To the Editor:
Rhode Islanders are currently watching the political drama called Deepwater Energy play out and wondering where their electrical rates are going. This really has nothing to do with energy but is all about tax credits and hedge fund profits. Without the tax credits and advance profits, there would never be a wind farm off the Rhode Island coast. Economically, it doesn’t make sense. It is not a job generator and certainly will not save money, but many “environmentalists” will do anything to get rid of carbon-based electricity generation, including shooting themselves and us, as taxpayers, in the foot. They continue to push wind and solar despite the fact that they are very inefficient for large scale use.
Wind and solar may have a use in electrical generation, but it is limited. We can buy hydroelectric power from Canada for about one-third the cost of wind generation. A much better solution is nuclear, but that is tied up in politics and regulation. France gets 85 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors and China and India are rapidly moving that way. An even better solution is fusion, which powers our sun if we can master the technology. Hydrogen is plentiful and the byproduct is water but dangerous if used improperly.
Wind-based electrical generation is a failed technology. It requires another source when the wind doesn’t blow and needs large batteries to store the energy it produces. If the wind blows really hard, the grid cannot take all of the electricity produced and some of the turbines must be shut down. These generators also have a relatively short useful life and are extremely expensive to construct and maintain. Around the world many countries are coming to the same conclusion. Germany and Ireland have made a huge bet on wind power and now are having buyer’s remorse.
We have just watched President Obama appeal to his environmental constituencies with a series of sweeping administrative rules that he could not pass through Congress. This has far less to do with global warming and far more to do with politics. By making carbon dioxide a pollutant, he is able to wage war on carbon-based fuels. This was done despite the fact it is a gas exhaled by all mammals and essential to all green plants. He has set the stage for a carbon tax, which will be a brand new source of revenue for the federal government. He has also fought increased drilling for oil and gas on federal land, yet has taken credit for the boom fracking has created, increasing our energy supplies. Once again, politics dictates our energy policies; not science. We will run out of natural oil and gas but it will not be in this century.
Global warming and cooling is a fact of nature dictated primarily by sun activity. It is inevitable. We have only to look at the ocean 20,000 years ago when it was an estimated 400 feet lower than today. England and Ireland were part of the European land mass. Rhode Island was under several thousand feet of ice. It melted, the oceans rose and mankind has absolutely no effect on those occurrences. There will be global warming and cooling for as long as the sun lasts. Science is about fact, not consensus. The original predictions of global warming were based on poor computer models and have proven to be wildly inaccurate. Time and again we have had people with an agenda tell us that this or that was bad, only to be proven wrong. People game the system to justify their conclusions but they are theories not facts.
What is a fact is that China and India have three-fifths of the world’s population and they are still building coal plants in addition to nuclear plants. They are driving more cars and creating massive environmental problems that make our energy-saving efforts insignificant. Carbon dioxide does not respect national boundaries. Unless the entire world agrees to eliminate the use of carbon-based fuel, we are on a fool’s mission to destroy our economy. We are using a teaspoon to empty the bathtub while the water is running.
What is a fact is that a volcanic eruption like Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 put an estimated 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide in the air in nine hours, temporarily lowering the temperature of the earth by a degree for several years. It also put more particulate matter in the atmosphere than all of the automobiles in the world for the past 10 years. It is the height of hubris to think we control the world’s temperature, but it makes good political sense to imply we can. It also makes good sense to conserve fuel, recycle and do what we can to preserve our environment. In the meantime, it doesn’t make sense to do away with carbon-based fuel for a theory that is totally unproven before we have a replacement. Life is a continual series of choices and we make a lot of bad ones when we work on theory not fact.