Compilation of commentary from other sources or newly published, A Socialist In Canada, Sept 22, 2017
Introduction by Roger Annis:
The following is a collection of articles and commentary analyzing the advocacy by environmentalists of ‘green energy’ (also called ‘alternative energy’ and ‘renewable energy’).
The articles and commentaries zero in on the issue of how far the simple replacing of energy produced by fossil fuels with energy produced by various ‘green’ sources (hydro-electric dams, geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, and many other potential non-fossil fuel sources) will take the world in reducing the rising greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling the global warming emergency and threatening the future of species on the plant, including humans. (Some environmentalists also consider nuclear-generated electricity to be ‘green’ energy, a view which I do not share.)
100 per cent wishful thinking: The green energy cornucopia
By Stan Cox, published on Green Social Thought, Sept 9 2017
At the People’s Climate March back last spring, all along that vast river of people, the atmosphere was electric. But many of the signs and banners were far too focused on electricity. Yes, here and there were solid “System Change, Not Climate Change” – themed signs and banners. But far too many of the slogans on display asserted or implied that ending the climate emergency and avoiding climatic catastrophes like those that would occur months later—hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the mega-wildfires in the U.S. West—will be a simple matter of getting Donald Trump out of office and converting to 100-percent renewable energy.
The sunshiny placards and cheery banners promising an energy cornucopia were inspired by academic studies published in the past few years purporting to show how America and the world could meet 100 percent of future energy demand with solar, wind, and other “green” generation. The biggest attention-getters have been a pair of reports published in 2015 by a team led by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, but there have been many others.
Despite a growing body of research that has debunked overblown claims of a green-energy bonanza, Bill McKibben, Al Gore, and other luminaries in the mainstream climate movement have been invigorated by reports like Jacobson’s and have embraced the 100-percent vision. And that vision is merging with a broader, even more spurious claim that has become especially popular in the Trump era: the private sector, we are told, has now taken the lead on climate, and market forces will inevitably achieve the 100-percent renewable dream and solve the climate crisis on their own. In this dream, anything’s possible; Jacobson even believes that tens of thousands of wind turbines installed offshore could tame hurricanes like Katrina, Harvey, and Irma.
The 100-percent dream has become dogma among liberals and mainstream climate activists. Serious energy scholars who publish analyses that expose the idea’s serious weaknesses risk being condemned as stooges of the petroleum industry or even as climate deniers. Jacobson has even suggested that he might take legal action against NOAA scientist Christopher Clack and twenty coauthors whose critical evaluation of his work was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in June.
Jacobson’s team and others cling to the idea of 100-percent conversion because they (rightly) want to eliminate fossil and nuclear energy, and they foresee that any future supply gap left by a shortfall in renewable generation is going to be filled by those dirty sources. That is indeed stated or implied by many of the opposing analyses, including the Clack study. But the two sides also share other basic assumptions. They both have tried to design scenarios that satisfy all future demand for energy solely through industrial production, technological improvements, efficiency, and markets, without any strict regulatory limits on the total quantity of energy consumed in production and consumption. The 100-percenters believe such a scenario is achievable while their critics conclude that it is not, but they agree on the ultimate goal: a permanent high-energy economy.
That part of the dogma, not the “100-percent” part, is the problem. America does need to convert to fully renewable energy as quickly as possible. But juxtaposing the 100-percent scenarios that promise a permanent high-energy economy with critiques showing such projects to be futile should lead us to a different vision altogether: that, at least in affluent countries, it would be better simply to transform society so that it operates on far less end-use energy while assuring sufficiency for all. That would bring a 100%-renewable energy system within closer reach and avoid the outrageous technological feats and gambles required by high-energy dogma. It would also have the advantage of being possible.
Waking up from the dream
The pursuit of the 100-percent dream didn’t start with the 2015 Jacobson et al. papers, and critiques of it didn’t start with Clack et al. For example, there was a 2015 paper by Peter Loftus and colleagues that critically examined 17 “decarbonization scenarios.” Then earlier this year, a study by a group of Australian researchers led by B.P. Heard rated the feasibility of 24 published studies describing 100-percent renewable electricity scenarios.
