Feigning concern about the U.S. economy, the United Nations’ lead climate change negotiator recently expressed her annoyance with America’s dragging its feet on climate change.
Christiana Figueres said: “Why would the United States allow other countries to pursue the technologies of the future while the United States stays with the technologies that are becoming every day more obsolete, hence losing its future competitiveness in an increasingly competitive world?”
By “obsolete” she means oil, coal and natural gas — you know, the stuff that works and can reliably churn out gigawatts of usable power in modern, clean-burning systems.
By “technologies of the future” she means:
- Windmills — The earliest known confirmed windmill was built in the first century A.D. by Heron of Alexandria. There are stories, however, that Hammurabi used wind power in the 17th century B.C. Babylon. In terms of power output, it takes hundreds of square miles filled with windmills to replace one modern power plant. And it still only works when the wind is blowing, unless you add on a sizable battery storage capacity.
- Solar — The Greeks, with the assistance of the famed Archimedes, used a solar-powered weapon that employed mirrors to create a focused beam of light to help fight off a Roman fleet in the third century B.C. It was essentially the world’s first ray gun, and a feat we’re too stupid to re-create today. Both the Greeks and even earlier ancient Egyptians designed their architecture to employ passive solar heating that would keep buildings warm at night and cool during the day. Our modern solar panels are improving but still can’t replace coal and gas as reliable power sources. They also have the same drawback as windmills, in that they require a battery system to be practical.
- Ethanol — Ethanol is a type of alcohol that can be easily used as fuel. Alcohol lamps and stoves have been used throughout human history, apparently going back as far as the discovery of alcohol itself. In the 1600s, travelers would often carry small alcohol stoves for cooking and for warming themselves. In the early 1800s, alcohol was used in the first prototype internal combustion engine, and Henry Ford used it for his earliest cars. Ethanol is a viable fuel source, but the ways it’s being produced now, from corn, is affecting the nation’s food supply. Corn has squeezed out other crops, causing higher prices virtually across the board at grocery stores. Use of corn as feed for animals not naturally intended to eat it ultimately affects meat quality. Because of the relatively cheap price of corn, corn syrup has replaced other sweeteners in almost every food available. Although denied by government and corn suppliers, there is a large body of evidence that too much corn, particularly genetically modified corn, is causing serious health problems among the American population.
It’s hard to take these “climate change” people seriously when their vision of the future is actually a technological leap backward.
There are technologies that could replace gas and coal — namely nuclear and geothermal, along with the reliable standby of hydroelectric. There are even some promising experimental technologies, such as generators that work by tidal action.
But for some reason, the climate change crowd always focuses on the technologies that don’t work as well as what we have, or that have a steep tradeoff, such as in our food supply quality.
And the flip side of that focus is that they always want to reduce our use of oil, gas and coal by taxing the heck out of it and setting up some sort of carbon-credit trading scheme that could make some people very rich.
Gee, it’s almost as if this whole climate change business is about keeping down the middle class and poor by picking their pockets and limiting their freedoms, while making some of the wealthy even wealthier. …