[Editor Note: Carter’s April 1977 energy speech was also reproduced and commented upon at MasterResource.]
Thirty-two years ago today, President Carter and his energy advisor James Schlesinger got it all wrong in an emergency television address to the nation. Their neo-Malthusian, government-as-engineer moment should never be forgotten but stand as timeless warning about the anti-market, anti-energy mentality.
In the summer of 1979, many Americans were stuck in the gasoline lines. There was a lot of lost time and nervousness. There was fighting and worse. The market as a buffer of civility was gone. Americans were not used to such a predicament and had the common sense to know that something was very abnormal and not to be tolerated. They were mad.
Here is the background of his energy speech, considered as the most important speech of his presidency:
On June 30, 1979, a weary Jimmy Carter was looking forward to a few days’ vacation in Hawaii, as Air Force One sped him away from a grueling economic summit in Tokyo.
There has not been much published on wind costs, except, generally speaking to give the impression that they are reasonable and manageable. Unfortunately, at the level of wind implementation being contemplated, particularly in the Western world, the costs are an unsupportable amount of national wealth.
On the other hand, there has been a considerable amount published on the impact of introducing large amounts of wind into electricity systems, most of it again claiming manageable considerations. Those that cite Denmark should review this series of posts. I am not aware of any conclusive analyses supporting wind integration, as most are superficial at worst, or limited in some considerable way at best.
I expect in time, based on a proper analysis, or through further real, and unhappy, experience, that none of the claims for wind will be confirmed.…
“The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are simply running out.… World oil production can probably keep going up for another 6 or 8 years. But sometime in the 1980’s, it can’t go up any more. Demand will overtake production. We have no choice about that.”
“To some degree, the sacrifices will be painful—but so is any meaningful sacrifice. It will lead to some higher costs and to some greater inconvenience for everyone. But the sacrifices can be gradual, realistic, and they are necessary.”
“We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and our grandchildren.”
- Jimmy Carter, Energy Address to the Nation, April 18, 1977
Will Obama and his ilk learn the lessons of history?…