The battle between green and fossil fuel energy

April 23, 2023

Larry Bittner


To understand how politics drive decision-making rather than science and solid economic decisions pursued by business, we need to take a step backward to comprehend where ideas originate.

Since the invention of the printing press more than 1,000 years ago, the speed and volume of information have increased to where we receive information by the minute. There is so much information that it is difficult to read beyond the headlines.

Media organizations focus on what is sensational and then exaggerate. We repeatedly see the same pictures when there is a flood, wildfire, or crime scene. When there isn’t a panic, the media will create a panic. Good news is great, paradoxically it does not sell.

Questionable experts are quoted as factual without vetting their facts. Experts told us before 1920 that women were too emotional to vote. During WW2, experts said Black people were not smart enough to fly airplanes. In 1975, experts said pollution would cause global cooling

Today, experts are telling us that global warming is an existential threat that will become an apocalyptic event that requires the immediate elimination of fossil fuels.

How would the media hype the below events attributing them to fossil fuels C02?

  • 1709 – Great Frost sweeps across Europe for three months. Livestock died in droves, 2,000 Swedish soldiers died in a single night, and 600,000 died from famine.
  • 1862 – After 43 days of rain, California from Sacramento to Anaheim is four feet under
  • 1911 – New England and Europe temperatures soared to 105 for 11 days, killing two thousand people in New England and forty thousand in Europe, including thousands of babies.

Global warming

When the last Ice Age ended 20,000 years ago, ice was two miles thick over much of the planet. As the ice melted, rivers, lakes, and aquifers were filled, and the ocean rose three hundred feet. Together with sunlight, the planet became green, and life flourished. There is agreement that the planet is still warming, but is the warmth accelerated by fossil fuel C02 emissions? While nobody knows the answer, questionable experts have convinced the public through the media that fossil fuel use must be eliminated.

An excellent place to start is with the question, “Is Global Warming Good or Bad.” Climate-related deaths are ten times more from cold versus heat. In the last one hundred years, climate-related deaths have decreased by 92% using heating and cooling machines powered by fossil fuel. People living in Buffalo this Christmas would have appreciated a couple of warmer degrees, as well as the thirty-plus people who died from the cold.

CO2 – natures fertilizer

C02 is essential for plant growth. Plants extract carbon from C02 to build their tissues and release oxygen into the atmosphere. The planet is getting greener with increased C02, which could help to feed more humans. As populations grew worldwide, forests were devastated before using fossil fuels for heat and cooking.

Experts who predict an apocalypse from global warming fail to consider adaption and innovation. The innovations of the last hundred and fifty years have been remarkable and could not have been achieved without fossil fuels. One hundred years ago, 80% of the population worked in agriculture, compared to 2% today. Fossil fuel-powering machines have enabled humans to use their brains vs. their backs.

Advocates for eliminating fossil fuels fail to understand the power of innovation.

  • 1751 – Ben Franklin, with a kite, began the development of electricity.
  • 1880 – Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.
  • 1896 – Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
  • 1975 – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs created software, launching the evolution of computers that everyone could use.

Seventy years ago, American homes had their first televisions. There were antennas on rooftops that received local television. Today, rooftop dishes receive television from all over the world. Seventy years hence, it is imaginable that satellites will collect energy from the
sun transmitting uninterrupted electricity to our factories, houses, and cars without the necessity for battery storage.

Innovation is akin to compound interest. Vast amounts of knowledge created are the starting point for new technologies. With the power of computers and artificial intelligence, scientists and engineers can accelerate innovation, creating energy that is only dreamed about today. The primary caveat are that governments restrict free people to innovate without interference and bureaucracy.

Wind and solar

Experts tell us that wind turbines and solar panels collect free energy. This is far from accurate. Electricity from wind and solar is the most expensive and least dependable of any energy source. Will factories shut down, sending workers home when the wind does not blow? Wind and solar require a fossil fuel energy backup.

We are told that batteries can store electricity when the wind does not blow or the sun does
not shine. Where will all these batteries come from, and where will they be disposed of in a dozen years? A Tesla battery weighs 1,000 pounds. It is unimaginable how many batteries would be needed to power a city. Wind and solar have been around for one hundred years.
Wind turbines and solar panels make great photo ops for politicians, but it is time to move on to innovations that can actually produce low-cost, reliable energy to lift the quality of life for all people.

