The global energy market is leading us towards doom- regardless of how you look at it. The scientific community nearly universally agrees that climate change is real, with only a small minority arguing it isn’t man-made. The energy industry’s best guesses suggest we’re heading towards a market meltdown that will eventually cripple world markets. By even the most charitable read of anti-environmentalists, major energy policy changes are needed in the short-term to avoid climate problems, market meltdowns, and even resource wars.
Climate scientists are sounding the alarm. We maybe have a decade to correct the problem to avoid catastrophe. We might all die in like 30 years, if you believe the worst. There’s a global mass extinction happening in our oceans. If you choose to believe the experts, big problems are coming. But who believes the smart people anyway, right?
Let’s operate in a little different reality. Let’s assume for a minute that our doom is not thirty years away, but 200 years away. Let’s assume them “crazy liberals” are being nuts and preaching doom too early. Let’s assume all that, and still get a sense for our oncoming environmental peril if we don’t make energy policy changes.
First, let’s understand the state of oil on our planet- the oil industry estimates about 75 years of oil reserves exist on Earth. That’s assuming current levels of consumption, which is unlikely as demand rises in China and India. So in short, supply is falling, and oil gets more expensive the further you have to go to get it. Demand is rising. In some time far less than 75 years, the economic incentive to drill will be undercut by rising costs that price most people out of the market. We’ll have an economic meltdown resulting from oil simply being too expensive for most people to use. Economic meltdowns cause suffering, and worse yet, wars. What do we actually think tensions between the U.S. and Iran right now are about?
Second, let’s understand that the effects of climate change are already wreaking havoc on our economy. Superstorms like Hurricane Katrina or Sandy cause unprecedented damage, both human and economic on our economy. Tornadoes are destroying towns left and right in the homeland this year. Droughts are causing food prices to be unstable. Most of our major economic hubs in America- like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, or Boston- will be harmed by rising sea levels, threatening future economic depression if we lose them. How can the insurance industry write policies to deal with killer storms and rising oceans? The economic mess we could see from these threats is incalculable. Even if climate change isn’t killing us, it won’t get better on it’s own.
If oil could set off resource wars, one can’t leave out water as doing the same. Water is the most precious resource on the planet, and already there are skirmishes and wars in sub-Saharan Africa over it. As droughts become more common place around the world from a lack of fresh water, how do you avoid wars over access and control? Much like oil, water becomes a finite resource, and power and control ride on who has it.
How about our food supply- what is the impact on our food? How will droughts hurt crops? How will extinctions change ecosystems where we hunt and fish? Will it kill species we feed on? Will it cause natural predators to no longer keep other species in check? Will all of this instability likely lead to wild price changes?
Economic instability, recessions, wars, and other factors like forest fires are all immediate things our current environmental path leads us towards. I’ve basically tried to avoid the real doom and gloom- the potential short-term death of our planet, something that will cost most of us our lives. There is no quick “Planet B” option. The fact is that the experts are warning of a catastrophic impact of inaction. We very well may be facing doom. We shouldn’t diminish that.
This is not a funny debate about “cow farts” and banning airplanes. Solar, nuclear, wind, and hydro power could be as viable of an option to fuel society as coal, oil, and natural gas, if all we’d do is reverse tax subsidies and regulations from favoring fossil fuels to renewables and clean energy sources. And why not a plan along the lines of a “green new deal?” Why not create the economic boom, and millions of new jobs in a new, clean, safer energy economy that moves us towards a better future? Take issue with AOC’s plan if you want (and I do), but is the concept bad? Are we better off moving towards an increasingly difficult, violent future than unleashing our innovators on a new pathway? It seems to me like a pathway to not only survival, but prosperity.