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The reason to have clean, renewable, abundant energy is not, as many would like to believe, to save the planet.

Heresy!

The reason to have clean, renewable, abundant energy is to get really, really, really, really inexpensive energy.

In my view it is totally astounding that this is not the focus of the “energy problem.” Instead, the global warming crisis is being used as a cover to put the brakes on global commerce. If you don’t believe that, then just think hard about all of the rising opposition to the new clean energy sources that are coming on line. People are going nuts against hydro-fracked natural gas despite the fact that it will replace dirty coal and is necessary as a power source to go along with wind technology. People are aghast that wind turbines kill animals, make noise, spoil views. Even though nuclear could power over 40% of our economy in a virtually emissionless manner (building and maintaining the plant would produce some) people are opposed to that. Clean coal is condemned because evil coal companies would benefit from that being cost effective technology. And just wait until the real greens come out in opposition to other new energy sources.

In some sense, we should all want a “Manhattan Project” for new energy development – just without the government picking winners along the way. And the reason is that despite being less than 5% of our GDP, energy is incredibly vital. Pause for a minute to reflect on what would be possible if energy were so abundant that you could consider it “free?” People would be able to live comfortably on virtually any corner of the globe. Inexpensive energy would have us able to create huge amounts of new useful land. If energy were abundant, the costs of desalinating water would fall considerably (they are already remarkably low) — meaning that deserts and other places without access to clean water could soon be home to people and farms. If energy were inexpensive, we would, ironically, have the energy to access new energy. For example, the core of the Earth is a monstrously vast source of heat. Our challenge is technological and energy based. Finally, inexpensive energy would virtually put an end to any concerns anyone would rightly have over resources. The oceans themselves are a vast store of natural resources, and if energy costs were low enough, a plethora of goodies would be mined from the sea.

Even though I have supported (at times) the idea of a carbon tax, it is only with the intent of affecting the relative price of carbon. The point of a carbon tax (despite what the global warming people tell you) is NOT to make energy as a broad class of goods to be more expensive. Having energy become more expensive would spell an enormous amount of suffering and misery for many hundreds of millions of people. The point of a carbon tax today, is, perhaps, to get us to a point where non-carbon intensive energy is even cheaper, so that the carbon tax need not be binding in the future. But I doubt many “E”nvironmentalists have this in mind when they salivate over making gasoline $10 per gallon and think about all of the dollars that would flow into federal coffers. The reason, I repeat, for $10 gas is to spur innovation so that whatever new fuel we use to move our cars around ends up being the equivalent of $1.00 gas or $0.50 gas or even $0.10 gas. Now, that would be incredible and a reason to celebrate.

3 Responses to “The Reason to Have a New Energy Economy”

  1. Harry says:

    And New York State is missing out big time, except for the folks near the Pennsylvania border who have something to sell to PA drillers.

  2. Rod says:

    What ever happened to cold fusion research?

    Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction author, once theorized that whatever is imaginable in science will eventually become possible and even feasible. Certainly we know how to initiate a fusion reaction, and it’s imaginable that it could be sustained at a slow enough pace to become a practical energy source. Instead of wasting time trying to make a logical connection between manmade CO2 and global warming, why not spend those research dollars on cold fusion?

    Meanwhile, clean coal technology and fracking the northern part of Pennsylvania and the lower tier of New York seems like a great idea. Wait until Andrew Cuomo learns that the Utica Shale is under the state capitol.

  3. […] and now when we have a marginal improvement right on our doorstep, and an improvement that also respects this quaint idea, and one that is very good for local economies, it is being dismissed out of hand. I had the […]

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