Government has the cart in front of the horse. The auto industry can build EVs, but how will they be powered? Wind and solar will not provide the required electricity. Currently, batteries require Cobalt, seventy-five percent of which is mined by children and enslaved
people working for Chinese companies in Africa, earning two dollars per day. New battery technology is in the distant future.

Nuclear energy zero emissions

Since the dropping of the atomic bomb, people have irrationally feared nuclear energy. Sometimes I think that rather than being the home of the brave, we have become the land of the chickens.

Nuclear power plants cannot blow up like a bomb. People fear a disaster like Chernobyl and Fukushima. Most people believe thousands of people died from these events. The facts are that thirty people died while in the plant or fighting the fire at Chernobyl, and there were zero deaths at Fukushima.

Nuclear waste is the other argument against nuclear power plants. Spent fuel rods are usually contained at the nuclear power plant. All the spent fuel rods stored in the United States could be placed on a football field fifty feet high.

Nuclear energy currently accounts for 72% of France’s electricity. France is also using the remaining energy from spent fuel rods. Technological innovation will someday utilize the energy remaining in these rods.

Nuclear is the only energy source, other than fossil fuel, with the concentration to provide enough uninterruptible energy to supply a prosperous world.

Recently, there were breakthroughs in nuclear fusion. Instead of splitting atoms that release radiation, fusion joins atoms to create energy without emitting radiation. Small modular reactors are in development that use non-radioactive Thorium.

Rather than spending middle-class tax revenue to subsidize solar panels and EVs for the wealthy, the government should focus on energy innovation that will benefit everyone. Low-cost energy is essential for the prosperity of developed and undeveloped nations.

Fossil fuels (oil, gas, chemicals, coal)

After oil was discovered in the United States and refining began in 1860, the quality of life for humans improved dramatically:

  • Rather than wood destroying forests and dung for heating and cooking, developed countries use natural gas and electricity made from fossil fuels.
  • Rather than killing animals for their fur to keep us warm, we use polymers from oil to make much of the clothing we wear today.
  • Fossil fuels produce more than energy. Nearly every modern product we use today is made from fossil fuels or made with machines powered and transported by fossil fuels. Even the mask we wore during Covid was made from fossil fuel by-products.
  • Wind and solar only produce high-cost interruptible electricity and nothing else.

Energy economics

Fossil fuels (oil) are like any other commodity. When demand exceeds supply, prices increase as well as the inverse. In the aftermath of the 1973 Arab embargo, oil prices increased, impacting the price of every product we consume. Trillions of U.S. dollars were transferred to the Middle East, creating extraordinary wealth in many countries not friendly to the United States.

In 2022, for the first time in fifty years, the United States became a net oil exporter; however, the subsequent war on fossil fuels reduced domestic supply, and the price increased. The oil price increase created world inflation and gave Putin the money necessary to invade Ukraine.


Everyone should agree on maintaining and improving human flourishment on the planet. The primary difference between people living in a safe/high-quality environment and people living
in poverty is the low-cost energy supplied by fossil fuels. Denying billions of poor people access to low-cost energy and high-energy machines will keep poor people poor.

Providing money to corrupt dictators for green energy enriches the dictators but does nothing the help poor people lift themselves out of poverty.

Anyone who says we should stop drilling for oil is ignorant that fossil fuel is more than about gasoline in a car. Fossil fuels are essential to maintain our current high standard of living. The focus must be discovering low-cost energy alternatives to improve the prosperity of all people in both empowered and unempowered countries.

We use fossil fuel today because it is the most efficient, low-cost energy. When that ceases to be the case, over time, a new superior alternative will emerge because people have the freedom to innovate and compete rather than the government mandating inferior high-cost

While Europe and the United States are eliminating fossil fuels, China is building non-green power plants, including Modular Reactors, to become the world’s most powerful nation economically and militarily. It is time to understand the vast benefits of fossil fuels before we
reduce our standard of living and ensure poor people remain poor.

To learn more about global warming and energy, I suggest you read or listen to the Audible version of the following:

  • Apocalypse Never – Michael Schellenberger
  • False Alarm – Bjorn Lomborg
  • Fossil Future – Alex Epstein

Larry Bittner retired to Avila Beach in 2000, Since then, he has served on several community boards and volunteers as a driver for the Veteran’s clinic.

