H. Sterling Burnett notes that voters in formerly green Europe are turning against alternative energy because it’s becoming clear that it doesn’t work and costs a fortune. And even governments are getting leery including in once-solid Germany. Carbon taxes are also unpopular and according to Tilak Doshi in Forbes are unlikely to be greeted more enthusiastically in energy-poor Third World countries. Here’s the puzzle: in principle there’s no connection between thinking wind and solar work and believing fossil fuels are a disaster, or thinking CO2 is mostly harmless and wind and solar won’t work. So why do these beliefs so often come packaged together?
The answer seems to be that some people believe in prudent trade-offs in a complex world and others find reality annoying. Or to be charitable, at least a bit, they think life is incredibly easy and simple. People who find it hard to believe tiny amounts of a colourless, odourless gas are destroying the vast and complicated Earth also find it hard to believe energy sources that can’t exist without subsidies can save the Earth at no cost. According to noted alarmist Bill McKibben, “Thirty or 50 years out, the world’s going to run on sun and wind, because they’re free.” And people who think we can destroy or save the planet with a flick of the wrist think people who raise practical questions (like are solar panels free, or transmission lines, or wind turbines?) are evil, acting in bad faith, and generally deplorable.
As we have noted elsewhere, the intolerant tone of climate alarmism does a disservice to everyone including alarmists. Recently in the Globe and Mail a philosophy professor from Acadia University ripped Justin Trudeau’s head off over the carbon tax saying it’s a political choice to hurt the poor and as for claims that rebates will protect the less fortunate “Working people know that this is a lie, issued in bad faith.” Man, when Justin Trudeau is a filthy lying capitalist flunky you know things are getting a bit extreme.
Similarly, alarmists have brushed aside critiques of alternative energy or carbon taxes with the same spite as critiques of climate science orthodoxy. And now voters don’t believe them and, worse, don’t think they argue in good faith. Amazing what a little honesty and humility could have done to stave off this (to them) inexplicable disaster. The trouble is that humility can make you doubt that science is as simple as you made it sound, or that you can save the planet by Thursday.
Wind and sunlight ARE free. So are hydrocarbons in the ground. The cost comes in trying to convert them to usable, high-density energy. When advocates of wind and solar power employ such absurd and simple-minded arguments on simple things, it doesn't inspire confidence in their position on more complex subjects, like climate.