A Future without Electricity

by Stephen Moore
That’s what radical Greens want — and President Obama’s policies are moving us toward.

Could the radical-Green movement in America make mankind’s future resemble a science-fiction Earth ruled by apes?

This weekend I went to the see the blockbuster movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and an Investor’s Business Daily editorial this week got me thinking about a bleak scenario. Our future won’t have ape rulers, but, IBD points out, a world without energy might well look similar.

In the movie, bands of humans are resisting a global government of super-intelligent monkeys, gorillas and the like. The humans lack access to electricity, making their struggle — let along the normal life we know today — nearly impossible.

They are rendered powerless — literally. The simian despots understand that depriving the humans of access to electricity will keep them underfoot. (The climax of the movie, as IBD explains, has humans in San Francisco — of all places — heroically reopening a power plant and bringing electricity back to the whole city.)

I wonder how many Americans got the subtle message here: Energy is the master resource. Without it, we return to a Stone Age existence. Life in its absence is nasty, brutish and short.

Is that where the radical Greens, one of the most influential political forces in America today, would take us? If we continue to follow their advice, electric power and fuel will become more expensive (as President Obama has admitted). The Investor’s Business Daily editorial noted, “as the Sierra Club, billionaire Tom Steyer and the Obama administration rage war against coal and other fossil fuel,” we could end up seeing “rolling brownouts and even blackouts in the years ahead.”

In other words, America’s future may not be a chaotic world of climate change, but a pre-modern one without the luxuries afforded by plentiful energy.

Consider the Obama administration’s ongoing war on coal, marked most recently by new Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring dramatic reductions in carbon emissions from power plants. America gets about 40 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants, as IBD notes.

The greens say, no problem, we will shift to renewable energy. But it’s not so simple, as IBD points out: States with onerous renewable-energy standards such as Colorado and California are still relying heavily on coal to fill in the gaps during bad weather or periods of high demand.

There is a reliable, green, economical alternative: natural gas. It’s become cheap and abundant due to new smart drilling technologies. But the environmentalists are busy devising strategies to shut down natural gas as an energy source as well, raising unsupported objections to fracking, one of the methods used to extract it. The Sierra Club says we have to move “beyond natural gas,” even though natural gas is reducing carbon emissions.

And as IBD notes, the Left has little love for other sources of electricity, either, such as nuclear and hydro. In fact, the editorial notes, we get about 90 percent of our power from sources that the Left is trying to shut down.

Sorry, for the foreseeable future, we aren’t going to get our power for our $18 trillion economy from wind turbines and solar panels. And if we begin to try, prices are going to skyrocket.

As for our major transportation fuel, the Greens think oil is a “dirty” fuel that causes global warming. They’re trying to stop domestic drilling anywhere they can. They say we should move to electric cars. Fine. But where are we going to get the electricity to power the batteries?

Last summer our suburban home in northern Virginia lost power for two days during a storm. No lights, no computers, no air conditioning, no TV, no iPods or iPhones. To my three sons, this was like hell on earth. How did people live without electricity? They wondered. Very poorly, I told them.

I wonder how many young people will be so excited about “green energy” when such outages are commonplace and they come to the realization that life without those “dirty” sources of power won’t be so wonderful.

We don’t need apes to destroy our planet. The green humans seems to be doing a fine job of it all on their own.

— Stephen Moore is chief economist at the Heritage Foundation.

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