Everyone is in favor of green energy—the idea of replacing energy created by burning fossil fuels with renewable energy. Some people believe we must move aggressively, and that the planet will become uninhabitable in the next few decades unless we do so. That sounds ominous. There are, however, two problems with that scenario: 1) Which doomsday estimate should we accept? Some say the transition out of fossil fuels has to be done by the end of the century, others as soon as twelve years. 2) What will it cost our society to implement? I can’t shed any light on the timetable, other to say that past predictions have all been wrong, but I can shed some light on cost.
In order to get off energy created by consumption of oil, coal and natural gas, we would need a two-pronged approach: heavy investment in renewable technology and radically increasing the price of continued use of fossil fuels with heavy taxes to help pay for the conversion. The cost of heavy investment in renewables cannot be borne by energy companies alone given that we will be suppressing use of existing fuels, which would reduce their income and profits, leaving little for capital investment. Therefore, new personal income taxes as well as increasing the taxes on gasoline and heating fuel, would be necessary to finance massive public investment in renewables. Nothing less would accomplish the timetable of getting this done by as early as 2050. While the rich would be expected to pay heavily, the middle class and even poor people would feel the financial pain.
Let’s use a middle class family of four as an example of how the cost of green energy might be reflected. Say both parents work earning $50,000 a year each. They have two cars and currently spend $1,000 each in gasoline. Under a green energy plan, those costs would double as a result of an increase in the gasoline tax and the rising cost of traditional fuels. Their annual heating bill of $2,000 would also double as utilities would have to pay more for traditional fuels as well as bear the cost of switching over to renewables. That’s an extra $4,000 a year in living expenses. Not fun, but bearable. The real problem comes when we calculate the likely impact on food and healthcare under a green energy system.
Food prices would most likely also double in short order as the rising cost of energy would impact those producing and processing our food, transporting it to the markets and offering it in stores that consume large amounts of electricity to keep products at temperatures necessary to avoid spoilage. So, if our average family spends $200 a week on food now, their new annual food cost would remove $10,000 from their disposable income, threatening their vacations, savings and even mortgage payments.
Dramatically higher energy prices would also result in massive unemployment. The restaurant industry, for example, would crumble, as the higher cost of food would result in dining prices that would force middle class families to stop eating out entirely. Supermarkets also survive on very thin profit margins. The higher cost of electricity and food would force them to close markets in poorer communities, resulting in layoffs and malnutrition, if not starvation.
Higher energy prices would also adversely affect the healthcare industry. Hospitals consume huge amounts of electricity. Any increase in their costs would have to be passed on to customers, but the same people who are advocating implementing a green energy policy immediately also want to offer free health care. Free healthcare would have to be paid for out of taxes and with skyrocketing energy and healthcare costs, taxes would also have to skyrocket.
What if one of the parents in our example worked as a nurse at a hospital. Since she or he would be experiencing huge increases in the cost of living, they would demand raises necessary to cover those costs. Hospitals would have to pay higher wages or close their doors.
What if the other spouse managed a restaurant? Restaurant managers would be among the newly unemployed. This family which once felt secure earning $100,000 a year, would be reduced to poverty as their income is cut in half and their daily living costs—electricity, gasoline and food––double.
You might say that my cost estimates are an exaggeration and I’m only suggesting those costs to scare people, but that ignores the simple fact that green energy proponents tell us failure to implement their policies invites the end of human life. They will tell you it’s time to stop eating out, to stop owning cars, and to stop buying all those electronic gadgets. They will also tell you it’s time to grow your own food, and to sew your own clothes. Live local will be the new password.
Oh, there’s one more necessary ingredient in the green energy plan: compulsion. Since all human life is at stake we can’t afford malingerers. People will have to watch their neighbors and report anyone using excess energy, such as taking long showers, running an electric dish washer or watching more than two hours TV a day. The good part of turning in your neighbor for such violations is that we can re-establish work farms and put energy violators to work growing food for the rest of us.
If you’re not ready to find out what subsistence living is like, you have only one choice. Study the claims being made by green energy advocates to determine whether their doomsday predictions are sound. If you find they are not, then you must tell candidates who support green energy policies you won’t get their votes. If you do believe their dire predictions, then why not be the first in your community to move back to the countryside and learn shoot game and grow beans and corn to live on!