”Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the US price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” ~Stephen Chu, US Secretary of Energy
“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” ~President Barack Hussein Obama
Willis Eschenbach responds (emphasis mine) on Watts Up With That (the world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change):
Here’s my problem with these brilliant plans. Regardless of whatever hypothetical possible future benefit they might or might not bring in fifty years, right here and now in the present they are absolutely devastating to the poor.
The difference between rich and poor, between developed and developing, is the availability of inexpensive energy. We’re rich because we have (or at least had) access to the hardworking servants of inexpensive energy. We have inexpensive electrical and mechanical slaves to do our work for us.
This is particularly important for the poor. The poorer you are, the larger a percentage of your budget goes to energy-intensive things like transportation and heat and electricity. If you double the price of energy, everyone is poorer, but the poor take it the hardest. Causing an increase in energy prices for any reason is the most regressive tax imaginable.
So I find it both reprehensible and incomprehensible when those of us who are in the 1% of the global 1%, like President Obama and Secretary Chu, blithely talk of doubling the price of gasoline and sending the cost of electricity skyrocketing as though there were no negative results from that, as though it wouldn’t cause widespread suffering, as though cheap energy weren’t the best friend of the poor. What Chu and Obama propose are crazy plans, they are ivory-tower schemes of people who are totally out of touch with the realities faced by the poor of the world.
As far as I know, other than the completely overblown “peak oil” fears, about the only argument raised against the manifold benefits of inexpensive energy is the claim that increasing CO2 will lead to some fancied future Thermageddon fifty years from now. I have seen no actual evidence that such might be the case, just shonky computer model results. And even if CO2 were to lead to a temperature rise, we have no evidence that it will be harmful overall. According to the BEST data, we’ve seen a 2°C land temperature rise in the last two centuries with absolutely no major temperature-related ill effects that I am aware of, and in fact, generally beneficial outcomes. Longer growing seasons. More ice-free days in the northern ports. I don’t see any catastrophes in that historical warming
So I’m sorry, but I am totally unwilling to trade inexpensive energy today, which is the real actual salvation of the poor today, for some imagined possible slight reduction in the temperature fifty years from now. That is one of the worst trades that I can imagine, exchanging current suffering for a promise of a slight reduction in temperatures in the year 2050.
Even if the dreaded carbon menace were real, raising the price on fossil fuels would be the last way on earth I’d choose to fight it. Like I said … big current pain for small future maybes, that’s a lousy trade.
HT: Joe Lais