Monday, June 06, 2011

Rethinking the green energy mantra

It's an article of faith on the left that green energy represents the future, with everyone from President Obama to Thomas Friedman declaring that government "investments" must be made in this area to assure US dominance. This is why it is fairly stunning to see Michael Lind of the left-wing New America Foundation publish a piece on left-wing argue that the era of fossil fuels appears headed for another golden age:
The arguments for converting the U.S. economy to wind, solar and biomass energy have collapsed. The date of depletion of fossil fuels has been pushed back into the future by centuries -- or millennia. The abundance and geographic diversity of fossil fuels made possible by technology in time will reduce the dependence of the U.S. on particular foreign energy exporters, eliminating the national security argument for renewable energy. 
...The mainstream environmental lobby has yet to acknowledge the challenge that the new energy realities pose to their assumptions about the future. Some environmentalists have welcomed natural gas because it is cleaner than coal and can supplement intermittent solar power and wind power, at times when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. But if natural gas is permanently cheaper than solar and wind, then there is no reason, other than ideology, to combine it with renewables, instead of simply using natural gas to replace coal in electricity generation.
This phenomenal piece should be read in its entirety. If Lind is right -- and I suspect he is -- then we can chalk up public spending on green energy as yet another failed government intervention in the economy. Maybe politicians aren't the best arbiters of our economic future after all. 

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