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Fossil fuel protesters are mostly clueless about how much those low-cost fuels impact and improve their lives – Publications – AEI

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AEI Fossil fuel protesters are mostly clueless about how much those low-cost fuels impact and improve their lives The Austin American-Statesman reported a few week ago that “Activists say Austin plan for 65% renewable energy isn’t enough“: More than 100 people rallied at City Hall to protest an Austin Energy power generation plan they think does not go far enough to end the use of fossil fuels to power the city. The plan actually increases the city’s renewable energy goal from 55% to 65% of the power generated by 2027 for the city, with a possibility of later upping that goal to 75% renewables. However, dozens of people clad in green T-shirts and outfits were calling for Austin to end all fossil fuel use for generating power. “It doesn’t go far enough,” said Bob Hendrix, one of dozens

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Fossil fuel protesters are mostly clueless about how much those low-cost fuels impact and improve their lives

Fossil fuel protesters are mostly clueless about how much those low-cost fuels impact and improve their lives - Publications – AEIThe Austin American-Statesman reported a few week ago that “Activists say Austin plan for 65% renewable energy isn’t enough“:

More than 100 people rallied at City Hall to protest an Austin Energy power generation plan they think does not go far enough to end the use of fossil fuels to power the city. The plan actually increases the city’s renewable energy goal from 55% to 65% of the power generated by 2027 for the city, with a possibility of later upping that goal to 75% renewables. However, dozens of people clad in green T-shirts and outfits were calling for Austin to end all fossil fuel use for generating power.

“It doesn’t go far enough,” said Bob Hendrix, one of dozens signed up to speak against accepting the utility’s power generation plan. “I want to have more about climate justice renewables and early retirement of fossil resources.”

An Austin Energy spokesman said that pushing to 100% renewable energy would cause rate hikes to electric bills for Austin Energy customers. A presentation from the utility showed that under current renewable goals, energy rates are expected to increase up to 11% because renewable energy tends to cost more. Pushing that renewable goal to 75% could increase electricity bills by 13.5%. The utility didn’t have an estimate for what having 100% renewable energy would do to residents’ electricity bills.

Here’s David Blackmon’s response in his Forbes article “Do Fossil Fuel Protesters Know How Much Those Fuels Impact Their Lives?“:

My first thought upon seeing the group of protesters was to wonder how many of them drove to the site of the protest in gasoline-powered cars, which make up about 99% of automobile fleet in Texas? I wondered further if any of them understand that many of the components in the cars they drive – even Teslas – are made from petroleum-derived products?

Many in the group were wearing sneakers. I can’t help wondering if they know that those shoes are in part made from petroleum products? Some carried backpacks – do they know that parts of many such items are to some extent made from petroleum products?

It was a prosperous-looking bunch, most of whom no doubt practice sound dental hygiene. I couldn’t help wondering if they know there’s a very good chance their toothpaste – and their toothbrush, for that matter – is largely derived from petroleum? I wonder if the women among the group realize that their makeup and lipsticks are most likely derived from petroleum as well?

Many in the group were carrying the latest in cellular technology. I wonder if any of them understand that many of the components that make up their iPhones and Samsung Galaxies are derived from petroleum products? What about the elastic that holds up their underwear, or the frames of their glasses? Do any of these protesters understand that those are derived from petroleum products? I wonder if they understand that these products cannot be replaced with windmills or solar panels?

Some in the group were consuming bottled water. I couldn’t help wondering if they know how those bottles are made. Speaking of water, I wonder as well if they know that the water that comes into their homes is almost certainly pumped there by pumps powered by gasoline or natural gas? And speaking of their homes, I wonder how many of these protesters cook their meals on natural-gas stoves or heat their homes and water with natural gas appliances?

No doubt many of the protesters own televisions. I wonder how many of them know that a significant portion of their TVs are made from petroleum products? Or that the expensive cables that produce the picture are insulated by products derived from oil? Or that almost half of the electricity generated in Texas is generated by natural gas, and that that share is destined to grow as some of the old coal-fired plants in the state are retired in the coming years?

Speaking of power plants, I wonder if any of these protesters are aware of the fact that the United States today has reduced its carbon emissions to levels not seen since 1992 (see chart above)? That our country far and away leads the globe in reduction of greenhouse gases, without being a participant in the Paris Accords or in any other global emissions agreement? I wonder if any of them understand that the main reason for this is because, over the last decade, we have replaced a large number of coal-burning power plants with natural gas capacity?

I wondered if any of them understand that, without the fossil fuels they demonized at Austin’s city hall on Friday, they’d be paying a lot more in taxes [and much higher energy costs] than they do today?  None of the reporters present thought to ask any of these questions, so the answers will remain forever unknown. Far be it from me to want to disillusion idealistic young people, but I do wish someone would at least educate them. The older people in that group don’t even have that excuse.

MP: Although David Blackmon was responding specifically to the Austin protesters, his comments are generally relevant for any of the millions of anti-fossil fuel Americans who support high-cost, unreliable renewable energies that will impoverish us if their use is artificially increased by government mandates, over low-cost dependable fossil fuel energy sources. I’m sure that almost none of the green activists or renewable energy supporters have any idea how much low-cost fossil fuels, and the products derived from them, contribute to their enviable standard of living that is higher now in America than any time in history for the average person. And even if solar and wind energy were to become so cost-competitive that we could someday generate 100% of our electric power with renewables (without subsidies), we will still rely on fossil fuels for the many products derived from them including plastic, components for electronics, footwear, makeup, elastic, eyeglass frames, paint, tires, deodorant, dyes, shampoo, bandages, luggage, candles, movie film, soap, insect repellent, glues/epoxies, linoleum, perfumes, roofing, umbrellas, food preservatives, vitamin capsules, etc.

See more of a partial list of 144 products made from petroleum here, there are actually 6,000 consumer and industrial products made from petroleum.

Fossil fuel protesters are mostly clueless about how much those low-cost fuels impact and improve their lives
Mark Perry

Mark Perry
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

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