With the recent publication of the National Climate Assessment, government officials are now ready, once again, to step in to fight global warming… err climate change… err climate disruption.
Despite tons of evidence that human’s influence on climate is at best uncertain, the White House has decided to settle for only one option like the Catholic Church did against Galileo.
But even if there were a genuine climate crisis that required prompt action, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Indeed, by picking winners and losers, it wastes billions upon billions of dollars for projects that are not even profitable.
Image Source: Associated Press.
The Spaniards learned it the hard way in the early 2000s when Madrid pushed for a very ambitious “green energy” scheme. A report from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos shows that, on average, every green job created destroyed 2.2 jobs elsewhere. And the jobs “created” came with an average minimum price tag of €571,138. In total, Madrid spent over $36 billion in tax subsidies and feed-in tariffs (it paid out producers so they would earn a minimum amount per kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced).
Needless to say that these prohibitive costs were a major cause of the country’s financial difficulties, making companies like Acerinox move to countries with cheaper energy prices.
Although not as dramatic, the U.S. has also had various problems with “green” energy. The Cato Institute has compiled quite a list of Department of Energy failed projects, subsidies and loan guarantees. And despite all these billions – solar, hydro and wind receive 1,212 more subsidies per kWh than fossil fuels – renewables only makes 10.3 percent of the total energy output.
In addition to wasted money, government redirection of energy investment influences pollution…for the worse.
AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA
A recent government study shows that corn-residues-based ethanol (incorporated to regular gasoline) has contributed to an increase of greenhouse gases by 7 percent last year alone. Such findings are not new; studies from 2009 also questioned whether corn ethanol would be efficient to curb greenhouse gas emissions. More generally, U.S. subsidies around corn (not just for ethanol) are one of the main drivers for the exponential price increase for this staple, explaining some of the immigration problems with Mexico – they use corn like we use wheat.
Pollution also occurs with windmills. Since wind is not constant, there inevitably needs to be a backup power generation, usually working on fossil fuels. In other words, wind power is a net greenhouse gas emitter since its construction also involves fossil fuels. Not only that, but noise pollution is also a big problem as many windmill farms produce infrasound, recognized by the National Institute of Health to cause all sorts of problems like fatigue and vertigo. It’s also causing an avian catastrophe environmentalists have turned a blind eye on. Wind turbines are responsible for at least as many more flying creature deaths than reviled oil sands, and yet very few people protest against the former.
So if governments truly want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the only thing they can do is nothing, or rather not affect people’s decisions on what choices to make. It worked well of shale gas; thanks to a huge increase in its exploration and production, the U.S. was actually able to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions down to 1994 levels according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
PierreGuy Veer is a Canadian-born libertarian now living in Idaho. His ideas have stirred up debates both in French and in English. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @le_moutongris
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