OPINION: Fossil Fuels, Economic Growth And The Industrial Revolution

Peter Ferrara | Senior Policy Adviser, National Tax Limitation Foundation

A future national election is coming where the central question will be continued use of fossil fuels. It will probably be in 2020.

Republicans will be for fossil fuels. Democrats will be, and already are, against them.

The 2016 election was about economic growth. Unfair to the Democrats because they didn’t know that. They still don’t. The midterms this year are about the Rule of Law. Democrats don’t seem to know that, either. But the voters do.

The backdrop for the fossil fuels election is that America is already the world’s leading producer of natural gas, becoming the world’s leading producer of oil, with the resources to be the world’s No. 1 coal producer as well.

In his latest book, “Fueling Freedom,” Steve Moore writes, “America has more recoverable energy supplies than any nation — by far. We have more oil and natural gas than Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, China and all the OPEC nations combined.”

His book shows fossil fuels are closely associated with booming economic growth. For Millenia until the Industrial Revolution, most of the human race lived on an average income of $1–7 a day. Moore writes, “Average real income per capita — on a global basis — is now 10-to-20 times higher than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

Over the last hundred years, gross world product increased sixteen-fold, from $2 trillion to $32 trillion, fueled by oil, natural gas and coal.

Alternative fuels are not an alternative. Even where they are mandated, fossil fuel electricity plants need to be maintained when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. That is just one reason why so-called alternative fuels are so expensive.

Moore writes, “Anyone who thinks we can get the power we need for our modern society from “clean, renewable” sources like wind and solar power is living in a world of make-believe. After tens of billions in subsidies, these sources provide 4.3 percent of our electricity … A rapid rush to renewables in Germany led to retail electricity prices three times the average U.S. rate.”

Germany is consequently no longer even competitive with America. As America will no longer be competitive if we follow Democrats down the green energy corporate welfare rabbit hole. Bottom line: we can’t power a world-leading $20 trillion economy relying on wind and solar power, with energy industries surviving only on corporate welfare.

The thousand-page volumes of “Climate Change Reconsidered II,” published by The Heartland Institute, composed of documented, peer-reviewed, dispassionate science, show continued use of fossil fuels poses no threat of climate catastrophe. The up-and-down pattern of global temperatures in the 20th century to today have not followed the straight up pattern of carbon dioxide emissions.

Indeed, global temperatures stopped rising 20 years ago, during which time humans produced 1/3 of carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the industrial revolution. Global ice caps are not melting. Seas are rising no faster than otherwise since the last Ice Age.

The environmental extremists who want to reverse the industrial revolution, and the corporate welfare queens with their hands out posing as new energy moguls, are the real deniers.

Carbon dioxide is not some artificial industrial gas, but a natural substance produced by the natural environment, essential for the survival of all life on the planet. Carbon Dioxide fuels photosynthesis, which enables plants to grow, feeding animals, which feed other animals.

Without carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, plants would die, destroying the foundation of the food chain for all animals, including humans, who would consequently also all die.

That is why carbon dioxide can never be intelligently labeled “carbon pollution.” To the contrary, as carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution have increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the planet has flowered with greenery that can actually be observed by satellites orbiting the planet.

After 250 years of the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide is still only a trace atmospheric gas, 400 parts per million, or 0.04 percent. Atmospheric levels 15 times greater existed during the pre-Cambrian period 550 million years ago without known adverse effects. Only about 3 percent of that tiny 400 parts per million is generated by human activities, with the rest coming from natural sources and cycles.

Natural cycles have caused the history of the up and down pattern of global temperatures, not carbon dioxide emissions. These have included natural ocean temperature cycles, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

Every 20 to 30 years, the colder water near the bottom of these oceans cycles up to the top, where it has a slight cooling effect on global temperatures until the sun warms that water. That warmed water then contributes to slightly warmer global temperatures, until the next churning cycle.

Such natural cycles and causes explain precisely the twists and turns of the global temperature pattern of the 20th Century to today. These are all the reasons why continued use of fossil fuels pose no threat of climate catastrophe. (844 words).

Peter Ferrara teaches economics at King’s College in New York and serves as vice president for policy at the FAIR Energy Foundation and as senior policy adviser for the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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