Climate Change Alarmism is out of control. We’re being told that we have ten years to re-engineer the global energy economy or the world will reach a tipping point after which it will inevitably descend into an apocalyptic climate meltdown. A couple of weeks ago, the Washington Post published an article observing that “Kids are terrified, anxious, and depressed about climate change.” Climate Alarm is feeding the anxieties of an entire generation of Greta Thunbergs, who think they have no future worth living.
There’s just no escaping it. Today we read in the Washington Post an op-ed by Parris N. Glendening, a former Maryland governor and now president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, arguing that states (including Virginia) in the Northeast should joint the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. His rhetoric isn’t alarmist, but he advances a sweeping agenda. Not only does Glendening want more bike lanes, more walkable communities, more mass transit, and more charging stations for Electric Vehicles, he wants Americans to pay more to get them sooner than we otherwise might.
Similarly, we read today in the Roanoke Times an op-ed by Virginia Tech sophomore Heidi Hahn decrying the “existential threat caused by industrial pollution and overconsumption.” Ms. Hahn demands that Virginia Tech acknowledge “that we are in a climate emergency,” denounce the Mountain Valley pipeline, divest publicly traded companies tainted by fossil fuels, set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions at Tech, retrofit buildings to become more energy efficient, embrace distributed energy, and appoint student representatives — not just random students but those “selected by well-informed members of established student-led environmental organizations” — to university bodies that make decisions affecting energy use and climate justice.
I share some of these goals. I think we should build more walkable communities. We should invest in energy-efficient buildings. We should embrace renewable, nonpolluting energy sources. We need to take precautions against rising sea levels and increased flooding. But not at any cost. I do not believe that climate change is an “existential threat” that justifies commandeering resources at the expense of all other needs. And I sure as heck don’t want to entrust my fate to self-anointed elitists and experts who think they’re smarter than everyone else.
I’ll believe people like Glendening and Hahn are serious about climate change when they sell their cars, rely exclusively upon walking, biking and mass transit for mobility, purchase carbon offsets when they jet around the country, move into tiny “net-zero” dwellings, eat local (and cut beef and pork out of their diets while they’re eating local), and reduce their consumption of consumer goods — especially products that are produced by energy-intensive supply chains. In other words, I’ll take them seriously when they don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk. Until their deeds match their words, they have no business imposing their values on others. They’re green analogues to Jimmy Swaggert who infamously preached family values while consorting with prostitutes.
I would feel entirely different if the Climate Warriors backed win-win, market-based approaches to carbon reduction in which compliance was voluntary. Some examples:
Building automation and conservation. Invest in smart-building technology that conserves heating, A/C, lighting, and water consumption, and increases space utilization in commercial and industrial buildings, all of which results in a lower energy footprint per employee. Oh, gee, this is occurring already. There’s an entire industry devoted to doing just this. Maybe it would be worthwhile talking to the leaders in the building-automation industry to see if government can play a helpful (not coercive) role, say, by creating the legal structures for eco-districts creating new ways for property owners in office parks and downtown areas to collaborate.
Transportation. Climate Warriors are in love with mass transit. The trouble is, Americans are not. Mass transit ridership is on the decline. Why? Because people prefer the convenience of driving their own automobiles as opposed to limiting themselves to times and locations on scheduled routes. But people do like walking, and there is significant unmet demand for people to live in communities where they can walk, rather than drive, to many of their destinations. This requires a loosening of zoning and land-use restrictions so developers are free to build mixed-use projects at higher density. The answer is more freedom and more choice, not central planners dictating how people should live.
Electricity. The U.S. economy is becoming more electricity-intensive with each passing year. If the grid collapses, our society collapses. Preserving grid security and reliability is non-negotiable. At present, the people in charge of grid reliability say the system can safely accommodate up to 30% intermittent renewable energy sources. Above that amount, extra wind and solar becomes problematic. Well, by all means, let’s encourage more solar up to that 30% level. (I’m less enthused with offshore wind, which is incredibly expensive.) Over time, new technologies — battery storage, advanced control systems — will make it possible to increase the percentage of wind/solar in the electric grid. As those new technologies are deployed, we can safely increase our reliance upon renewables. The key here is to create a regulatory framework that allows the power companies to continually increase their use of renewables without getting ahead of the technologies and putting the system at risk.
We can create a greener world using win-win approaches. The approaches I’ve discussed may not satisfy hair-on-fire Alarmists, but they will take us to a cleaner, more energy-efficient, less carbon-intensive than the world we have today.There are currently no comments highlighted.