Assume for a moment that man-made carbon emissions are a major cause of climate change and that a changing climate is both brand new and all bad.
If private, profit-seeking entrepreneurs developed new technology that could suck carbon dioxide out of the air, would climate alarmists embrace it?
I have my doubts.
For many alarmists, their cause has morphed into a cult with an agenda. They read what they agree with and dismiss with a snarl whatever doesn’t. They seem to spend a lot of time spewing vitriol at those who ask embarrassing questions.
A former bartender, now socialist congresswoman, says the world will end in twelve years unless we ban fossil fuels and spend trillions on government projects.
One of my neighbors is convinced she’s right.
“I’ve read the science!” he insists. I mentioned two very prominent, credentialed authorities who disagree. “What about these two scientists?” I asked.
Answer: “Never heard of ‘em.”
What a pity. If our minds were more open—if we mustered more confidence in what free people can accomplish and learned to be more skeptical of bungling big government—we might take notice of some remarkable things already happening.
The Washington Examiner published a recent article titled, “Forget the Green New Deal: The Private Sector Has Solved Climate Change.”
It began with this sentence: “What if climate change could be fixed without destroying the fossil fuel industry and without putting the coal miners and natural gas frackers on the street?”
My first thought was, “Oh my, if this is true, it will put the cult out of business! The massive government grants that flow to one side of the climate debate will dry up. Many demagogues will have to find honest work. The sky will surely fall!”
The private sector solving a big problem in America? How could that happen? Isn’t big government the big problem solver, like in Venezuela and the Department of Motor Vehicles?
The article reports on some promising developments. One involves a company now testing a prototype natural gas power plant in Texas that instead of emitting carbon dioxide, uses it to run electrical turbines. It also “sequesters excess carbon dioxide for later sale” for non-polluting purposes.
Another company is working on its own version of such “carbon capture technology.”
And at Rice University, researchers have created a process that “turns carbon dioxide into a liquid fuel that can be stored and burned in fuel cells.” In Finland, a company has developed an innovative process that extracts carbon dioxide and uses it in food production.
Author Mark Whittington concludes, “The Democratic presidential candidates are ignoring real-world solutions to the problem of climate change while clinging to unworkable fantasy plans that have no possibility of succeeding or even being enacted.”
Why would they do that? Maybe because if the private sector solves the problem, they won’t be able to scare you into giving them power and money.
This reminds me of a famous competition from 120 years ago, when humans struggled with how to make men fly. Armed with government subsidies, Samuel Langley’s expensive contraptions plopped into the Potomac, one after another. Meanwhile, on their own nickel, two bicycle mechanics named Wright solved the problem.
Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president of the Foundation for Economic Education. He writes about exceptional people, including many from his book, “Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character and Conviction.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .