The only promise kept: higher energy prices

After 40 years of energy panic we may have finally hit Stage 5 of the issue-attention cycle, this time green: Apocalypse Fatigue.

It’s a conspiracy of physics that will keep “green energy” a de minimis part of our energy consumption for the next generation or more, and a conspiracy of grant-seeking “scientists” that should keep us all skeptical of climate policies that  promise a utopia of no trade-offs.

David Harsanyi writes:

The left’s “energy” initiatives of the past decade — the entire purpose of energy policy, in fact — have been aimed at artificially driving fossil fuel prices up to incentivize the bitter clingers to embrace the government’s Utopian energy schemes. No secret has been made of it. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama was asked by CNBC’s John Harwood, “So could the (high) oil prices help us?” Obama: “I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment.” Sudden spikes are bad (politically speaking), but gradual price spikes? Helpful. That same year, current U.S. “Energy” Secretary (then just a zany professor) Steven Chu clarified that “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Jonah Goldberg in Cooling on Global Warming

…without global warming, his energy policy goes from merely misguided to outright bonkers. After all, if you wanted to create non-exportable jobs, wean America off foreign oil, or pursue energy independence from the Middle East, absent any concerns about climate change or releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, you would unleash America’s massive energy reserves in coal, gas, and oil. According to the Congressional Research Service — hardly a mouthpiece for Big Oil — the U.S. has the largest energy resources of any country, Saudi Arabia and Russia included.

But in another sense it’s not odd, because telling voters that they have to pay high gas prices in order to ineffectually fight climate change would be honest but incalculably dumb politically. Recent polling shows that Americans care about the economy more — a lot more — than global warming. Skepticism about the existence of a problem or its scope has been rising in the U.S. and Europe. When a Pew poll in January asked voters what their biggest priorities were, climate change ranked second to last. Only obesity was deemed less of a priority. (Don’t tell Michelle Obama.)

Even Madison Avenue has noticed. The New York Times reports that increasingly budget-conscious consumers are no longer willing to shell out extra for self-described “green products.” As a result, the number of new earth-friendly products has plummeted. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has largely abandoned its failed experiment with becoming a proletarian purveyor of green goods no one wants to buy.

Why has climate change lost its oomph? Plumer lays out some of the reasons, though he minimizes the damage greens have inflicted on their own credibility thanks to the 2009 Climategate e-mail scandal and wildly overstated predictions…

No wonder Obama constantly insists that switching to vastly more expensive and less-efficient energy sources will create jobs. No wonder he promises that if we all get on board the high-speed-rail bandwagon, we’ll win the future. No wonder he’s trying to change the subject to as-of-yet-nonexistent gas-station price gouging and allegedly outrageous subsidies for the oil industry.

Obama’s claims are dubious at best. In supposedly pioneering China, high-speed rail has been a boondoggle of biblical proportions. Green jobs destroy more jobs than they create, and pay less. In Spain, Obama’s favorite clean-energy innovator, one study found that 2.2 jobs were destroyed for every one that was created. Indeed, across Europe, massive investments in wind and solar simply haven’t paid off.

Speaking of Walmart… Mark Steyn in It’s Back

So goes Walmart’s new slogan. What they mean is the old Walmart is back — “Everyday low prices!” — and their disastrous attempt to evolve into Goremart — “Every quarter higher losses!” — is over. Five years ago, Walmart hired an Al Gore adviser as PR chief, stripped the stores of déclassé products such as fishing tackle, and filled it up with a lot of stuff that was “green-friendly.” The Sierra Club and The New Yorker said nice things about them, and Mr. and Mrs. America stayed away. As former exec Jimmy Wright told the Wall Street Journal, “The basic Walmart customer didn’t leave Walmart. What happened is that Walmart left the customer.”

Walmart went green into the red, and then realized that they couldn’t afford the Al Gore retail model. There’s a lot of that around. Before the big Gulf spill, BP had spent a decade kissing up to Democrats and eco-progressives. Once upon a time, their initials stood for “British Petroleum,” but some Madison Avenue type thought it would look better to adopt the slogan “Beyond Petroleum” and replace their old logo with a flower. Pansy? Not yet. Just a sunflower. My colleague Jonah Goldberg suggested that, after the Demo-mediacracy effortlessly turned Tony Hayward into an oleaginous Snidely Whiplash, BP ought to own their rep and call themselves “Badass Petroleum.” Exactly: “We love to drill — and it shows!

Corporations pretending to be social workers is bad enough. But, even in the decadent phase of capitalism, the market still functions well enough to bring Walmart to its senses in a mere half decade. Alas, for Big Government, there are no such corrective mechanisms.

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