The Attack of the Watermelons

It’s been said that some environmental activists are like watermelons — green on the outside, but red on the inside.

Red, meaning communism.

That’s probably true in some cases, but I don’t want to tar the overall environmental movement. Most simply want a clean future that their kids and grandkids can live in. We all do.

The wealthier a society becomes, the more it can afford to focus on issues like the environment. Much of the world is too busy trying to survive.

In important respects, environmentalism is largely vanity. It’s the wealthy who obsess about it. But as you’ll see shortly, the science doesn’t support climate alarmism.

In important respects, environmentalism is largely vanity. It’s the wealthy who obsess about it.

The hue and cry to ban fossil fuels and end fracking is nonetheless in full swing. A Biden administration would only amplify it.

A Climate “Czar”

The Biden team has already named Establishment figure John Kerry its climate change “czar.”

That’s fine, it’s mostly politics. The Democratic Party is committed to the politics of climate change.

But once you ban fossil fuels (or make major strides in that direction), one is immediately confronted with the need for alternative sources of energy.

The obvious choices are solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, wind and nuclear.

To be clear, all of those alternatives involve proven technology. I have visited the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington. It generates a lot of electricity.

Meanwhile, I have a large solar panel array on the farm.

My main residence is not far from the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire. All those systems avoid fossil fuels, but they work well and produce power.

That’s not the issue. The issue is: Are these energy alternatives scalable, feasible and politically popular enough to power the United States?

The short answer is no.

Too Many Obstacles

The Grand Coulee Dam is a monumental and inspiring work of engineering and construction genius. But, the idea of building new dams on rivers is environmentally objectionable and politically incorrect. The trend today is to remove existing dams, not build new ones.

The same can be said for nuclear power. The move is toward closing and disassembling existing nuclear plants, not building new ones.

Geothermal generation is feasible, but not scalable. That leaves wind and solar. The growth potential there is likewise limited for reasons explained below…

A significant flaw in the solar power narrative is the idea of climate change and the increasing use of solar power as a non-carbon alternative.

Climate Change Is Real, But…

Don’t get me wrong, climate change is real.

I lived on Long Island Sound for eleven years. It’s a beautiful body of water with a rocky shoreline on the Connecticut side. The reason it’s rocky is because it was a glacier in the last Ice Age, which ended about 11,700 years ago.

Going from a glacier to a place you can swim is climate change. But, it took millennia. It did not happen in ten years.

Climatology is one of the most complex and difficult branches of science. If ever there was a field that called for humility in forecasting, this is it.

But the propaganda is relentless.

Is the Earth Actually Cooling?

Most serious scientists understand that the rhetoric and the data don’t match. Privately they say that the earth may not be warming right now; it may actually be cooling.

They also say that the causes of any change probably have nothing to do with CO2 emissions, but are more likely related to solar cycles and possibly volcanic activity.

The alarmism springs from climate models that reflect the biases of their programmers. They bear little relation to the actual record. There’s no scientific basis for the alarmism that elites and the media have been pushing.

The legitimate science of climate change has been hijacked by globalists aided and abetted by contributors like George Soros and an army of paid-off scientific lackeys and corrupt journalists as a means to pursue global governance, global taxation and global regulation.

I know that sounds conspiratorial. But if you follow the evidence, you’ll find that it’s legitimate.

Clean Energy Means Dirty Energy

At the end of the day, the idea that wind, solar and hydro energy are “carbon free” is nonsense.

For example, Tesla electric vehicle batteries are charged using electricity from utilities that burn coal in many cases. Large wind generators are constructed of tubular steel and fiberglass, both of which are carbon intensive in their manufacture.

Hydroelectric dams are massive construction projects involving square miles of excavation and millions of cubic yards of concrete with steel reinforcement. Solar panels are made using poisonous chemicals.

These are not reasons to oppose these technologies. They are reasons to doubt the “carbon free” mantra of their supporters.

I have practical experience with solar energy. I built the largest non-commercial off-grid solar panel array in New England on my farm there. I’m obviously not against solar.

But a system like that is quite expensive and almost completely non-economic. My solar array is a lot more expensive than the local power company when all costs are considered.

It’s true I get “free” electricity (if you ignore capital costs and occasional maintenance costs), but I won’t live long enough to recoup my investment relative to commercial electricity rates.

Solar power is a “use it or lose it” energy source.

If you’re not in a desert climate, good luck with the weather. Solar output drops to zero when the weather is rainy, snowy or even densely clouded. Oh, by the way, there’s no solar power at night.

The reason I built the solar power system had to do with the possibility of the power grid going out. It was not about economics; it was about survival.

Natural gas is carbon-based but is relatively cheap and clean. It’s a good alternative for those worried about carbon-emissions but not ready to embrace the Green New Deal.

Green Energy: A Luxury Good

“Green” energy is increasingly a luxury good in a world of cheap oil. It’s a luxury of the rich who can afford to endure its inefficiencies. It’s moral preening. But most people can’t afford its costs.

I’m not saying that green energy is bogus or that it doesn’t have a future. It does. But right now it’s more of a niche than a mass market phenomena with high-growth potential. It’s essentially a fetish of the richer nations.

Bottom line, be skeptical about the Green New Deal. And be wary of rich people who do push it. It’s a lot more about these people advertising their virtue than actual science.


Jim Rickards
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning