The preparations for Hurricane Irma’s Florida landfall served to shine light on a core reality of modern life: energy is fundamental. The mass exodus out of Miami and other threatened coastal areas has taxed the regional infrastructure’s ability to provide sufficient gasoline – for evacuees, for those daring to stay and wishing to fuel their generators, for emergency services and first responders, and so forth. Government at multiple levels is doing what it can to facilitate fuel deliveries, with the governor ordering state police to escort tankers so they can move more quickly, and with the Trump administration waiving Jones Act restrictions on ships so that as many tankers as possible can be used to bring fuel to the ports and depots.

Having nursed my business through the effects of Superstorm Sandy (8 feet of water in the basement, 6 weeks to get electricity back), I know first-hand how crippling gasoline shortages can be. Long lines of people with gas cans at southern Brooklyn gas stations were a norm for a couple weeks, as was waking up at 3 AM in my Westchester home so that I could rush to a local station that got its deliveries then.

It is when something we take for granted goes away that we truly understand how vital it is to the lifestyles we live. Anyone who’s been through a blackout for even a short time span knows how disruptive the loss of energy can be. Certainly, people can live without electricity (a quarter of India’s citizens do, as one example) and people can manage if gasoline is scarce or super-expensive, but it is an indisputable reality that first-world living standards and economic productivity levels rest on a bedrock of inexpensive and always-available energy.

This truth is often ignored or waved off in discussions about global warming and the remedies (carbon caps and taxes) we’re constantly told must be embraced now, to avoid future calamity. These remedies will make energy more expensive (if they didn’t, or made it cheaper, they’d have happened of people’s own free will by now – market forces are ubiquitous and relentless). In doing so, they will lower living standards, and not just for rich first-worlders who might have to skip an occasional mocha-latte at Starbucks. They will keep countless millions, perhaps billions, from rising out of subsistence living, they will keep countless millions more living harder lives than they otherwise would, and they will shorten the lives of millions by reallocating scarce resources away from things like cleaner water, better sanitation, greater access to health care and medicine, etc.

There is great irony herein in the (Left’s, mostly) hyperventilation about America’s failure to “do something” about global warming. The reasons given for acting now against a threat whose effects (if they materialize at all – the current state of affairs supports the lukewarmist position above the catastrophic one) are not expected to be substantial for decades yet (no matter the baseless cries that hurricanes like Harvey and Irma are the result of global warming) are the very same reasons not to act as is being demanded, i.e. to protect the world’s poorest and weakest from harm. Insistence that “renewable” energy i.e. solar and wind replace carbon energy at a breakneck and reckless pace, and the utterly bizarre distaste for and retreat from nuclear power, are a far greater threat to the weak and poor than global warming is, today and for decades.

Sure-thing energy, whether it be gas at the pumps or electricity at the outlet, is so taken for granted that the do-gooders who demand its sources be forcibly changed to satisfy their unsound, scientifically- and economically-bankrupt cravings seem to think that no disruption of note could possibly happen. While it’s very likely true that the worst they’ll experience personally is higher prices (and I expect the loudest voices are those which can most afford higher prices), their insistence will hurt others. A lot.

It cannot be overstressed how important cheap, reliable, and ubiquitous energy is to maintaining our lives and to elevating the living standards of the world’s poor. And, it cannot be overstressed how grossly immoral those who support plans that, as President Obama noted would make “electricity rates … necessarily skyrocket,” are. People’s lives hang in the balance, and I categorically reject any attempt at moral ascendancy by those who would hurt those people to further a dogmatic and unscientific “solution” to man-made climate change.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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