October 30, 2010
The Church of the Green DragonBy Chuck Rogér
One of the heads of the Green Dragon has hissed again. Urged by the King Corn lobby, the EPA recently raised the limit on ethanol in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent, a change that will harm Americans and the environment. The environmental justice-obsessed agency is actually driving injustice that will profit farming conglomerates. The Obama administration's corporatist soul is showing.
Barack Obama's "green economy" is a mirage, for greenies cannot compete in the free market. My fellow Cajun, George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux, recently pointed out that "two fuels" power competition: "entrepreneurial freedom" and "consumer sovereignty." By subsidizing green technology, government weakens both.
Should the green movement at least produce physical, economic, or spiritual benefits, then consumers might find solace. But the "science" that imagines a tie between industrial emissions and "global warming" is fraudulent. Greenness simply funnels profits to zealots who seem at peace with destroying wealth to "heal" a planet which they judge diseased by human endeavor.
Historical climatologist Timothy Ball and the head of Canada's Natural Resources Stewardship Project, Tom Harris, observed that warmists pushing "extraordinarily damaging" economic policies "expose their lack of basic science understanding (or their complete disrespect of public intelligence)." Let's be clear: greenies don't just twist science or think non-greenies are dumb. Both conditions, reinforced by a desire to control people, are prerequisites for prancing about and shrieking nonsensical dogma.
Global warmism and the green movement mark a first: Scientists, media, and government have jointly embraced a religion. The greenies sport wacky beliefs based on bogus studies that breed flimsy theories that inspire harmful policies. The Church of the Green Dragon mocks all of reality, especially science.
The desecration is disgusting, particularly in view of the deep understanding achievable when physics is competently applied to nature. According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy is neither created nor destroyed, but only converted into different forms. And in designing machines, which convert one form of energy to another, engineers deal with a gotcha: efficiency.
For instance, an automobile's internal combustion engine converts chemical to kinetic energy. Pistons spin a driveshaft that turns wheels. Energy is lost to heat at each step. Along with energy efficiency, fuel production and delivery expenses also determine the cost of powering an automobile. Green dogma collapses under these truths.
Take biofuel ethanol. As a fuel, the chemical is only two-thirds as energy-efficient as gasoline. Government subsidies and other economic shenanigans merely create the illusion of biofuel competitiveness. Biofuel production and use damage the environment and release even more CO2 -- an atmospheric trace gas that enrages greenies -- than in the production and use of gasoline. Moreover, dedicating acreage to biofuel corn reduces food crop output, raising prices and hurting poor people. Further still, combusting a gasoline-ethanol mixture degrades mechanical performance and may damage car engines.
Biofuel production also consumes scary resources. John Deutch, former Carter DOE Undersecretary and MIT chemistry professor, concluded that biofuels are "not a long-term solution to our oil problem." Using Deutch's findings, I calculated that America must plant 390,000 square miles of biofuel crops to replace oil imports -- an effective substitution only if all cars could run on pure ethanol. The acreage required equates to the entire Eastern Seaboard from Florida to Maine, including all of New England. We might instead use big, cold Alaska. But Dennis Kucinich would have to summon Gaia to heat the place so that enough crops could be grown to maturity. Mystics like Kucinich, who channels "the goddess of peace," are good at this woo-woo sort of thing.
In addition to soliciting the help of pagan deities, the typical biofuel rationale goes something like the argument made in a Washington State University analysis.
The "economic well-being" baloney typifies the report's overall tone. The authors "presumed" biofuel's "economic efficiency ... to be good in its own right." Creative, but rather like peering through a drunken haze and seeing perfectly elastic asphalt just before swan diving from a rooftop lounge. The part about academics using "policy" to "correct ... market failures" is curious. Reading further, one discovers that "policy" equals subsidy. Apparently, government climbing into bed with industrialists turns bad science good and moronic economics into genius. The "societal" bit is a huge red flag. Ideologues invoke foolishness like "societal goals" to sneak wishful-thinking past dreadful reality.
Dreadful economics is also professed by another head of the Dragon: green electricity generation.
The Heritage Foundation analyzed the electric utility industry. Natural gas and coal are hands-down cost winners. Doomed to a distant last place are wind and solar power.
But wind- and sun-obsessed greenies persist in misleading the public. Economist William Anderson observes that "Congress cannot repeal either economic or scientific laws." Never mind. Environmentalists can't resist trying to legislate physics, or at least sidestep physics with government force. Green strategy hinges on what Obama's Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein, calls "nudges": manipulating people into complying with government's wishes. Anderson describes the green approach.
Greenies are not about other people's prosperity. Greenies would "save the planet" while teasing personal fortunes from other people's money. The fact is that without subsidies, production costs make green electricity too expensive to compete on the open market. Yet subsidies don't totally cover the higher costs. As more and more green electricity gets fed into the power grid, consumers will pay higher and higher prices. Taxpayers will pay higher and higher taxes to cover the subsidies. Anderson warns, "No economy can grow under such circumstances. The reality is that "green energy" actually causes the economy to contract."
Contract, as in shrink, like what Spain's economy did. As Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada points out, Germany, Spain, and other countries discovered that "green-economy mandates are job killers." Entire societies do make grotesque blunders. Spain and Greece are current-day examples in which political and economic choices ignited decline.
Human progress or decline follows the laws of science, economics, and human nature. Lawmakers can't force alcohol to burn hotter than gasoline. Harnessing the sun costs more than burning coal. And as November 2 will illustrate, people turn on charlatans who promise heaven but deliver hell.
So when glassy-eyed dreamers wearing green halos preach salvation through allegiance to Mother Earth, and when those dreamers call for a "green economy" chocked with "green jobs," run like hell. Take your money and your soul with you.