By John McClaughry
As this Global Climate Strike week moves forward, let me share an interesting perspective on the “defeat climate change” movement from somebody who believes in all the climate apocalypse hype — but seems to have suddenly awakened to the interests promoting it.
Michael Donnelly is a 40-year veteran of environmental activism. He is a longtime friend of left wing film producer Michael Moore and his director, Jeff Gibbs, who have just released a documentary titled “Planet of the Humans.” Donnelly calls it “the most dismaying Eco-documentary of the century.”
Since the facts about Earth’s impending human-caused fate were clear, at least to them, Donnelly and Gibbs couldn’t understand “why are we losing?” Their conclusion is that “we have been following corporation/foundation-financed Democratic Party-tied misleadership.”
“Forget all you have heard about how Renewable Energy is our salvation. It is a myth that is very lucrative for some. [Take] feel-good stuff like electric cars, [the current Big Idea of Vermont enviros]. Such vehicles are actually powered by coal, natural gas … or dead salmon in the Northwest.” (That seems to be a reference to Big Hydro.)
The Planet film correctly explains how all alternative energy itself is fossil-fuel based. Solar panels themselves are made with metallurgical coal and quartz — both derived from blowing up mountains. The same with wind and even hydro and nukes as the essential major ingredient in the creation of cement and steel is coal.
The film states: “None of these technologies existed nor could they exist, without fossil fuels. The grid cannot even operate without fossil fuel-derived steam-generated baseloads. In the spring when the hydro is surging, the Bonneville Power Administration cuts off wind power and still has to keep the Boardman Coal Plant (Oregon’s top carbon polluter) running in order to balance the baseload.”
Then comes the dagger: “We have to hold the bad actors on ‘our’ side’s feet to the fire, as well, if we are to survive this one.” The film shows Bill McKibben Al Gore, Richard Branson, and Robert Kennedy Jr. speaking to environmentalists, and then clips of them speaking to industry about all the profits to be made.” Michael Bloomberg “basically bought the Sierra Club with tens of millions in donations tied to the Club promoting one of his cash cows, fracked natural gas, as the ‘Bridge Fuel to a Green Energy Future.’”
I’m pleased that some on the left have at last perceived the hypocrisies and self-interested motives of “the Climate Campaign industry.” And it doesn’t bother me that profit-motivated entrepreneurs step forward to invest in products and services that the public wants.
Take an historical example: shipbuilding in WWII. America entered a war. The government needed ships. Henry Kaiser built a mammoth shipyard in Richmond, California, and turned out 1,490 “liberty ships.” Kaiser made money (and also pioneered employee health care coverage), and America won the war. Fair enough.
The key point here is that Kaiser didn’t lobby Japan to bomb Pearl Harbor so he could build ships and make money. In the modern climate example, the “climate campaign industry” spends untold millions lobbying the public and the government to set up and fill a feeding trough of special deals to enrich the industry.
The classic example is the current cornucopia of subsidies for Big Wind — notably the 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour Production Tax Credit — and Big Solar. Without the taxpayer-financed lifeblood of those fiercely lobbied subsidies, there wouldn’t be enough demand to enrich a renewable energy “industry.”
Here’s an apt conclusion from a major industrialist: “If the market signaled that consumers value energy from solar panels more than energy from oil and gas, the solar energy industry wouldn’t need to pursue profits by political means, in seeking subsidies from energy consumers and taxpayers. The solar power industry, like every business, should strive to profit by economic means instead of coercive ones.” That quote is from Charles G. Koch, from his book “Good Profit.”
Donnelly, who despises the Koch Brothers as the incarnation of capitalist evil, tells us that the Koch Brothers are hypocritically “the top beneficiaries of tax subsidies to promote solar.” The truth is that the Koch Brothers have outspokenly opposed solar subsidies, and their grassroots political arm, Americans for Prosperity, has actively battled against those subsidies in Washington and in the states.
In any case, Planet of the Humans will do a service by exposing the hypocrisies of the climate-crazed left, and the inescapable fact that the renewable industry is founded on cheap fossil fuels. Its solution? Donnelly says only that the film “opens up the discussion,” and he can’t bring himself to utter the word “nuclear.”
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.