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Energy Socialism Comes to Congress, States

August 31, 2018

Climate Change Weekly #297

Socialism kills. From the former Soviet Union to Cuba, from North Korea to Venezuela, everywhere socialism has been tried it has robbed people of freedom and their property, produced economic stagnation and misallocation of resources, and resulted in millions of direct and indirect deaths.

Energy socialism, as touted by 28-year-old self-described socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the current darling of the progressive set and a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives from New York, would be just as deadly. Ocasio-Cortez’s platform states, “Climate change is the single biggest national security threat for the United States and the single biggest threat to worldwide industrialized civilization,” Her solution to this supposed threat is to transition the United States to a 100 percent renewable energy system by 2035—through government force.

Recognizing a complete transformation of the massive U.S. energy system, which took more than 80 years to build, in just 17 years would be a herculean undertaking, Ocasio-Cortez proposes a “Green New Deal,” similar to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II, requiring “the investment of trillions of dollars.”

Socialist thinking captured the Democratic Party’s imagination even before Ocasio-Cortez’s star rose, In September 2017, for example, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act. The OFF Act would require “100 percent renewable energy by 2035 (and 80 percent by 2027), places a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, bans the export of oil and gas, and also moves our automobile and rail systems to 100 percent renewable energy.” Calling it “the most aggressive piece of climate legislation ever introduced in Congress,” hundreds Democratic candidates for local, state, and federal office in 2018 have signed the OFF pledge, a project of the lobbying group Food & Water Action, to push enactment of Gabbard’s OFF Act.

These policies would destroy millions of jobs and put the United States at a huge economic disadvantage versus other countries, especially China, India, and other developing nations that are increasing their use of fossil fuels to bring their populations rapidly out of poverty.

Laws mandating an end to the use of fossil fuels are energy socialism with a vengeance. Absent government support, wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy can’t compete with traditional energy sources such as coal and natural gas. In an inane attempt to control the weather 100 years from now, socialists like Ocasio-Cortez and far-left lawmakers want to use government to destroy whole industries composed of hardworking Americans and then take trillions of dollars from taxpayers to keep failing renewable energy companies afloat. The fact they would be putting honest people out of work, driving up energy costs, and hurting the poorest among us more than any other group doesn’t bother these green socialists at all. For them, it’s nature, not humans, that counts.

The United States has been traveling by fits and starts down the road to energy socialism for decades, with predictable results: an increasingly unreliable power grid resulting in a growing number of blackouts and power failures; higher prices for electricity, fuel, food, and other goods and services; damaged equipment; people having to choose between buying food and medicine and paying their light bills; and unnecessary premature deaths.

For example, in the mid-1970s, to cut oil imports, the federal government established fuel mileage mandates, forcing automakers to reduce vehicles’ size, weight, power, and the strength of the materials used. Oil imports continued to rise after imposition of these mandates, because families continued to drive, but something truly horrific also occurred: tens of thousands of additional premature deaths of drivers and passengers. That’s just a small sample of what energy socialism looks like.

Energy socialism gained an even larger foothold in the electric power market when federal and state governments began providing lavish subsidies, tax credits, and tax abatements to politically connected Big Green solar and wind energy companies. Many states compounded this grave error by mandating utilities operating within their borders ensure ever-increasing percentages of the electricity they provide come from select renewable energy sources. People in states with renewable power mandates have seen their electricity bills rise by more than those living in places without renewable power diktats. And because the poor spend a larger percentage of their incomes on energy and energy-intensive items than the relatively wealthy, these mandates were predictably regressive, forcing hard choices on impoverished families.

When the federal government required increasing amounts of “renewable fuel” (ethanol and biodiesel) be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel, it resulted in damage to millions of engines in boats, older cars, and small engines in mowers, chainsaws, and other power tools. In addition, as increasing amounts of corn were diverted from dinner tables to gas tanks, food prices increased, including meat prices because livestock is often fed corn. In Mexico, which imports corn from the United States, the renewable fuel mandate created food riots, as the poor, who commonly grind up corn to make tortillas, empanadas, chips, and other foods consumed on a nearly daily basis, couldn’t afford the higher prices and faced corn shortages.

Europe, being much farther down the road to energy socialism than most U.S. states, should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone attracted to energy socialism. Over the past decade and a half, thousands of people across Europe have died in winter because of a lack of reliable, affordable heat, and during the summer from not having access to reliable air conditioning. Many European politicians have reacted by telling their fellow citizens they will have to make do with less and plan for shortages. They should be ashamed of themselves. Europe’s energy problems don’t result from some inability to produce energy—Europe had a modern energy system providing plentiful reliable power before energy socialism took hold—but rather from a decision by politicians to shutter reliable fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants as part of their misguided push to fight climate change.

These are the kinds of third-world problems that come with energy socialism: less-reliable power, higher energy costs, greater poverty, massive job losses, and lower economic productivity. Socialism can’t fix our problems, but it sure can make things a lot worse.

