The Santa Barbara Technology and Industry Association featured a debate between the Community Environmental Council versus COLAB (yours truly) and James Taylor of the Heartland Institute on the subject of climate change. Here is my contribution to the discussion:
I am not a climate change denier. The only thing the climate does is change. That is, the climate has never “flat-lined,” representing a constant and consistent temperature gradient over time without variation. No, the climate record reflects one very long (measured in eons) oscillation between extreme cold (ice ages) and corresponding warmer temperatures. Truth be told, global warming is truly a godsend. It is the next ice age that presents an existential threat to mankind and nature. Moreover, today’s climate change computer models can’t explain these past extreme temperature variations; therefore, there is no confidence they can predict the future.
Economically, green energy, namely wind and solar, are not viable energy sources sans mandates, subsidies, tax breaks and hidden fees passed onto consumers. That is, with respect to a cost benefit analysis, they can’t compete with nuclear, oil and gas, coal, or hydroelectric. These technologies cannot produce base load — that is, an energy supply which produces 24/7/365. They are intermittent at best, and there is no way to control or store the power long term. Due to this inability to store or modulate the power from either wind or solar, California finds it necessary to pay the state of Arizona to take our excess solar.
These are just a few of the reasons our energy prices in California, at the pump and at the thermostat, are 50% higher than the rest of the nation. These costs have a disparate impact on poor people and businesses.
Another huge problem? No one can rely on wind and solar in the dead of winter in places like Wisconsin. That is, solar won’t work when panels are covered in ice and/or buried in snow; neither will wind turbines work in extreme cold because their parts freeze up. Insult to injury? During severe wind events, wind turbines have to be shut down because their rotors are not built to withstand high winds.
With respect to the value of the energy produced by wind and solar, it is inferior to our traditional sources for a variety of reasons, including ecological concerns. Namely, wind and solar take up inordinate amounts of land, magnitudes of order beyond all other sources. This has an impact on land available for other purposes including growing food, maintaining open space, preserving habitat and building affordable housing.
Additionally, wind and solar slaughter birds and bats on a daily basis and on a massive scale. With respect to the cradle-to-grave ecological impacts of the same, wind turbine structures must be made from steel and anchored in concrete, which involves mining raw materials and manufacturing the same in a very carbon-energy intensive process. With regard to solar panels, they contain precious minerals that become hazardous waste after a relatively short life span. That is, whereas the sun and wind are renewable, wind turbines and solar panels are not.
Let’s not forget that India, Pakistan and China are producing 60% of greenhouse gas emissions because they care about their people. California’s virtue signaling, therefore, won’t accomplish a thing, as we represent only 1% of the world’s emissions.
Finally, a Sierra Club representative asked me how I can live with myself in view of my perspective on this subject. Well, the truth is oppositive. Billions of people are suffering and dying prematurely today as a result of food and energy insecurity, while dumb, fat and happy chicken little activists bloviate about hypothetical risks 40 years into a future they won’t live to see.
Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of The Andy Caldwell Radio Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press AM 1290.