“I have long been noted for ability to call turning points for industry: this suicide is one. Current industry support of EPA will create massive political backlash such as never seen before in US. ‘My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.’ D. Buckel”
The above tweet by Amy Myers Jaffe (@AmyJaffeenergy) on 8:31 am – April 16th should live in infamy.
First, the author claims superior knowledge and prediction, not exactly a talking point for the Malthusians who have long predicted a (premature) end to the fossil-fuel-driven, growing energy sector. Peak oil demand is her new mantra, replacing her old fears of Peak Oil and “geopolitical peak oil.”
Second, Jaffe wildly predicts that the Trump Administration’s consumer-first, taxpayer-first, entrepreneur-first/crony-last energy policy is setting itself up for a massive reversal. Actually, Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, Ryan Zinke’s Department of Interior, and other federal agencies are creating the legal momentum and market confidence for a more robust fossil-fuel future.
Third, Jaffe exploits a grotesque suicide as a supposed great turning point in public policy. The name does not matter, but his act was to douse himself with gasoline and light himself on fire to demonstrate what he thought the world was doing to itself with fossil fuels. And he sent a letter to the New York Times just to make sure his act would make national news.
Regarding the suicide, Jaffe is already wrong. There was initial reporting, but the world has moved on. Not even the hyperbolic Joe Romm or Paul Krugman tried to glorify the ultimate act of self-immolation.
Second, there is little redeeming about self-immolation where loved ones get to suffer. His real friends were shocked and disappointed. (“Total shock,” said [Erik] Martig, 34. “It just isn’t who he was.”)
Third, if the subject had really wanted to study the issue of fossil fuels and humankind, he could have reached the opposite view: fossil fuels and its byproduct of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are pro-life. He evidently did not want to go there for a few dollars and a several hours of study.
Obviously, the subject was very troubled and at war with himself. In the ultimate act of vainglory, he decided to try to be a martyr. But a loser did not become a winner in this case.
Anger Is Not Scholarship
Emotions are the enemy of dispassionate analysis. Jaffe of the Council on Foreign Relations is hardly a scholar in this regard. I am reminded of what Jeffrey Sachs, head of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, wrote in the wake of Hurricane Harvey nine months ago:
Gov. Abbott, we would like to bid you a political adieu. Perhaps you can devote your time to rebuilding Houston and taking night classes in climate science.
And to ExxonMobil, Chevron, Koch Industries, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, and other oil giants doing your business in Texas: You put up the first $25 billion in Houston disaster relief. Call it compensation for your emissions. Tell the truth about growing climate threats. Then, as citizens seeking the common good, we will match your stake.
– Jeffrey Sachs, “Sachs: Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott Needs to Resign,” CNN Opinion, August 29, 2017.
Sachs’s fossil-fuel hate speech lives in infamy, just another exaggeration in a Malthusian house of intellectual horrors. Amy Myers Jaffe’s similar outburst of April 16th lives in infamy as well.
It is high time that fossil-fuel despisers Amy Myers Jaffe and Jeffrey Sachs engage in real scholarship and self-reflection and front a debate about trending climate science, dense vs. dilute energy, intermittent vs. reliable power, taxpayer welfare, consumer sovereignty, Public Choice, and business/government cronyism.