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How would life without fossil fuels impact society?

November 9, 2020

Before moving too quickly into the GND, anti-fossil fuel protesters should take the time to answer the question: How can we avoid the undisputable science that renewables can only generate intermittent electricity

Most of the world’s population is already living without the products and fuels from petroleum, while the healthier and wealthier countries are focusing efforts to reduce their emissions from the use of fossil fuels, natural gas, and coal with extensive subsidies to accelerate their countries intermittent electricity from wind and solar renewables. Before jumping too quickly into the proverbial snake pit of the “green” religious movement, greenies should take time to answer: How we can maintain our lifestyles and economies without regressing backwards to what the world looked like before the 1900’s?

It’s almost impossible to understand that almost half the world— over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. Today, across southern Asia, portions of Europe and parts of Africa and Australia, there are families attempting to live on virtually nothing.

A complex trade-offs associated with policy choices of moving too quickly into the GND is that abandoning fossil fuels will further deprive and/or delay the 6 billion in this world living on less  than $10 a day, from access to the 6,000 products we enjoy in the wealthy and healthy countries that are all made from oil derivatives, most of which did not even exist in the developed countries before the 1900’s.

For your viewing pleasure, a chart of Life Without Oil, and a short YouTube video of Life Without Oil, i.e., not as simple as one may think. It may be time to believe in the undisputable science. Renewables can only generate electricity, and intermittent electricity at best. The undisputable science is that renewables CANNOT manufacture any of the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that are the foundation of societies and economies around the world.

The trade-off to eliminate fossil fuels too quickly is allowing 11 million children in the world dying every year from preventable causes of diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. Those children in poor countries still lack purified drinking water, sewage sanitation, adequate nutrition, reliable electricity (or any at all), adequate health care, and the infrastructures and products we take for granted that are all based on deep earth minerals and fuels.  And by the way, adults in those poor countries barely live past 40 years of age.

The focus should be toward sharing all those products for which we have yet to discover clones or generics for almost 200  years, with underdeveloped countries so they can enjoy similar lifestyles enjoyed by those in the wealthy and healthy countries. The wealthier developed countries also have access to heating, air conditioning, and insulation that has virtually eliminated weather related deaths.

The current passion to convert into a world with intermittent electricity is oblivious to the unintended consequences of a world without fossil fuels. The signatories to the green movement have failed to imagine how life was without that industry that did not exist before 1900 when we had, NO medications and medical equipment, NO vaccines, NO water filtration systems, NO sanitation systems, NO fertilizers to help feed billions, NO pesticides to control locusts and other pests, NO communications systems, including cell phones, computers, and I Pads, NO vehicles, NO airlines that now move 4 billion people around the world, NO  cruise ships that now move 25 million passengers around the world, NO merchant ships that are now moving billions of dollars of products monthly throughout the world, NO tires for vehicles, and NO asphalt for roads, and NO space program. Looking back just a few short centuries, we have come a long way since the pioneer days. Climate change is important, but so is economic survivability.

In case you do not remember, we also had virtually no military aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, planes, and tanks around the world before 1900. A primary reason that both WW I and II were won by the Allies, was that they had more oil, petroleum, and coal than the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan to operate their military equipment of aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, planes, tanks and armor, trucks, troop carriers, and weaponry.

Also, before 1900, the world had very little commerce and without transportation there is no commerce. The two prime movers that have done more for the cause of globalization than any other: the diesel engine and the jet turbine, both get their fuels from oil. Road and air travel now dominate most people’s lives.

Post 1900, we now have medications, electronics, cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers, transportation infrastructures and thousands of products that come from the derivatives of crude oil, including every part in solar panels and wind turbines as well as the various fuels to the world to operate planes, trucks, construction equipment, merchant ships, cruise ships, and automobiles.

The questions that anti-fossil fuel protesters from both the Democratic and Republican parties should take the time to answer is two-fold: 1) How can we allow 11 million children in the world dying every year in developing countries from preventable causes? and 2) How will we adjust to lifestyles that regress us back to a time when wealthy countries had no access to those thousands of products that are now made from oil derivatives, and the fuels needed by airlines, merchant ships, transportation infrastructures, and the military, that were not in existence before the 1900’s?

[Originally posted on Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)]

Author
Ronald Stein is the co-author of the newly released book, “Just GREEN Electricity,” an internationally published columnist, and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute.
Ronald.Stein@PTSadvance.com @PTSFounder
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels - Environmental Economics

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