Despite the 57-0 drubbing the Green New Deal (GND) recently took in the Senate, its central thesis is not going away. Last week from his perch at the New York Times, Paul Krugman advised that “the Green New Deal is arguably an exercise in pragmatism” and “a proposal for economic transformation.” For his part, Al Gore has doubled down on his support for “the spirit” of the GND, intoning that we need “to move as quickly as possible to a carbon-free economy.”
The truth is that the GND is merely the latest in a long series of claims that a “new energy economy” is not only important but an inevitability. The origins are actually far older than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Just one example: “There can be no more urgent task for mankind than to find, as rapidly as possible, alternatives to burning” fossil fuels. Such was the conclusion of a major energy study published in 1974. That’s been the conventional wisdom — and policy — for 45 years.
However, after nearly a half-century and literally trillions of dollars spent in pursuit of a “new energy economy,” oil, natural gas, and coal still supply over 80% of global(and America’s) energy. But that reality has done nothing to mute the call to shift our economy to one fueled by wind, solar and batteries. When confronted with the staggering economic and practical hurdles, what we encounter a conga line of pundits and politicians invoking — drum roll — the spirit of a moon shot.
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering. In 2016, he was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society. Follow him on Twitter here.
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