All that’s green isn’t gold

June 11, 2023


Everybody is talking about renewable energy these days, but so often, the subject is conflated with issues of social justice. Renewable energy might be better accepted if proponents concentrated on energy by itself.

Better still, they could approach it with greater appreciation for traditional conservative values, specifically pro-business solutions and lifestyles free of government interventions. But there was too much New Deal in the Green New Deal, and though the Inflation Reduction Act contains some valuable energy provisions, they are tethered to restrictive labor requirements.

So, all that’s “green” isn’t gold, but there are some “nuggets” in there that could be valuable:

• Renewable energy is 100% domestic, and inexhaustible.
• The renewable energy supply chain, being decentralized and sometimes completely local, would be hard to disrupt, thus adding to our national security.
• People who love independence can become free from public utilities and oil and gas companies —completely off the grid, if they so choose.
• There are also hundreds of thousands of new jobs, as well as profitable business and investment opportunities in the new energy industry.

We can acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and prosperity that the old forms of energy have brought us. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the over 400 billion tons of coal, oil and gas we’ve produced since 1850. That alone is quite an accomplishment.

On the other hand, burning it has left us with over a trillion tons of CO2, about half of which remains in our atmosphere. According to conservative activist and ClearPath founder Jay Faison (and many others), CO2 traps heat. It’s easily demonstrated, the results calculated with a simple formula. We figured that out in the 1880s, over half a century before anybody was worried about the adverse consequences of global warming.

Some people do not yet understand the link between the heat-trapping properties of CO2 and our rising temperatures, nor the threat posed to the stability of our weather systems and our future prosperity.

But, there are some credible conservative organizations, such as RepublicEN, “Let’s get this right before big government gets it wrong,” the Niskanen Center and the Conservative Climate Caucus that recognize it and are working on pro-business solutions. They are definitely worth looking at.

So, although all that is “green” is not gold, exploiting renewable energy can be a real boon for America. And though coal, oil and gas have fueled over a century of prosperity, they have left us with more than a trillion tons of CO2. We’ve seen how that has messed with our current weather systems, and threatens our future prosperity.

Fortunately, we have some conservative organizations who recognize the threat, and are rising to meet it with market-based solutions. Let’s support these organizations, and think about what we ourselves can do.

George Hansen is a 20-year resident of Arroyo Grande and a retired physician.

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Finally, a common sense conservative who isn’t going to wring his hands and say we can’t do anything because the Chinese and Indians aren’t doing anything. Mr. Hansen apparently knows what he’s talking about and understands the existential threat that our current way of life faces if we don’t transition as expeditiously as possible off of fossil fuels.

I’ve been arguing this point for years, but very little of private investment has dipped its beak into renewable energy. I believe we are now on a precipice of change. Mr. Hansen gets it. Decentralized energy sources make us all better off. And today’s Republican Party—which has very little to do with its roots (after all, Nixon established the EPA)—must be pulled kicking and screaming along for the ride.

A sobering event that may convince some right-wingers that the climate is indeed changing and we must reconsider our current path of continuing to burn carbon is the recent announcements by Allstate and State Farm that they will no longer offer home insurance in California because of “rapidly growing catastrophe exposure.” Fires today burn hotter and longer than ever. Insurance companies have to turn a profit to keep investors interested and to be able to pay off claims. Consistently paying out millions of dollars because houses are in the path of a wildfire is not sound business.

Even though many climate change experts believe we are doomed to weather chaos for the foreseeable future, I think that if we follow government guidelines (sorry Mr. Hansen, but government has to play a role) we can avert the worst of this “catastrophe exposure.”

First off, we must get our big trucks off of diesel and into electric and fuel cell. Class 8 commercial trucks account for more than 30% of today’s emissions. The transportation sector in general accounts for 50%. Second, all passenger cars and trucks should get a minimum of 50 mpg. Unfortunately, Americans like their gas guzzling Denalis and Explorers. Detroit must be able to produce facsimiles of these vehicles that are hybrid or electric. Finally, we need an increase in solar farms and offshore wind farms. The wind consistently blows in both the Atlantic and Pacific. We need to work out any issues that may hurt the environment. Everything I read makes me think that is possible. But, obviously more study is needed.

Anyway, kudos to Mr. Hansen and to CCN for accepting his well thought out essay.

Why replace diesel trucks, diesel equipment or older cars? Many of these engines are only intermittently used, say less than 5,000 miles or 100 hours annually. The climate damage in creating replacement equipment/vehicles vastly exceeds the pollution coming from the end of the tail pipe.

Likewise for plug in electric vehicles, the climate damage from their creation exceeds the tail pipe benefit, unless they are drive 60,000 miles plus on the original battery.

As for solar and wind, we are decades away, if ever, that these sources of power can produce the energy for manufacturing.

Impractical ideals are part of the problem and discredit the environmental ethos setting back the change that will be necessary.

I’ve given my point of view on this topic over several comments to this blog. Continuing to burn fossil fuels is a perilous path. So, I’ll agree to disagree.

M/M Mazin have lived off grid for over 25 years. There are things solar and wind can and cannot do. Fossil fuels will always have a role to play.

And yes we are on a perilous path and need to be smart conservationists.

I as a non Dem do feel we need to do what we can to protect the planet but I also feel the Government should not be telling people you can’t have natural gas in your homes,have to get a electric car and just jump head on into this Solar,windmill all electric view when the systems we have in place can’t keep up with the demand now because of it’s age and companies haven’t put money back into it. We have the technology to make things more climate change friendly but the Government hasn’t allowed the oil Co to build a new refinery for decades so the old ones keep polluting,we have cars now that are Hybrids getting 40 plus MPG,No new Dams let water run into ocean. The point is to blend the oil and non fossil energy together over time. The US always does their part and more and that is one reason we are Trillions in debt and China is buying up the world with our interest money so let private companies work on this and keep as much Government control out and it will be done

Private companies are into money, often very very Qtr/Qtr stock movement thinking so upper mgmt can cash in. So direction is needed. If not gov’t whom do you propose?

Yes there should be guidelines my point was Government should not be telling the public what type of energy the can use as they have no idea how things in business actually work. They need to work with business not put a noose around their neck You don’t see very many businesses with Trillions in debt still in business

Excellent article, thoughts:

1) Conservative fiscal checks on well intentioned, but utterly hopeless, environmental ideals are a form of conservation.

2) A program to develop US resources with oversight (overriding royalty payments for public benefit and debt reduction) versus funding Ruzzia or Saudi or Venezuela or “no dictatorship left unfunded” oil is a program for human liberation and future war reduction.

3) Border control, because mass migrations are here and now.

4) Dump divisive media. Both sides need to listen to each other.

5) Protection of the creation is a traditional value.