Get PJ Media on your Apple

Misguided Energy Policy: Alone, Enough to Cause American Failure

The responses of Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse to the deadly tornado strike portend more disaster.

Tom Harris


May 31, 2013 - 12:10 am

In the interests of full disclosure: even though I was born, raised, and have always lived in Canada, I am staunchly pro-America to the point that I sometimes wonder if I am living in the wrong country.

My pro-U.S. sentiments started during childhood, when our family always spent summer holidays in Maine. To us, the U.S. was synonymous with good times, friendly people, magnificent scenery, and great shopping due to a (then-) favorable exchange rate. One summer, I even had an American girlfriend. The fact that America’s astronauts were walking on the Moon and my heroes, fellow Canadians Gordie Howe and William Shatner, were making it big in the U.S. made your country just that much more appealing. I would have spent my career as an aerospace engineer in the U.S. were your laws not so strict about hiring non-citizens for such jobs.

I came to eventually appreciate the U.S. for many other reasons as well — most importantly, to quote Canada Free Press: “Because, without America, there is no Free World.” In particular, there would be no Canada.

Our country is far too large to keep to ourselves if we did not have the defense of a strong U.S. military. You are also our major customer for many of our most important products: oil, gas, electricity, uranium, car parts, maple syrup, hockey sticks (and hockey players), and hundreds of other items. America is still the world’s leader in science and technology, foreign aid, sports, music, and practically everything else that really matters to Canadians. If the U.S. goes down the tubes, Canada, indeed most of the developed world, is doomed.

So it is not just for altruistic reasons that we were dismayed as we witnessed the U.S. in rapid decline — from being the world’s greatest creditor nation to the world’s greatest debtor. We are naturally frightened when we see America quickly retreat from being a strong, confident superpower to a nation so afraid of its own shadow that its government lets official representatives abroad be tortured and killed by your enemies, even when you have the military might to easily save them. Who will fill the vacuum as America, shackled by insecurity, weakness, and eventual poverty, is forced to withdraw from being the free world’s defender? I shudder to think.

Nowhere is the threat to America’s future more clear, and more easily avoided, than in the energy sector. Therein, fairytale fears about climate change have grown to the point that the U.S. is now on the verge of committing suicide by turning off many of its most important energy sources to appease loud, misinformed climate activists. It is no exaggeration: without vast quantities of reliable, high quality, inexpensive energy, your country (and ours) is finished. Game over. Just ask the Ukrainians what happened when Russia shut off the gas in the winters of 2006 and 2009.

The frighteningly naive reaction of some of America’s leaders to this month’s tragic tornadoes is a case in point. Instead of promoting coal, the cheapest and most abundant energy source available, to help provide the power the U.S. needs to prepare for such deadly events, Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer (CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) took advantage of the tragedy to boost their nonsensical climate change plans.

More “green” energy from wind and solar power is needed if we are to avoid dangerous global warming and increasing extreme weather events, they say. This makes no sense, no matter what you believe about the causes of climate change.

First, studies show that strong to intense tornadoes have actually decreased markedly over the past fifty years, despite a warming climate and rising carbon dioxide levels. When the period from 1954 to 2003 was analyzed in a 2008 paper published by the American Geophysical Union, it was found that the most damaging tornadoes were about twice as frequent in the first half of the record than in the second half.

This is not surprising. Contrary to the assertions of Boxer and Whitehouse, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events decrease as the planet warms. It is during cooler periods, not warmer ones, that such phenomena increase. Strong to violent tornadoes actually peaked during the 1970s, when concerns about global cooling dominated.

If extreme weather events were actually on the rise, then Boxer and Whitehouse would be even more wrong. In that situation, they should be boosting America’s most affordable and reliable energy sources to prepare for such hazards, not wind and solar, the most expensive and least reliable available. After all, more electricity would be needed to handle greater demands for air conditioning and heating. More power would be required to irrigate lands, to build dikes, to strengthen public infrastructure, and to relocate populations living on flood plains or at risk from tornadoes and hurricanes.

