Wednesday, July 23

Naysaying a Naysayer

Wall Street Journal Opinionist, Bret Stephens said yesterday that "Al Gore gave a speech last week "challenging" America to run "on 100% zero-carbon electricity in 10 years" -- though that's just the first step on his road to "ending our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Serious people understand this is absurd. Maybe other people will start drawing the same conclusion about the man proposing it."

Mr. Stephens, who was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (which is "committed to improving the state of the world" and has its own agenda relating to energy production and greenhouse gas reductions) is clearly no expert on innovation, nor does he defend his flimsy position very well.

In any case, the unnamed "serious people" he is referring to must not be the same serous people that Al Gore and others rely on for their scientific, technological, and innovation policy ideas.

Stephans then goes on to state "an inconvenient fact. In 1995, the U.S. got about 2.2% of its net electricity generation from "renewable" sources, according to the Energy Information Administration. By 2000, the last full year of the Clinton administration, that percentage had dropped to 2.1%. By contrast, the combined share of coal, petroleum and natural gas rose to 70% from 68% during the same time frame.

Now the share of renewables is up slightly, to about 2.3% as of 2006 (the latest year for which the EIA provides figures). The EIA thinks the use of renewables (minus hydropower) could rise to 201 billion kilowatt hours per year in 2018 from the current 65 billion. But the EIA also projects total net generation in 2018 to be 4.4 trillion kilowatt hours per year. That would put the total share of renewables at just over four percent of our electricity needs."

What he fails to say is that because of the ravages of global climate change and their potentially lethal effects, that this plan is not only doable, but necessary. And what he does not say is Gore's plan will have to compete against traditional energy production giant's agendas to succeed. The Wall Street Journal would not likely bite the hands that feeds it.

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