The Heard group concluded that among the research papers they evaluated (which included several with Jacobson as lead author), none “provides convincing evidence that these basic feasibility criteria can be met.” They found a wide range of technical flaws in the proposed systems. Most scenarios assumed unprecedented and deeply unrealistic improvements in energy efficiency (in terms of kilowatt hours consumed per dollar’s worth of output). Because the chief renewable technologies, wind and solar, fluctuate continuously in their output and regularly drop to zero output, they must be backed up with large supplies of “base load” electricity if all demand is to be met without interruption; no studies managed this without ecologically destructive levels of biomass burning or wildly unrealistic estimates of hydroelectric output. Scenarios did not account for the overcapacity and redundancy that will be needed if a high-energy economy is to function in an increasingly unpredictable global climate. (This year, the people of Texas, Florida, and the West in particular can attest to the deep impacts of that unpredictability.) Studies did not account for the expected four- to five-fold expansion of the power transmission infrastructure that will be required to accommodate renewable energy. And they did not address the difficulties of maintaining voltage and frequency of alternating current within extremely tight limits (a necessity in technologically dependent societies) when a large share of the supply is from wind and solar. This all adds up, writes the Heard team, to a systemic “fragility” that will render futile all attempts to deliver the promised output of electricity when it is needed.
The Loftus group found several of the same weaknesses in the studies they examined. But they singled out scenarios in papers by Jacobson and Delucchi, the World Wildlife Fund, and Worldwatch. Those scenarios had in common two assumptions that Loftus and colleagues regarded as out of the realm of reality: efficiency improving at as much as 3 to 4 times the historic rate, and buildup of renewable generation capacity at many times the rate at which today’s total electric generation capacity was built up in past decades. They concluded that it would be “premature and highly risky to ‘bet the planet’” on the achievement of scenarios like those.
In their PNAS publication, the one that prompted Jacobson to hint at a lawsuit, Clack et al. critically examined two Jacobson papers from 2015, one of which was a widely hailed “roadmap” for plentiful, 100-percent renewable energy in all 50 United States. In addition to “modeling errors,” much of the Clack critique is aimed at the assumed ubiquitous deployment of technologies that either don’t yet exist or are only lightly tested and can’t be scaled up to the huge scales envisioned. They include underground thermal energy storage for virtually every building in the country, a full air transportation system run entirely on hydrogen(!), wind farms covering 6 percent of the entire land surface of the 48 contiguous states, an outrageous and unrealistic increase in ecologically harmful hydroelectric power, and a buildout of electricity generation capacity that hurtles along at 14 times the average rate of capacity expansion in the past half-century.
But even if it were physically possible to achieve all of those scaleups, and even if Congress found a way to repeal and replace Murphy’s Law, the full-blown 100-percent dream could not be realized. In a series of papers published since 2010 (e.g., a 2016 paper in Energy Policy), Patrick Moriarty and Damon Honnery of Monash University in Australia have identified several crucial factors that will limit the total global output of renewable electricity. For example, renewable technologies exploit the windiest or sunniest locations first, and, as they expand, they move into less and less productive territory. There, their construction and operation will require as much energy input as before, but their output will be lower. Furthermore, because of inherently intermittent generation, much of the electric power from wind and solar will have to be stored using batteries, hydrogen, compressed air, pumped water, or other means. It will then have to be reconverted to electricity and transmitted from often remote regions to places where people and businesses are concentrated. The result is a severe shrinkage of the net energy available to society, because much energy is expended or lost during both conversion and transmission. Finally, all production of wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and especially hydroelectric energy has an ecological impact on the landscapes where it occurs. So if we are to halt our degradation and destruction of the Earth’s natural ecosystems, it will be necessary to declare large areas off-limits to the energy sector.
