Solving Climate Change with Taxes?

BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT

The argument that the Democratic Party has the “solution” to Climate Change (which was previously known as “Global Warming” and before that, “Global Cooling”) is ridiculous.

When the Left talks about “Global Warming,” they’re not talking about what most people assume they’re talking about. You see, when most people hear “Global Warming,” whether they believe in the phenomenon or not, they usually assume that we’re talking about pollution. That is not what most Greens are referring to when they refer to “Climate Change” or “Global Warming.”

If the Left were serious about addressing pollution, they would not spend such an inordinate time obsessing about how to tax “polluters” (e.g. not just the fossil fuel-producing companies, but the groups and people who consume anything related to fossil fuel–you and I). If the Left really believed that pollution needed to be addressed, they could have spearheaded that movement decades ago.

Instead, they have fixated on punishment and guilt to shame our society into abandoning the most efficient energy production method for mass consumption: fossil fuels. Let us, for the sake of argument, admit that pollution is a problem and our industry does–and has–polluted.

Further, let us stipulate here that humanity can–and should–take action to curb pollution.

But, more importantly, let us also acknowledge that the Left’s definition of “Global Warming” and their purported solutions are, in fact, not solutions at all. Indeed, should the Left get their way on the matter, they will lead this country and our society to ruin.

What are the Left’s “solutions” to Global Warming?

The Left consistently argues in favor of higher taxes and greater levels of regulation–all in the name of preserving the environment. Much hype is given to the purported threat that anthropogenic Climate Change poses the world, but very little thought is given to the costs of ameliorating the purported problem.

In fact, this lack of detail or understanding of the implications and costs of their supposed solution to the purportedly apocalyptic problem of Global Warming is the Left’s greatest weakness (or strength, if you are a Left-wing activist, because you never have to address the sticky matter of costs, you must only fear monger and present half-truths and lies to get your way).

Here are some key questions you should be asking yourself whenever you hear a Democrat urging for “immediate” and “bold” action to be taken to “curb” Global Warming:

Who will pay?

How will they pay?

Why must they pay?

“The Rich” Won’t Be Paying, You Will Be Paying

Of course, the Left assures you that the top one-percent–Bernie’s “millionaires and billionaires” will be the ones hardest hit by the Global Warming taxes and regulations. When you think about it, though, that really doesn’t make sense.

In fact, I’ve found that it is the rich who are the loudest proponents of defending against Climate Change.

Notably, former New York City Mayor (and proud leader of America’s billionaire brigade) Mike Bloomberg, (who, in case you missed it has purchased a rising spot in the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential campaign) has declared that he alone is the only man running for office who can address the Global Warming crisis.

Remember, also, that it is America’s great and gallant multinational corporations–such as General Electric–who have spearheaded the “Green” corporate initiatives over the last 15 years. This was a running gag, in fact, on the Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin sitcom, 30 Rock.

That show was about a Saturday Night Live-type television show at NBC studios in New York City during the 2010s (at the time of production of the series, GE owned the network, both in the show and in real-life).

Also, not to go too far down the rabbit hole here, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock made repeated wisecracks (see here) about Harvey Weinstein and his various sexual perversions (at the time, everyone laughed haughtily at the self-referential nature of the series. But, just as with the “Green” corporate initiatives of GE they parodied, the series ended up being frightfully accurate).

Sometimes a sitcom is more than a sitcom, eh?

But, I digress.

Below are the two (hilarious) clips from 30 Rock about GE’s absurd “Green” corporate initiatives:

Courtesy of NBC-Universal.
Courtesy of NBC-Universal.

In fact, given that the targets of the Climate Change crowd are emissions related to human industrial activity (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone), and that the climate change crowd’s solution is to tax the production of these natural greenhouse gases, what they’re talking about is squelching economic opportunity and overall prosperity for you.

Basically, the Left wants to tax everything that we produce.

As the song says, they want “to tax the air you breathe.” In this case, like, literally.

Here’s some Stevie to keep you going.

Just who will pay for the massive spike in taxes (and higher-costs-of-doing-business because of those taxes)?

Certainly not the corporations that are so gleefully championing these causes.

The corporate goons who are suborning the radical Green movement are the same groups who will readily pass the increased costs onto you and I, while they reap the profits from whatever absurd corporatist scheme they can concoct from the new ecochondria sweeping the West.

In her glorious 2015 book, The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, economist Mariana Mazzucato aptly asks her readers a simple question (with not-oh-so-very-simple answers):

How can we be sure that the innovation ecosystem is one that results in a symbiotic relationship between the public and private sectors rather than a parasitic one?

Well, before all of my Milton Friedman-loving friends (I love the irascible old Libertarian, too) rush to answer, Mazzucato has an alternative explanation that I think is both fair and completely accurate.

Mazzucato argues that the “entrepreneurial” state suffers through a parasitic relationship with the private sector. The former takes hard-earned tax dollars from you and I and throws it into expensive research and design (R&D). Afterward, it takes years–decades, even–of public investment and management to spark the creative juices needed to develop the next great leap in technology and investment from the private sector (in biotech, the lag time between initial public investment in an innovation and private venture capital is anywhere from 15-20 years on average).

Contrary to the Libertarian view of innovation, which claims that all great innovations derive from a private sector that is almost totally free of regulations and taxes, Mazzucato proves that most of the greatest technological innovations of the last century came with the initial investment and care from the feds.

Although, like my Libertarian friends, I too, prefer a generally relaxed regulatory environment (but that’s another topic for another time).

Publicly-funded innovation labs, such as Bell Labs or the Xerox PARC lab, helped to create innovations, such as the Graphics User Interface (PARC Lab) that allowed for Steve Jobs to come along and create the Apple computer. Without that initial creation, the Graphics User Interface, there’d not be an Apple (which is valued at something like $4 trillion presently).

Did you know that the source code for Google’s economy-changing search engine was funded by a grant provided by the National Science Foundation?

Evoking Mazzucato again:

Business investment is mainly limited not by savings but by its own lack of courage (or Keynesian ‘animal spirits’)–the ‘business as usual’ state of mind. Indeed, firm-level studies have shown that what drives entry behavior into industries (companies deciding to move into one particular sector) is not existing profits in that sector but projected technological and market opportunities. And such opportunities are linked to the amount of State investment in those areas.

Yet, Mazzucato claims that today, the private sector has come to rely disproportionately on the public sector to throw increasing amounts of tax dollars into the startup costs for R&D, while the business community cuts more and more of their own R&D capacities and choose instead to focus on short term innovations that will boost their quarterly profit rather than revolutionize industry and create a long-term innovation that will fundamentally transform the economy and society for everyone, everywhere.

As my friend and colleague David P. Goldman once argued, private sector innovation is great if Post Cereals wants to create a better-tasting cornflake. It’s not so good if you’re needing to invent the Internet or the nuclear bomb. One needs public sector investment, followed on by private sector enhancement, and together, the two sectors will reap the profits in various ways. It’s about taking on risk at the start–public sector can do that more readily (and hold its position far longer) than private investment often can (or will).

