Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Climate change good intentions are causing grave harm.
Our most widespread, most destructive fantasy is a tantalizing shade of green. It is a blind, stubborn, juvenile fantasy.
Too many of us believe good intentions are enough. If our motives are wholesome, nothing bad can possibly happen. If we support the climate change crusade a ‘better world’ will miraculously emerge. Virtuous jobs. Cities transformed. Clean water. Fresh air. Healthy children.
But lovely-sounding crusades often only sound lovely. We reside, after all, in a flawed, grimy, difficult real world.
A new academic paper tells us that, contrary to the rosy promises about solar power improving lives, the “shift from fossil fuels” to renewable energy “has virtually doubled the price of electricity,” increasing the risk of poverty. In what may be the understatement of the century, it concludes that the results “for society and economy have not been those expected or desired.”
The researchers examined data from 15 EU countries between 2005 and 2015. They report that, following Germany’s lead, numerous other European Union nations rushed to subsidize solar power installations with obscene rates and 20-year contracts, even though this technology is “still inefficient, and geographical conditions are mostly unfavourable” in that part of the world.
In other words: a stupid idea spread like a virus, infecting nation after nation. In the rush to create the ‘better world’ that appears in the cartoon at the top of this page, we made things worse. Regress rather than progress.
The bibliography at the end of that paper is impressive. Among the sources it cites is another analysis, published in 2012. Titled Germany’s Solar Cell Promotion: An Unfolding Disaster, that report says Germany’s Renewable Energy Act has led to “explosive costs” in exchange for negligible environmental and employment benefits.
Regarding Germany’s heavily subsidized solar energy boom, the authors are caustic:
this boom has proved to be a highly costly undertaking that does not confer any of the benefits that the advocates of renewable technologies claimed would arise. Perhaps most poignantly, the predictions of employment creation have instead been contradicted by a series of bankruptcies in the [solar energy] manufacturing sector, with many of the job losses hitting the eastern part of the country, where unemployment is already relatively high…the government’s support of renewables is an outstanding example of misguided political intervention…that has had little to show for its purported benefits, such as greenhouse gas reductions.
It’s time to free ourselves from childish fantasy. It’s time to admit we inhabit a complicated, unpredictable universe full of fallible human beings. Creating a ‘better world’ requires rigorous thinking. It requires math.
Good intentions are not nearly good enough.
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