Wente: Even when she’s right, she’s wrong.

Wente writes in glowing terms about John Dwyer, CEO of Flax Energy. Well deserved kudos for Mr. Dwyer – a bright, ambitious fellow who is taking a (small) bite out of fossil fuels. Flax Energy converts – yep, flax – to biodiesel (and some other value-add products, like flour and animal feed). And he needs no subsidies to do it. An accomplishment well worth noting.

But Wente goes on, swallowing whole the Lomborg thesis: since some entrepreneurs can think of ‘smart’ solutions that beat fossil fuels at their own game, surely all we need to do is let them run their course. A free market/technophile delusion: technology and profit shall come galloping over the hill to save our butts from catastrophic climate change.

The best part is, the rest of us don’t have to do anything! No lifestyle change, no effort, and certainly no higher prices at the pump or electrical outlet.

Absolute nonsense. First off, there’s not enough flax (or cellulose, or …). But more important, there’s not enough time. Wente, like Lomborg, is an apologist for the status quo. A status quo that takes us right over the climate cliff onto the rocks below.

As Vaclav Smil is fond of pointing out – all things being equal, history teaches us it takes a century for new energy technology to replace the old. Even if it’s better, faster, cheaper – “smarter” in the Lomborg lexicon. But we don’t have a hundred years. We have a decade, maybe two, to replace more than $60 trillion worth of fossil-fuel infrastructure and reduce overall energy use if we are to reduce the probability of catastrophic climate disruption to reasonable levels.

Mr. Dwyer – and many others – are doing their best to move the needle on carbon. And Wente offers him well-deserve kudos. But, Ms. Wente, heroic efforts by entrepreneurs don’t us off the hook. Without a strong and rising price on carbon – something we all must endorse in a democratic market economy – the market will burn enough fossil fuels to bake our bread baskets, kill off most of the oceans, and infuriate the atmosphere.

Welcome to a 21st century of storms, floods – and soon food shortages. Get your head out of the sand and face the headwinds.

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4 Responses to Wente: Even when she’s right, she’s wrong.

  1. Milan says:

    You’re right. What’s most often missing from discussions of climate change and energy transition is a suitable appreciation of the scale and urgency of the problem.

    ‘Solutions’ with very limited scope for reducing GHG pollutions risk distracting us from options that can actually start driving them toward zero.

    • Arthur Yip says:

      Great point about scope and scale. Today’s interim solutions: we need much more natural gas and nuclear to put a real dent in all those new coal plants. Meanwhile we need to continue to aggressively R&DDD zero-carbon energy.

  2. Wilton says:

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    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page
    to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read.

    Thank you for sharing!

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