Moriarty and Honnery show that given all of these factors, expansion of renewable energy will hit a brick wall, a point at which as much energy is required to install and operate electric facilities as they will end up generating in their operating lifetimes. But even before that point is reached, it will have become pointless to expand generation capacity that has lower and lower net output. They conclude that as a result, future renewable output “could be far below present energy use.”
What are we hoping for?
A generally overlooked but crucial point about high-energy, 100-percent renewable proposals is that they seek to meet future demand patterns in a way that would leave in place today’s great distortions in access to energy and other resources. The American economy would carry on uninterrupted with its overproduction, overconsumption, and inequality, while billions of people in poorer regions and countries would not get the access to energy that’s required for a minimally good quality of life.
The 100-percent scenarios themselves, as well as the critiques of them, hold one especially valuable lesson. Unintentionally, they show in stark terms why rich countries need to start planning to live in the renewable but lower-energy world envisioned by Moriarty and Honnery rather than the high-energy world that the mainstream 100-percent scenarios envision. The world that the latter scenarios would create, one focused on maintaining current profligate consumption levels, would not be a green and pleasant one. Herculean quantities of physical and mental labor power will have been expended, boundless physical resources (including vast tonnages of fossil fuels) will have been consumed, and countless entire ecosystems across the Earth’s surface will have been sacrificed to generate more electricity. All of that would make for a pretty grim world. With society having zeroed in singlemindedly on acquiring enough energy to keep driving, flying, and overproducing as much as we want, there’s no reason to expect that other problems, including enormous distortions in economic and political power and quality of life, along with racial and ethnic oppression, would have been solved.
Some in the climate movement believe in the 100-percent dogma and the dream it holds out: that the (affluent) American way of life can keep running forward in time and outward in space without breaking stride. There are others who know that to be an impossibly rosy vision but urge the movement to limit public discussion to such green dreams, because talking about a regulated, low-energy economy would crush hope and enthusiasm at the grassroots.
But the debate about hope ignores the relevant question: what are we hoping for? If our hope is to deploy solar and wind capacity that maintains indefinitely the current throughput of energy in the world’s affluent societies, then, yes, the situation is hopeless. But there can be other hopes that, although they’re looking dim for now, are at least within reach: that greenhouse warming can be limited sufficiently to allow communities around the world who are currently impoverished and oppressed to improve their lives; that access to food, water, shelter, safety, culture, nature, and other necessities becomes sufficient for all; or that exploitation and oppression of humans and nature be brought to an end.
There’s always hope, as long as we don’t confuse dreams with reality.
Stan Cox is on the editorial board of Green Social Thought and co-author, with Paul Cox, of How the World Breaks: Life in Catastrophe’s Path, From the Caribbean to Siberia.
Also By Stan Cox:
The ascendance of Trump makes broad-based climate action essential– and achievable, published on Green Social Thought, Dec 10, 2016
E-mail by Roger Annis to the article author:
Dec 13, 2016
Thank you so much for your article in Green Social Thought (Dec 10, 2017). I have been making similar arguments as yours to my ecosocialist friends. That is, unless calls for action on global warming are accompanied by prescriptions for radical contraction of all the waste and excess of the production-consumption cycle common to capitalism, then the talk of ‘climate action’ is just so many words. I have to say that it is a hard slog. Ecosocialists are proving very prone to accepting the superficial solutions of which Naomi Klein and other climate libertarians speak–switching to alternative energies and ‘renewable energies’ to replace fossil fuels, producing more electric automobiles, etc.
I have one critique to make of your article. I believe that in order to present a rounded overview of the global warming crisis, environmentalists are obliged to describe and speak out against war and militarism. Not only is the military-industrial complex the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, it is deeply disempowering to society, that is, completely antithetical to democracy. The climate cannot be salvaged in a world wracked by war. Indeed, ongoing war and militarism, not to speak of the nuclear war danger with which NATO is playing in eastern Europe, are the kiss of death to global warming mitigation.
What lies beneath? The scientific understatement of climate risks
By David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, published on Climate Code Red, Sept 7, 2017
The following blog is the Introduction to What Lies Beneath: The scientific understatement of climate risks, published today by Breakthrough, the National Centre for Climate Restoration (Melbourne, Australia).
