Planet Gore

Obama Flips While Germany Flops on Solar Panels

So President Obama decided to engage in some high-profile symbolism and reinstall solar panels on the White House roof (what, no windmill?), à la Jimmy Carter, and in an embarrassing reversal. Although the clumsiness of an obvious political and panic-driven pander has caused heartburn on the Left, in a related reversal, Obama also used his weekly address to revive the risible and previously ditched claim that Germany is proof of a state successfully centrally planning the “green economy.”

Not to leave their man in Washington hanging — if by sheer coincidence — Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology bought a full-page ad in the weekend Wall Street Journal to further promote Obama’s plan to adopt economically painful, environmentally meaningless ‘green economy’ laws designed to increase your electricity (and other energy) costs.

It’s almost like they are telling us to watch out for the lame-duck session.

Clumsy and unseemly though it may be, there’s also the little problem with the lack of accuracy. Consider Obama’s thesis, as stated by the German government to open its effort:

In many countries, efforts to address climate change have been stalled by public fears that helping the environment will hurt the economy.

Germany is proof that going green is good for business.

It is no such thing. Germany is instead trying to get the U.S. to follow suit (even if Obama doesn’t realize whose pocket he is in, striving to bail out struggling European wind and solar bubble-businesses). This puffery also ignores the fact that the same government — like Spain, France, the UK, and so on — has had to cut the subsidies, which drain the treasury but on which these supposedly economically beneficial industries depend for their existence, causing whelps of terror that this mere haircut could spell their imminent demise. And we are to pin our economic future on this disastrous model?

Spain’s painful experience is by now well known in this space, so here’s what some German academics and industry experts found in November after President Obama last bragged about the mythical German wirtschaftswunder:

[A]lthough Germany’s promotion of renewable energies is commonly portrayed in the media as setting a ‘shining example in providing a harvest for the world’ (The Guardian 2007), we would instead regard the country’s experience as a cautionary tale of massively expensive environmental and energy policy that is devoid of economic and environmental benefits.

Ach du lieber! However, and revealing ever more the absence of a defensible argument for their thesis, the German government’s newfound defense of the boondoggle couldn’t even stick to its argument. Instead, after praising the economic wisdom of green mandates it then leaps to a curious non sequitur, quoting a U.S. academic’s praise that “What Germany has managed to do is drastically reduce energy intensity. . . . Energy use has been decoupled from productivity.”

That’s odd for several reasons, including that the piece is titled “Country counts on renewable energy as a driver of its economic growth,” referring to the effort to get the U.S. to pass a law that would force us to buy their stuff. So energy is driving Germany’s growth, except when it isn’t. Or something.

What they must mean is that making the contraptions is now what their economy depends on — thanks to a political bet on loser technology, leaving them desperate for Uncle Sucker to bail them out, which is the whole point of Germany’s lending Obama a hand.

But there’s another lesson here worth learning: Germany’s law that created the model that Obama wants to impose on us didn’t actually do what they claim it did.

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) data for such a comparison does only goes back to German reunification in 1991 (found here, using market exchange rates, because that’s what our UN IPCC pals use).

From these figures we see that from 1991 to 2006, Germany reduced its energy intensity from 8,809 British Thermal Units (Btu) per dollar of GDP (in 2000 US$) to 7,260 Btu. That is a 17.5 percent drop.

Over the same period, U.S. energy intensity dropped 25.8 percent.

Despite the article’s implying that this miracle occurred thanks to a decision made decades ago and a windmill and solar panel law passed in 2000, we do know that at least since reunification nearly 20 years ago, the improvement has been a steady one. In fact, that is what developed economies do. There’s much less to the claim than meets the eye. In addition to the fact that our wretchedly flawed country which must learn from theirs has actually done it much better.

But since Obama’s point is to argue for U.S. adoption of the 2000 German law, we ought to at least point out that it has actually had no apparent impact on Germany’s energy intensity. It dropped 14.75 percent in the decade before the fetishized windmill/solar panel law, and 3.3 percent in the six years after it.

Over the same period, U.S. energy intensity dropped 15.4 percent for the decade 1991–2000 and 12.3 percent for the period 2000–2006 — without the economic harm described by the German researchers above. And we’re the bad guy who needs to do what the other guy’s harming himself by doing.

So the lesson from the past few days’ pander, after looking at the facts, is that President Obama is seeking to fundamentally transform America, using failed, expensive policies of Europe’s social democracies as his models. Toward his political end, he is rebranding central planning as the ‘green economy,’ and he and his doppelgangers make claims that simply do not survive scrutiny. They’re not only unsupportable, but what he and his enablers claim has time and again proven to be the opposite of reality.

I think where these people are living is what was meant by “Planet Gore.”

Most Popular


Two Truth-Tellers, Brave as Hell

Yesterday, the Human Rights Foundation hosted an event they called “PutinCon” -- a conference devoted to the Russian “president,” Vladimir Putin: his rise and his deeds, both at home and abroad. Participating were both Russians and well-wishing foreigners. It was, above all, a day of truth-telling -- a ... Read More
Economy & Business

The Swamp: Navarro Nucor Edition

The Wall Street Journal has a story today about the ties between President Trump's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, and the biggest steel company in the U.S. -- Nucor Corp. It is particularly interesting in light of the stiff steel tariffs successfully pushed by Navarro, which he championed ever since he joined the ... Read More


EMPIRICAL   As I can fathom neither endlessness nor the miracle work of deities, I hypothesize, assume, and guess.   The fact that I love you and you love me is all I can prove and proves me. — This poem appears in the April 2 print issue of National Review. Read More
Politics & Policy

Rolling Back Dodd-Frank

The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would roll back parts of Dodd-Frank. The vote was 67–31, with 17 members of the Democratic caucus breaking party lines. If the legislation passes the House and is signed, it will be the largest change to the controversial financial-reform package since it became law in ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Samantha Power Regrets

‘I’ve had a lot of bad ideas in my life,” former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power tells Politico. “Though none as immortalized as that one.” Wow. It’s a major concession. And what might “that one” be? Not standing idly by in the White House while Iranians protested a fixed election in 2009, then ... Read More