Put another way, as Jim Keller, the legendary microprocessor engineer, told MIT’s Lex Fridman: to truly innovate a product and/or industry, one should be redesigning products (in this case, computer chips) from the bottom-up every three-to-five years. Keller said that, rarely, corporate managers are willing to invest in such a thing because they live by a conservative philosophy of “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” mentality. But, according to Keller, lagging behind on fundamental redesign and rethinking on foundational concepts prevents real, long-term innovation.

Mazzucato believes that private-sector risk aversion–cowardice–is the source of many problems not only in innovation but in creating a parasitic relationship with the public sector (which, ultimately, impacts you negatively as a taxpayer).

Here’s Jim Keller’s recent convo with Lex Fridman:

It’s a long conversation but worth the listen, if you’ve got the time.

Keller’s statement exemplifies why, as Mazzucato claims, so many corporations are downsizing the “R” part of their R&D and reshuffling the funds from those labs into the repurchase of their company’s stocks. This move “affects the price of stock options and executive pay linked to such options.” Mazzucato uses the flagging biotech industry as a case vignette in her book, but this is indicative of Shareholder Capitalism across-the-board today.

To answer Mazzucato’s question quoted above, therefore, it is clear that the private sector does not have a symbiotic relationship with the public sector, as it once enjoyed during the heady days of Bell Labs. Instead, thanks largely to the private sector’s short-term, quarterly profit-minded business plans and risk-averse investment strategies–coupled with their despicable and unrelenting government lobbying campaigns–the relationship is entirely parasitic.

This parasitic relationship between private and public sectors, allows for the public to take on extreme amounts of risk and, once the infrastructure has been laid down, the private sector–usually large, multinational firms these days–wades in and soaks up the profits (while throwing money at the federal government to downgrade their tax burdens and shift costs onto ordinary taxpayers).

This is classic rent-seeking behavior and it defines America’s economy today.

Thus, the answer to the question posed in this piece of whether or not higher taxes to mitigate the purported effects of Global Climate Change will be most felt by the “One Percent” and the “Big Businesses” should be self-evident: they will not feel the squeeze.

The fact that billionaire Mike Bloomberg has become the public face of resisting Global Warming shows you how farcical the entire endeavor has become–and how dangerous it will be to you and I, if allowed to gain more traction than it already has in the halls of power.

All costs will be deferred to you. They always are. And, this dear readers, explains why Big Business has so readily embraced the concept of “Going Green” at the C-Level.

The Greens’ proposed environmental policies will do nothing to either mitigate the effects of so-called “Climate Change” or keep overall costs on ordinary energy consumers–everyone, particularly the middle-class–down.

By attaching onerous (and largely invisible) taxes on fossil fuel energy production–without having ready-to-go, viable alternatives–the costs of energy will spike. But, this will not hurt most major corporations. Instead, it will harm ordinary, working-class and middle-class people everywhere.

In fact, the higher-prices might even help some of the larger corporations, as they will be able to charge more and lay claim to the (false) notion that they are living up to their “social corporate responsibilities” as “stakeholders” in the global system or whatever nonsense corporate managers fill their big heads with these days to assuage their Prosperity Guilt.

Rest assured, these corporate managers won’t “feel the Bern” the way that medium-and-small-businesses or local communities or middle-income and working-class families most assuredly will.

It never hurts “them,” folks.

The costs always get stuck on you.

You’re the problem–with your two cars, mortgage payments, and 401Ks…and your kids.

Good grief, do you have to have so many damn kids?!

Do what we elites do: have one designer baby who will grow up to be the next Anderson Cooper!

In fact, will you do us a favor, you deplorable coal miners?

Don’t have kids.

We’ll build a robot to replace you.

Don’t worry, we’ll give you a small government stipend to ease your passing into death.

Just die.

Thanks.

I’d swear, these people are like William Fichtner or Jodi Foster’s managerial elite characters in that otherwise-cliché 2013 Matt Damon flick, Elysium.

Since I can’t find the clip I wanted to find, here is the trailer from Neil Blomkamp’s 2013 dystopian science fiction, Elysium.

Consider this: since the end of the Cold War, global capitalism has elevated 700 million out of poverty. Nearly 500 million of those people, however, are in China. Many more people are located throughout the developing world than the developed world (nearly 40 million alone were lifted from poverty in Brazil since the end of the Cold War).

These countries are also, unsurprisingly, the source of most of the greenhouse gas pollution that Leftists everywhere blame for the purported unwanted, unnatural changes to Earth’s environment.

Courtesy of the Center for Global Development, 2015. Also, according to a 2018 New York Times study (quoted below) China’s coal consumption and production massively increased beginning in 2017, two years after this chart was produced.

One of the key reasons for the elevation of those people from poverty is because energy became more widely available–and cheap. In China, the key source of their economic revolution was not clean energy; it was not even oil. In fact, “dirty” coal-fired plants account for most of China’s economic development.

Writing in The New York Times in 2018, Somini Sengupta stated that China:

Consumes half the world’s coal. More than 4.3 million Chinese are employed in the country’s coal mines. China has added 40 percent of the world’s coal capacity since 2002, a huge increase for 16 years.

Sengupta further argued that:

An analysis by Coal Swarm, a U.S.-based team of researchers that advocates for coal alternatives, concluded that new plants continue to be built, and other proposed projects have simply been delayed rather than stopped. Chinese coal consumption grew in 2017, though at a far slower pace than before, and is on track to grow again in 2018, after declining in previous years.

And while China has recently begun to allocate large investments into solar and wind power (recognizing the threat that their obscene levels of pollution cause not only their own country but the world), the Chinese have also started to export their “dirty” coal-mining ways to the rest of the developing world:

China’s coal industry is scrambling to find new markets, from Kenya to Pakistan. Chinese companies are building coal plants in 17 countries, according to Urgewald. Its regional rival, Japan, is in the game, too: Nearly 60 percent of planned coal projects developed by Japanese companies are outside the country, mostly financed by Japanese banks.

India, on the other hand, has championed “clean energy,” yet it disproportionately relies on coal like its Chinese rival. Coal presently accounts for 58 percent of India’s energy production.

Here is Sengupta on Indian coal production:

In an interview in the capital, New Delhi, India’s energy secretary, Ajay Bhalla, said some 50 gigawatts of additional coal capacity were under construction. That’s a fraction of what was under development even a decade ago, when India’s energy demand was projected to soar. Many of those plants are meant to replace older, more polluting ones. But coal would not sunset anytime soon, he predicted, not until there’s a cheap and efficient way to store energy from solar and wind energy.

Of course, the Left rarely decries the Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, et al. economies for their hard polluting ways.

And until very recently, the governments ruling the developing world have vehemently opposed Western Liberal attempts to stymie their fossil fuel energy production and consumption, claiming that it was a neo-colonial attempt to keep developing countries under the brutal yoke of Western powers by depriving them of their ability to develop.

