Humankind is wildly and wonderfully inventive. From harnessing fire to cook our proteins to replacing foraging with farming, we historically keep developing ways to enhance our lives. From indoor plumbing to access to transportation, from electricity to the internet, we continually elevate our access to goods and services. In the last seven decades, abject poverty in our world has declined from 40% to 15% of the global population.
In the area of energy, the last three centuries have been amazing. From steam to coal to oil and gas, from geothermal and natural gas to nuclear and solar power, we keep inventing new ways to give more people access to affordable energy.
Development has its price, and we have had to work hard to clean up the ecosystems we damage with our progress. We all know about environmental disasters, from Three Mile Island to Love Canal, Chernobyl to Great Lakes pollution. For many sensitive to environmental concerns, these and other moments are a call for drastic action and the immediate end to fossil fuels. Add to this the apocalyptic language of climate change advocates and the stage is set for increased coercive national and international power to regulate energy and compel change.
What this history is lacking is the positive contributions of free markets and scientific progress to a cleaner future without massive transfers of wealth impoverishing the working and middle classes. All the policies of the UN, Davos, and a variety of non-binding agreements call for massive bureaucracies and wealth transfers that have no guarantee of any improvements in global temperatures. The price tag and Leviathan controls keep increasing. Several UN officials have admitted that even if all nations signed on to the Paris Accords and take drastic action, that the impact would be negligible. All officials affirm the real goal – wealth concentration and transfer that impoverished the middle class in the West as well as developing economies globally.
The current Administration has deliberately moved the USA from energy independence to skyrocketing prices and programs costing trillions in inefficient green technologies. What is never highlighted in most media are the tremendous quantum leaps in lowering emissions, increasing efficiency, and the research into true alternatives to fossil fuels. European nations have refired coal plants to power electric cars. Nuclear energy sustains much of Western Europe. The rare minerals and slave labor employed for batteries is not part of the narrative. We CAN recycle plastics better, make current fuels cleaner, AND develop new technologies.
The same people telling us to drive expensive electric vehicles buy their organic produce in local markets, with their arugula transported from family farms in diesel trucks. Line-caught salmon and tuna come to our shores in boats using regular fuel. Celebrities take private jets to lecture the masses about conforming to global governance. We can do better.
The way forward is not the “Good old days” of gas guzzlers and no environmental standards. We have come too far for that. We must refine current energy sources while we develop cost-effective new ones. Free markets must lead the way, not inefficient federal agencies. We need new oil and gas leases properly administrated. We need to commend Israel’s ability to supply energy to Europe without hindrance and favoritism to an aggressive Russian empire. Reasonable incentives for cleanliness and efficiency are helpful, but current draconian laws in California and elsewhere will only continue shrinking the working and middle classes.
This both/and prudential approach is what most people favor, except for the political and technological elites that believe they are the smart ones and should tell “the people” what they really need. We must shrink federal and global bureaucracies, and have more local and regional governance. We can improve our ecosystems while expanding economic opportunity, if we have courage and wisdom empowering creativity and innovation through free markets.