive and negative consequences of the proposed policies? 

I covered much of this issue on a recent Human Flourishing Project episode, so on Power Hour I include a long segment from that episode as well as some additional insights I got from a very thoughtful police officer who listens to my show. 

Listen to my full answer here.

Two interviews you might have missed

I don’t have any new interviews releasing this week but here are two you might have missed. 

The first is with Thaddeus Russell, host of the popular Unregistered Podcast. 

A little while back I did an interview for his online community. Part of it was deliberately off the record and not recorded, but the public part contained a lot of discussion of fossil fuels. 

Another interview I did was from the “The Bus Driver Experience.” 

As I mentioned when I shared this originally “the host asked a wide range of questions and then challenged me on a bunch of my views.” It’s the closest thing to a debate I’ve done recently. 

One reader of this newsletter commented “I felt it necessary to write a YouTube comment on your behalf after I watched this interview today. You were so calm and never once interrupted him, yet steam was coming out of my ears due to the many platitudes he was dishing out. Kudos to you as you are refined and clear in your responses, because of that I think he started to get it.” 

Here is a list of questions that I covered.

  • 2:04 What is Alex’s take on Planet of the Humans, and Moore’s criticism of “both sides” of climate change?
  • 5:04 How far does Alex think we can grow and “push” the planet?
  • 10:17 Why are gasoline prices remaining so high (during the 2020 oil price war)
  • 14:24 What made Alex interested in writing his book?
  • 18:22 Why is your view on fossil fuels still the minority view? What is going wrong with the popular belief about fossil fuels?
  • 24:02 Although we’ve made the planet much better for humans, have we made it better for the other species?
  • 29:12 How do we decide which ecosystems or organisms may get destroyed when we change the planet? What does Alex think about those that criticize an impacted planet?
  • 32:00 Do environmental leaders really want human activity to decrease?
  • 33:36 How do we make sure all communities have access to abundant resources?
  • 36:27 Is freedom really the answer to providing resources and productivity? What if we looked at China?
  • 38:45 Isn’t there another factor? Like having natural resources?
  • 41:58 Is it just government restricting people from flourishing?
  • 44:48 How long can we use fossil fuels?
  • 49:11 How has air quality improved with fossil fuel use?
  • 51:37 What should we be doing about smog in more developed areas?
  • 54:20 Are cut down forests and melting ice caps the most important things to look at during this debate?
  • 55:41 How are we capturing pollutants from fossil fuels? Is nuclear a good option?
  • 1:00:17 Isn’t nuclear energy dangerous? 

Hearts and Minds

I enjoyed this recent note from an attendee of my debate with RFK Jr. at UC-Boulder last year. 

Hey I’m an ex-leftist, graduated from CU Boulder, actually saw you debate Robert FKJ there like a year ago about fracking and it planted a seed.

I haven’t been able to get your straightforward attitude about reason and accuracy out of my head. 

This note, which I got from a thoughtful police officer, was particularly meaningful to me in light of recent events. 

Hey Alex. My name is [redacted] and I’ve been a huge fan of yours since I read your book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. I’m also a police officer in a major city…I’d just like to offer myself as a resource if you have any questions for someone with an “insider perspective”.  I just listened to your podcast [“How to think constructively about public injustices”] and if you’d like to email, chat or text, I believe in your work and would be happy to assist (anonymously of course).

Accelerator Update Last Thursday evening I had my first Accelerator Call, exclusively available to 2020 Accelerators

I discussed the new approach of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels 2.0 and answered many questions, including:

  • How was your “Talks at Google” speech received by the Google employees?
  • How does the new book relate to the second book? Is it a sequel?
  • What areas does you think you didn’t adequately express in the first book?
  • Have you or are you interested in talking to Michael Moore on a podcast?
  • Why do another book on the same topic instead of something different?
  • Should you put more emphasis on science?
  • What was it like after the camera was off for interviews with Dave Rubin, Candace Owens, Matt Ridley, and other people with large audiences?

 Here’s a nice note I got from one of the Accelerators. 

What motivated me to contribute? 

Where do I start?  First off, I wish I had the ability to contribute more but considering my salary has basically been halved due to government mandated shutdown of air travel, plus the uncertainty of my profession, I figured this was a good place to start.  

Back to your question. 

1) You are a thought leader in your field.  You analyze copious amounts of data and crosscheck that with leading professionals and well known experts in several related fields.  

2) You are courageous. You speak largely to groups who don’t share you thought process at risk of a hostile response.  As Prof. Judith Curry says, “you speak to power”.  This proves you are true to your convictions and never give up in the face of headwinds.  A true moral prerequisite to changing hearts and minds.  (Oh, Also, you live in California) 

3) You are open to ideas.  And processes that are the result of evolution of shared knowledge.  Proof you’re not a hack like so many others. You can become an Accelerator here.  Thanks for reading my newsletter. I hope everyone has a safe and healthy week during this tumultuous time. 

To Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Energy,