Energy is the lifeblood of the economy. Thanks to affordable energy, the average person today lives longer and healthier, travels farther and faster in greater comfort and safety, and has greater access to information than did the privileged elites of former times. Carbon fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—provide 80 percent of U.S. energy and 87 percent of global energy. They are the world’s dominant energy sources because, in most markets, they beat the alternatives in both cost and performance.
Critics claim that carbon fuels have hidden costs that make them unsustainable. In the 1970s and 1980s, experts often depicted carbon-based fuels as both intractably polluting and rapidly depleting. Technological advances—spurred by sensible regulation and the market-driven imperative to minimize waste and improve efficiency—put the lie to those gloomy prophecies, as energy supplies increased while the air and water got much cleaner.
Today, critics claim that unchecked carbon energy use will cause catastrophic climate change. However, the climate models producing scary impact assessments project about twice as much global warming as has actually occurred. More important, the climate change mitigation policies those critics advocate pose serious risks to American prosperity, competitiveness, and living standards.
The wealth creation and technological progress made possible by affordable carbon- based energy make societies more resilient, as they protect people from extreme weather, power health-improving innovation, and increase life expectancy. Since the 1920s, global deaths and death rates from extreme weather have decreased by 93 percent and 98 percent, respectively.
The war on affordable energy also raises serious humanitarian concerns. Energy costs already impose real burdens on low-income households, including reduced expenditures for food, medicine, and education and late credit card payments. “Consensus” climatology implies that the Paris climate treaty’s objective of limiting average global temperatures to 2°C above preindustrial levels cannot be accomplished without massive cuts in developing countries’ current consumption of carbon-based fuels. Putting the developing world on an energy diet is bound to be a cure worse than the supposed disease.
Increasing the affordability of both U.S. and global energy is an important economic and humanitarian objective. Policy makers heeding the time-honored healer’s maxim, “First, do no harm,” should reject policies to tax and regulate away mankind’s access to affordable energy.
In this chapter:
- Repeal the EPA’S Clean Power Plan
- End Federal Efficiency Standards for Consumer Products
- Freeze and Sunset the Renewable Fuel Standard
- Oppose Carbon Taxes
- Prohibit Use of the Social Cost of Carbon to Justify Regulation
- Reclaim Congress’ Authority to Determine Climate Policy
- Reject the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol
- Address Unaccountable Environmental Research Programs
- Improve the Quality of Government-Funded Research
- Eliminate U.S. Funding for the International Agency for Research on Cancer