We must, first, “go honest” if we want to “go green”

A couple of days ago I recommended that the Conservative Party should, loudly and clearly, “first promise a suite of polices that address global climate change on a global basis and promise that Canada will do its fair and full share to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions … {and then, albeit quietly] … start preparing legislation to invoke the national interest to overturn any and all objections, including by special interest groups, provinces and some First Nations, to pipeline approval, and be ready to introduce it as soon as parliament convenes after a Conservative victory.” The latter action ~ building pipelines to “unlock” Western Canadian energy resources and deliver them to Canada and the world ~ was, I suggested, necessary to keep the first promise.

Why did I say that? Aren’t Saint Greta Thunberg and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau right …

… when they say that we must stop using oil and gas?

Scott Tinker

The short answer is “No.” They are either foolish or knowingly dishonest. (My money is on the first, for her, and on a mix of the two for him.) As an article in The Hill by Dr Scott Tinker, who is the Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin, explains, “producing and burning coal and oil have significant environmental impacts … [so Thunberg and Trudeau are right about that] … But what goes unmentioned are the extensive benefits of affordable, reliable energy provided by coal and oil to make cheap electricity, power cars and underpin a modern economy …[and] … The ironic kicker is that economic wealth allows a nation to regulate and clean up the environment: its air, soil, water and emissions. Coal and oil are not green, but the wealth they create cleans up the environment. And, only wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany have been able to afford to begin to transition beyond coal for power generation.” The only reason we can even worry about “going green” is because abundant, cheap oil and gas give us the economic freedom to do so.

Dr Tinker explains that “the global reality faced by the Biden administration …[and the Trudeau regime in Canada, too] … is that poorer economies represent about two-thirds of the world’s population and they have a growing energy appetite. Just as the U.S. and Western Europe did, China is building an eye-watering number of coal plants to power its expanding share of global manufacturing. China now burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. Notwithstanding silly emissions pledges, China has no plans for reducing coal. They can’t afford to. The reality is that only economic wealth will allow China and other emerging economies to begin to transition away from coal and clean up the environment.” That’s just simple economic reality. There are millions of Canadians, almost every single one devoted to one of the Green, Liberal or New Democratic parties, who will believe otherwise. They are, every single one of them, uninformed or delusional.

But, Scott Tinker asks: “why not just switch from dirty coal and oil to clean and renewable solar and wind?” There are, he says, two reasons not to do so:

  • First, he explains, “They are not renewable and they are not clean. Sure, during non-cloudy days and windy times, the wind and the sun can be captured and turned into electricity. But because the amount of energy is not “dense,” it takes scads of land and collectors — solar panels and wind turbines — to capture it“; and
  • It also takes oodles of batteries to back up intermittent solar and wind so that everything keeps running uninterrupted … [and, to make matters worse] … There is also replacement … [he reminds us that] … The panelsturbines and batteries wear out after 10 to 20 years, and the metals, chemicals and toxic materials required to make them must be constantly mined, manufactured and disposed of in landfills. Coupled with some carbon dioxide emissions associated with those processes, solar and wind are neither renewable nor clean.

And, Professor Tinker adds: “To add to it, contrary to popular spin, solar and wind are not cheaper than coal or natural gas. The reported lower cost is misleading because it represents the cost of electricity at the generation source, the so-called levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), not the actual cost to the consumer. Intermittent solar and wind require almost 100 percent redundant and expensive backup power from natural gas plants or batteries to be reliable, which makes them more expensive to the consumer. That is partly why people in California and Germany pay much more for electricity. This higher cost is both regressive and inequitable to lower-income people.” I understand that some of that ~ levelized costs ~ is economic jargon but his conclusion, that “This higher cost is both regressive and inequitable to lower-income people,” ought to ring some alarm bells with progressive voters and with fair-minded people of all political stripes.

Scott Tinker concludes, and I agree, that: “Wind, solar and batteries have a significant role to play … [to that degree Greta Thunberg and Justin Trudeau and Annamie Paul are correct] … but it’s time to stop pretending that they can provide all the benefits of coal and oil, with none of the negative effects. The Biden administration, as a proponent of science, has a chance to represent the complex social, legal, political, economic and, yes, scientific challenges of energy … [and he says] … To “go green,” we must “go honest” so that we can address and solve the real energy challenges before us.

This is the big green energy problem is Canada: it rests on a dishonest base.

Yes, we can have more and more and more relatively expensive and not-so-clean and green energy from wind and solar ~ even in the North. But we must be honest and recognize that until we have a truly massive reinvestment in nuclear power, all across Canada, from coast to coast to coast, we will be dependent on petroleum to power our electric cars and bicycles.

An honest Canadian green energy policy must recognize the critical importance of getting Canadian oil and gas to Canadian homes and autos for a generation or more, until we can commission enough nuclear plants, large and small, to meet our electricity needs. But, honesty is the last thing most of us expect from the Trudeau Liberals, isn’t it?

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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