The developing countries, naturally, play on their history of being “oppressed” by the wealthier nations of the developed world. They deny their own responsibility in the present damage being done by their pollution and deflect responsibility to the far less polluting West. The developing nations insist that they be allowed to continue to pollute the environment at far greater levels than the West, if only to “pay back” for the purported injustices that the West visited upon them long ago.

So, the Left, rather than drop the matter entirely (because those most responsible for the supposed problem will not really comply with their demands), have called for greater curbs on energy production and consumption for the developed world–notably the United States.

Of course, the Left misses the point: if Western governments embrace the Green policies for reducing greenhouse gases, it will contract the economy and, therefore, weaken the United States. Their goal is to get carbon pollution to “net zero.” But, that’s insane, since carbon dioxide is an essential part of nature. Even if they could do it, without requisite reductions in the developing world, the damage to the United States and other Western states would be immense.

It is also important to note that, under the Trump administration, despite the apocalyptic warnings from Greens everywhere that the decision to pull out of the Obama era Paris Climate Accord, America’s overall greenhouse gas emissions dropped for the first time in decades.

The reason for this fortuitous change is twofold: first, the Trump administration has continued allowing for old and inefficient coal plants to be shuttered. Second, as the older, less efficient coal plants are dismantled, the Trump-supported natural gas revolution has provided the United States with a cheaper–and cleaner–source of energy.

For the record, the Left opposes the natural gas revolution in the United States even more than they oppose coal energy. You see, the Left argues that the fracking process that is behind the natural gas boom in the United States causes the release of methane into the atmosphere–which is an even more toxic element than carbon dioxide is for the environment (never mind that methane is yet another naturally occurring gas on Earth).

Still, the Trump pro-growth policies have contributed to a significant decrease of those dreaded greenhouse gases–more so than any Obama era regulation or climate treaty has.

Does the Left notice or care?

No.

Because it’s not about the environment. Their movement is about punishing the United States; it’s about this Orwellian-sounding “Climate Justice” or, as I’ve heard frequently, “Environmental Justice” movement sweeping the country right now.

Green Is the New Pink: Environmental “Justice”

The buzzword back when I was an undergraduate at DePaul University in Chicago–the tiny Berkley of the Midwest–was “Environmental Justice.” It was a strange and curious sounding term for a boy from Florida. But, my peers seemed quite exercised about the changing climate–and they were all taught by their professors that America and its toxic Western Civilization were the cause.

Over the years, that term has migrated from the Soviet-style quad on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus into the mainstream. “Environmental Justice” is no longer confined to the banal utterances of drug-addled, attention-seeking undergraduates. In a decade, the term is now the basis of environmental policies for supposedly serious political leaders who are as blinkered by socialism as they are blinded by reality (namely, one cannot “save” the environment if one does not have a viable economy).

At the recent Democratic Party presidential debate in Nevada, I heard Bernie Sanders utter this term. Similarly, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has marched under banners with this term printed on it. “Climate Justice” is a key component of AOC’s absurd “Green New Deal” (which, if implemented, will actually wreck the American economy).

Like everything the socialists engage in, “Environmental Justice” is about redistribution of limited resources from one group believed to be the oppressor to another believed to be the oppressed.

So, when governments of the biggest polluting nations in the developing world would tell the Western Leftists to “buzz off!” with their calls for curbing greenhouse gas pollution, the Left heeded the call–because, while you may believe that industrialization, colonization, and Western expansion were just an inevitable part of humans being humans (fallen people whose nature is flawed but fixed), for many on the Left, the West had colonized and oppressed the people of the developing world for centuries because Westerners are more evil than your ordinary human.

And, this rage against the West has its roots in Marxism. I won’t go deep into this problem. You can read Michael Walsh’s excellent books on the issue of Marxism’s rage against the West (here and here). The Marxian criticism of Western culture is that it the West is inherently exploitative; it encourages inequality and it inspires chauvinism, racism, and any other “ism” imaginable under the sun.

The Left wants to tear down the edifices of Western cultural heritage and, therefore, they must deconstruct the entire Western economy, political, and social structure to achieve their perfect Marxist revolution.

The Left reasons that, since the West “got” industrialization first and used that advantage “unfairly” in its relations with the developing world over the centuries, it should “pay” while the developing world “catches up.” This is all for some perceived historical injustice associated with the bogus “costs” of untrammeled industrial development in the West.

Hence, the “justice” part of “Environmental Justice.”

Of course, you and I know that this is insanity masquerading as policy.

But, as I said, this has become mainstream thought on the Left.

Access to cheap, reliable, and abundant energy is the basis of our modern economy. If we lose access to those sources; or rely on expensive methods and it creates a drag on the entire economy that disrupts innovation, growth, and destabilizes politics everywhere. This is precisely what will happen here if the Environmental Justice Warriors have their way with U.S. environmental policies.

So, we’ve answered the “who will pay?” That’s you.

We’ve answered the “how”? Through higher taxes and regulations meant to curb the greenhouse gas productions our society emits on a second-by-second basis.

Now, we move to the “why”?

The Left says we must embrace their (non) solution to Global Climate Change because, if we don’t, the world will end X-amount of years (usually a decade, though now they’ve changed it to vary somewhere between seven and ten years). The oceans will rise; the coasts will flood, it’ll be a terrible Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin film played in reality, etc., etc., etc.

The only solution is rapid, government action, they say.

There are even some who propose the creation of a World Environmental Organization (WEO) that is similar to the World Trade Organization–issuing edicts and punishments for countries, regardless of their size or place in the world, that don’t comport with the carbon-neutral programs of the global Greens.

More government, according to these Greens, equals better protection of the climate.

And yet, under the Green policies, because they will be increasing taxes and be complicating the use of fossil fuels, poverty rates will increase. Standards of living for almost everyone (save the elite) will decline. Growth, prosperity, innovation, all of the stuff that makes life worth living, will be gone.

If our grandparents promised us flying cars and regular visits to Mars, we are promising our grandkids mud huts and regular trips to the local pond to collect the day’s drinking water (while Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio Jetset around the world raking in billions from carbon offsets and other high-end, government-created Ponzi schemes meant to redistribute money from you to them).

Interestingly, mind you, poverty is closely associated with increasing levels of Global Warming.

So, the elite will make us poorer to fight Global Warming but, in making our society poorer, they’ll be contributing more to Global Warming! Again, though, for many of the Leftists who purport to be environmentalists, such as AOC, they are not actually environmentalists at all.

Just as there is a specific definition for “socialism” (which Leftists bend and bastardize to gain more popularity than they ordinarily would enjoy), so too is there an actual definition of “environmentalism.”

If the one-line definition of socialism is, as Swedish economist, John Norberg, defines simply as the government owning the means of production. The one-line definition of environmentalism is, a “concern about, or action aimed at protecting the environment.”