Three decades ago, when serious debate on human-induced climate change began at the global level, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. There was a preparedness to recognise that this was an issue transcending nation states, ideologies and political parties which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity as a whole, even if the existential nature of the risk it posed was far less clear cut than it is today.
As global institutions were established to take up this challenge, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the extent of change this would demand of the fossil-fuel-dominated world order became clearer, the forces of resistance began to mobilise. Today, as a consequence, and despite the diplomatic triumph of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian.
In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.”
Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking. International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C. Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. Coal is “clean”. Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. The planetary future is hostage to myopic national self-interest. Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so. A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.
Climate policymaking for years has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”. So it is unsurprising that there is a lack of a understanding amongst the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge. Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of Australians see climate change as catastrophic risk, and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.
Politics and policymaking have norms: rules and practices, assumptions and boundaries, that constrain and shape them. In recent years, the previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage Climate policymaking is no exception.
Since 1992, short-term economic interest has trumped environmental and future human needs. The world today emits 48% more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the consumption of energy than it did 25 years ago, and the global economy has more than doubled in size. The UNFCCC strives “to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”, but every year humanity’s ecological footprint becomes larger and less sustainable. Humanity now requires the biophysical capacity of 1.7 planets annually to survive as it rapidly chews up the natural capital.
A fast, emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change. But this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive. The orthodoxy is that there is time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. Discussion of what would be safe –– less warming that we presently experience –– is non-existent. And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.
Policymakers, in their magical thinking, imagine a mitigation path of gradual change, to be constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous world. The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence and most significant planetary boundaries (soils, potable water, oceans, the atmosphere, biodiversity, and so on); and of severe global energy sector dislocation.
In anticipation of the upheaval that climate change would impose upon the global order, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was established by the UN in 1988, charged with regularly assessing the global consensus on climate science as a basis for policymaking. The IPCC Assessment Reports (AR), produced every 5–6 years, play a large part in the public framing of the climate narrative: new reports are a global media event. AR5 was produced in 2013-14, with AR6 due in 2022. The IPCC has done critical, indispensable work of the highest standard in pulling together a periodic consensus of what must be the most exhaustive scientific investigation in world history. It does not carry out its own research, but reviews and collates peer-reviewed material from across the spectrum of this incredibly complex area, identifying key issues and trends for policymaker consideration.
However, the IPCC process suffers from all the dangers of consensus-building in such a wide-ranging and complex arena. For example, IPCC reports, of necessity, do not always contain the latest available information. Consensus-building can lead to “least drama”, lowest-common-denominator outcomes which overlook critical issues. This is particularly the case with the “fat-tails” of probability distributions, that is, the high-impact but relatively low-probability events where scientific knowledge is more limited. Vested interest pressure is acute in all directions; climate denialists accuse the IPCC of alarmism, whereas climate action proponents consider the IPCC to be far too conservative. To cap it all, the IPCC conclusions are subject to intense political oversight before being released, which historically has had the effect of substantially watering-down sound scientific findings.
These limitations are understandable, and arguably were not of overriding importance in the early period of the IPCC. However, as time has progressed, it is now clear that the risks posed by climate change are far greater than previously anticipated. We have moved out of the twilight period of much talk but relatively limited climate impacts. Climate change is now turning nasty, as we have witnessed in 2017 in the USA, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires, more intense flooding and more damaging hurricanes.
The distinction between climate science and risk is now the critical issue, for the two are not the same. Scientific reticence — a reluctance to spell out the full risk implications of climate science in the absence of perfect information — has become a major problem. Whilst this is understandable, particularly when scientists are continually criticised by denialists and political apparatchiks for speaking out, it is extremely dangerous given the “fat tail” risks of climate change. Waiting for perfect information, as we are continually urged to do by political and economic elites, means it will be too late to act.
