In the year 2000 there were 8,354 oil and petroleum based product spills in US navigable waters. 5 years later? 4,073. In 2008? 3,633. In 2009? 3,492.
How much oil has been spilled?
2000: 1.43 million gallons
2005: 2.36 million gallons
2008: 777,000 gallons
2009: 196,000 gallons
While 10x less oil spilled in waters since 2005, spills from (water-located) pipelines have sent out 64 times less oil and constitute less than 1% of oil that spills into US waterways. Now, that’s not exactly the data you’d need me to cite for pipeline safety (really you want to know how likely it is, at the margin, for the next gallon of oil to spill from various sources), but it’s not like all of our oil spills from pipelines. Take a look at the data for yourself. Now, I also do not care about whether building pipelines creates jobs and I also do not care about the politics of this. What I DO care about is cheap energy. And yes, I do worry about what may happen to the climate, but the more I study, the more energy data I look at, the more macro data I look at, the more climate science I look at, the more I am convinced that the best thing for the entire planet is extremely abundant and cheap energy. If it has to come from fossil fuels, then so be it. If it comes from carbon-free sources, that’s all the better. Keep a few thoughts in mind:
(1) It is virtually impossible to think that we can transition to any meaningful amount of carbon-free energy production in the next 25-40 years, and certainly not for any reasonable cost. This is both because of chemical/physical reasons but also for political reasons.
(2) Cheap energy has been a boom to human health and well-being for a very long time, and energy crises are serious, serious, serious drags on economic well-being.
(3) Our energy production seems to be decarbonizing all on its own.
(4) If you take climate models seriously, then a lot of warming is already baked into the cake, and there is a reasonably good probability that we cannot do much to prevent it.
(5) Getting CO2 reduction in any meaningful way is going to require a very concerted global effort to do so. That will not happen.
(6) Having cheap and abundant energy better equips us to deal with any problem that may arise.
(7) The energy intensity of our economy, and the world economy (not as much as ours by a longshot) has improved dramatically.
(8) It’s not clear that “doing something” is going to help. That idea includes with it an entirely panglossian assumption that doing something is the same as doing something right. And that idea is simply wrong. It is entirely plausible that some/much/all of the spending we are doing now on green energy initiatives is making things worse. Extra credit to anyone who can identify what that is the case, why it should be obvious to anyone who has stopped to think about it, and why pronouncing such a thing will have you removed from polite company.
There can be more to be added to this list, but I’m running low on laptop power and I don’t have an Eco-bench nearby to charge it up.