I’m All for Saving the Planet but we Need Affordable Electricity First.

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To the Editor:

A picture is worth a thousand words.

In 2021 Connecticut had the highest electricity rates in the continental United States .  Energy costs impact everything. Perhaps this is why Connecticut recently ranked last among all states in (lack) of economic growth.  It takes effort to be dead last!  Indeed, affordable energy is not a priority for Connecticut’s leaders, who passed bills last session that will mandate wind-solar-EV starting in five years and demand full green energy by 2040. 

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Hydrocarbons provide eighty-four percent of the energy to a complex, interconnected infrastructure that fuels  the global economy, including Connecticut’s. Manufacturing. Transportation. The homes we live in, and the roads we drive on. All depend on hydrocarbons. Wishing that fact away won’t make it so. After two decades of research, investment, and construction to make clean energy a viable source of power, hydrocarbon’s contribution to worldwide energy supplies has declined a mere two percent.  The lesson is not that we have done too little, but that we rely so fundamentally on this enormous system.

A family looking  for a new house doesn’t start by burning down the one they live in.  Yet, this is U.S. energy policy.   Hydrocarbon production is hindered as emergency reserves are depleted and we beg tyrants and murderers to provide what our own workers might.  We are suffering the consequences.  For example, half of the recent increase in the price of  wheat, a food staple worldwide, stems from rising energy costs in fertilizer. 

A light at the end of this tunnel of economic suffering might make the sacrifice bearable.  But this green path leads into darkness.  The International Energy Agency estimates that even proposed partial transitions to green energy would require improbably massive increases in the supply of key minerals like lithium (4,200%), nickel (1,900%) and graphite (2,500%).   Cool-headed analyses of the breathless calls for “carbon-zero” like those in Connecticut conclude they “would require a quantity of minerals that exceeds the known global reserves of those minerals”. The failure of green advocates to consider the massive, countervailing increases in carbon implied by these efforts to limit carbon is inexplicable.  Visionary, scientific genius combined with extraordinary management skill is summoned to execute the rapid, forced transformation of a complex, global energy system.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sponsored the $50 trillion Green New Deal. 

Americans are admonished that Germany is “far ahead” on climate.   But The New York Times was reporting an emergency of spiraling German energy costs before the war in Ukraine,  forcing “de-industrialization” and families to resort to collecting wood in the forests for heat (8).  German leaders sacrificed their people on a green altar and bared their throats to Vladimir Putin.  

Thankfully, we are behind Germany.  But we are catching up.  In the same week California declared a 2035 electric car mandate it announced an immediate prohibition on charging electric cars because the grid was failing!  Is this some sort of IQ test?   The people with computer models that forecast the temperature to a fraction of a degree ten years in the future don’t grasp what is happening today.   Our green leaders have no idea what they are doing.

Back to the picture.  Does the policy tell us something about its advocates?  During the Cold War you would hear, “The left and right both have their dictators.  Yes, we have Che and Fidel but you have Marcos and Pinochet.” This was true, but there was an important difference. No one wore t-shirts with pictures of Ferdinand Marcos or Augusto Pinochet to parties. We dealt with dictators because we had to, the world being a rough place short on moral absolutes.  We did not fool ourselves.

Is the “Save the Planet” yard sign, like a Che Guevara t-shirt, about reality or image?  The same goes for  that “Defund the Police” placard.  The tragic absurdity of this as policy was predictable. As carnage fills the streets, and two cops are buried in Berlin, the signs have been moved to the garage.  And there are “sanctuary cities”.  “Diversity is our strength” was repeated like a mantra in New York City until actual sanctuary seekers showed up and a state of emergency was declared.  Perhaps the idea is the more ethereal the slogan the better.  Soaring, emotive declarations hermetically removed from messy reality are fun to adopt and hard to oppose.  But slogans don’t heat houses or raise dead policemen.

When I went to college “Save the Planet” causes were like the ivy on the buildings, an endearing part of the campus ambiance.  Kids from boarding schools built shanties and vowed to sleep in them until we divested from this or that.  In a night or two they moved back to warm dorms. The sense was they would graduate and be brought to earth by Skadden Arps or the first year of med school. The unreasoned righteousness and breathless angst would never survive.  The idea that they would be permitted anywhere near the controls of the global energy system was unthinkable.   Filling up a car now is not endearing. 

Reaction to the evident failure of ‘government by slogan’ illuminates another distinction.  When these Potemkin Villages are exposed the left’s response is abnegation.  They blame others, yes, but everyone does that.  The key difference is the dispositive value placed on intentions over results.  For me, “caring” is worthless unless that emotion creates positive outcomes in the real world.  For some, caring about the correct things has become an end in itself.  The wreckage of  impractical, inane or impossible policies is absolved by good intentions. 

Unfortunately, the separation of utopian goals from human results has been the path to mankind’s greatest crimes.  Communism piled corpses higher than any idea in human history, in the name of equality for the common man, and the ultimate political slogan, “The People”.   Today’s left shares much DNA with its ideological cousin. The slogan, the words on the banner, justify the means, any means.   Failure to demand accountability based on results enables the Green New Deal irrationality from which we suffer.  A Norwalk retiree can’t afford heat? “Save the Planet”.  A business in Shelton is shuttered due to shipping costs? “Save the Planet”.  Didn’t Stalin say “one freezing house is a tragedy; one million freezing houses is a statistic”? 

I’m all for Saving the Planet but we need affordable electricity first.

G. David Bednar
Greenwich, CT