Book Review: Fueling Freedom – By Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White
Reviewed by Jay Lehr
Radical environmentalists have convinced the global elite of the absurd idea that the greatest threat to mankind is the changing climate produced by the burning of fossil fuels. It has become the dogma of the leftist establishment despite the fact that replacing fossil fuel with medieval technologies of wind, solar and biomass is a dangerous fantasy. No one has told the true story of the world’s and particularly the United States’ vast inexpensive non polluting fossil fuels as Moore and White have. The book should be read by every High School student presently being bombarded by green lies. The lucid, precise, comprehensive, yet simple writing style can set the world back on a course toward energy sanity.
The authors trace the history of the industrial revolution driven by energy development where for the first time all the people and not just the privileged reaped the benefits. Before which they describe the travails of life for centuries without energy. No one has more succinctly described the problems being foisted upon us today. “Most green energy policies undermine human progress. They are regressive, disproportionately hurting low and middle income families by driving energy prices higher, thus eroding their standard of living.”
Moore and White explain the shale oil revolution and the people who made it happen in near historic novel style making it a delightful read while concurrently not mincing words over the Marxist political philosophy that has turned green into the new red. Nor do they mince words over Obama’s desire to starve the US of fossil fuel in spite of its ironic exponential growth during his administration. Their short summaries of the evil doers such as Thomas Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, Lester Brown and US science czar John Holdren are excellent. They also describe my own mentor and colleague M. King Hubbert who lead the world down the false premise of peak oil energy for decades. Most of the doomsaying elites they tell us are candid about their contempt for the value of human life and their desire for an all powerful centralized government on a global scale to equally distribute the world’s wealth at the lowest common denominator. Their result is over a billion human beings still with no access to electricity.
The reader will gain a clear understanding of the many great formations yielding shale gas and oil that truly make us the richest energy nation in the world, which objective scientific estimates recounted in the book, place its value at 50 trillion dollars. Periodically they point out the pitifully small contribution wind and solar make to our needs all of which must be backed up 100% by fossil energy. Our government has essentially allowed no shale development of public lands. Development has been only on private lands where the owners also own the minerals below reaping benefits from their development. In the rest of the world the governments own all mineral resources regardless of land ownership, a detriment to cooperative drilling. This is leading to foreign countries building factories in the US where energy prices remain but a third of the rest of the world.
You will learn a little basic chemistry and physics on the way to understanding the energy density of our fossil fuels versus wind and solar as well as the champion of all energy which remains nuclear power. The authors in less words than you would expect also offer the full history of the global warming fraud and the complete lack of scientific evidence that was ever available to support it. Concurrently they offer a tutorial on photosynthesis and the wonders of carbon and carbon dioxide which makes life on earth possible.
You may find it amusing to learn how the liberal Silicon Valley tech gurus actually threw in with the global warming alarmists to support wind and solar energy completely miscalculating the enormous amount of energy necessary to operate their servers that now make up the “cloud”. You will learn how smart people can be so very stupid.
The reader may be surprised to learn how much the authors delve into agriculture, explaining how important energy is in our food production and distribution. They also explain how Nobel prize winner Norman Borlaug developed a wheat strain that more economically utilized the sun’s energy to produce edible grain.
Perhaps even more surprising and informative is there discussion of the amazing variety of important products for society made from fossil fuel/petroleum products. To name but a few include pharmaceuticals, plastics chemical feed stocks,soccer balls guitar strings,fabric softener,artificial limbs,electric tape,shaving cream,hair color and hundreds more. In fact the majority of textiles and clothing are now made from synthetic fibers from fossil fuels.
In the final chapters they unveil, with statistics, the folly of the green energy plans that foolishly or diabolically attempted to draw the world’s attention away from the benefits of safe inexpensive fossil fuels. They use Elon Musk of Tesla motors as the poster child for gaming US efforts to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions with subsidies that made his $100,000 vehicles possible. The authors tell us he has now received $4.9 billion of taxpayer subsidies. They further show why the so called Tesla battery “gigafactory” will turn out to be another disappointing hype job at Nevada’s expense.
The fact is that there might not be a solar industry if the government were not underwriting it for the past 30 years. How many Solyndras do the taxpayers have to finance and then watch crash and burn before the government cuts off this cronyism, they ask. The total share of electricity from wind and solar combined is expected to reach only 6% by 2040. This with the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Farm, producing only 40% of promised energy while killing 3500 birds in its first year.
The US government has poured $150 billion into so called renewable energy even as hydraulic fracturing changed the energy world around them. Moore and White say “these blindfolded sages stuck with their green fantasy that wind turbines were the future.”
Few of my readers can fully comprehend the damage to Europe’s economy that has been done by worshiping at the alter of sun and wind. The EU set impossible targets for the reduction of carbon emissions. German and British consumers now face electric rates two to three times the average American retail rate while their industries flee to countries with cheaper energy. In 2014 they quote the Financial Times that Germany had incurred a net export loss of $67.6 billion because of high energy costs. It is truly amazing how a nation known for their brilliant engineering could have so totally misunderstood that energy can neither be stored nor spilled but must be produced as required instantaneously. Germany made a national policy decision to flood extensive, intermittent and uncontrollable forms of supply onto an unforgiving electric grid. Germany now has to subsidize coal plants to get them back on line to support their crazed reliance on wind power.
For the first time since World War II British subjects face the prospects of wintertime blackouts and power rationing as a result of the misguidance of their green politicians. But so much money has been spent and so much prestige is on the line that Europe has yet to back down from its colossal mistakes. Instead Moore and White say “they would rather make their pain and suffering our pain and suffering with a global treaty on climate change.”
But not only is green energy ridiculous from a cost benefit ratio it is little known that it encroaches on more land and more materials by far than conventional fossil fuels, and it is not really green at all. The authors tell us that an average wind farm uses 460 metric tons of steel and 870 metric tons of concrete per megawatt produced, while a natural gas plant requires but three metric tons of steel and 27 cubic meters of concrete per megawatt .
The nation’s misguided energy program is driven by an EPA regulatory spree unprecedented in US history based not just on bad science but actually fraudulent science explained well in this book. But of course the Supreme Court played a roll when they declared carbon dioxide the gas that makes life on earth possible, a pollutant based on false evidence from EPA.
In exposing the veritable crimes of EPA this book categorizes the tremendous strides made by our nation to make our environment the best on earth and it turns out most advances did not come from federal regulation but rather from private business. Many people think that economic growth unavoidably leads to environmental degradation, but Moore and White show that major improvements in our air quality occurred while our use of fossil fuels doubled. New coal plants, for example emit, 90% less sulfur dioxide than plants built 50 years ago.
In their final chapter A Declaration of Energy Independence: America’s $50 Trillion Opportunity, they turn their attention to the economics of our nation’s good fortune of having more recoverable oil and gas than Russia, twice as much as China and three times more than Saudi Arabia.
They tell us “America has won the lottery. We have hit the jackpot…….Achieving energy self-sufficiency will generate enough money in royalties and corporate income taxes to pay off much of the national debt without any other tax revenues. But these vast resources will never pay off any of the national debt if they are not made available for leasing, drilling and production.”
Their final recommendations include allowing drilling on federal lands, building a national network of pipelines, allowing the building of refineries, reining in out of control EPA, building nuclear power plants, ending renewable energy standards, ending all subsidies for energy, and shutting down the US Department of Energy.
The global war against fossil fuels is in fact a war against progress, prosperity, and the poor. No one has ever explained it better than Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (JLehr@heartland.org) is Science Director at The Heartland Institute.