The major assumption of the news, entertainment, and academic communities in the US and most of the industrialized world is that a transition to what is described as clean or green energy is absolutely necessary and that by an arbitrary date certain such as 2035 and 2050 the US can indeed achieve the goal of a carbon neutral or carbonless energy environment. However, as former Secretary of State Kerry acknowledged just recently, even should the US and all of Europe achieve a net-zero production of green house gases, nothing will have been accomplished if India and China continue their current paths toward greater utilization of fossil fuel and particularly coal fired energy production.
The numbers are roughly as follows: the world’s GHG production is around 52 billion tons. The US produces 5 billion tons annually, down from 6 billion tons. China at 13 billion tons and India at 3.5 billion tons, by comparison, are projected to reach 30 billion tons by 2035, while the US might reduce its emissions to 4-4.5 billion tons by that deadline.
The world’s overall GHG emission load would at best thus be 65+ billion tons, (a 25 percent jump) assuming the rest of the world remains static. In Africa, where 50 percent of the population has no regular access to electricity, the need for grid energy is huge and without it Africa cannot achieve any kind of prosperity and economic freedom. The GHG production in Africa and elsewhere would have to be factored into the equation to get the most likely GHG impact. (One good thing about natural gas production and use in Africa is that the traditional use of wood and agricultural waste as a source of fuel could markedly decline, and with it serious airborne pollution and the resulting respiratory illnesses.)
Whatever the GHG number, one critical key to the future is natural gas production. It is the only way India and China can grow their energy demand while also cutting GHG emissions, and the only reasonable path forward for Africa and the rest of the world. But there is no international financial mechanism to provide the capital for such production, as the UN and World Bank system are being captured by a woke bureaucracy that wants to go from the current energy state to a non-fossil fuel capability directly, as opposed to adopting a transition where natural gas and other fuel sources are in the mix. (Assuming such a transition is necessary which I don’t.)
One often hears that nuclear power is the answer. But financing nuclear power is a tough hurdle for most investors, and without the ability to use spent fuel as a reactor fuel—as France does—the decision by former President Carter to prevent such technology from going forward flipped the nuclear power industry into the red. That needs to change for nuclear energy power to be viable. Nuclear power production also takes time to build, and while we know how to store nuclear waste, that is also a serious problem because of those in society whose idea of energy policy is a banana—build (b) absolutely (a) nothing (n) anywhere (a) near (n) anybody (a)!
Furthermore, the idea that electric vehicles, let alone electric planes and trucks will soon be forthcoming to replace internal combustion engines, is an assumption that is not adequately thought through. Electric vehicle batteries and their production have very serious environmental side effects, and don’t necessarily operate well in various climates. Already states are mandating no electric vehicle charging at certain times, while some nations such as Switzerland are allowing private electric vehicle use only under very limited circumstances.
There is however some other elements of a non-fossil fuel energy future that requires better analysis. A recent Swiss scientist analysis explains that of all the sunlight landing on the surface of solar panels or wind passing through wind farms, only 15 to 20 percent on average can be captured and those numbers require optimum conditions. Then there is a further issue of what percent of the captured sunlight and wind can be utilized by the grid, and that is around 15-20 percent as well. Weather conditions are key of course especially when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, but other elements about energy efficiency also come into play. A natural gas stove uses 90 percent of the energy while natural gas used to generate electricity has a 50 percent efficiency.
Drought affects hydropower as we now are funding out with western US sources of energy. An energy grid requires continuous energy production and thus renewables need a backup source of energy and that at this time for the United States is coal, natural gas and nuclear power, with a small contribution from liquid fuels.
However, even with a source of energy identified, the pursuit of an assumed green future is also costly, upwards of $100 trillion for the US alone over the next seven decades. Steve Forbes says the US has budgeted over $500 billion over the next decade just in US government funding for EV and related technology which as Secretary Kerry has now told us will all be for naught if China and India don’t change their ways, which the two nations with 2.8 billion people are showing no signs of doing.
I think much of the GHG analysis is not valid nor based on science. But even if the rhetorical goals set by Kyoto or Paris are a good idea, which they are not, the US cannot get to where the rhetoric says the US has to go, and it makes no sense to waste trillions in investments that won’t get the US to the goals the reset advocates are demanding that we achieve. When every weather event is weaponized to disparage the fossil fuel industry, which provides the country with over 60 percent of its electricity and close to 97 percent of its transportation fuel, we are headed toward energy poverty and routine shortages and outages.
Where is this leading?
To sharply reduce fossil fuel use, which is where the US is supposedly headed, automobiles in the US have technology that allows the government to monitor vehicle use. In California, an attempt was made to allow the state to regulate the use of household appliances, which a coalition of left and right liberty supporters prevented from being implemented.
But like the CCP social score index used in China, the totalitarians are keen on providing everyone with a carbon score index (CSI) which would monitor your daily or monthly carbon footprint and not allow you or your household or business to exceed your allotted use.
For example, drivers would be told they have only a certain number of miles to drive before the car is automatically stopped. So don’t stray too far from home. Your dishwasher, television and furnace and other household appliances would be similarly regulated, shut off by bureaucrats monitoring your carbon output.
And just for fun, the regulators are also thinking of allowing some additional carbon footprint allowance but only if you are taxed for that amount automatically, with your bank account in real time regularly feeding the US Treasury as you drive your electric vehicle to the grocery store or watch your television. Talk about a perpetual money machine!! And if your bank account doesn’t have the right funds, well no more energy use for you!
The energy reset strategy may very well take us straight to energy poverty, shortages and escalating costs. Between 1975 and 2008, the six economic recessions the United States endured were all triggered by dramatic spikes in the price of energy. Reset advocates want energy prices to reach European levels for the United States, and if that emerges, the US could have a perpetual recessionary cloud hanging over the US economy just as the baby boom retires in earnest and the $100 trillion unfunded Medicare and Social Security trust fund requirements come barreling down the fiscal train-tracks.