News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Nordhaus and Shellenberger: United States is the global climate leader despite having neither a CO2 price nor emissions trading, instead 35 yrs of government spending leading to shale gas revolution and drop in coal use-Sept. 2013, Breakthrough Institute

In a democracy, "science cannot tell us what to do." Sept. 2013 article:
 
9/26/2013, "Climate Skeptics Against Global Warming," thebreakthrough.org, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus 

"This week's release of a new United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report opens another front in the climate wars. But beneath the bellowing, name-calling, and cherry-picking of data that have become the hallmark of contemporary climate politics lies a paradox: the energy technologies favored by the climate-skeptical Right are doing far more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than the ones favored by the climate-apocalyptic Left.

How much more? Max Luke of Breakthrough Institute ran the numbers and found that, since 1950, natural gas and nuclear prevented 36 times more carbon emissions than wind, solar, and geothermal. Nuclear avoided the creation of 28 billion tons of carbon dioxide, natural gas 26 billion, and geothermal, wind, and solar just 1.5 billion.... 
 

Those nations that most rapidly reduced the carbon intensity of their economies over the last 40 years did so neither through regulations nor international agreements. Nations like France and Sweden, which President Obama rightly singled out for praise earlier this month, did so by directly deploying nuclear and hydroelectric power. Now the United States is the global climate leader, despite having neither a carbon price nor emissions trading, thanks to 35 years of public-private investment leading to the shale gas revolution. Meanwhile, there is little evidence that caps and carbon taxes have had much impact on emissions anywhere....

Environmental leaders who blame "global warming deniers" for preventing emissions reductions point to Germany's move away from nuclear and to renewables. "Germany is the one big country that’s taken this crisis seriously," wrote Bill McKibben. Other progressive and green leaders, including Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Bobby Kennedy, Jr., have held up Germany's "energy turn," the Energiewende, as a model for the world. 

But for the second year in a row, Germany has seen its coal use and carbon emissions rise  a fact that climate skeptical conservatives have been quick to point out, and liberal environmental advocates have attempted to obfuscate. "Last year, Germany’s solar panels produced about 18 terawatt-hours (that’s 18 trillion watt-hours) of electricity," noted Robert Bryce from the conservative Manhattan Institute. "And yet, [utility] RWE’s new coal plant, which has less than a 10th as much capacity as Germany’s solar sector, will, by itself, produce about 16 terawatt-hours of electricity.

Reagan historian Steven Hayward, formerly of the American Enterprise Institute, noted in the conservative Weekly Standard earlier this week [Sept. 2013], "Coal consumption went up 3.9 percent in Germany last year. Likewise, German greenhouse gas emissions — the chief object of Energiewenderose in Germany last year, while they fell in the United States."

Emissions fell in the United States thanks largely to a technology loathed by the Left: fracking. From 2007 to 2012, electricity from natural gas increased from 21.6 to 30.4 percent, while electricity from coal declined from 50 to 38 percentthat's light speed in a notoriously slow-changing sector. And yet the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and most other green groups are working to oppose the expansion of natural gas....


As Kathleen Higgins argues in a new essay for Breakthrough Journal, it's high time for progressives to get back in touch with the liberal tradition of tolerance, and pluralism. "Progressives seeking to govern and change society," she writes, should attempt to "see the world from the standpoint of their fiercest opponents. Taking multiple perspectives into account might alert us to more sites of possible intervention and prime us for creative formulations of alternative possibilities for concerted responses to our problems."...

We would do well to remember that science cannot tell us what to do. Making decisions in a democracy requires understanding and tolerating, not attacking and demonizing, values and viewpoints different from our own.

Conservatives have important things to say when it comes to energy, whether or not they think of it as climate policy. Liberals would do well to start listening." 







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