Energy & Climate Wars: Energy Consumption Is Good!

by David Bier on December 12, 2011

in Blog

In this excerpt from Energy and Climate Wars: How naïve politicians, green ideologues and media elites are undermining the truth about energy and climate, Peter Glover and Michael Economides explain why energy consumption is the ultimate good and why governments shouldn’t prevent increased energy use. As they write, “energy demand is the cause of US wealth.”

Energy and Climate Wars was released in 2011

Without modern energy Western civilization would grind to a halt, literally. Your refrigerator would no longer keep cheap food chilled for weeks and months; you would need fresh food daily, with all the extra costs and the journeys that entails. Private cars would be obsolete. You would have to read by candlelight. Your home would have to be heated by burning wood or, if you had a local source of hydrocarbon fuels—what we call primary—burning oil, gas, or coal. In short, you would be subject to the technology of the mid-nineteenth century.

At this point, an extreme idealist may naively insist that life was better in former generations than today. A less extreme idealist may claim that hydrocarbon fuels are no longer necessary and that we could switch, with the right social and political will, to alternative energy sources. The argument runs that, if only we could divest ourselves of our “addiction” to oil, gas, and coal (“fossil” fuels) we could, at a stroke, clean up our environment by making a wholehearted commitment to renewable, clean and “free” energy, wind, wave, hydro, solar, and geothermal power to solve our future energy needs. Only one problem with that: there’s more chance of Donald Duck becoming president of the United States.

Just try to make that particular energy switchover and stand back and watch the lights go out all over the world. True, some radicals want it that way. They think it would be “quaint” to return to dark ages lifestyle, the same “quaint,” often poverty-stricken, lifestyles to which they would doom other societies who today are desperate to industrialize, as the West has. This is an easy pastime, of course, when you are an armchair eco-liberal enjoying the fruits of a post-industrial society.

The reality of doing that which today’s anti-hydrocarbon eco-warriors demand in their relentless, ultimately pointless, war on carbon is that the developed nations would simply find themselves among the ranks of those nations whose low energy consumption meant that they never came out of the “dark ages” in the first place. While some environmental activists may perceive the “old ways” as simple, something to hanker after, they conveniently forget the high infant mortality rates, sickness, pollution, and shortness of life that went with that “quaint” lifestyle, a lifestyle that for many even today is an all too unpleasant, even deadly, daily reality.

Ironic, is it not, that in an age when we live longer, healthier, more pollution-free lives than countless previous generations, we should have become even more angst-ridden and obsessive about our health and our environment? Yet such concerns, suffused with an unhealthy self-injected dose of idealism, are not only driving some modern Western governments to make mostly unnecessary and uneconomic social changes, but are also powerfully influencing global and national policies as they affect the world’s most important commodity: energy.

The truth is, we owe our longer, greater, healthier life, indeed our economic prosperity in the West generally, to the Industrial Revolution and the economic development that resulted from it. And that prosperity is a direct consequence of our growing energy consumption of energy. Like it or not, the great energy-driven reality of our age is, whatever idealistic social engineers may desire, that modern civilization (and those societies currently undergoing their own industrialization) remain wholly dependent upon the per capita consumption of primary energy of oil, gas, and coal. What is more, they will continue to do so for decades to come….

In the modern world, there is a direct correlation between the level of energy consumption and national wealth creation. Indeed the relative wealth and poverty of nations is entirely definable by its per capita energy consumption.

It is equally axiomatic that demand for energy is connected to wealth; the corollary is also true: use of energy promotes and generates wealth. Thus the perennial vilification of the US as the world’s largest consumer of energy (25 percent of global use) is wholly misguided, in that it is largely based on the fallacy that US energy demand is only the result of its wealth. Rather, energy demand is the cause of US wealth, as it is elsewhere. This is vital to understand. Especially in the light of the constant assertions made about the need to cut energy consumption when the right and proper aspiration of any modernizing country and government is to promote and sponsor the wealth, welfare, and prosperity of its constituent peoples. To achieve this, nations clearly have to increase their energy consumption. After all, isn’t an ever-improving standard of living and greater prosperity the goal to which every caring family and nation aspires?

(Excepted from pages 3-6)

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