David Roberts, who has long blogged about what he perceives as a global warming crisis, published an article on the Vox website yesterday bemoaning that public opinion on global warming is just as divided now as it was 10 years ago. Roberts argues that nearly all Americans, regardless of ideology, education, or station in life, should be supporting efforts to address global warming. And yet the political impasse remains.
If Roberts really believes it is critical to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he will encourage his friends on the political left to support low- and zero-carbon energy sources that are affordable. Nuclear power and hydro power emit no greenhouse gases, yet the political left opposes them. Natural gas cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half (and most other emissions by more than that) versus coal power, yet the political left opposes natural gas, also.
Ultimately, Roberts and the political left need to decide whether they consider global warming one of the greatest crises facing the planet or just another item on the environmentalist wish list. Conservatives have long advocated more natural gas, nuclear, and hydro power, and each of these options would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All too often, however, Roberts’ friends on the political left oppose these low- and zero-carbon energy sources on the grounds that they will accept wind and solar power or nothing.
The irony of the left’s insistence on wind and solar power is wind and solar bring their own set of unique environmental harms. Wind power in particular is environmentally destructive. To replace just one conventional power plant, hundreds of square miles of wind turbines must be placed in some of our most ecologically and aesthetically valuable lands. These wind turbines create no fly zones that already kill over 1 million birds and bats each year, with many of them being protected and/or endangered species. Adding more wind turbines will require more land development, less land conservation, and more bird and bat kills.
Regardless of the deep political divide regarding global warming, the political argument will resolve itself in favor of low- and zero-carbon energy sources if Roberts and friends will simply meet conservatives in the middle on natural gas, nuclear, and hydro power.