Central Planning Needs Help
In mid-August, the headline of an NYT article assured readers: “The Clean Energy Future Is Arriving Faster Than You Think.”
The sub-head enthusiasm continues: “The United States is pivoting away from fossil fuels and toward wind, solar and other renewable energy, even in areas dominated by the oil and gas industries.”
Not to be eclipsed, Bloomberg’s headline seems to say the opposite: “Net Zero Is Stalling Out. What Now?”
So, which is it … the green energy future arriving “faster than you think,” or “stalling out”?
They both can’t be right. At the Manhattan Contrarian, Francis Menton asks, which side has the advantage?
(The piece) is filled with more than 20 photographs and charts designed to impress you with the great progress being made: massive wind turbines, vast solar arrays, rows of EV charging stations, teams of serious-looking workers in a modern factory working away on some unnamed but clearly complex piece of equipment.
No Meaningful Data
More important is what is not in the article: The article is devoid of meaningful data on how the “transition” is progressing,” argues the Manhattan Contrarian.
Are wind and solar electricity actually making progress toward supplanting fossil fuels? You won’t find the answer to that (there).
Bloomberg: Collapsing Public Support
Moving to Bloomberg’s article, Mr. Menton emphasizes Bloomberg’s surfeit of data points, most of which are from Europe. The data points, not all from Europe, relate to “collapsing public support as costs become apparent.”
Cost of Policies Causing Anxiety
[V]oters have legitimate questions about net-zero policies: How much will they cost? What benefits will they bring? Will they actually work as advertised? Such skepticism is already changing politics, from the recent losses suffered by Germany’s Greens to the fall of the Dutch governing coalition, which was partly fueled by farmers’ anger over forced reductions in nitrogen-oxide emissions. Even some avowed environmentalists — such as the governor of New Jersey and the leader of the UK’s Labor Party — have lately been siding with voters who feel aggrieved at the costs of environmental policies.
Bloomberg is being honest in reporting that Net Zero seems to be stalling out, agrees Mr. Menton.
Obviously, the government planners directing the green energy transition need to go about this in a more “purposeful” and “strategic” manner, continues Bloomberg.
If the government is going to ban the sale of gas boilers in 2035, as it says, it will need to make sure that cheaper alternatives are available. Likewise with a planned ban on new gas and diesel cars: It’s a fine goal, but it won’t go anywhere unless consumers have compelling incentives, charging infrastructure can meet demand and the government has otherwise laid the needed groundwork. . . . Above all, what’s needed is leadership. Decarbonization can drive economic growth, create jobs and bring substantial benefits to the environment and public health. But it must be done purposefully and strategically.
Here we face the usual banality: a “touching faith that central planning really is going to work this time, because it will be done more intelligently.”
Regardless of the number of real-world failures, true believers will never be persuaded otherwise.
Mr. Menton has a few suggestions. In a previous article, “Crazy Climate Litigation: Held v Montana,” the Manhattan Contrarian lists his recommendations:
- Build a bunch of wind turbines and solar panels and prohibit access to fossil fuel back-up for electricity.
- Allow the folk to buy batteries for back-up if they want. Impose the full cost of their new electricity system on them.
- Ban internal combustion vehicles for residents.
- Require conversion of oil and natural gas heat to electric.
Now, suggests Mr. Menton, place a bet on how long it will take till they cry uncle.
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