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'Sustainability': Some Free Market Reflections

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#mlewis">Marlo Lewis</a> -- February 11, 2011

A few months ago, I participated in a symposium entitled, “A Sustainable Energy State — How Remote Is the Possibility?” I prepared some talking points for the event and, heeding the injunction to re-use and recycle, turn them here into a MasterResource column.

The following reflections make three main points: (1) A “sustainable” energy system, as that term is commonly used, will likely not materialize in our lifetimes; (2) except for heavily-subsidized wind, solar, and biofuel energy, the current, largely fossil fuel-based energy system is already sustainable; and (3) the “sustainable energy” agenda imperils the improving state of the world and, therefore, is politically unsustainable.

Just around the Corner (Not!)

How “remote” is the “possibility” of a “Sustainable Energy State”? That depends, of course, on the meaning of sustainability. When environmental advocates call wind farms, solar power, or “next generation” biofuels “sustainable,” they imply that energy is sustainable only if it is carbon-neutral or non-emitting.…