Who are you calling stupid?
By Alan Caruba
If you read as much of the blather turned out by media folk like the New York Times' Thomas Friedman and others, you begin to see certain themes emerge.
They don't like humanity much.
One of their great concerns is population growth and, in concert with the use of various sources of energy, all the problems that come from too many people competing for food, water, and that parking space you want.
Their disdain for oil, the primary energy source of transportation, plus the source from which plastic is derived, along a thousand other uses, infuses everything they write. They don't like natural gas or coal either. These misnamed "fossil fuels" transformed and improved life for everyone over the last century and earlier. The Earth is not running out of any of them.
Lastly, they are desperately clinging to the "global warming" lie despite the fact that most people have concluded it was and is a hoax. Most people are right. The Earth is already into a decade-old cooling cycle.
Thomas Friedman, whom we are constantly reminded won a Pulitzer Prize, thus crowning him among the smartest people on Earth, has a new book out. It is about the Earth and its title is Hot, Flat, and Crowded. He's wrong on at least two of his assertions.
The great problem that wordsmiths like Friedman encounter is that they fall in love with their own words, particularly if they lead to great fame and great wealth. After a while, they begin to believe their fanciful notions of how the world works and where it's headed. Given enough time and rope, and they are frequently found to be astonishingly wrong. In the meantime, however, you can be pretty sure he thinks you're stupid.
The September 14, Sunday edition of The New York Times was a study in what might be called journalistic cognitive dissonance; on the front page the lead story was "Storm Damage is Extensive and Millions Lose Power." It requires no genius to figure out that, without electrical power, everything grinds to a stop. More than half of the electrical power in the United States is generated by burning coal. It's cheap. It's abundant.
On the September 14 editorial page, Friedman, was explaining why we have to stop using oil as an energy source for transportation and replace coal and nuclear with wind turbines and solar panels to produce electricity. Friedman is convinced that perfectly good ways of producing power are stupid, are doomed, and should be replaced as soon as possible.
The title of Friedman's column was, "Making America Stupid", and it is a pretty good description of the entire environmental movement whose main objective often seems to be the thwarting of any new energy, i.e., power, sources in America. Visit any "Green" website and you will find they are spending millions to stop the building of coal-fired plants, filled with dark fears about nuclear power, and advocate nonsense.
It helps, if you are a New York Times editor, to be unable to make the connection between your page one story and the babbling of Thomas Friedman who is inside the same issue calling for "innovating a whole new industry of clean power" for America after the grudging admission that "Of course, we're going to need oil for many years." You think????
Friedman's column lambastes the bad old Republicans for wanting to "focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology—"fossil fuels"—rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology—renewable energy."
That fabulous renewable energy, wind and solar power and biofuels, would surely have been embraced by now if it could deliver the power efficiently and reliably. It cannot. The wind does not blow all the time and the sun does not shine all the time.
In Texas, there are lots of wind turbines, but they like all the rest in the nation provide barely one percent of our electricity needs. And they exist only because they are heavily subsidized with federal and state funding. Without government mandates, they would not exist. The same goes for solar power. And ethanol.
This is what happens when government intrudes itself into areas that should be left to intelligent people. During the Carter administration, the Department of Energy was established in 1977 for the purpose—we were told—of reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Thirty-one years later the budget for DOE is $24.2 billion a year. It has 16,000 employees and some 100,000 contract employees. Are we energy independent yet? This is the same Jimmy Carter who had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. They're gone now.
Friedman pauses in his criticism of Sen. McCain and the Republican solutions to our energy needs ("Drill, baby, drill!") to make fun of their proposal for more nuclear plants, but Freidman wants to carpet America with solar panels and ruin the landscape will thousands of wind turbines. No thank you!
Gregg Easterbrook wrote a review of Friedman's new book for Slate.com. He pointed out a lack of footnotes or source notes. Instead of citing any documentation, Friedman would have you simply accept his opinions as fact.
Easterbrook also took note of something that Friedman has in common with Al Gore; a very large home. Like Gore, he is constantly in flight somewhere around the world on commercial and private jets. While Friedman urges everyone to "lead as environmentally sustainable a life as you can," Easterbook notes that he "is lord of a manor and racing through more resources in his daily life than 10,000 rural Africans."
There's a reason why we don't have more coal-fired and nuclear plants generating the electricity we need.
There's a reason our electric power grid is not being upgraded to meet our future needs.
There's a reason oil companies won't spend billions to build new refineries.
There's a reason food costs more when corn is converted into fuel instead of food.
The reason is more than thirty years of government regulations and general interference with the power and energy industries that must answer to their investors while coping with "environmental" laws that slow or render impossible the provision of our energy needs.
A real energy policy is based on access to our nation's vast deposits of affordable coal and the ability of the oil and gas industry to extract the vast reserves of oil and natural gas that exist.
Friedman thinks it's stupid to drill for oil and natural gas, and mine our coal. He thinks it's smart to throw money at windmills and solar panels. He thinks you're stupid enough to agree with him.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com. He blogs daily at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. © Alan Caruba, September 2008