June 2013 Brief: Volume 20, Number 17
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The "Burning" of Global Warming Opposition
by Deborah D. Thornton
In early May two science professors at San Jose State University in California posted a photo showing them burning a book on the University’s Website. It was later removed by management. Aside from what the photo says about their maturity level, respect for the First Amendment, and honest academic debate, the book being burned deserves further discussion.
Titled The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania by Steve Goreham, with a foreword by Astronaut Harrison Schmitt, the book discusses the history and premises of the climatism movement, debunking the claims in a humorous – yet serious – manner.
Goreham deals with the history of temperature changes on Earth, discusses the impact of CO2 in the eco-cycle, delves into ocean level changes, and generally discredits the alarms of the climate change movement. He cites many extreme examples of the supposed negative impacts of global warming and addresses the actual potential benefits of both warming and energy use. As reported by The New York Times, new studies cast further doubt on the negative impact of carbon dioxide on our climate and planet, even if it doubles.
The San Jose State University professors were, I’m sure, cheered by many of their peers. The jobs of these alarmists depend on government funding of climate change studies and renewable energy activities. And it is big business.
How big was recently demonstrated by MidAmerican Energy when they announced a plan to build almost $2 billion worth of wind turbines (some 650 units) in Iowa. This is about 50 percent more than are already in place. Chicago will lose its claim to being the windiest place in the United States if all these turbines are built. Fortunately, the state of Iowa is not subsidizing the project. Unfortunately, these turbines will not make electricity cheaper to customers. We are supposed to be happy that our rates will remain the same. This is because the federal government (read the taxpayers – who just happen to also be ratepayers) will be subsidizing the costs through federal tax credits. The circle of money goes round like the turbine blades.
If a new process or technology does not make a product or service less expensive to purchase or of better quality to customers, why are we using it? In addition, the storage and transmission of this power to other locations is problematic, with significant electricity losses and high costs.
New research documents that the oil and natural gas potential in North Dakota and Montana is far higher than previously thought. On May 1 the U.S. Geological Survey “nearly tripled” Bakken Formation estimates to about 7.4 billion barrels of oil, in addition to the amount already proven to be there. These new numbers make the amount of recoverable oil 49 times more than originally estimated in 1995. The natural gas levels were estimated at 6.7 trillion cubic feet.
Continental Resources, one of the main producers in the area, has estimated 903 billion barrels of oil there, with over 24 billion recoverable. Importantly, these numbers keep increasing as the technology improves. The technology is also delivering the product in a more cost-effective manner. If I were a college student today, becoming an oil and gas engineer might be a good career path. And for those not going to college, blue-collar jobs in the oil and gas fields are paying very well, providing overtime and bonuses. The economies of North and South Dakota are some of the most robust in the country.
In contrast to the wildly enthusiastic support for wind turbines, environmental activists in Winneshiek County have just submitted a petition to the Board of Supervisors asking for a 24-month moratorium on frac-sand mining in their county. Their desire is to shut down a highly profitable and growing oil and gas industry.
We must pursue the efficient and cost-effective use of all forms of energy. Renewables such as solar, wind, and hydro-electric power all have their place and use. The drive to develop these and other new technologies should be driven by market demand and real technical improvements, not over-hyped political correctness.
In the meantime, San Jose State University professors, Winneshiek County activists, and many like them continue to pursue a path of ever more expensive and limiting, government-controlled energy use and development. It is a mad, mad, mad world. Free-market, limited-government advocates, such as Steve Goreham, must not be intimidated into silence. Expect the book burning to continue – but not to be posted on the Internet.
Deborah D. Thornton is a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute, Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Contact her at Public.Interest.Institute@LimitedGovernment.org.
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