Green Energy: Damn the Facts, Full Speed Ahead!
In 2008, a group of more than 31,000 scientists signed a petition dissenting from the position of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that man-made CO2 emissions are destroying our planet. More than 9,000 of them have Ph.D. degrees in fields like atmospheric science, climatology, earth science, and environmental science. That's fifteen times more Ph.D. scientists than are involved in the IPCC campaign.
One of the group's leaders, the late Professor Frederick Seitz, said:
The United States is very close to adopting an international agreement that would ration the use of energy and of technologies that depend upon coal, oil, and natural gas and some other organic compounds. ... This treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful.
Seitz was a first-rate scientist who served as president of Rockefeller University and president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Seitz was also a recipient of the National Medal of Science. The agreement to which he referred is the Kyoto Protocol.
Ivar Giaever, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, resigned from the American Physical Society because of its position on global warming. So did University of California professor Hal Lewis. When Lewis resigned, he said that the global warming movement was a "scam" and a "pseudoscientific fraud."
Even so, our government is imposing strict controls to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in hopes of staving off global warming even though earth's atmosphere is cooling. Meanwhile, the cost to you and me is higher energy prices, higher inflation, a lower standard of living, and fewer new jobs, since every product we buy has an energy cost component. Under orders from the president, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving ahead aggressively with regulations to reduce CO2 emissions. President Obama's misguided effort to stay the course by fiat or by executive order is very expensive, and it's a price that we can ill afford to pay -- especially now, as our economy is struggling to recover from the Great Recession.
Global warming alarmists have resorted to fixing data, hiding data, and other things to keep people from learning the truth. They are motivated by blind faith in a theory that isn't supported by the facts. It's a perfect example of anti-science at work in the scientific community. To deny that our climate is cooling, you have to ignore a mountain of hard data, and the facts are mounting year by year. For example, it was comical to watch the participants at the December 2010 U.N. Global Warming Summit in Cancún, Mexico dress for winter as temperatures plunged to a 100-year record low. That kind of thing is happening all over the world, and it's not anecdotal data. It's a global trend that only die-hard global warming alarmists refuse to accept.
Did you know that the number of global weather tracking stations has been reduced, and disproportionately, the eliminated stations are in colder regions? Global warming alarmists have continued to report data showing global temperatures rising despite the fact that colder locations have been taken out of the data set, and they haven't bothered to divulge that fact. If you take cold readings out of the data set, average temperatures rise, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the climate. Similarly, if you included the temperature inside my oven in the data set, average temperatures would rise...but it would be an act of fraud.
The climate is cooling, and it's been cooling since 1998. Eventually, the truth will prevail, but in the meantime, President Obama continues to retard progress at great cost to the American people. The only people profiting from global warming hysteria are global warming alarmists who are selling a pig in a poke. President Obama is firmly in their camp. In fact, he is their champion.
The United States has been blessed with enough resources to meet our energy needs and to export our surpluses, but we have not developed them the way we should. Instead, we have been cowed by liberal progressives who would rather see our economy go down the tubes than develop what they consider "dirty energy."
In 2008, the U.S. imported almost 13,000,000 barrels of oil per day, or about 57% of our total oil consumption. Although our energy needs have been increasing rapidly, the U.S. didn't build a new refinery between 1998 and 2008, even then over the strong objections of liberal progressives. In 2008 alone, the U.S. spent almost $500,000,000,000 on imported oil. That's half a trillion dollars that we didn't need to spend. Our dependence on foreign oil is putting our economy (not to mention our national security) at risk.
Saying that the U.S. is rich in energy resources is an understatement. At today's consumption levels, we have enough coal to meet our needs for the next 500 years. We have 22,450,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves, and we are finding new oil reserves all the time. The U.S. has 250 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. We are finding new gas reserves daily, and we are discovering new ways to tap into hard-to-get gas deposits. Putting that in perspective, the U.S. has more energy in natural gas than the entire Middle East has in oil. It's disgraceful that we're putting our economic and national security at risk to import strategic resources that we have in abundance.
T. Boone Pickens, one of the world's leading oil and gas men and an energy investor, has launched a campaign to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by developing our natural gas reserves. His plan is called the Pickens Plan. Pickens deserves our support, but we need to do more. We must develop our coal, oil, and natural gas reserves. We also need to develop wind energy, solar energy, and hydrogen energy. There is absolutely no excuse for the United States to import oil and gas from another nation.
We have already spent more than $2,000,000,000,000 on a vast array of stimulus programs since President Obama took office. That's several times more than will be needed to fully develop all of our energy resources. We have squandered our wealth to reward individuals and groups that supported candidate Obama in 2008 while our critical economic and security needs have gotten scant attention.
Green energy alternatives may satisfy our energy needs one day, but this much is certain: today, green energy is little more than a way for President Obama to dole out federal dollars to his favorite firms at the expense of coal, oil, and natural gas producers. The science and technology do not exist in green energy areas to meet even a smidgen of our energy needs. That's what the facts tell us, and ignoring the facts is costing us jobs and tax revenue.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk, is posted daily. His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.