Yet, the actions of self-described environmentalists, like AOC or Bernie Sanders, is not that of someone concerned about, or taking action aimed at protecting the environment. Instead, their beliefs are entirely punitive and wholly inappropriate toward better protecting the environment.

After all, if capitalism is the existential threat to Mother Earth that the Left claims it to be, why is it that the Communists of the Soviet Union or of present-day China presided over some of the dirtiest, most foul, polluting systems in human history?

No, what the world is being overrun by are people who belong to the “Environmental Justice” school of thought–and this is entirely different from someone merely concerned about the environment, seeking to better protect it. For the Greens, this is about punishing success and curbing freedom. It’s never about what they say it’s about.

This is why Václav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic (and a man who lived under communism), told Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institute that structurally the Green movement today is very similar to the Communist movement of yesteryear.

Courtesy of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University.

The fact that their first solution is punitive (raising taxes on people who actually earn a living) and their next solution is self-serving (expanding the power of the State) is the tell.

Is There Really a Climate Crisis?

Still, there is something to the notion that, for the sake of innovation and greater societal development, new sources of energy are needed; that the long-term dependence on fossil fuels might not be best for the world (though, it is no way catastrophic the way that the Left claims). It is also provable that pollution happens and it can be damaging both to humans and their environment.

OK. There was a time in this country when problems could be identified calmly and a rational, logical solution could be crafted. Instead, a problem–pollution–has been blown out-of-proportion by practitioners of a radical ideology who are less interested in saving Gaia than they are in sticking it to you and your family for perceived injustices visited upon the brown and black people of the world centuries ago.

Richard Armitage famously opined that, after 9/11, the George W. Bush Administration’s foreign policy was “hijacked” by a small cadre of radical ideologues–the neoconservatives. Because the post-9/11 Bush foreign policy was wrongly commandeered by the neocons, the War in Afghanistan was basically lost and the country went on a quixotic misadventure into Iraq. Similarly, I believe that today’s radical Greens have hijacked a legitimate movement–to curb pollution in general–and have refashioned that movement into a broad ideological attack on the very foundations of Western Civilization itself.

Fossil fuels are neither evil nor good. They are a means to an end. The end Americans seeks in our usage of fossil fuels is prosperity and freedom. Since fossil fuels provide for the most efficient and cheapest form of energy, we rely on it. Should another source of energy that is either just as good–or better–come along, inevitably, the world will embrace it.

This is the nature of human development: we stick with what we know until we find something better.

You want to see a real “apocalypse”? Try depriving most people of affordable energy during the winter months up north. Or, raise the overall cost of energy on Americans, even by a little, and witness our country’s economic miracle die before our eyes.

The only way to “solve” our pollution woes is to invest in innovation and trust in the American and overall Western ability to use its brainpower and muscle to build a better, newer innovation. And, we can. But, we will do so when the time is right–and as long as it does not jeopardize our economic well-being.

At one time, the world relied on saltpeter as a primary commodity for world markets; it helped to preserve meat and other perishables so that they could be transported and traded in distant marketplaces. Saltpeter also formed a basic component of the primordial defense industries of countries and empires throughout Eurasia.

As Oxford University’s David Cressy wrote in his 2013 book, Saltpeter: The Mother of Gunpowder, it was the commodity of empires. Sir Francis Bacon famously described saltpeter as the, “energizing spirit of the Earth.”

Saltpeter was so important, as Cressy outlines, that the entire world economy and political order was, in a sense, organized around ensuring the great empires of the 14th century–namely, the Spanish, British, and French–had an equitable access to the essential commodity.

Ultimately, saltpeter lost its primacy in world markets. But, saltpeter of long ago was viewed by people in much the same that people today view fossil fuels today. Inevitably, humanity will innovate a new resource that displaces or diminishes the importance of fossil fuels, just as it did with saltpeter.

So, we must separate the idea that problematic pollution is akin to apocalyptic Global Warming. They are not. The former is a real problem that can be ameliorated over time. The latter is a quasi-religious conviction that will never be resolved (because, Global Warming is not real. Pollution is real).

First, the problem of climate change itself must be addressed.

In the United States, no one can agree as to whether or not the phenomenon is even occurring. In 2019, both CBS News and The Washington Post conducted two polls with the Kaiser Family Foundation in which they asked Americans whether or not they believed in “climate change.”

A whopping 75 percent said that they believed that Climate Change was real.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of those polled claim the human activity causes “a lot” of the damage to the climate.

Also, 64 percent believe Climate Change is a “serious crisis.”

And, 56 percent of Americans believe that should “act on Climate Change right now.”

Most scientists polled believe that Climate Change is real and that humanity is the cause.

Of course, there are cleavages that go unnoticed in the media (because those same corporate interests supporting “Green” initiatives own most of the media). For example, many people–specifically scientists–would likely agree with the statement that “mankind has an impact on his environment.” But, many would quibble about the extent.

Since the 1960s, a sort of apocalyptic vision of the environment has gripped the minds of the American Left like some untreated neurosis. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which was first published in 1962 and documented the pervasive use of synthetic pesticides, such as DDT, by the U.S. government as being a source grave health risks to Americans.

Outcry from this work resulted in the banning of DDT chemicals. Whatever downsides to those chemicals there are, however, understand that DDT actually did help to reduce the threat of malaria and other diseases.

The most damaging work to come out of this period of apocalyptic environmentalism, though, was Paul Ehrlich’s work, The Population Bomb in 1968 (which led to other books building on Ehrlich’s themes), in which environmentalists argued humanity had pushed the natural limits of its environment on Earth and now central government action was required to curb excess growth in humanity.

It is from this strain of thought–what many conservatives today placidly refer to as “climate alarmists”–that today’s “Environmental Justice” warriors take inspiration.

Again, the idea that Mankind impacts his environment is a fair point. It is one that President Donald Trump recently conceded when authorized the planting of one trillion trees in the United States, as a sort of natural carbon offset. Trump was derided by the ecochondriacs on the Left. Although, if carbon dioxide is the leading pollutant on Earth, would it not be reasonable to expedite the planting of the world’s oldest, most efficient carbon dioxide filtration system–trees?

Trump’s policy initiative was announced in the 2020 State of the Union Address. Despite what the malignant socialists on social media argued, Trump’s tree-planting policy is based in actual science. In 2015, Dr. Thomas Crowther and his team conducted a deep study on the potential impacts of planting a trillion trees. They determined that the reforestation of Earth would cancel out at least a decade’s worth of carbon pollution.

Although, Crowther did add that one must also curb the use of nonrenewable fuels and the consumption of meat as a means of reducing greenhouse gases in the aggregate. But, whatever disagreements we may have with Dr. Crowther on curbing meat consumption (no, thanks), obviously most rational people can agree that if planting more trees will help mitigate the pollution problem, we can–and should–do it.

Elon Musk, the zany innovator who co-founded Pay-Pal and is the leader of SpaceX and Tesla, has also tweeted his support for similar proposals over the years.

Such incremental moves are ideologically insufficient for the radical Greens. Planting trees will in no way deconstruct Western Civilization!