Moving to flimsy, intermittent wind and solar power and away from the inexpensive, steady power that sources such as coal provide because of extreme weather fears is analogous to a ship captain ordering his crew into lifeboats when a severe storm is approaching. It would be suicide to abandon ship exactly when the protection of a sturdy vessel was most needed.

Similarly, it is suicide for America to try to quickly end its use of coal, currently the source of about half the country’s electricity, in favor of wind and solar. Extreme weather events aside, modern industrialized societies need massive quantities of reliable, high-quality power to run steel mills, internet servers, and transportation systems, even when the wind drops or a cloud passes in front of the sun. While natural gas and nuclear power obviously have important roles to play in our energy future, nothing competes with coal when it comes to providing inexpensive power from plentiful domestic sources. Indeed, more than any other fuel, coal made America great.

Boxer and Whitehouse apparently do not know that, although wind and solar power have had decades to mature, they still cost between three and ten times the price of electricity from coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear. The Energy Information Administration shows that even though non-hydroelectric renewable electricity generation received 53.5% of all federal financial support for the electric power sector in 2010, it produced only 3.6% of all generation.

Even if there were a human-caused climate crisis happening, and increasing numbers of experts doubt that there is, the energy policies promoted by Boxer and Whitehouse would have little climatic impact. China, which derives 80% of its electricity from coal, is planning to build 500 coal-fired plants over the next ten years, easily swamping the impact of changes in America’s energy sources.

The only result of a radical change in U.S. energy policy would be one of mass unemployment and millions of Americans joining the billions of people throughout the world already mired in energy poverty. And severe tornadoes and other extreme weather will continue to occur as they always have, with the climatic effect of America’s sacrifice immeasurable in the real world.

Getting American energy policy right will not, by itself, stop the country’s decline. Many problems now weighing you down must be corrected. But following the dangerous approach to energy advocated by Boxer, Whitehouse and other climate propagandists would ensure that the U.S. fails.

For all our sakes, don’t let it happen!

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC).

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Barbara Boxer's first elected position was as my county supervisor representing southern Marin County, California.

One of her first initiatives was to propose a ban on radioactive materials in the county as a way to prevent rail or truck shipments of fresh or spent nuclear fuel through the county.

When the local radioactive material license holders were mobilized, she had to back down. Turns out both of the hospitals in her district had piles of radioactive waste in their basements with no disposal option. The county engineer needed radioactive instruments to ensure the safety of their road projects. Even the ship chandler at the yacht basin needed to sell tritium compasses.

She is unmindful of the consequences of her positions and will stoop to any lie or evasion to make them real.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What most [especially enviro facists] don't realize is that providing power is a 24/7/365 operation requiring sufficient reserves to respond to demand in fractions of a second. Power has to be generated whether we use it or not and we can't wait for the sun to come up or a breeze to start blowing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If the good Senators were serious in their criticism of current policy and their advocacy of alternative energy, they would reduce the consumption of energy by their offices to just the percentage that their local supplier's energy delivery contains.
Come on Senators, put your staff's comfort where your mouth's are!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
ICSC recently created a video that shows the long term impact of the mistakes being made by the Alberta Government in their marketing of the Keystone XL pipeline. Much of this applies to where U.S. energy policy is taking America, so I think it is worth watching - here it is:

Tom Harris
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This article is right on, in the main. However, there has been a radical improvement in the ease and cost of obtaining natural gas. This change, I think, will radically improve the economic viability of natural gas fired combined, combustion turbine-steam turbine, power plants. These will become the dominant source of electric power in North America They are much cheaper to build, have much higher efficiencies, have much lower noxious emissions, have much quicker start-up times, and are much more flexible in power cycling than traditional coal fired steam turbine power plants. There prime deficiency has been the high price of natural gas. Now, with the new technology of fracking of large shale formations being commercialized providing low price natural gas availability, these combined cycle plants I expect, will dominate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here are some of the problem with using natural gas for electricity generation where coal-fired power plants already exist:

