Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fossil Fuels and Climate Change: Remember Life Before Them

A letter titled Time for carbon tax appeared in the NJ Star-Ledger on July 26, 2013. Here is an excerpt:

Prosperity depends upon clean air, water and soil, and the ability to grow healthful food.
The greatest threat to American prosperity is unchecked global climate change. We must therefore redirect our national priorities away from policies that promote profits for the few (fossil fuel magnates) at the expense of the many (everyone else). We must tell our legislators directly that we want an authentic and widespread prosperity based on energy conservation, efficiency and innovation. A revenue-neutral carbon tax would tax fossil fuel industries and return the funds to taxpayers, who would then be empowered to spend the money on locally produced goods and services, including renewable energy.

I wonder what constitutes checked climate change? I wonder what policies actually promote the profits of fossil fuel magnates, given all of the taxes, regulations, and promising oil and gas tracts that producers are forbidden to explore and develop—not to mention the continuing assault on the coal industry. The only profit-promoting policies I see are the never-ending subsidies to "renewable energy" parasites.

And I wonder how Linda, the author of the letter, would get people to spend their money on "locally produced goods and services," or what consumers would do if what they need or desire is not produced locally. 

In any event, I left these comments:

RE: Time for carbon tax

Linda, what do you think powers our agriculture, water purification and delivery systems, sewage disposal pipelines, and waste water treatment plants? Electricity powered primarily by carbon fuels (not to mention transportation, central heating and cooling systems, illumination, and many other life-enhancing needs). Any discussion of fossil fuels should consider their benefits, and the consequences to man of ending their use (which is the environmentalists' ultimate goal).

Contrary to your fantasies, oil industry profits do not come "at the expense of everyone else." Like all actual profits, they are earned through voluntary trade, a win-win transaction that benefits both seller and buyer. When you fill up your tank with gas, you benefit. When you turn on your heat on a cold winter day, you benefit. When you buy food produced on mechanized farms and delivered to your local supermarket in trucks, you benefit. When you exchange your money for these benefits, the industry also benefits in the form of their profits, which feed future investments in innovations like fracking technology. Profits are noble—the reward for productive work that enhances the lives of business' customers—billions of them. Win-win.

What you don't have a right to do is declare yourself the arbiter of "national priorities," and tax (i.e., loot) energy users to facilitate handouts—or demand proxie politicians do it for you. But, hey, it's still a relatively free country. Why don't you spend or invest your own money on conservation, efficiency, and innovation—or do it yourself? 

Any restrictions on carbon (i.e., CO2) emissions that hamper energy production is grossly irresponsible. Fossil fuels power most of our energy needs , and without fossil fuels our industrialization is doomed for the foreseeable future. Without industrialization, human beings will once again be at the full mercy of natural disasters (which have always happened, and always will).

Fossil fuels have vastly improved the planet and made for a vastly better living environment. Countries with the longest life expectancies correlate with high usage of fossil fuels. Life expectancies and living standards in China and India are rising, not falling, as their use of fossil fuels, including vast amounts of coal, increases to power their advancing industrialization. It is in backward third world countries that life is miserable.

Even if we concede that man's use of fossil fuels is marginally warming the planet and increasing the severity of storms—a dubious assumption—so what? It should be remembered that without industrialization, which depends primarily on fossil fuels and will for the foreseeable future, life for humans is miserable, short, and deadly.

Rather than adding restrictions, we should be removing restrictions on fossil fuel production and use. A better approach is to adapt by building more and better protections against weather extremes, which fossil fuel-driven industrialization can and has enabled us to do.

The fossil fuel industry is heroic. We should hail them, and condemn their enemies. The greatest threat to American prosperity is environmentalism.

Related Reading:

Attack on "Carbon Pollution" an Attack on Human Life

"Clean" Energy Companies, not "Fossil Fuel Bosses," Need Political Favors to Compete

We Are Doomed Without, Not Because of, Fossil Fuel Use

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