Irreversible, adverse climate change on the global scale now occurring is an existential risk to human civilisation. Many of the world’s top climate scientists quoted in this report well understand these implications — James Hansen, Michael E. Mann, John Schellnhuber, Kevin Anderson, Eric Rignot, Naomi Oreskes, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Oppenheimer, Stefan Rahmstorf and others — and are forthright about their findings, where we are heading, and the limitations of IPCC reports.
This report seeks to alert the wider community and leaders to these limitations and urges change to the IPCC approach, and to the wider UNFCCC negotiations. It is clear that existing processes will not deliver the transformation to a low-carbon world in the limited time now available.
We urgently require a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework. This requires special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management. Like an iceberg, there is great danger “In what lies beneath”.
Comment on the article ‘What lies beneath?‘
By David Klein, posted on the email listserve of System Change Not Climate Change (reproduced on A Socialist In Canada with permission)
Sept 19, 2017
I have cited research from the IPCC as well as more pathbreaking research from many of its critics and I’ve corrected some misinformation about mathematical climate models, but I’ve never defended the IPCC except in other venues from climate deniers. In fact I gave references to forceful criticisms of the IPCC in my book that go back to 2012. Both the political and scientific conservativism of the IPCC were well known before this recent report came out. It is worth pointing out, however, that the IPCC reports, as conservative as they are, do acknowledge predictions of the worst possible threats to human life and the biosphere up to the level of conditions that would result in mass extinction.
In some respects, this Breakthrough report does not go far enough. For example it highlights Michael Mann as a critic of IPCC conservativism, but it was Mann who led the charge against Wallace-Wells for his penetrating New York Magazine article, The Uninhabitable Earth, [that essay reproduced here on A Socialist In Canada, July 10, 2017] which seems to be accurate except for some very minor details (and I said so at the time) .
While Spratt and Dunlop raise some important and valid scientific issues and focus appropriately on risk (rather than solely on probabilities), like most mainstream reporters, they completely omit any discussion of the primary driving force behind ecocide, namely capitalism.
If one wants to resist global warming, there is no more important way than to militate openly against capitalism. The IPCC fails to do this because it serves at the behest of the global ruling class. The world’s leading climate scientists, including critics of the IPCC, won’t even say the word “capitalism” aloud even though some of them, like Anderson, are starting to recognize that economic growth — an inexorable feature of capitalism — is the driver of climate change.
All of this underscores the importance of SCNCC. No other grassroots collection that I know of has been as effective and diligent in publicly identifying capitalism as a failed economic system and as the fundamental source of the climate crisis, and in proposing ecosocialism as an alternative.
David Klein is a mathematical physicist and professor of mathematics at CSU Northridge, where he is also director of the Climate Science Program, a NASA funded program designed to prepare students for careers or Ph.d. work in climate science. He earned a B.S. in physics and a B.A. in mathematics from UC Santa Barbara, and a Ph.d. from Cornell University. He is the author of the free ebook, Capitalism andClimate Change: The Science and Politics of Global Warming. Website: http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/
Comment by Roger Annis on ‘renewable energy’, to the System Change Not Climate Change listserve, Sept 20, 2017
Something important is missing from Barry Saxifrage’s important article in the National Observer examining the flawed energy outlook of the International Energy Agency (Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables, by Barry Saxifrage, National Observer, Sept 20, 2017). His commentary is worded as though a switch by the world to what he calls renewable energy, this would somehow slow and eventually halt reverse rising global emissions. But this is a mirage. I actually doubt that this is the writer’s view (and for the record, he is far, far more informed and experienced than I on matters of global warming). But the wording is there and it is misleading as written.
It is not just the extraction and burning of fossil fuels that is causing the global warming emergency. It is the entire extraction, production and consumption cycle of (capitalist) society, however it is powered.
As we know, the capitalist production cycle is relentless and ever-expanding. This expansionism is inherent to capitalism as a whole. Fossil fuels are the chosen source of power for much of the capitalist expansion of the past 200 years or so (for good, solid capitalist reasons). But if the supply of fossil fuels were to halt tomorrow or at some future point as supply dries up (heaven forbid we should actually arrive at such an end point), then alternative energy sources would take their place. And the whole, destructive cycle would carry on.
