Are Heavily Subsidized Wind, Solar, and Biofuels “Sustainable” Energies?

by Marlo Lewis on February 13, 2011

in Blog, Features

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So-called “sustainability” advocates never tire of condemning fossil fuels as unsustainable. Their assessment is based on ideology, not facts, I argue in  “Sustainability: Some Free Market Reflections” over at MasterResource.Org, the free-market energy blog.

By any reasonable definition, modern commercial energy (except for heavily subsidized renewables) is sustainable. Whether we consider air pollution, life expectancy, health of the elderly, vulnerability to extreme weather, per capita food consumption, or access to safe drinking water, the long-term trends show dramatic — and continuing — global improvement. Abundant, affordable, reliable energy from fossil fuels is a key factor driving those improvements.

The truly unsustainable energy sources are those that cannot ‘compete’ without special policy privileges. Clearly, subsidy-dependent enterprises are not self-sustaining. Chronic subsidy-dependence is an indication the value of the resources an enterprise consumes exceeds the value of the products and services it provides.  So from both a business and environmental standpoint, wind and solar power do not deserve to be called sustainable.

Fiscal considerations point to the same conclusion. Lavish green tech subsidies contribute to the unsustainable spending binges that are pushing entire states and countries to the brink of insolvency.

Sustainability advocates demand that governments — via cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, market-rigging mandates — penalize carbon-emitting fossil fuels. The full flowering of their agenda — as in Al Gore’s campaign to “re-power America” with zero-carbon energy in 10 years — would crash the economy, making U.S. prosperity unsustainable.

Because anti-carbon schemes threaten prosperity and jobs, the American public rejected cap-and-trade.  And because affordable energy is vital to the improving state of the world, the Copenhagen climate negotiations ended in failure. The “sustainability agenda” is politically unsustainable.

CJ Brower February 13, 2011 at 9:30 am

I agree with your conclusions. I would like to see more statistical support for the claims in future articles.

Charles February 14, 2011 at 7:30 am


By definition anything that has to be heavily subsidized for many years is not sustainable, unless it is something that takes many, many years to develop like nuclear power or certain vaccines. Wind power has been around for centuries. Before we could produce electricity it was one of the best deals around. Water wheels were good too. Buggy whips were useful also, but I prefer an automobile to a horse.

The greens have oversold the market. Al Gore and the IPCC are not believable. And the earth has in fact been warming since the Little Ice Age. It is always warmer than when it was cooler.

The world needs to invest in energy, clean water, sanitation, health, food and governments that exist to help their citizens.

The Gaia people need to realize we don't need their religion.

Marlo Lewis February 14, 2011 at 7:42 am

Dear C.J., my GlobalWarming.Org post was a summary of a much longer piece at MasterResource.Org:

The statistical support you are looking for is there.

Best regards,


brian February 16, 2011 at 9:16 am

the author of these stories has no brain

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