Hey Democratic Candidates: Are You Going To Ban All Fossil Fuels?

The CNN climate “town hall” was just the beginning. With each passing day it seems that there is a louder and louder chorus of voices on the left demanding that all candidates get in line with a total war against use of all fossil fuels. After all, total eradication of these evil fuels is the only way to save humanity from climate apocalypse.

Probably, you don’t read these things, so I’ll just give you a couple of examples to demonstrate how completely unhinged they have become. On Friday (September 6) the Guardian had a piece by Kate Aronoff titled “Democrats must go to war with fossil fuel industry to take on the climate crisis.” Excerpts:

Nearly every candidate that participated in CNN’s seven-hour climate town hall agreed that we need to invest trillions of dollars in building a clean energy economy fit for the 21st century, and create hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs in the process. However impressive these commitments are, they won’t be worth much if they don’t also take on the fossil fuel industry. . . . Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, has pledged in his plan for a Green New Deal to make the fossil fuel industry enemy No 1, cutting into their business model and holding them accountable for the years they spent spreading misinformation about global warming. Elizabeth Warren rightly called out the fact that . . . responsibility for this crisis is concentrated among a small number of corporations; just 90 companies – most of them fossil fuel producers – have been responsible for two-thirds of manmade greenhouse gas emissions since the dawn of the industrial age.

If that doesn’t seem all that extreme, then perhaps try this one from Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker on Sunday (September 8), titled “What If We Stopped Pretending? The climate apocalypse is coming.”  

[E]very one of the world’s major polluting countries [must] institute draconian conservation measures, shut down much of its energy and transportation infrastructure, and completely retool its economy. . . . [T]he carbon emissions from existing global infrastructure, if operated through its normal lifetime, will exceed our entire emissions “allowance”—the further gigatons of carbon that can be released without crossing the threshold of catastrophe. . . . To stay within that allowance, a top-down intervention needs to happen not only in every country but throughout every country. . . . [O]verwhelming numbers of human beings . . . need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting. . . . They have to make sacrifices for distant threatened nations and distant future generations. They have to be permanently terrified by hotter summers and more frequent natural disasters, rather than just getting used to them. Every day, instead of thinking about breakfast, they have to think about death.

So where do the candidates stand? Go through the leading contenders, and you find that sure enough they are quickly lining up to eradicate fossil fuels.

  • There was Joe Biden in New Hampshire on Friday (September 6), responding to a question about whether he could be trusted to deal with the “climate crisis.” His answer (video at the link): “I want you to just . . . look in my eyes. I guarantee you, I guarantee you that we’re going to end fossil fuels.”

  • Elizabeth Warren may have seemed to be skirting the issue with her multiple piecemeal “plans” that never got to the heart of the matter. Until Friday, when she finally issued the definitive tweet: “On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking—everywhere.” Given that fracking accounts for more than half of U.S. fossil fuel production — and essentially all of new production — that tweet leaves very little daylight between Warren and an outright fossil fuel ban.

  • Bernie Sanders? He also called on September 4 for a “full fracking ban on public and private lands.” Of course, Bernie is also the guy who has been calling for criminal prosecution of everybody in the fossil fuel business.

  • And Kamala Harris issued her own call at the CNN September 4 town hall for a complete ban on fracking.

    So all you other candidates, if you aren’t already in line, now is the time. You are just not going to be able to compete for this nomination unless you are prepared to join the call to get rid of all fossil fuels entirely.

So far, though, I haven’t seen a single one of these candidates address things like:

  • How is an airplane going to work in this brave new world?

  • How are you going to heat your house?

  • How much is your electricity going to cost?

  • How is farm equipment going to run?

And so forth. It’s all just fairy dust. When did it become possible — indeed, not just possible, but required — to be so fundamentally unserious while running for President of the United States?