With a new presidential administration comes new policies. One of the main policies that President Joe Biden’s team wants to reverse, supposedly, is Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Obama era Paris Climate Accord.
This is a very bad idea.
Not because anthropogenic climate change isn’t real. It’s fairly obvious that it is…and the Republican Party has wrongly abandoned the climate policy arena to the Left by claiming that Global Warming isn’t real.
The problem with the Paris Climate Agreement is that the program is insufficient for curbing the emissions that most scientists believe are responsible for Climate Change.
There are four main greenhouse gases that are believed to be the culprit of Global Warming: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and Ozone (O3). These are the four emissions made by human activity.
If we could curb these emissions, humanity could stop the fundamental changes to the environment that threaten to upset our delicate ecosystem. Scientists and most politicians in the West have argued that the United States, Europe, and most “First World” countries must curb their emissions by basically taxing and regulating the industries that emit the noxious greenhouse gases that are changing the environment.
The problems with this approach are twofold: first, it wrongly targets Western states, which have already made rapid advances in curbing its unwanted emissions—whereas countries like China, India, Brazil, and others—have only increased the production of greenhouse gases. Second, it does little to address the need to maintain affordable growth.
Curbing Western emissions through higher taxes and regulations would serve to only do grave harm to our economies while leaving a space for competitors, like China, to exploit.
A better approach for the United States and its allies is not to punish the industries that undergird our economy. Instead, the solution is to encourage innovation through investment into high-tech research and development, specifically those technologies that could ameliorate the contamination of the Earth’s environment.
Alternative energy sources, like nuclear (both traditional fission and fusion), solar power (specifically, space-based solar power), and hydropower are all alternative energies worthy of a national investment.
Beyond that, rather than regulating and taxing current emission-producing industries—which will all negatively impact the already-struggling average American consumer—why not invest in tech like carbon capture?
Back in 2018, when Representative Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) was pushing her Green New Deal, she bizarrely stated that the technology was not feasible.
Writing in The American Spectator at the time, I challenged her assertions and found several academic papers proving that the technology was not only feasible, but it was also being actively developed.
One program that I noted of at the time was a project over at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, which essentially converts CO2 from gas into solid particles of carbon.
According to researchers writing about the RMIT University project in Nature Communications, “[RMIT University’s] carbon capture method offers an alternative pathway for safety and permanently removing CO2 from the atmosphere.” Here is an innovation worthy of investment. It is one that could be purchased by existing emitters of carbon, for example, and placed on their factories. This would have a positive impact in reducing overall carbon emissions.
There are other technologies, too, that are worthy of investigation and investment. There’s also the bacteria that can eat plastic, which would do wonders for removing unwanted plastics from the ocean and our environment. This is an innovation worthy of federal investment that can not only save our environment but also possibly make the United States an innovation hub in climate science.
My grave fear, however, is that the Biden team will simply reimpose the Paris Climate Agreement that will drastically raise prices on ordinary Americans by forcing the government to impose onerous restrictions and regulations on companies who are deemed “polluters” (many of which just so happen to be essential for the growth and productivity of the United States).
It’s telling that the People’s Republic of China, which was vociferously opposed to the Paris Climate Accords until they were given guarantees by the former Obama Administration and international community that they would not be held to the same rigorous standards that the Western states would be held to, has recognized the dangers that pollution and Climate Change poses for their country. Has Beijing decided to kill their emitting industries, though?
Instead, Beijing is offering incentives to build out alternative energy even as they continue relying on traditional, cheaper forms of energy production to continue their meteoric growth rates.
China’s leaders understand that the key to political power and domestic tranquility—and national greatness—is a robust and growing economy. An economy that is built on innovation but also on judicious investment appears to be the way forward for China.
It’s a pro-growth strategy whereas the American strategy is punitive and will lead to the destruction of the US economy.
For instance, China is now home to one of the hottest-burning Tokamak nuclear fusion reactors in the world. They are doubling-down on this investment, believing it to be key for their necessary transition away from fossil fuel-burning technology and toward something more sustainable.
China is also increasing their investment in electric vehicles and building out the infrastructure necessary to support EVs.
As I note in my recent book from Republic Book Publishers, Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, China is heavily invested in space-based solar energy. This technology, unlike terrestrial-based solar energy, is revolutionary because it places collectors, satellites, in geosynchronous orbit.
These collectors are exposed to perpetual sunlight and then transmit their solar energy back to receivers on the ground, usually in a desert, such as the Gobi Desert in this case, in the form of microwave radiation. This cuts down on the intermittency problems that has long plagued traditional solar energy.
