Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ignorance Amongst Environmental Leaders

Evidently, Knowledge is a lifelong pursuit, and it keeps fleeing from those who should know better. Odds are, it happens to us all at some time, but normally we try to keep these events to a minimum, unless we are somewhat bent out of shape, like Mitt Romney, Dick Armey or Glen Beck. Today's Encounter with Ignorance was seen on that awesome TV Talk show, "Up With Chris Hayes", who tries really hard to be factual. Maybe one of his guests needs to try harder, though this blooper could be from profound stubborn beliefs that superimpose themselves on otherwise well meaning activities and goals. The "oops" was done by Frances Beinecke, leader of the Natural Resources Defense Council (Robert Redford is the most famous member of this organization of environmentalists...):

Frances is on the right. It can be seen on this segment starting around 2:15:

From "Up With Chris Hayes" Dec 8, 2012 -

Frances Beinecke, President of NRDC, continuing a discussion on present low energy and electricity prices and why that is deterring the deployment of (some types of) renewable energy in this country:

>> the only thing to change that is if we put a price on carbon. the externalities of all the fossil fuel development are not incorporated in the current price, so the environmental effects, the health effects, the consequences to communities, none of that is factored in. we have to change that and get a price on carbon and drive it up to promote renewables and efficiencies first and foremost.

Of course, this is not true - and it is because of the word "only". This makes Ms. Beinecke a liar, though she probably does not consider herself one, or even realize she is doing it. And maybe it is due to the somewhat chaotic nature of talk shows like the one Mr. Hayes hosts. But the large scale deployment of wind turbines in the US does not require a (sufficiently) high price on carbon (dioxide pollution) that would raise the price of electricity made from coal or natural gas. A Feed-In Tariff (FIT) pricing system would NOT require "carbon prices" in order to make wind turbine sourced electricity financially viable, and we know that FIT systems work, and are responsible for the deployment of most of the non-hydroelctric energy renewable systems installed in the world, to date. FIT systems can work with or without "carbon prices", and especially at "carbon prices" high enough to make wind energy (subsidized or unsubsidized) lower cost than either coal or natural gas based electricity at present fossil fuel prices.

So, the head of the NRDC is just lying on national TV, and it is doubtful whether she even understands that she is telling untruths, and trying to sound authoritative about it, too. Will she ever be held accountable for this? Will she ever apologize for propagating such falsehoods? It would be nice to think so, but the NRDC has tried to remain pretty dumb about the potential of FITs for some time - especially in NY State. And they just don't seem to get what makes large scale job creation via the demand stimulus that FITs can facilitate, and why FITs work so well compared to the convoluted subsidies that are used in the US to allow renewables to exist, but not really flourish.

Any ideas on ways to allow the NRDC and its leader to "get it" would be appreciated. We know she is an otherwise smart person who does not wish to be known as ignorant, especially about something with massive climate and environmental consequences. What will it take to "Git 'er done" and move Ms. Beinecke back to the side of Truth and Justice?

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