Why Pretend Green Pork Will Stop Climate Change?

Because organized groups and politicians want the money, and the public wants to be a sucker.


By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Opinion, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)

July 29, 2022


Lies told by government officials provoke little concern from the public until voters encounter a consequence: That mask or vaccine didn’t prevent you from being infected by Covid. You can’t keep your doctor. The half-trillion dollars you were asked to spend on climate change didn’t stop climate change.


Take the Joe Manchin-sponsored climate compromise coming together in the U.S. Senate. Despite panegyrics in the press, this euphoric proposal amounts to exactly the sort of subsidy regime the National Academy of Sciences in 2013, after a similar splurge, judged to be a “poor tool for reducing greenhouse gases and achieving climate-change objectives.”


One analysis pinpointed in the fewest possible words why: “Alternative energy is not replacement energy.”


Such packages are sold on the public’s faulty intuition that an erg of green energy consumed is an erg of fossil energy that stays in the ground. But it does not follow. The most widely celebrated paper in recent years on the economics of climate change concludes that green-energy subsidies mostly just increase total energy consumption rather than displace fossil fuels. The impact on CO2 and temperatures is “minuscule,” according to Princeton’s José Luis Cruz Álvarez and Esteban Rossi-Hansberg.


But organized green interests want your money; voters want a warm feeling from being told they’re doing something about climate change (as long as it doesn’t involve a carbon tax). Even so, notice that Joe Biden and his aides have been careful to voice their support for the Senate bill in terms of “energy security,” not anything that sounds like “green new deal.” They know the public is wising up.


Let’s go to the numbers: Fossil energy accounted for 82% of global energy consumption last year, down from 85% in 2016, so fossil fuels are headed to zero, right?


No, total energy consumption is growing—last year it jumped a walloping 5.8%, the biggest increase ever, including a 2.6% increase in renewables and a 5.7% increase in coal.


The demand for energy will keep growing as a billion-plus humans seek to rise from poverty. Renewables will be lucky to hold even their current share of the market. Millions will want air conditioning if the world is warming. It will be an excellent trade-off for them. The additional emissions will be a small price to pay for being able to live and work in healthy conditions right now...


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