In medicine, doctors are required to take the Hippocratic oath, which states, “First, do no harm.” This principle ensures that, no matter what condition a patient may be in when the doctor comes to treat that patient, the doctor’s number one duty is not to make the patient sicker.

Similarly, policymakers should be made to take the Hippocratic Oath–particularly when it comes to managing environmental policy. Unfortunately, they are not. That is why we have politicians like AOC or Bernie Sanders who, rather than heal, seek to harm. Those who advocate for the total destruction of American energy to “save Mother Earth” are more like Dr. Harold Shipman, an English country physician who took pleasure in killing his patients (he murdered at least 215 patients from 1975-1998).

The Left claims our emissions are killing Mother Earth.

But, as the works of Paul Ehrlich and other apocalyptic thinkers prove, the Left also believes that ordinary people need to have their freedom curtailed in order to reengineer the society into accepting the need for fewer children and massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Robert Heilbronner’s An Inquiry Into the Human Prospect from 1974 explicitly makes this case). Heilbronner, Ehrlich, and today’s Greens want to curb your freedom to ensure environmental sustainability (which, as you’ve seen, is actually a cover for simply ending our purportedly decadent and oppressive society).

Today’s Greens argue that the situation is dire.

The Earth is warming and the seas are rising. And only decisive (ha!) government–and intergovernmental–action can stop the deterioration before it’s too late. Terms like “tipping point” are mindlessly bandied about. (Although, the Greens should be careful: if we’ve already passed the tipping point, then it really doesn’t matter what we do; we are all doomed to be annihilated in a decade or so. Why make the last years of our lives miserable then?)

Let’s just take their claims at face-value for the sake of argument. We do know that, since the turn of the twentieth century, various articles have been printed (well before the initial concerns about Climate Change were popularized in the 1970s under the title of “Global Cooling” by Newsweek) in mainstream publications cautioning about the risk of human-produced Climate Change.

We can take that one of two ways: either the environmentalists have been crying “Wolf!” for more than a century, or there may be something to their claims.

Human emissions output is higher generally than it has ever been, or at least that has been the consensus of most of the scientific community for years.

Understand also that there are major arguments between the Left and Right, not only on whether Global Warming is real, but even if the data undergirding it is accurate.

For example, Mark Steyn, a brilliant polemicist on the Right has made an effective case against Michael E. Mann’s infamous “Hockey Stick” graph from 1999. Mann’s work was extensively used in Al Gore’s horrendous 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (which, as a senior in high school my peers and I were forced to watch because academic freedom…or something).

Mann’s “Hockey Stick” chart supposedly proves how humanity’s unrestrained carbon pollution will negatively impact the environment over time. Steyn claimed in an artful way that Mann manipulated and cherrypicked data to make a political point; that Mann abused his status as a scientist and violated academic and ethical standards in the process.

Mann ultimately sued a Canadian think tank for republishing Steyn’s claims. Mann won a retraction from the Canadian group (because of Canada’s “Free Speech” laws). He has since sued Mark Steyn for the aforementioned creative takedown piece in the pages of National Review.

For the sake of this piece, though, I’m going to just avoid the pitfalls of refereeing these arguments and hew as closely as I can to the Left’s dominant argument that greenhouse gases are a huge problem for humanity and the Earth (because it should be clear by now that, even if the Left is generally correct about Climate Change, the problem is not apocalyptic and the solutions need not be punitive).

Here is a chart from ACS, a group which purports to be the world’s “largest scientific society.” They represent the scientific field of chemistry and their organization was chartered by U.S. Congress in 1876:

Looking at a longer timescale, to when industrialization began belching out those dreaded greenhouse gases more than 150 years ago, one can make the argument that humanity is fundamentally impacting its environment by changing the makeup of chemicals in our environment (adding more carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone than what existed on Earth at any single moment before).

Carbonic acid levels in the oceans have been detected at higher-than-normal levels in the last few decades, which is believed to have eroded the coral reefs. It is probably fair to say that humanity is having an impact.

Of course, despite what Climate Change proponents argue, there is evidence to suggest that solar output from the sun plays a large factor in the warming and cooling of the planet.

Still, for the sake of argument, let us assume that humanity does have an impact–some good, some bad–on his environment.

Meanwhile, we know that humanity has produced other pollutants that have negatively impacted the environment. For example, humanity has produced plastics at expedited rates. Due to this, there are massive–and growing–levels of plastic in the oceans.

Phytoplankton, the building blocks of the ocean’s ecosystem, are tiny critters which absorb carbon dioxide and help produce around 20 percent of the world’s oxygen. Without the phytoplankton, the plants and, therefore, the fish soon die, causing terminal loss of the ecosystem.

It has since been theorized that the plankton eating the plastic in the ocean basically get into the food chain, not just in the oceans, but ultimately in the human food chain–meaning that we now have been ingesting toxic chemicals from plastics for decades.

This is a negative human interaction with its environment and it is the result of our industry.

Yet, is this the end of the world?

AOC and her supporters would tell us we have seven-to-ten years to act in a way as irresponsible as we have acted in regards to polluting the atmosphere with our excess industrial emissions. Her solution (and Bernie’s) would be curb your freedom, stymie your potential prosperity, all to give government the power to “protect” the environment from humanity (and, to be clear, the Left means you and not them).

But, this will do nothing because it doesn’t address the problem.

Let’s use some basic deductive reasoning.

If human technological development and industry caused the imbalance in our ecosystem, wouldn’t human technological innovation proffer the best solution. It would seem obvious that the answer would be, “yes” (and it is). But, to the Environmental Justice crowd, that is not so. Last year, as AOC was screeching about her “Green New Deal,” she refused to acknowledge real technological innovation as a potential offset to the perceived problems of Climate Change.

Let’s look at the plastic example.

The solution to our plastic-in-the-ocean problem, contrary to AOC, is not to empower government to tax and spend our way to oblivion. It is for the public and private sectors to work in tandem with each other and foster innovation to ameliorate the problem.

Morgan Vague of Reed College is a perfect example of what we should be doing to address the pollution problem (without destroying our society, as AOC would do). She was experimenting in a science lab on campus and may have created a plastic-eating bacteria.

Here’s Morgan Vague, the Reed student who invented the bacteria at Ted Talk on the matter in 2018:

Courtesy of TedX Talks, 2018.

FYI: There’s no mention for supporting the scaling up of Morgan Vague’s innovation in the “Green New Deal.” Bernie Sanders and his fellow doomsayers in the Democratic Party won’t even acknowledge that one of the gravest threats to life on Earth–plastic pollution in our oceans–may have a viable, natural remedy…all thanks to human (specifically, in this case, American) ingenuity.

The Left’s dogma consistently trumps up the apocalyptic fear-mongering, in order to scare enough Americans into voting to give their rights and future prosperity away to a bunch of bumbling bureaucrats in Washington (as well as their dutiful attendants in corporate America).

