Green GiantOct 11th, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
By Joe Boyles
Green Giant is a brand name for canned and frozen vegetables. Many of us recall the animated commercials of the gentle but large green fellow making things grow in the magical valley.
You can still find Green Giant on your grocery store shelves but no longer on television. Instead, the modern “green giant” is your friendly government promising to rewrite the laws of physics and chemistry with the green movement – non-carbon sources of energy.
Led by the Obama Administration, this popular revolution promises something-for-nothing, the oldest game of political charades. Using the mediums of solar and wind, and to a lesser extent, biofuels, but never nuclear, the “greenies” are promising us the moon — a new world powered by the forces of nature with zero emissions. Obama and his political allies promise us a new economy based on green technology with millions of new-age jobs.
The movement has captured the popular culture – it is an important advertising tool and our children are being bombarded with this information in the public schools. If you’re not green, then you’re square and sadly being left behind … or so it goes.
There is only one vexing problem for the brave new world promised by the green movement – it violates scientific and economic principles. Not only that, it violates immutable laws that have been around for centuries and have been scientifically proven. That’s why we call them laws.
Let’s start with solar, the energy produced by our sun that can be captured and harnessed to produce electricity. But it is hugely, hugely inefficient. Solar collectors are expensive to produce, construct and maintain; they take up an enormous amount of space; and of course, they only work when the sun shines. An unknown is what unintended consequences will result when we intercept the sun’s power before it reaches the earth.
Wind energy is another popular choice these days, but it too has drawbacks. You don’t see many of these modern windmills in the places like Florida because we don’t have much wind. On the other hand, windmills cover mountainsides in the southwest where winds are much more constant than here. On the downside, they chop up birds and the turbines are not only noisy, they tend to freeze up in the winter.
Because these low efficiency energy systems take up a lot of space, you’ll never see them in close proximity to population centers where the land is too valuable to waste. This brings up the subject of infrastructure, the expensive and often contentious transmission lines that are required to move the electricity from where it is produced to where it is needed.
Another issue with both solar and wind generated energy is that they are not “stand alone systems.” Rather, they need to be backed-up with redundant, traditional forms of energy for times when the “sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow.” After a century of reliable power, we aren’t willing to black or even brown-out waiting for Mother Nature to get its act together.
Then there are even more distant green technologies such as biofuels, wave energy, geothermal, algae, etc. These ideas look very distant at best and are most probably very inefficient. And don’t forget that when you begin to use a food source as fuel, like corn-based ethanol, you’re playing with fire. People and animals can always walk, but we have to eat in order to live.
The greenies like Energy Secretary Steven Chu argue that the thing holding back green energy is that carbon-based fossil fuel is still too cheap in order to allow green technology to flourish. “If only the price of fuel would increase,” they say, “then solar and wind powered energy could succeed.” Tell that to a trucker paying $3.80 for diesel in this moribund economy! As presidential candidate Herman Cain so eloquently puts it, “that dog won’t hunt.”
So to give green technology entrepreneurs a boost, the Obamamites have decided to “put their finger on the scale,” funneling billions of taxpayer dollars to these start-up companies, not only to fund research which might be legitimate, but also to help them manufacture their product. This is bound to fail, not only because of undue political influence, but also because government bureaucrats know absolutely zero about venture capital, business plans, and balance sheets.
The latest poster-child of this debacle is California-based Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that received half a billion dollars of 2009 Stimulus funds in Federal loan guarantees. Since Solyndra is now bankrupt, closed its doors and laid off 1100 workers, the American taxpayer is on the hook for the bill. I predict more economic horror stories will follow Solyndra.
Never lose sight of this principle of government bureaucracy — it’s easier (and therefore more wasteful) to spend someone else’s money than it is your own. A corollary is: beware of the political con artist who promises something for nothing. In either case, you’re bound not only to be disappointed, but left holding the bag.