“… the climate crusade has central planning and totalitarianism written all over it. It is a ‘road to serfdom.’ The settled science is more on the side of CO2 emissions/concentrations being positive, not negative (CO2 fertilization; 1.2C primary warming). And yes, the greenest fuels are fossil (as in mineral energies).”
I am a historian of thought on many things energy and climate, including on myself. I want to be as clear as possible about my positions and ideas for the future to judge. There are interviews and biographical entries on me to this end.
So it was of interest when I came across some mentions of me on Twitter (which I do not partake in). My comments follow the mentions.
This is from August 14, 2019.
Comment: Andrew Dessler, climate alarmist at Texas A&M, got in a dig. A few points: my peer-reviewed articles are on the economics/political economy side. Two, I specialize in books, even treatise length, more than articles, and my books have received a good deal of peer review and a fair amount of reviews.
I am on my own with the long books since few reviewers are really going to read them, and those that do (like David Glaser here) plug their own work while reading just enough to offer some praise and criticism. Such is human nature in an age of big books and little time.
Third, as far as being “pretty much a zero in the public debate,” I am pleased and fortunate to be associated with the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which has been and probably will continue to be quite prominent in the energy debate with its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance (AEA). This said, my report card will be from the scholarly side and graded in the future. I am optimistic that my contributions will be recognized when applied political economy and deep business history is resurrected by the next generation of scholars.
I have had a few public moments. Back in 2011, I ‘won’ an international debate held by the The Economist on the question: “This house believes that subsidizing renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.” I garnered 52 percent of the vote, which ended up being more than double the predebate estimate of 6,000. [The Economist took down the debate, but it is summarized at MasterResource in several posts (here)].
Comment: Yes, the climate crusade has central planning and totalitarianism written all over it. It is a “road to serfdom.” The settled science is more on the side of CO2 emissions/concentrations being positive, not negative (CO2 fertilization; 1.2C primary warming). And yes, the greenest fuels are fossil (as in mineral energies). I use this quotation from Peter Huber [Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists (1999), pp. 105, 108] to make this point:
The greenest fuels are the ones that contain the most energy per pound of material that must be mined, trucked, pumped, piped, and burnt. … [In contrast], extracting comparable amounts of energy from the surface would entail truly monstrous environmental disruption…. The greenest possible strategy is to mine and to bury, to fly and to tunnel, to search high and low, where the life mostly isn’t, and so to leave the edge, the space in the middle, living and green.
Comment: This is incorrect. Gerald North was relatively moderate, and I played off his moderation to support a middle-ground position. Like Patrick Michaels (and Jerry Taylor back at Cato), I was a ‘global lukewarmer’. Jerry North’s sensitivity estimate was at the upper end of the ‘lukewarmer’ range, and he was very critical about climate models.
To North, settled climate science as always “a decade away.” North stated in the Houston Chronicle back in 2008:
In his article Sunday, Rob Bradley reminds us of the errors made about dire climate predictions proffered by some climate science outliers…. Virtually all of these dire predictions were never made or endorsed by the mainstream climate community of researchers in the field. [North, “Fringe Predictions,” Letter to the Editor, Houston Chronicle, April 1, 2008.]
And no (per Jerry Taylor), I did not become “much more militantly adversarial to mainstream climate science after he left Enron.” My views in Climate Alarmism Reconsidered (2004), post-Enron, were the same as at Enron and even today, give or take.
Comment: Thank you Jerry…. And for the record, Ken Lay was a climate activist not only because of natural gas but also because of Enron’s lifeline investments in both the solar and the wind industries in the 1990s.
James Hansen was the father of climate alarm from the physical science side; Ken Lay, more than any other corporate executive, was the father of splitting the fossil-fuel industries for the cronyism that has only grown since the 1990s. As Jeremy Leggett [The Carbon War (London: Penguin Books, 1999), p. 204] stated, Enron was “the company most responsible for sparking off the greenhouse civil war in the hydrocarbon business.”
You can read more on Enron, me, and climate change/renewables here.