It’s also a strategic technology in that the Chinese could theoretically beam power to any location on Earth—such as their controversial manmade islands in the South China Sea, which are in dire need always of resources from the mainland (and which can be blockaded at any moment by the superior U.S. Navy).
Even traditional solar energy, though, is a key investment of China’s. After all, it was China that was the reason for the death of former President Barack Obama’s pet solar energy project, Solyndra. Obama’s support for this controversial company—which was run by political cronies of Obama’s—harmed him in the 2012 reelection.
Despite all of the copious American tax dollars that Solyndra received, it never once produced a product that was worthy of the public investiture. Once China saw that the US government was getting behind Solyndra, Beijing decided to use their mass-production industrial capabilities to collapse the price of solar panels and made Solyndra a total slag heap.
Space-based solar is a worthier investment because it is something that China will not be able to easily do and it is also a strategic benefit. Imagine being able to beam clean and efficient energy to distant bases around the world. These are the opportunities that await us.
Then there’s hydropower, which as we’ve seen with the controversial Three Gorges Dam, China is massively interested in developing. Using the natural power of water—under which 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered—is another retro idea whose time has finally come.
The Europeans, too, have developed their own hydropower capabilities. And we did it back in the 1930s with the Hoover Dam, for instance. With so much water being abundant in North America, we should do it again.
Traditional nuclear fission technology is also essential. The last American nuclear plant was built in the 1970s (though in 2016, construction on a new plant had started) An inordinate fear of nuclear energy has caused us to digress decades into the polluting fossil fuels of yesterday.
Everyone on the Left keeps talking about the need for cheap, clean alternative energy. We’ve had access to it for decades. But, we’ve refused to use it. Former President Barack Obama, current President Joe Biden’s former boss, hated nuclear energy. We’ve needed it for a while.
Will Biden have the courage to defy his base and invest in this critical technology?
Fears of a nuclear meltdown are overblown. There’ve only been a handful of incidents in the history of nuclear power, most recently the Fukushima meltdown in Japan in 2010.
Not only has Japan abandoned this promising technology but Germany, which was once a premier nuclear energy producer, also discontinued their use of the supposedly controversial energy source in the wake of Fukushima. Ever since that time, sadly, energy costs have increased on ordinary German consumers (which would be replicated in the United States).
An American ally, like France, has been home to a large and reliable network of traditional nuclear fission reactors since the 1970s. They, too, understand the need to go clean on energy without throwing the productivity baby out with the fossil fuel bathwater.
The real disagreement between Right and Left today is—though publicly they won’t say it—a matter of degrees. The Left, as represented by people like AOC and Bernie Sanders, insist upon onerous regulations and taxation. They want to discourage the use of fossil fuels by artificially raising the price via taxes and regulations.
Recently, President Biden has blocked the KeystoneXL pipeline, which has contributed significantly to American job creation and would have furthered American energy independence. In fact, the Biden plans for America’s energy production will impinge upon the historic independence that the previous Trump Administration helped to foster. It will also harm average energy consumers, like my family, which has enjoyed historically low prices at the pump over the last four years. This will most certainly be reversed by Biden’s declared policies.
The Left has striven to kill these industries without offering a viable, immediate alternative.
There is a space here for the Right to claim ownership of this issue while coming across as the more rational party. Yet, the Republican Party and most conservatives—most of whom are enthralled by special interests inimical to alternative energy—refuse to take this opportunity.
The Democrats’ focus on renewable energies, like traditional solar and wind power, is insufficient for meeting the energy demands of a modern and large country like the United States (high energy costs plague the Nordic countries that have happily embraced wind).
And the plague of rolling blackouts due to intermittency from both wind and traditional solar power is a continual reminder of how much of a poor substitute for fossil fuels that wind and traditional solar currently are.
Then there is the added issue that those countries that have embraced a Green economy, such as Spain, have seen a precipitous decline in employment opportunities. Spain’s economy collapsed, in part, because there were fewer employment opportunities in the Green economy.
These jobs required higher levels of formal education and technical training and therefore could not be used as a viable substitute for the “dirty” jobs of the old economy. Plus, many Green jobs were filled by better-educated immigrants, creating not only economic dislocations but sociopolitical instability as well.
America must learn from these experiences and judiciously choose which alternative energy sectors to invest in. Washington policymakers must not fall prey to the emotional and moral preening of Green activists.
Instead, the Biden Administration must work hard to keep energy prices low for most Americans while investing in the technology that will allow for the United States to adequately surmount the challenge that Global Warming causes without losing our economy and vitality as a nation.
You cannot regulate and tax yourself out of this quandary. You can only invest and innovate your way to a better future.
You can follow Brandon J. Weichert via Twitter @WeTheBrandon and the Clubhouse app @wethebrandon.
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