On a bevy of key innovations that might mitigate the very threat that the Left claims to be existential and near-term, the Democratic Party falls woefully short.

On Carbon Capture, something that Democrats had been calling for since the 1980s, AOC recklessly decreed the technology “not feasible.”

All of her years studying the proper mixture of a Cosmopolitan at bartending school must have prepared her well to make that assertion to the public. And if she learned the intricacies of environmental science and technology innovation at bartending school, I’d like its name, because learning to make a proper Old Fashioned and studying the benefits of technological innovation sounds utterly spectacular to me!

Although, something tells me that her scientific training is even less thorough than the cursory knowledge her economics degree from Boston University provided her.

As I described in the pages of The American Spectator last year:

The concept behind carbon capture is that excess carbon produced from human industry can be physically captured in its gaseous state and then converted into a containable material. Until recently, carbon capture has been a dream of many environmentalists. But the previous way of doing carbon capture was not economical and environmentally dangerous. The new concept is both cost effective and relatively safe for the environment. Rather than turn carbon into liquid (which took excessive heat to accomplish) to be stored in environmentally unsafe containers underground, the new method will convert carbon into a physical, coal-like state which can be stored in a safer and cheaper way.

Last year, a team of researchers operating at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia found:

new technique for carbon capture using a liquid metal electrolysis method, “effectively converting CO2 from a gas into solid particles of carbon.” Writing in the scientific journal, Nature Communications, the researchers claim their carbon capture method “offers an alternative pathway for safely and permanently removing CO2 from the atmosphere.”

We have been told that carbon emissions are the killer of our planet’s environment. It sounds to me like our science is feverishly working on stopping the murder of our environment without killing our industrial and technological growth.

But, the Environmental Justice warriors are more interested in punishing America’s success for some sense of historical grievance so any technology that would allow for Americans to have their proverbial cake and eat it is unacceptable.

Anyway, if you’re not an apocalyptic Liberal about the environment, you quickly realize that technology and innovation are the solutions to the problem of “Climate Change” (and that “Climate Change” is not a thing, but pollution, obviously, is a problem–one that is perfectly manageable without obliterating our economy and society).

I realize my fellow Republicans won’t want to hear this. But, it’s time to address the problem head on.

What’s more, it’s time for us to recognize that Climate Change is completely manageable–and that if we don’t take the field and fight the Environmental Justice-types, we’ll lose the debate by default and leave the radicals in charge (which will lead to our actual demise).

So, is there a “Climate Crisis”? No.

Is there a “Pollution Problem”?

Yes.

Is the problem manageable or should we start heading to the bunkers?

The problem is totally manageable and it’s not the end of the world–and anyone trying to sell that line to you is likely a huckster.

Innovate or Die

Here is where the work of Mazzucato comes into play: The U.S. government can–and should–do much to spur the innovative process along (as it did for the technology and telecommunications industries in the last century). Yet, government must be careful not to waste precious resources at a time when the national debt is larger than the entire nation’s GDP.

The U.S. government has attempted to move on next generation fuel technology for decades. Since former President Jimmy Carter first announced America’s “malaise”–around the same time that the United States experienced the infamous “oil embargo” imposed upon the country from OPEC due to America’s support for Israel–the government has striven to invest in alternative energy sources that would mitigate America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

During his presidency, for example, Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the rooftop of the White House. Like so much of the Left-wing activism masquerading as “environmentalism” today, though, the Carter era attempts to wean the country off foreign sources of fossil fuel proved ineffective.

Yet, American leaders have consistently chased the dream of alternative energies.

Notably, a succession of U.S. presidents (from both parties) have dumped countless amounts of U.S. tax dollars into the “sustainable” alternative energy technologies of wind and solar power.

After decades of trying, neither wind nor solar have panned out.

Instead, like the major corporations investing in “Green” initiatives, American firms in the wind and solar energy markets engaged in shameless rent-seeking behavior.

We saw this with Solyndra, a startup specializing in solar power production.

Run by a group of major Democratic Party donors–specifically, people who donated great sums of money to Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012–Solyndra ended up being a massive loss for the U.S. taxpayer.

In fact, specifically, the former George W. Bush Administration had recommended that U.S. government funding be cut for Solyndra, as there was no hope that the firm could turn a profit, no matter how much time or tax dollars the enterprise was given.

The owners of Solyndra became ardent supporters of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama and, suddenly, the Bush Administration’s decision to end support for the firm was reversed. The Solyndra deception could only last so long, however. This was especially the case when China decided to bottom out the market by mass-producing solar panels and then flooding them into the market, killing what little chances the solar power company had at making money.

Both wind and Earth-based solar energy suffer the same problem as well: intermittency.

Essentially, there is never going to be enough wind or sunlight to keep these systems powered, meaning there will be interruptions in the power flow. As this occurs, the cost of energy will spike, and ordinary energy consumers will suffer. We see this in Europe, where they are more reliant on wind and solar energy than the United States and, on average, those European countries that rely on either wind or solar power have higher prices of energy on average than the United States.

Hilariously, a recent Axios “newsflash” claimed that 47 percent of its energy is produced by wind power. Mind you, Denmark has been investing in wind power since 1975–and in 2020 it is only just now getting to 47 percent production level. What the Axios snapshot (as usual) did not provide was necessary context for its readers.

Namely, that while Denmark has become the example par excellence for most American Leftists (though, according to Denmark’s leaders, they’d appreciate it if Bernie Sanders and his supporters would stop using “socialist slurs” when describing their bucolic Northern European country), the cost of energy for ordinary consumers is much higher compared to the energy costs for most ordinary Americans.

Here are some graphs, courtesy of OVO Energy (because, science):

Courtesy of OVO Energy, 2011. The stats have not changed that much between 2011 and 2020, fyi. Denmark is super expensive compared to the United States.

Here’s another graph from the same study, adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity (PPP):

Again, the U.S. is far cheaper for energy costs to consumers than Denmark. Courtesy of OVO Energy, 2011.

As Michael Shellenberger, noted environmentalist and skeptic of wind and solar power, has argued, the reason that neither wind nor solar have managed to replace fossil fuels in any meaningful way is because they were never intended to.

For political reasons, the American Left has lifted the technology–wind and solar–that was merely meant to diversify America’s dependence on fossil fuels into a complete alternative to those fossil fuels. This is something the inventors of the technology never intended (and it is something entirely unfeasible, given current energy demands by human society).

Meanwhile, technologies that really could help to offset America’s dependence on fossil fuels (and alleviate the purported negative impacts that greenhouse gases are having on the Earth’s environment), such as nuclear energy, are left to languish by the very same Leftists who insist that the end is nigh lest we fundamentally change our evil, fossil fuel-consuming ways.

Cognitive dissonance abounds from these people. Because, again, for the Greens it’s not about solving the pollution problem. Their goals are political and philosophical and entirely inimical to the interests of ordinary Americans.

The same Leftists who tell us to “accept science” refuse to acknowledge actual science proving that neither wind nor solar are viable alternatives to fossil fuel for human society.