1 - there is a large cost to build the new NG-fired facilities, not to mention the pipelines to get it to the plants;
2 - NG prices are historically far more variable than coal;
3 - NG prices will rise signfiicantly as more and more of the country moves to NG. This will negatively impact consumers since NG is a primary source for home heating and cooking;
4 - estimates of NG available may very well prove to be wrong, or enviro-extremists may be successful in their efforst to block fracking. Already many jurisdictions have banned NG fracking in their regions. Closing coal stations would then be seen to be an enormous mistake.
5 - using high quality NG for base load power generation is like converting gold into lead. It is far better to use gold where it is best used than to use it up in lead applications. The same for NG and coal.

We need NG and coal as there is plenty of demand for both of them in the marketplace. However, we should use them where they best apply: coal for base load generation and NG for peaking power, direct use by consumers and in petrochemical.

Tom Harris
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm no geophysicist nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I have always found it ludicrous when climato-fascists talk about weather patterns in 10, 20 or 50 year blocks of time. It takes incredible arrogance and ignorance to believe weather conditions are that sensitive to US energy policy.

And if they were consistent about their concerns the green alarmists would pour every bit of their resources to moving to China and fighting their battle there. But they don't really need to go there - China's already communist...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Obama administration and other radical promoters of “Green” energy are not confused nor
ignorant of the failures of wind/solar. So, what is the explanation? Allow Obama‟s Presidential,.John.Holdren:.―………
de-devevelop..the.United.States….redistribution.of wealth….world government...‖

No successful industrial nation can exist without a highly productive, efficient, reliable and
affordable energy system. The substitution of wind and solar will de-develop the United States!
Make no mistake, this is a ruthless attack on America‟s heartland by power driven political elites,
and radical ideologues determined to eliminate this nation‟s reliable and affordable energy
systems. (see: YouTube “Treason: Obama shuts down power plants coast to coast”). It is this
energy system upon which we built the industrial manufacturing base that gave birth to the
American middle class. Globalization has reduced American manufacturing jobs from 19.5 million
in 1979 to 11.6 today. In 1978 manufacturing accounted for more than one out of every four jobs.
In the 1950‟s it was more than one out of three, today it is less than one in ten (or a little less than
10% which happens to be our current unemployment rate). If the foundation of the middle class
is eliminated can the middle class itself be far behind?
It is the wealth and power of the American middle class that is the real target.

More @:

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"One summer, I even had an American girlfriend."

Was she like my Canadian girlfriend from my freshman year of high school? Or was she, you know, real?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Closing down the coal mines is mean spirited to the people whose livelihoods are tied to it (usually the poorest parts of the country), but we were already in the process of changing our power plants over to natural gas - which is cleaner and more plentiful (read: cheap).

Now, we aren't going to feel much pain as a result, but make no mistake - this was only a coincidence and if they could they would shut down the natural gas plants immediately. They really don't like Americans (they don't like people - period) and they want us to suffer for some imagined past sin.

Also, we are having a boom in the Dakotas on private land that the government can't shut down in oil. One thing that would save this country would be for the states to get back all the federal land the feds stole from them so they could develope it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We had a weird set of air pollution law that basically prohibited making old coal power plants cleaner and more efficient. Too bad the choice is either grandfathered old coal power plants or new natural gas power plants. We need some new or upgraded coal power plants for energy diversity and resilience.

I hope that the next Republican administration sells a bunch of federal land both to let it be developed and to raise money to pay down debt. There are huge land areas that are not beautiful pristine wilderness areas in National Parks that could be sold and put to use.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What fun is it for leftists if they can't cause pain? It's a personality type, and down thru time. As the country continues to decline their fun quotient goes up. There are no serious reasons for their positions, they see a nation slipping and want to add to it. Obama of course lives for this, call it the Hate Factor.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All