  • H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: U.S. House of Representatives; Off Act Pledge; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


IN THIS ISSUE …

Climate change doesn’t doom coral reefs Some island shorelines grow amidst climate changeCurrent Arctic spring sea ice levels higher than the past


CLIMATE CHANGE DOESN’T DOOM CORAL REEFS

Two more recent papers indicate coral reefs are much more adaptable to environmental changes than global warming alarmists claim.

One paper, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, finds coral bleaching has been common off and on for at least the last 400 years, long before humans began adding significant carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. Examining 44 core samples from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR), researchers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh were able to reconstruct a history of bleaching events since 1620.

Bleaching occurs when one or a combination of stressors disrupt the symbiotic relationship between coral and the tiny algae living inside it, causing the coral to expel the algae, leaving it a stark white. While algae can be reabsorbed when the stressors are reduced or corals adapt, corals will die if this separation lasts too long. The stressors the researchers found instigate bleaching alone or in combination include sharp increases or decreases in ocean temperatures, solar irradiance extremes, disease, and freshwater runoff.

The researchers reconstructed GBR bleaching patterns and frequencies decade by decade since approximately 1620, finding the number and extent of bleaching events increased between 1620 and 1753, decreased from 1754 to 1820, and increased again between 1821 and 2001.

This research indicates GBR corals have been able to acclimatize to and recover from both temperature-induced and non-temperature-induced bleaching events over time.

A second study, published in the journal Current Biology, examines the relationship between corals, their symbiotic micro-algae, and climate over a much longer period of time, “finding coral-algal partnerships have endured numerous climate change events” for at least 160 million years.

Using genetic evidence, “including DNA sequences, phylogenetic analyses and genome comparisons,” the researchers determined the coral/micro-algae partnership has waxed and waned since the time of the dinosaurs, when ocean temperatures were much warmer than today.

“Our research indicates that modern corals and their algal partners, … [d]uring their long existence, … have faced severe episodes of environmental change, but thanks to their biological characteristics have managed to bounce back after each,” said Christian Voolstra, Ph.D., a coauthor of the study, who is an Associate Professor of Marine Science in the Red Sea Research Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

SOURCES: Terra Daily; Global Warming Policy Foundation; Frontiers in Marine Science; King Abdullah University


SOME ISLAND SHORELINES GROW AMIDST CLIMATE CHANGE

A recent paper published in the journal GIScience & Remote Sensing finds many of Tuvalu’s islands are adding shoreline, contradicting predictions made by researchers wedded to climate model projections that human-caused climate change is causing sea levels to rapidly.

The low-lying island nation of Tuvalu has been treated as a harbinger of the harms from rising seas resulting from human-induced climate change, but using satellite imagery the authors of this study found, between 2005 and 2015, 15 of the 28 uninhabited islands on Tuvalu’s Funafuti Atoll saw their shorelines modestly increase by 2.21 hectares.

“Most of the islands remained stable, experiencing slight accretion or erosion or a combination of both over time. The total net land area of the islands increased by 1.55 [hectares] ha (0.55 [percent]) between 2005 and 2010, and decreased by 1.90 ha (0.68 [percent]) between 2010 and 2015, resulting in a net decrease by 0.35 ha (0.13 [percent]),” wrote the authors.

This paper attributes the overall shoreline decline to devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam, a Category 5 tropical cyclone that struck the Pacific region in March 2015, not to climate-change-induced rising seas. Pam significantly eroded or submerged parts of three islets, erasing all the vegetation from one, Vasafua islet, entirely. After the cyclone passed, the researchers could find Vasafua only by using multiple passes from high-resolution satellites. Absent the shore losses from Cyclone Pam, the atoll would have shown an overall growth in shoreline for the entire period.

SOURCES: No Tricks Zone; GIScience & Remote Sensing (behind paywall)


CURRENT ARCTIC SPRING SEA ICE LEVELS HIGHER THAN THE PAST

Despite persistent claims sea ice levels in the Arctic have fallen to levels never before experienced during the past decade, new research on historic sea ice levels confirms current sea ice levels, rather than being unusually low for the Arctic region, are significantly greater than they have been for most of the last several-thousand years.

Research published in the journal Arktos by German researchers from two different marine research institutes reconstructed phytoplankton production from a sediment cores taken in Disko Bugt, West Greenland, and found “during most of the last 2,200 years—especially during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Roman Warm Period (RWP)—spring sea ice melted in March, two months earlier than today,” reports No Tricks Zone. The period between 2.2 and 1.2 thousand years before present consistently had much lower sea ice levels than now. Since then, with fluctuations up and down, the breakup of sea ice during the spring has generally come later and later. The researchers conclude “Maximum sea ice extent was reached during the Little Ice Age,” around 200 years ago. The German scientists write the waxing and waning of sea ice and the shift in melting dates is “related to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and solar activity changes as potential climatic trigger mechanisms.”

This research is consistent with other sea ice reconstructions for the region using proxy evidence which have concluded “current sea ice conditions are only modestly different than the indicated conditions during the past few centuries,” summarizes No Tricks Zone.

SOURCE: No Tricks Zone; Arktos (behind paywall)


Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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