By Louis Prudhomme, President, Essential Sciences & Engineering, Inc.
Today’s “green” efforts can be likened to Hans Christian Anderson’s classic children’s tale The Emperor’s New Clothes.
You may recall how the mischievous tailors played on the vanity of the Emperor and his court to create a hoax for profit. Sound familiar? Like the Emperor’s advisers, the politicos pretend to “see” what they are told is real, while the people aren’t buying it.
The players today may be a little different, but the story is essentially the same. In the classic, the weakness is the Emperor’s vanity. In the modern version, global warming creates a sense of guilt over potential harm to nature—“weavers” fabricate the idea that we must choose between energy and the planet. This time, more than the Emperor’s vanity is at stake and the plot revolves around green energy—with wind and solar as the key to a utopian future. The Great Green Lie is that we need to end our dependence on traditional fuels.
Leaving fiction behind, the truth is that throughout the Earth’s 4+ billion years, the climate has been both warmer and cooler; the percentage of carbon dioxide and water in the atmosphere has varied considerably. But, like the classic tale, many pretend to see the “truth” the “weavers” put forward, lest they be thought stupid or unfit for their posts.
In the 70’s, clean air and water laws were implemented based on local smog and pollution. Today, US companies are examples of ingenuity in their management of emissions. More energy efficient methods of using resources such as coal, oil, gas, and uranium have been developed. The exhaust or releases are often cleaner than the intake, and certainly cleaner than those in other large industrial countries such as China and India.
The objective of the 70’s legislation was the control of real poisonous releases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, etc. Now, the great villains are naturally occurring carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O)--known as greenhouse gases (GHG). If all Mankind disappeared tomorrow, GHG would remain virtually the same. While solar and geologic phenomena are a greater influence on GHG than the human use of hydrocarbon fuels, the storyline is now about managing individual and national behavior through taxation and rationing. The proponents of such policy have created an artificial crisis based more on guilt than on proven science.
Today, bureaucrats, like the emperor’s advisers, defer to these supposed intellectuals to impose higher taxes and more stringent regulations on energy producers while government subsidies pour into building underdeveloped dependent technologies—electric cars, solar and “wind farms.” (Note these all depend on petroleum or utility-scale electricity to make them possible.)
To know whether or not we are being duped, like the child in the classic tale—“he hasn't got anything on,” we must make honest observations.
• The “renewable” technologies depend on energy and raw materials that must be extracted from the earth.
• It can cost more to produce and operate a Solar Cell or a Wind Turbine Generator than the energy they produce.
• Raising the price of primary energy sources will then raise the cost of the solar and wind technologies.
• Cap and trade doesn’t really help anyone, it just moves the problem and raises costs.
• The Chicago Climate Exchange is like ENRON, only the artificial trade commodity is carbon dioxide, a compound necessary to the earth’s survival.
• The United States is on track to emulate Spain’s failed “Green Economy.”
When we stop pretending that see the “lie,” we discover that the American public has been swindled. Solar and wind technologies are far from being able to carry the energy load for large industrial countries. Unfortunately, the “storyline” prevents us from seeing true solutions.
Our energy needs continue to grow and only nuclear power—successfully operated by the US Navy without incident for nearly 60 years—has the ability to truly power the US, yet it is shunned here while adopted in France, Germany and Japan. We must start now as it will be decades before we can create the infrastructure to replace coal power plants with nuclear.
Cost-effective, available energy, coupled with ingenuity and industry, has been the power that has made America great.
Now, Americans are expected to produce and use energy using the same material that the weavers used to dress the Emperor—stuffing their pockets while producing nothing. If the current legislative trend continues, the rest of the world will be laughing as America will have no clothes.
Louis Prudhomme is the President of Essential Sciences & Engineering, Inc. (www.nmese.com ), a New Mexico corporation and holds a Master of Science in Engineering Acoustics. A retired US Navy officer, he is currently engaged as an international consultant to industry for system reliability, process improvement and energy management.