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Robert Bryce Challenges Energy Statism (real energy for real people)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 21, 2011

Robert Bryce of Austin, Texas, as he himself will tell you, is a reformed Leftie/greenie. The solar array he installed on his roof was a bust, and he followed the logic of energy density to conclude that wind, solar, water, crops, plants, and wood would not allow energy to be mankind’s master resource.

And as did Julian Simon in his day, Bryce looks at the data and science before he makes up his mind. And like Simon, he changed his mind away from neo-Malthusian notions of resource depletion and climate pessimism.

Energy Views

Bryce’s views took shape on the oil/transportation side with Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence” (2008) and on electricity with Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future (2010). His encapsulated worldview about energy and energy policy can be read in his Washington Post op-ed, “Five Myths About Green Energy.”

MasterResource has profiled Bryce’s message under the title, Energy Density: Robert Bryce’s Powerful Energy Message. His is a very powerful message, beginning and ending with basic physics. It all gets back to W. S. Jevons, and it continues with Vaclav Smil, Robert Bryce, and others.

Reformed Populist

Bryce is also a reformed populist, having seen too much business in government and government in business. His book on Enron, Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, chronicled a political company in action, although he did not then quite have the developed worldview to see how political capitalism, not market capitalism, was to blame.

Then came his second book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate (2004), where he stated on the opening page: “I’m all for business, I’m all for government. I just don’t want them to be the same thing.”

Today, Robert Bryce is the most erudite and influential energy journalist in America, with opinion-page editorials in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Huffington Post. Morphing into a bona fide energy scholar, Bryce has respect on both sides of the political aisle and is a reason why politically correct renewable energy is now encountering a hard relook by grass-root environmentalists and open-minded Leftists. And he has the Hard Left mad!

Mad Dog Critics

The energy/climate statists have realized that they have another Bjorn Lomborg on their hands. And so there are hit-and-run attacks against Bryce. One ploy is to seize upon small factual or interpretive matters and insinuate that Bryce is wrong about the big picture. The other is grotesque ad hominem argumentation.

“The author of the op-ed is climate change denier and long time fossil fuel cheerleader Robert Bryce,” huffs Matt Wasson in the Huffington Post. Joe Romm at Climate Progress disses Bryce as being bought-and-paid for, a part of the vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Media Matters, a Left advocacy group, dismisses Bryce as follows:

Media outlets have turned to the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce at least 39 times this year to comment on energy issues without disclosing that the Manhattan Institute is partly funded by oil interests. Bryce, who often promotes fossil fuels while disparaging renewable energy, has been criticized for making misleading claims.

The good news about the above bad news is that the sensible middle is turned off by such unscholarly invective. And Romm et al. are increasingly mad at everyone, and using such terms as “these new Dark Ages”  and put-head-in-vice to vent their frustration and even hate.

Being at war with reality where the truth comes out and the public and media is catching on is, indeed, to use Romm’s term, “head exploding“!

Bryce’s Latest: Deactivate on Climate

Bryce really got under the skin of the Hate Brigade Alarmists with his op-ed, “Five Truths About Climate Change,” published in the Wall Street Journal, last month. Bryce argued:

1) The carbon taxers/limiters have lost…. During the same decade that Mr. Gore and the IPCC dominated the environmental debate, global carbon-dioxide emissions rose by 28.5%.

2) Regardless of whether it’s getting hotter or colder—or both—we are going to need to produce a lot more energy in order to remain productive and comfortable.

3) The carbon-dioxide issue is not about the United States anymore…. China’s emissions jumped by 123% over the past decade and now exceed those of the U.S. by more than two billion tons per year.

4) We have to get better—and we are—at turning energy into useful power….

5) The science is not settled, not by a long shot….

Bryce’s conclusion: “It’s time to move the debate past the dogmatic view that carbon dioxide is evil and toward a world view that accepts the need for energy that is cheap, abundant and reliable.”

This op-ed is very important, for the physics of greenhouse-gas forcing point to an ever decreasing effect of carbon-based energy on global climate at any level of climate sensitivity. Adaptation, not mitigation, is the future.


Robert Bryce is a game changer who has shown the intellectual fortitude and courage to change his mind. He has journeyed from energy hyperbole and the politically correct to espousing energy reality with facts, figures, and logic.

Just as the future belongs to the energy efficient (energy dense!), the future belongs to the energy realists whose heroic effort will stand the test of time.


  1. Ed Reid  

    Global climate has been changing forever. We have been worried about it at least since the “global cooling” scare of the 70s. The global warming concerns of the 80s led inexorably to the global climate change panic of the 90s and the catastrophic anthropogenic global climate change / climate disruption / climate weirding hysteria of the last decade. That hysteria was so pervasive that the AGW community either failed to notice, or attempted to cover up, the failure of the global climate to follow their script.

    The hysteria of the past decade led to name-calling and ad hominem attack in attempts to support data that aren’t and models that don’t. Millions of dollars have been and are being spent to fight FOIA requests aimed at “opening the kimono” to permit independent evaluations of the scientific arguments.

    We continue to hear arguments which are fundamentally: “Do something, anything, even if it’s wrong.” Yet, after 40 +/- years, there is still no unique, universally accepted position regarding the percentage by emissions which must be reduced to “solve” the perceived “problem” or the time frame in which those emissions reductions must occur. There is no GOAL. There is no PLAN. There is only the WISH that the global temperature increase not exceed 2C.

    “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”, Antoine de St. Exupery


  2. Reformed Leftie/Greenie challenges energy statism | JunkScience.com  

    […] Robert Bryce Challenges Energy Statism (real energy for real people) – As did Julian Simon in his day, Bryce looks at the data and science before he makes up his mind. And like Simon, he changed his mind away from neo-Malthusian notions of resource depletion and climate pessimism. (MasterResource) Share this:PrintEmailMoreStumbleUponTwitterFacebookDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Clean energy, Coal, Oil and gas. Bookmark the permalink. ← ‘Delay’ isn’t good enough […]


  3. rbradley  

    I was sent this scathing review of Bryce’s Gusher of Lies by ‘petrophob’ Robert Zubrin . Sounds like a debate worth having–I know RB is a good debator and has his facts in a row.


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