It was back on June 4 that I posed the eternal question, “Will The Democratic Candidates Ever Notice That The Climate Change Thing Is Over?” That post noted that the Democratic candidates for President had begun a kind of bidding war over who could put forth the most extreme proposal to shackle the American economy in the name of climate salvatio n, while at the same time “out in the rest of the world” they were “laugh[ing] at this spectacle.” Among the data points cited in that post were that China was seeking reductions in the price of coal in order to spur consumption of electricity, and that in Australia a national election had just been lost by the party that made a principal issue out of its opposition to a huge new coal mine in Queensland.
In the three months since early June, things have only gotten sillier.
The Statistical Review of World Energy 2019 from the BP oil company came out. A summary of it in Forbes on June 28 noted: “Coal consumption in most of the developing world continues to grow. Asia Pacific increased consumption [in 2018] by the most overall, but its 2.5% growth rate lagged Africa's (+3.9%) and Central and South America (+3.7%).”
The annual Google billionaires’ climate summit was held in Sicily at the beginning of August. From euronews: “114 private jets flew into the Italian Verdura Resort, according to the Italian press, and many of the elite guest list arrived in multi-million pound yachts. With stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama and Prince Harry in attendance, reports Jim Dobson at Forbes, they were hardly going to be hitch-hiking. . . .”
With the Australian election won by pro-development forces, the giant ($16.5 billion) Carmichael/Adani coal mine project in Queensland resumed its march toward final regulatory approval.
In late August former President Barack Obama plunked down just under $15 million for a beachfront mansion in Martha’s Vineyard, maybe 10 feet above mean high tide, revealing just what the ex-Pres really thinks of his own rhetoric about impending climate-induced sea-level rise.
So then, by now, at least some of the Democratic candidates must have noticed that the climate change thing is over, right? Don’t be ridiculous. In fact, back in June the bidding war of insane “climate” proposals was only getting started. Now, the run-up to last night’s CNN climate “town hall” provided the impetus for a round of new and ever-more-extreme bids, each one promising some new impoverishment of the American people in the name of appeasing the climate gods:
Cory Booker put out a plan on which he placed a $3 trillion price tag over 10 years. From a summary at Politico: “Booker’s campaign says his plan would ‘directly invest over $3 trillion dollars by 2030.’ That price tag includes $1.5 trillion for clean energy, energy storage, and electric vehicle technologies; $100 billion toward boosting existing sustainable agriculture practices; $400 billion to fund Moonshot Hubs in each state for research and development of new technologies; and $300 billion in climate resiliency and disaster relief.” In other words, $3 trillion taken away from American taxpayers, leaving them $3 trillion poorer, and then completely wasted on providing energy that could and would have been provided without any need for government spending at all.
Not to be out-”planned,” Elizabeth Warren also put out a pre-town-hall climate plan, also with a supposed $3 trillion price tag. And where is the money to go? “My Green Apollo plan to invest $400 billion over ten years in clean energy R&D will spur innovation . . . . My Green Manufacturing plan to invest $1.5 trillion over ten years in federal procurement of American-made clean energy products will fund the transition for federal, state, and local governments. . . . And my Green Marshall Plan will commit $100 billion to support the export of American-made clean energy products so that we can help other countries cut their emissions too. [And] I’ll commit an additional $1 trillion over 10 years . . . to subsidize the economic transition to clean and renewable electricity, zero emission vehicles, and green products for commercial and residential buildings.” Again, a program to accomplish nothing more than impoverishing Americans to the tune of $3 trillion.
But nobody out-bids Bernie Sanders. $3 trillion? That’s peanuts! Bernie put out a pre-town-hall plan with a price tag of over $16 trillion. It goes on interminably — 35 pages — with endless faux precision as to amounts of spending to accomplish meaningless or fantasy tasks. In this short blog post, I can only give some examples: $30 billion “to decrease the cost of solutions like batteries” . . . ; $500 billion “to research technologies to fully decarbonize industry” . . .; $150 billion “to fully decarbonize aviation and maritime shipping and transportation” (fossil fuel-free airplanes? nothing to it!) . . .; $200 billion to the “Green Climate Fund for the equitable transfer of renewable technologies, climate adaptation, and assistance in adopting sustainable energies” . . .; $40 billion for the “Climate Justice Resiliency Fund” . . .; $150 billion to build “resilient, affordable, publicly owned broadband infrastructure” . . . . That’s just scratching the surface, but you get the idea. It is not an exaggeration to say that every one of Bernie’s spending proposals is a total boondoggle or fairy tale that will accomplish nothing more than replacing more reliable and cheaper energy with more unreliable and expensive energy. The American people end up poorer by about one full year’s GDP, and that’s before you consider dealing with periodic blackouts and trying to fly in windmill-powered airplanes.
And then, the town hall. Of course, it was clear even before it started that every one of the ten participating candidates endorsed the idea that there is a “climate crisis” which however can be promptly solved by imposing sufficient punishment and impoverishment upon American citizens for their sin of prosperity. Reverend Pete Buttigieg may have expressed it best (from the summary of the town hall in the New York Times): “This is less and less about the planet as an abstract thing and more about specific people suffering specific harm because of what we’re doing right now. At least one way of talking about this is that it’s a kind of sin.” What is the atonement that must be imposed? All the candidates were on board with some form of higher prices for carbon-based fuels and/or carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade scheme. In other words, increase your price of electricity and gasoline by double, triple, quintuple, or whatever it takes until you can’t afford it any more and you stay home and freeze in the dark.
Or, end fracking. That has the explicit endorsement of at least Sanders, Warren, and (at the town hall) Harris, who said “There is no question that I am in favor of banning fracking.” The fracking revolution has brought the price of crude oil down from well over $100 per barrel in 2014 to about $55 today. That’s a saving of over $50 per barrel, or close to $400 billion per year for the 7.5 billion barrels of oil that we consume. Add in comparable savings for decline in the price of natural gas, and you could be approaching $1 trillion per year of enrichment of the American people from fracking. And that’s before you count the accompanying decline in influence of all the most malign actors on the world stage, from Russia to Iran to Saudi Arabia.
I’m old enough that I can remember when political candidates thought that it was their job to propose policies that would enhance the prosperity of the people, let alone to make the world a safer place. Actually, Donald Trump still does think that. When did all the Democratic candidates go so completely insane?