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This article is essentially a nonsensical mishmash of various contradictory falsehoods and myths about energy sources. We are told to trust innovation, but only when it comes to fossil fuels and not renewable energy. We are told that experts are wrong, except those that say there are no health and safety risks from burning fossil fuels. He mentioned “Providing money to corrupt dictators for green energy” but makes no mention of the billions in oil profits we hand to dictators like Putin and other adversarial nations by continuing our fossil fuel addiction. Instead of impartial analysis of energy sources, this article clearly has a partisan political bent to oppose anything that could be labeled as “green” or good for the environment because that’s the talking point the extreme political hacks have been using to divide us.

Thank you Larry, well done.

The whole electrification transition is soon to be null and void, The applied math results in a solution known as the empty set…null.

The donks just don’t believe it yet.

Hopefully CA will go bankrupt learning this lesson.

People do not comprehend the scale of electrical use in this country.

Solar and wind won’t cut it. Batteries won’t cut it.

The whole electrification transition is soon to be null and void, The applied math results in a solution known as the empty set…null.”

Um, yeah…. maybe put down that crack pipe

Thank you for a very well written piece Mr. Butner, and for stating the opinions that many of us are thinking but are forbidden to express. But this is like trying to tell the Jehovah Witness that there will be no rapture, and telling Christians that there was no savior. You’ll never convince the zealots of the climate change religion that they cannot save the planet from it’s own very forces. It’s the only God some of these people have ever known.

“Electricity from wind and solar is the most expensive and least dependable of any energy source. Will factories shut down, sending workers home when the wind does not blow? Wind and solar require a fossil fuel energy backup.

We are told that batteries can store electricity when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine. Where will all these batteries come from, and where will they be disposed of in a dozen years? ”

Lol “when the wind does not blow, when the sun goes down? is a old trope.

No Larry your stream of factoids does not somehow make oil and nukes better and you contradict yourself, innovation applies to what you support, but that solar and wind stuff is all problems and things we can’t deal with lol.

Thou doth protest too much.

Texas, just a couple years ago, experienced a deep freeze. Their windmills and solar fields…..did not work. The wind did not blow, and the sun did not shine.

Quite a few people died, for a “trope”.

“Those in charge of Texas’s deregulated power sector were warned again and again that the electric grid was vulnerable. 

About half the state’s wind turbines froze and shut down—though ones that were winterized have kept going in other states and in regions such as Siberia. But fossil fuel plants, natural gas–fired ones in particular, were a bigger problem, because of a failure to insulate pipes and to otherwise winterize equipment.

The fiasco has intensified a long-running fight between fans of renewable energy and backers of fossil fuels, with critics of wind power, which generates 23 percent of Texas’s electricity, blaming the intermittent energy source for the grid’s unreliability. But those attacks are little more than a distraction from two more fundamental problems the polar vortex laid bare. Texans’ thirst for cheap energy—aided by the energy industry’s hunger for profits—left the state’s power sector ill-prepared to weather a winter storm that other states, including neighboring Oklahoma and New Mexico, have weathered far better than Texas has. And the backward-looking regimen that state energy officials use to forecast the weather—a methodology that minimizes the effect of such intensifying factors as climate change, which scientists say can make winter storms more brutal—may have led them to underestimate the approaching storm’s fury.”

Those in charge of Texas’s deregulated power sector were warned again and again” Quite a few people died because the grid was vulnerable. 

But you can repeat old tired tropes if that’s what you are into.

Lot of layers here. Let’s start with the easy bit; it’s probably not good for us to keep burning coal and oil forever – it would obviously be ridiculous for us to ban fossil fuels tomorrow, but it’s also a finite resource that does enough pollution to warrant regulation and a demand for alternatives. Also, and I’m sorry to say this, but there is a lot of evidence that human activity since the industrial revolution… has in fact impacted the global climate and continues to do so. The apocalypse isn’t tomorrow, but it also isn’t something we should gleefully ignore, as unfortunately this article primarily argues.

There is neither space nor time to comment piece by piece, so the highlights:

– A couple degrees warmer in Buffalo doesn’t sound too bad, but the real problem is rising sea levels which will require expensive levees or cause displacement, desertification of crop lands, and big impacts on ecosystems. It’s not something we should just shrug.

– Betting on technological innovations to save us is foolhearty. I’m an optimist who does think there are a lot of great green innovations coming, but handwaving about space lasers in 75 years is a very weak argument; if I said in 75 years we will have nano machines that will build a USA-Mexico boarder wall in 5 hours for only a half million dollars, so what’s the point of worrying or building anything now, I’d be rightly yelled off stage.

