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Green Irrationality

September 6, 2011

The so-called Green movement has captured people’s attention, yet the movement hasn’t received much objective reporting by the media.

It seems as though if it’s green, it’s good.

But is green always good?

When you look objectively at the Green movement, one is struck by the irrationality of the movement.

For example, two of the major objectives of the Greens are to:

  • Cut CO2 emissions to stop climate change, i.e., global warming
  • Become energy independent.

However their actions contradict those objectives.

Nuclear energy is the only method available for providing needed electricity without CO2 emissions, yet the Greens are trying to stop the use of nuclear energy.

The Greens are promoting electric vehicles to stop the importation of oil from foreign countries, yet they obstruct the development of oil resources in the United States.

There are other specific secondary objectives where their actions are also irrational, such as shutting down coal-fired power plants that emit mercury, while promoting compact fluorescent lamps that contain mercury.

Shutting down coal-fired power plants while also shutting down nuclear power plants can also be viewed as irrational.

In the past, rational behavior resulted in developing and using products that were cost efficient. The basis for this form of rationality was the use of return on Investment (ROI).

Until now, it has been common practice to require an ROI of two years for major investments, or perhaps five years if there were other benefits.

Rationality is being discarded by the Greens to promote specific Green objectives. For example, the PHEV and BEV are products that may never achieve any acceptable return on investment, but proponents use government, tax-payer money to promote the product because rational customers won’t pay the premium price. (See article The 20% Rule.)

Another example is promoting CFLs and light emitting diodes (LEDs) to replace the incandescent bulb. While a 100-watt incandescent bulb may cost $0.60, the CFL costs $2.00 and the 100 watt LED is expected to cost $30 or more. In most situations, CFLs and LEDs do not achieve an acceptable ROI, and may not achieve good lighting. (See article Lighting Ain’t Simple.)

Greens make the claim that saving electricity by using CFLs will cut the use of foreign oil and help achieve energy independence, yet oil generates an extremely small amount of our electricity, i.e., 1%.

Green groups promote wind energy and solar energy for the same reasons, even though wind and solar are unquestionably some of the most expensive methods for generating electricity.

Who are the organizations that seem to be acting irrationally?

A few include:

  • Sierra Club
  • Greenpeace
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Friends of the Earth

If they are acting irrationally in the eyes of the average person, they could be acting rationally for their purposes.

If they are acting rationally and being consistent with respect to their organization’s objectives, what are their true objectives?

I can’t answer that question, but I do wonder why they are attacking the development of oil in the United States, and why they are opposing fracking that will result in the United States having enough low-cost natural gas to supply its needs for over 100 years. Why do they oppose ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants when these very efficient units can be equipped to meet all Nox, SOx, particulate and mercury emission requirements, and why are they promoting renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that will burden Americans with very expensive electricity?

Green shouldn’t be the magic word that exempts organizations from objective scrutiny.

Green groups should be analyzed and reported on by the media, just as the media scrutinizes people who question the objectives of these groups.

Objective reporting of green groups is long overdue. It’s also important because the Greens are encouraging policies that impose high energy costs, and possible energy shortages on the United States.

I know of no one who opposes rational, beneficial environmental regulations. I know of no one who would skewer the planet.

Of course, the Greens will respond by saying that anyone who opposes their views about the planet are monsters, of one type or another.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 8, 2011 11:48 pm


    Last month solar companies Spectra Watt in New York, Evergreen Solar in
    Massachusetts, and Solyndra Solar in California went bankrupt. All companies
    had extensive subsidies from state and federal governments. Taxpayer losses
    most likely exceeded $1 billion. All three states have high electricity costs
    due to banning coal use and mandating renewable energy sources for electricity

    Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and ethanol from corn require
    substantial subsidies from state and federal governments in order to stimulate
    product use. An example of solar subsidies are 35 percent of system cost up to
    $500,000 by the state of Georgia and 30 percent federal.

    Subsidies for ethanol from corn are confusing to decipher; but one is payment of
    45 cents for every gallon of ethanol mixed with gasoline and another is federal
    mandates for ethanol use of 15 billion gallons by 2015 and 35 billion gallons by
    2022. Gasoline stations are paid to sell E-85(mixture of 85 percent
    ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) for which Georgia has paid $10,000 per pump
    for three years use and similar subsidies from the U. S. Department of

    E-85 sells for twenty cents per gallon less than gasoline and vehicles get 30
    percent lower mileage. Only a person deficient in mathematics would use E-85.

    Plug-in electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, have
    purchaser’s subsidies of $5000 from Georgia and $7000 federal. These cars are
    reported to travel 65 miles on a 30 kilowatt-hour charge for the Leaf and 35
    miles for a 20 kilowatt-hour charge for the Volt. In evaluating electric cars
    you should go to the power plant source of electricity for its energy
    requirements. Thus a power plant charging these cars would have energy
    requirements of 90 kilowatt-hours for the Leaf and 60 kilowatt-hours for the
    Volt. These energy requirements are equivalent to 2.4 gallons of gasoline for
    the Leaf and 1.6 gallons for the Volt. The equivalent miles per gallon of 27 for
    the Leaf and 22 for the Volt are poor compared to 40 achieved by conventional
    small cars that cost half or less of these cars.

    No mention is made of possible increased insurance charges or environmental
    effects involving collisions or battery disposal of electric cars.

    Further transportation subsidies are payments for proposed charging stations for
    battery-powered vehicles and stations carrying compressed natural gas. The
    federal DOT gave Oregon $2 million to build 20 electric charging stations in
    Northwest Oregon. Very few vehicles of either type are in use.

    The owners of Atlanta Station recently announced the availability of three
    electric car charging stations that cost $3 per hour. It would cost $9 to
    recharge a Volt and $15 to recharge a Leaf that would travel 35 and 65 miles,
    No gasoline-powered car would cost more to travel these distances.

    Promoters of renewable energy sources claim their industry is in its infancy and
    subsidies are necessary so they can grow in size to compete with fossil fuels.
    In the early twentieth century governments didn’t pay people to buy cars or
    subsidize gasoline purchases.

    These industries have been around for close to 40 years or more. With present
    technology, they can’t compete with our very abundant fossil fuels. Thus there
    is no end in sight to subsidies unless fossil fuel use is eliminated by
    legislation or their costs increased by draconian environmental regulations.
    EPA is working on the latter alternative with help from organizations, like the
    American Lung Association, paid to do its bidding.

    Subsidies are paid by taxpayers and they can be considered investments that
    succeed only if all other energy prices skyrocket. Renewable energy subsidies
    are likened to playing lotteries in which winners pay a 300 percent tax on
    winnings. Taxpayers lose in all cases.

    Use this argument against providing renewable energy subsidies. Annual
    subsidies must exceed $40 billion and waste taxpayer’s money in times both state
    and federal governments are in deep economic distress. An additional important
    factor is subsidies direct resources away from economic and practical solutions
    to our energy problems. Find examples of governments picking economic winners.

    James H. Rust is a retired nuclear engineering professor with over fifty year
    experience in areas related to energy policy.

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