“If America can put a man on the moon, why should we stay in servitude to the first and second laws of thermodynamics? What we plainly need is a Manhattan Project–like the one that gave us the atomic bomb but not like the one that narrowly missed finding a cure for cancer.”
– Paul Samuelson, “Tragicomedy of the Energy Crisis,” Newsweek, July 2, 1979, p. 62.
“A group of industry leaders, including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and General Electric boss Jeff Immelt, stepped up calls for a Manhattan project for low carbon energy last week urging the US government to significantly increase investment in energy research and development.”
– Danny Bradbury, “Gates and Co Demand Manhattan Project for Energy.” BusinessGreen.com, June 14, 2010.
Just as as the polls start finding that nobody thinks global warming matters much, and just as hockey stick predictions of catastrophe fall apart in a scientific scandal, guess who turns up at the White House?…
[Editor’s note: Mr. Graf’s cash flow analysis of wind power projects is presented as another view of the inappropriateness of planned public policy in the electricity sector. The economics of wind power is a broad topic; previous posts at MasterResource are listed at the end of this post. For general problems of industrial wind, see here.]
There are many arguments to be made against government subsidization of industrial wind power, some objective and others subjective. We hear about noise, shadow flicker, disruption of wildlife, lack of consistent energy output (intermittency), questionable performance with respect to pollution reduction, and undesirable aesthetic appearance.
It occurs to me, however, with regard to subsidies for energy ventures and technology, three things must be kept in mind:
(1) any good investment must be made in worthwhile ventures that can show a reasonable return;
(2) arbitrarily subsidizing some ventures may cause inadvertent (or advertent) exclusion of others; and
(3) jobs cannot be created by subsidizing ventures that do not provide a viable return.
[Editor note: David (P. D.) Henderson, formerly head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD, is currently Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is headed by Nigel (Lord) Lawson). This is his first post at MasterResource.]
Over the past 22 years, governments everywhere and a great many outside observers have put their trust in the official expert advisory process as a whole and the IPCC process in particular.
I have come to believe that this widespread trust is unwarranted. But it is not just the IPCC process that is in question here. The basic problem of unwarranted trust goes further: it extends to the chronically biased treatment of climate change issues by responsible departments and agencies which the Panel reports to, and in nationally-based organizations which they finance.…