– If wind and solar are so stupid, why is Texas the largest producer in the country, and building more capacity every year. They’re not perfect, but I don’t see the reason to write them off. (Also hydro power storage is under used – get excess wind power to pump water up a mountain to a reservoir, when the wind isn’t blowing, let the water back down and run it through a generator – super easy)

– Nuclear energy is very good, I agree.

– The oil economics seems backwards, why don’t we reduce our consumption of oil so that we don’t have to worry about if hostile nations reduce production. I’m not saying eliminate, but increase efficiency and have electric alternatives. Also the line saying the invasion of Ukraine was only funded because… Our domestic energy policy… Very wrong.

I’m pro-energy, and I’m confused why this article demands we shun alternative energy sources. It seems obvious to me that more of all the above seems like a good idea, we need oil, but we should totally invest in more nuclear to power our cities, solar to power our homes, and wind to power rural areas and supplement the grid – all while making more efficient appliances, cars, and alternatives like public transit to decrease congestion. Attack the problem from all sides, not just one.

Oh well, where to start?

I’m sure this guy has the best of intentions, but his conclusions are either misleading, poorly thought out or simply wrong.

First off, he makes the point that humans can adapt and innovate, just like Ben Franklin. No disagreement here. But he never spells out what those innovations might be in regards to his precious fossil fuels or nuclear power. A better way to burn fossil fuel? A low-carbon internal combustion engine? A nuclear power plant that can never experience a meltdown? A beak through in fission technology? Considering we have been living with these energy sources for decades, it leads me to believe that there really aren’t any more innovations to be made when it comes to oil and nuclear.

In a different way, I think what he is arguing is precisely what is happening. Solar and wind power is becoming the norm. The offshore wind plant off of Morro Bay will be a reality in the next several years. Battery power is flourishing and hydrogen cell batteries are making huge progress. I recently visited the Nikola plant in Coolidge, Arizona. They are producing battery-electric semi trucks. While they have faced numerous challenges, the engineers believe that within 30 years, the entire U.S. trucking fleet can be electrified.

I agree with the author that the production of batteries is a problem. 70% of the cobalt used in lithium batteries is mined by Chinese companies in the Congo. The U.S. under the Biden administration has begun to intervene in that area. Unfortunately, for four years under the Trump administration, the U.S. did nothing to mitigate the control of cobalt by the Chinese. Luckily, the Chinese are driven by money and continue to sell cobalt world wide. Eventually, hydrogen fuel cells may be the answer because of this, but not in the near future. Tesla, Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, etc. appear to have enough cobalt to produce electric cars.

Additionally, the idea that areas of the world that suffer from severe poverty will be detrimentally impacted by our movement away from fossil fuels is patently ridiculous. I wonder if the author realizes that the Syrian War is primarily a product of climate change. As arable land in the middle east was reduced by the ravages of burning carbon, huge populations of Syrians, who had previously been farmers, were forced to move to urban areas where they faced problems with unemployment and starvation.

Hence, war. In turn, this problem has caused serious problems in Europe where these war and climate change refugees seek to relocate. Nations such as Hungary have begun to scapegoat these refugees as they seek to reinvent the racism of 1930’s fascism.

This is obviously not an isolated incident. The hidden costs of the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. and around the world is staggering, particularly for people of color. The fossil fuel industry has a history of funding violence in Africa, dodging costly clean-up of toxic spills in Central America, and exacerbating poverty in Africa and South America.

Moreover, according to Greenpeace, “fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—lie at the heart of the crises we face, including public health, racial injustice and climate change.” The ravages of burning fossil fuels furthers the degradation of the health of many of our citizens.

I advise the author to travel a little ways east of here to discover for himself the problems created by the fossil fuel industry in the central valley. According to the LA Times, “fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.” Luckily, in places such as Lost Hills, on the I-5 artery, money from the state is seeking to rebuild the community.

Finally, the author’s reading list is questionable. Schellenberger has been roundly criticized by climate change experts. Lomborg is obviously a windbag who doesn’t deny that climate change is happening and should be dealt with, but has his own peculiar solutions. As for Epstein, his thesis, like this author’s, is that we need more fossil fuels rather than less. Go figure.

Here are some references if interested:–book-review/?sh=755368ae2724