(As a sidenote, there is no such thing as ‘renewable’ energy. That would defy the laws of physics. All energy production requires material input. There is ‘more polluting’ and ‘less polluting’ energy. These are ‘more harmful’ or ‘less harmful’ to society, according to society’s judgement. There is no free energy ride.)
With regard to an earlier comment to this listserve, I am very reluctant to offer the term ‘revolution’ on its own as an answer to the global warming emergency. It’s too vague. Ditto, even, for ‘socialism’. I think the answer offered up needs to be something along the lines of ‘revolution (or socialism) that brings about a planned economy and a halt to humanity’s assault on nature’.
One of the big theoretical questions that environmentalists need to examine is the following. What is the world to do about the global warming emergency in circumstances where there is no socialist revolution (ie rational, planned economy) on the immediate agenda in any of the large, most polluting countries? This is one reason why I am keenly interested in studying the New Economic Policy (NEP) which guided the economic development of the early Soviet Union (1921 to 1928). NEP was cut brutally short in 1929 by the rising Stalinist bureaucracy. It dealt with a similar problem that we face today: what is the rational path to social development during the transition period in which the capitalist law of value still holds great sway and power?
The path to climate (societal) salvation is that of emergency retrenchment and related emergency mitigation of the worst of what is to come. I believe this leads inexorably to socialism, ie a planned and social economy. But that is a lengthy process that will take at least several decades (so far in the world, it has taken 100 years!). What are the class alliances that are possible and necessary along that path? Are we dependent, exclusively, on the awakening of the workers and other exploited classes to win political power? Or do we seek the broadest possible class (and national) alliances during the awakening? If so, what would we seek to accomplish? Stopping oil pipelines, oil-by-rail, gas fracking and all the rest is only the beginning of wisdom. For its survival, society simultaneously need big leaps forward–redesigning cities without automobiles; vastly expanding localized food and energy production; learn to grow food without poisoning the soil and water with chemicals; radically reduce air travel; etc. Unless I am mistaken, this is a very unexplored area of Marxism and other radical philosophies (eg anarchism) in this era of global warming emergency. It’s time for a theoretical leap, what I’ve been calling a ‘renewal and revival’ of radical social thought.
Comment by Roger Annis on greenhouse gas emissions, to the System Change Not Climate Change listserve, Sept 19, 2017
I appreciate very much the work of Oil Change International, including this latest article (The hazards of EIA energy forecasts, by Adam Scott, published on Oil Change International, Sept 19, 2017.) But there are several points of unclarity in the article which need to be pointed out.
The article argues that global greenhouse emissions should “eventually cut to zero mid-century”. That’s not possible or desirable. We need radical reduction of emissions, and radical retraction of the capitalist, expansionist production-consumption cycle. We are likely speaking of emissions reductions in the order of 80 per cent, maybe 90 per cent (I leave to experts the precise numbers).
I don’t know how this “zero emissions” phrase arises. Surely the author would agree that 7.4 billion humans on planet Earth cannot live and prosper without emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The problem with the phrase is that it comforts people with the utterly mistaken idea that by switching to ‘green energy’ and electric automobiles, the global warming emergency can be abated. If only it were that simple. I’m going to assume that the author intended to say that emissions should be cut with a (long-term) view to achieving “zero human-induced global temperature rises”.
Meanwhile, as important it is to critique and expose the IEA, we also need to simultaneously mention the scale and shape of the alternative, emergency response that confronts the world. This OIC article doesn’t help when it posits (inferentially, but posited nonetheless) that electric automobiles should be part of a greenhouse gas reduction plan. Studies have shown that electrical automobiles in the eastern U.S. generate approximately the same emissions as fossil fuel automobiles in the western U.S. (because so much electricity in the est is generated by coal). Meanwhile, the automobile and related industries must surely be the largest single culprit for the global warming emergency. How about positing a rapid elimination of the automobile blight? (Yes, we will still need autos and light trucks in future society, but they will supplement society’s needs, not dominate and destroy the entire world.)