These are also the same science-lovers who repeatedly deny the facts supporting the need for nuclear energy.

It’s almost as if they don’t want to effectively solve the problem they have identified as our greatest threat today (kind of like how certain elected Republicans never really planned on overturning Obamacare, because it was such a hot topic that they could consistently fundraise on the act of overturning it during their various campaigns rather than actually overturning it once they had power. Funny how that works, isn’t it?)

Just as with the plastic pollution problem, technology and innovation are the key to potential resolutions. Today, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, or with the resurgence in popularity of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown in the Soviet Union (due to the fantastic HBO miniseries of the same name), few would dare to embrace nuclear energy right now. Of course, what happened in both the Chernobyl and Fukushima reactor meltdowns is not the norm for nuclear energy. What’s more there are various types of nuclear energy–all of which demand investment and development.

There are two types of nuclear energy: fission and fusion.

The former is the most common type of nuclear energy and the former is a theoretical construct. Fission creates energy by splitting the atom and fusion creates energy by combining two smaller nuclei together (usually deuterium and tritium) to form a heavier nuclei.

Then there is Cold Fusion, which “claims to release measurable energy from fusion reactions at or near room temperature when deuterium is dissolved in a solid, usually palladium metal.” Cold fusion is extremely zany, though, and I will avoid detailing it here.

In terms of fission, the United States has not built a new nuclear fission plant in 20 years. It had projects ongoing in South Carolina and Georgia, but South Carolina shuttered its program. The reason is because building nuclear reactors is an expensive undertaking in the United States.

Unlike France, a country that relies heavily on nuclear energy (with no real problems), the United States has little standardization for nuclear reactors. In France, there is one, state-owned nuclear energy company–which helps to keep costs down (though I am generally not a fan of nationalization).

Another issue facing nuclear fission power plants today is that the upfront costs, in terms of investment and construction are extremely high. Plus, the discount rate, which is defined as, “A piece of calculation of overall energy cost that reflects the capital costs of a project.” Its high construction costs in the United States means nuclear energy is “more handicapped than natural gas or coal-fired plants.” The discount rate in the U.S. is 12.5 percent whereas it is 8 percent in France and only 2 percent in Japan.

There’s also the matter of policy. It’s interesting: the Greens focus all of their efforts on changing policy in order to prompt larger changes to the society and its economy (none for the better, as I’ve shown). Yet, the one area where actual changes at the policy level–the construction of nuclear fission reactors–would beneficial, the Greens are utterly silent.

This is especially galling when one considers the fact that Greens rage against our carbon output and nuclear energy produces zero carbon pollution. One would think that, if American Greens were serious about resolving pollution, then they would do whatever they could at the policy level to ensure that a powerful energy source that emitted zero carbon pollution would be given whatever it needed to mature as an industry.

Alas, this lack of movement from the Left on the matter of making nuclear energy cheaper and more accessible is yet another sign of how unserious about stopping “Global Warming” they really are.

As Vox assessed in 2016:

breakthrough came in 1963 with GE’s contract to build a low-cost light-water reactor at Oyster Creek, New Jersey. By the late 1960s, overnight construction costs for new reactors had dropped to $600 to $900/kW in today’s dollars — cheaper than modern gas plants. Atomic energy was on a roll.

But then … things got messy. As utilities ordered more reactors, supply chains for parts and skilled labor became stressed, causing delays and cost hikes. Meanwhile, both industry and environmentalists were finding new safety issues to deal with. Early core cooling systems had flaws and required upgrades. California’s reactors needed earthquake contingency plans. Most of these changes, Lovering says, were ultimately good things — they made the reactors safer.

But the process unfolded haphazardly. Rules and requirements sometimes changed midway through construction. That meant delays. And delays are crippling for any big, labor-intensive project. Idling workers and equipment can lead to massive budget overruns. By the early 1970s, nuclear construction costs had risen to $1,800 to $2,500/kW in today’s dollars — about the cost of modern wind farms.

Additional woes followed. In its 1971 Calvert Cliffs decision, the DC Circuit Court ordered nuclear regulators to change their rules to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. That opened the door for citizen lawsuits to intervene in the licensing and construction process, sometimes causing further slowdowns.

Then nuclear suffered a mortal blow after the much-publicized (but nonfatal) meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. Every reactor still under construction at the time — 51 in total — suddenly faced major regulatory delays, changes in safety procedures, and new back-fit requirements. Construction times doubled, stretching out past 10 years.

After that, nuclear power in the United States was moribund. Utilities, scared off by soaring costs and stagnating electricity demand, canceled more than 120 reactor orders. The wave of utility deregulation started in the 1970s disfavored large, expensive plants. Not a single new reactor began construction between 1978 and 2013. Instead, coal and natural gas dominated the grid — and CO2 emissions soared.

Despite the costs to nuclear energy producers today, though, the examples of France, Japan, Canada, and especially South Korea all indicate that there are ways to not just embrace nuclear energy but to drastically reduce the start-up costs for traditional nuclear fission reactors.

Vox correctly argued for four points to make the reduction in costs on traditional nuclear energy possible:

  1. Create stable regulations to manage the nuclear energy sector.
  2. Standardization is essential (it might be necessary to nationalize the nuclear energy sector, as it is in France and South Korea).
  3. Build more than one nuclear reactor at the same site.
  4. Lastly, small nuclear reactors may be the best solution to the cost woes.

It is this last bullet point that bears exploring a bit more. Right now, there is a company called NuScale that is working feverishly on partnering with the Department of Energy to build small nuclear modular reactors.

Here is an excellent video detailing what they are trying to do:

Courtesy of Seeker.

The Small Nuclear Modular Reactor (SMR) is the wave of the future and the United States is, yet again, behind. Both Russia and China are heavily invested in developing this technology. In fact, Russia and China both view this technology in geopolitical terms.

For Russia, they can sell this technology to the highest bidder (and they need the money these days). What’s more, since 2008, the Russian government has been dedicated to gaining primacy in the Arctic. Due to this, their outposts in that desolate and hard place need energy–small nuclear reactors have been deployed aboard ships to support their ongoing development and military expansion programs up there.

China, meanwhile, is working to build SMRs to place them on their illegally manmade islands in the South China Sea. Once their controversial military outposts in international waters are made energy independent, Beijing believes that they will have reduced a weakness that the Americans would exploit during a crisis (depriving the far flung and tiny island outposts of power, in order to stunt their military usefulness to Beijing during an international crisis).

The Americans are not committed enough to nuclear energy and this has decisively negative ramifications for the United States, as it seeks to become an energy independent state that maintains clean and efficient and sustainable new sources of energy. The SMRs that NuScale is producing could be the solution we’ve been looking for: they require less space and they are less dangerous than conventional nuclear fission reactors. Further, they are cheaper and scaleable. And the Department of Energy is interested in supporting them, meaning the all-threatening risk factors are mitigated, making long-term private investment more tenable.

