Environmental it-girl Greta Thunberg found herself stuck in Chile with nothing to do, after the nation cancelled its plans to host the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aka COP25. The reason for the cancellation should give pause to Greta and all the other eco-warriors demanding wholesale changes to the way energy is produced around the world.

Chile cancelled COP25 due to massive and on-going protests, protests that were triggered by an increase in subway fares. The protests are being framed as being about income inequality and insufficient governmental success in elevating the working classes, but buried therein is an unfortunate (for climate warriors) reality check: the fare increase is born of a switch to wind and solar power. In this, the protests echo France’s “gilet jaunes” unrest.

I’ve long been of the opinion that the brute-force approach to global warming being touted (to the exclusion of other options) by the Best-and-Brightest of the climate community is a fool’s errand, because it requires near-total compliance from populations that won’t simply abide their living costs escalated and their living standards degraded (as well as from nations that are far more apt to leverage other nations’ “greening” for their own economic benefit).

In France and in Chile, we see confirmation of my skepticism, and if efforts to “green” the world’s economies’ energy sectors continue, we will see more. Gas and oil are cheaper today than they were a decade ago, thanks in no small part to the fracking revolution. That trend is bound to continue, if for no other reason than the continued push towards wind and solar shifting the supply-demand balance. While some tell us that wind and solar are already competitive with carbon energy, the fact of the Chilean fare increase tells us otherwise.

Meanwhile, wind and solar are being unmasked as not being quite as “green” as advocates would want us to believe, with unrecyclable windmill blades already heading for landfills, and massive (and often very dirty) mining and processing necessary to provide necessary rare-earth and other elements that both wind and solar power require. That most of the world’s reserves (and much of the mining) is in foreign lands (China, Brazil, Viet Nam, Russia, India) has kept it off domestic greens’ radars, but the Democrat’s dreams of a Green New Deal are going to smash up against that reality, should they start to be fulfilled.

The American “woke” movement is primarily (dare I say almost wholly) comprised of well-to-do, college-educated, white people. This crowd can shrug off what they’d consider modest increases in their cost of living due to conversion to renewable energy. And, let’s be honest – if renewables were indeed cheaper across-the-board, utilities would be jumping on them. As I’ve noted before on this blog, there are places that wind and solar make the most sense, and I’m all for their use when the numbers add up. But, as a matter of policy, forcing their use doesn’t benefit the citizens who vote in the policy makers, which dooms the idea that carbon-free economies can be created by edict.

It remains to be seen what American voters will do, and how they will respond to the promise/threat of the Green New Deal. If front-runner Elizabeth Warren does indeed turn out be the Democratic nominee (I predicted and continue to believe she won’t), her promise/threat to ban fracking on Day 1 of her presidency will echo across Pennsylvania and Ohio, where fracking has been a jobs and economic boon. Warren may be derailed by her Medicare for All plan before we get that far, but most of the other Democratic candidates have voiced support for the Green New Deal to some degree. All this may, of course, be overshadowed by the impeachment effort (and that might actually be Pelosi’s purpose).

Meanwhile, leaders around the world should take note of the goings on in Chile and France (and the Netherlands, for that matter). Before we even get into what the BRICS nations will and won’t do regarding decarbonization, we can see the problems that the governments actively trying to go “green” are facing and will face. Heck, even in deep-blue New York State, efforts to build wind farms are facing heavy NIMBY resistance.

The fundamental, possibly fatal, flaw of the brute-force “switch to renewables” remedy to global warming (setting aside questions about the predictions themselves) is the the necessity for near-total compliance. Without it, if only some nations go green while others choose to take advantage of a resultant glut in oil, gas, and coal, then the reductions we are told are necessary won’t be achieved. The iron laws of economics and human nature tell us the pursuit is futile, and the evidence to support that conclusion is already at hand.

What to do, though, if you believe something should be done?

First – support nuclear power. It’s the greenest of greens, it is wholly independent of weather, has a tiny footprint, and if cleared of excessive regulatory barriers, will make lots of cheap power. That greens don’t currently do so is evidence of either ignorance or hidden agendas.

Second – support geo-engineering research. THAT is the only solution that doesn’t require total global compliance. Come up with effective ways to mitigate the negative effects of global warming, that can be implemented by a nation or a group of nations, and you can ignore what the non-compliers are doing.

Above all else, though, stop believing that wind and solar power generation can be imposed on the world. Barring a paradigm shift in technology, they will remain a niche source, because the world’s poor and working classes won’t accept the sacrifices demanded of them by people who won’t suffer as they will.

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.


Like this post?