Do We Need Wind and Solar Power?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled Do We Need Subsidies for Solar and Wind Power? caught my attention. It is a useful article,  and the Comments section itself is worth equal to a whole book of information, pro and con.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Kreuzer, a research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation:

There is nearly universal agreement that an all-out carbon-cutting policy in the U.S.—of which wind and solar subsidies are only a small part—would do next to nothing to moderate any global warming. This is because future carbon emissions will come overwhelmingly from the developing world, which shows little appetite for squeezing economic growth to cut a few inches from sea level.

Whether Dr. Kreuzer is right or not I leave up to the reader. However, it seems to project an attitude of: why us, if the other guys don’t follow along?

My answer to that is simple: The world has looked to the United States for global leadership for over a century now. The world copies what we do. Our groundbreaking attitude about smoking has taken foothold in many other countries, and will continue to in the coming decades. On the less favorable side, our consumerism is being copied the world over. Countries that knew nothing about Halloween are now trick-or-treating. There are thousands of examples.

If the United States throws up its hands on carbon, because China, India, Indonesia and Brazil are out of our control, those very countries and their people will get the message that cutting carbon is not very important.

With leadership comes responsibility. It’s not always cheap and easy.

For example, the United States could have stayed out of World War II (assuming Pearl Harbor hadn’t happened, which is a stretch). But it could have. Hitler would then have conquered Europe, including England, and we would be living in a completely different world – and not a better one. The United States did the right thing, at great cost to it, to its people and to those thousands who lost their lives on Europe’s beaches and battle fields. A terrible cost.

But the cost of leadership.

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