Then there is the matter of nuclear fusion itself. If one looks at nuclear fusion research and design, many will hear the skeptics joke that, “Nuclear fusion is always 30 years away.” That number has certainly been bandied about since the 1950s. Yet, today, there is real movement in the area of nuclear fusion research and design. Again, American rivals, such as China, are heavily invested in nuclear fusion R&D. As are the Europeans. The Americans, typically, are lax on the matter, giving up the almighty first-mover advantage.

Here is a 2014 Ted Talk that might explain more:

Courtesy of Ted Talks, 2014.

Since this talk, ITER is preparing for a first plasma in 2025. As ITER reported as of December last year:

In November 2017, the project passed the halfway mark to First Plasma. (More here.) Today, project execution to First Plasma stands at 67.3 percent (December 2019 data).

ITER Timeline:

  • 2005 Decision to site the project in France
  • 2006 Signature of the ITER Agreement
  • 2007 Formal creation of the ITER Organization
  • 2007-2009 Land clearing and levelling
  • 2010-2014 Ground support structure and seismic foundations for the Tokamak
  • 2012 Nuclear licensing milestone: ITER becomes a Basic Nuclear Installation under French law 
  • 2014-2021 Construction of the Tokamak Building (access for assembly activities in 2019)
  • 2008-2021Manufacturing of principal First Plasma components
  • 2010-2021 Construction of the ITER plant and auxiliary buildings for First Plasma
  • 2015-2023 Largest components are transported along the ITER Itinerary 
  • 2020-2025 Main assembly phase I
  • 2022 Torus completion
  • 2024 Cryostat closure
  • 2024-2025 Integrated commissioning phase (commissioning by system starts several years earlier)
  • Dec 2025 First Plasma
  • 2025-2035 Progressive ramp-up of the machine
  • 2035 Deuterium-Tritium Operation begins

Of course, there are other programs. But, the fact that there is so much interest in the technology now indicates a clear commitment on the party of many people to work toward achieving this noble goal. Then again, the deuterium-tritium-type fusion is not the only form of nuclear fusion. You see, deuterium-tritium reactions are difficult for various reasons. Another element that can be used (but is difficult to find on Earth) is an isotope found throughout the Solar System (on the moon, for example) known as Helium-3 (He-3).

Many scientists today pooh-pooh the acquisition of He-3. But, as I argue in my forthcoming book, Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower due out later this year from Republic Book Publishers, it only makes sense to seek out He-3, now that the Trump administration is fully invested in space. Already, the president has indicated a willingness to exploit space for material gain. He-3 could prove to be the basis of a budding new space mining economy which, at minimum, is worth $1 trillion.

Should someone manage to harvest He-3, a small canister of refined He-3 could potentially power a city the size of Manhattan–cleanly–for a decade before needing to be replaced. If the He-3 isotope were used rather than deuterium-tritium, nuclear fusion could fundamentally transform our society. Of course, this requires the United States taking to the stars and claiming territory there. While the president has insisted that this is the objective of his new space program, there are still several hurdles to overcome.

In any event, nuclear is the best hope for America’s energy woes.

Speaking of space, there is one more concept that could be of assistance. I’ve detailed how terrestrial-based solar power won’t work. But, space-based solar power (SBSP) is an entirely different matter. In 2007, the George W. Bush administration released a report detailing the national security implications of SBSP. Several months ago, Dr. Jim Rice, formerly of NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity mission program, detailed in these pages about the interest that Chinese scientists have expressed over the last few years about SBSP at various international conferences.

Developed in the late 1960s by an American scientist, SBSP is a concept which is somewhat different from solar power as you may understand it. Rather than placing solar panels on Earth’s surface and hope that there’s enough sunlight to power the solar panels, SBSP brings the sun closer to Earth. By placing solar collectors in geosynchronous orbit around the Earth, the solar energy is collected and then beamed back to solar panels on Earth in the form of microwave radiation. This, then, negates the issue of intermittency that I discussed earlier in this piece.

SBSP is particularly attractive to the military because it would allow them to maneuver energy satellites into a position over the Earth and then beam that energy–uninterrupted–to a unit or base. This is why the Chinese are so interested in the technology. SBSP is clean, efficient, and sustainable. Of course, the matter of beaming microwave radiation through the upper atmosphere is an issue in need of deeper investigation and analysis. Yet, clearly, there is something to this design scheme.

The world is clearly moving away from its fossil fuel paradigm.

As I wrote in the pages of Quillette two years ago:

By 2030, nearly one-third of all vehicles (around 320 million worldwide) on America’s roadways will be electric.

Tesla is heavily committed to solar energy (although I think Tesla’s resources would be better spent on space-based solar power) to power their cars. One way or the other, most analysts assume that the United States will have a more diversified energy portfolio by 2030 than it presently does. Today, there is a pullback occurring in the natural gas development market due to excessive debt. Oil shale is also taking a production hit. Over time, fossil fuels won’t be the only game in town.

With the electric car revolution fully underway (unlike what happened in the 1990s), the need to have an energy sector that can affordably meet the increased demand in energy will be paramount. At present, the energy grid is antedated. The more electric cars there are, placing excess demand on America’s ailing energy grid, the more damage the country will incur. Thus, an infrastructure bill that incorporates a redesign of America’s energy grid is key. Yet, just as with investing in actual environmentally-friendly energy tech, the Left refuses to work with the president on a meaningful infrastructure bill.

Each moment we delay in upgrading our infrastructure and making it ready to meet the needs for sustainable energy consumption is another moment that we fall behind other countries that are working to make their countries more competitive in the energy market.

These are just a few ideas for going forward.

The Left does not support any of them, despite the fact that any of them would mitigate the very issue they claim will be our destruction (unless we cede more power and control over to them). Nuclear energy, space-based solar; modernizing the energy grid; investing in new innovations that will mitigate the effects of pollution on our environment–all of these are possible today. Yet, we do not have visionary leaders to address these concerns. What we have are demagogues masquerading as “problem-solvers.” The Greens will not solve our problems because the Greens are not interested in doing anything constructive. Their goal is destruction.

Once most people realize this fact they will understand why conservatives oppose the Greens. It’s not about the environment, it’s about power. Taxing middle-class and working-class folks to stop the Earth from flooding is absurd. If you want real solutions to manageable problems, such as pollution, what I discussed is what we need to do.

It’s not a “Green New Deal,” it’s a “Pink Raw Deal.” Don’t support these ecochondriacs. Vote for realistic solutions to manageable problems.

©2020, The Weichert Report. All Rights Reserved.

2 Comments

  1. I could also put online pictures of beautiful scenes, ducks enjoying the great outdoors, animals playing, plants en masse, and much more pristine beauty in nature. It’s a matter of what you’re looking for. In a thousand years, people will still be talking about the end times like they’ve done for thousands of years. In the mean time, how can we help our neighbors, raise our children, and prepare for opportunities? What great things might still be ahead?

    Like

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