Last week, I recognized twelve individuals associated with free-market, classical-liberal energy analysis and advocacy. Here is a second “tribute” to those who have labored against the mainstream of Malthusianism and energy statism–and now find themselves with new opportunities to formulate, summarize, and promote pro-consumer, taxpayer-neutral energy policy.
This list is in alphabetical order. It is subjective and hardly exhaustive. Other candidates (such as the present writer) could also be included–and could be in a future iteration.
ROBERT BRYCE is a force for energy realism. His highly readable, well researched books (three on energy, two on energy-related cronyism) are joined by highly effective opinion-page editorials in leading publications, such as the Wall Street Journal. A convert to the free-market beginning with his third book (from a politically correct all-of-the-above energy view), Bryce has reached progressive audiences with a message that renewable energies are quite imperfect substitutes for dense mineral energies.
STERLING BURNETT, a PhD philosopher and longtime energy/environmental analyst at National Center for Policy Analysis (in Dallas), is now at the Heartland Institute. As senior fellow and managing editor of Environment & Climate News at Heartland, many of his followers believe he is doing some of his best and most impactful work right now.
PIERRE DESROCHERS, Ph.D economist and professor at the University of Toronto, is one of the world’s leading classical-liberal scholars in different fields of sustainable development (energy, food, technology, and economic development). The most recent recipient of the Julian Simon award, Desrochers is a worldview thinker (along with Indur Goklany, profiled below).
MICHAEL GIBERSON, Ph.D economist and professor at Texas Tech University, is a keen observer of energy markets. His work on price gouging has moved the national dialogue, and he is one of the few to follow the intracacies of the electricity market. His longer blogs are at Knowledge Problem (with Lynne Kiesling); his shorter commentary is at Giberson Energy Markets. Although his analyses are not necessarily “classical liberal” regarding electricity markets (a paradise for central planners, full of “second-best” regulation), Giberson is one of the best at identifying subtle developments in energy markets that have import for public policy.
INDUR GOKLANY, PhD. (electrical engineering), has been a leading classical-liberal scholar in the Julian Simon tradition for three decades. Goklany has combined his day job at the US Department of Interior with prolific research and writing after hours for the Cato Institute and like organizations. His books Clearing the Air: The Real Story on the War on Air Pollution (1999), The Precautionary Principle: A Critical Appraisal (2001), and The Improving State of the World (2007) are classics that make Goklany a “scholar’s scholar.”
STEVE GOREHAM is a leading voice of common-sense in today’s contentious energy and climate debates. A successful businessman and MBA, Goreham’s passion for research and writing has produced three primers: Climatism: Science, CommonSense, and the 21st Century’s Hottest Topic (2010); The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism (2012); and Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development (2017).
KEN GREEN, PhD in environmental science, is currently Senior Director, Centre for Natural Resource Studies, Fraser Institute (in Canada). Green has applied classical-liberal analysis (free-market environmentalism) to energy, risk, regulation, and the environment for a number of organizations, such as the Reason Foundation, the Environmental Literacy Council, and the American Enterprise Institute. His books include Abundant Energy: The Fuel of Human Flourishing (2011), Global Warming: Understanding the Debate (2002), and A Plain English Guide to the Science of Climate Change (1997).
ROBERT MICHAELS, PhD economist and professor of economics at California State–Fullerton, has written extensively on free market energy policy for the Cato Institute, Institute for Energy Research, and, most recently, Mercatus Center. The author of the managerial textbook Transactions and Strategies: Economics for Management, Michaels presciently questioned the gas-electric “convergence” of the 1990s that resulted in a number of ill-fated mergers. He has also been a leading opponent of government-mandated energy conservation (conservationism), whether utility demand-side management programs or federal energy-appliance standards.
VACLAV SMIL, the energy scholar’s scholar, has prolifically educated about energy reality. (See, for example, his five-part post on energy density at MasterResource.) While stopping short of advocating an end to renewable energy subsidies and calling off the climate alarm (in terms of not pricing CO2), his many books on energy history and energy physics have set the foundation upon which many classical-liberal scholars base their policy conclusions.
BEN ZYCHER, PhD economist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has been a consistent, scholarly voice on energy and environmental issues since the mid-1970s when he wrote his masters thesis on electricity rationing in California and then worked with Philip Verleger at the Council of Economic Advisors. Today, he blogs at AEIdeas on such topics as oil and gas lease revenues, rooftop solar subsidies, coercionist environmental strategy, and subsidizing reliable electric generation capacity. Zycher can be counted on to rebut carbon-tax proposals no matter what the source.