That Earth Day event seems like a relatively civil conversation on the subject of climate change. Nice to see. I see two challenges to the typical U.S. green climate viewpoint, and one easy solution. The challenges are (1) we simply can't afford to destroy our economy via debt-financed unproductive green investments, because we would all then find ourselves with no good options with respect to the climate or even our standard of living, as Alex infers. And (2) Professor Nielsen-Gammon's remark notwithstanding ("anything we can do to reduce climate change has a big impact on the impasse of climate change..."), energy production in Asia and Africa are dwarfing the efforts of the West to reduce climate emissions, and they are just beginning. Global warming is, ah, global, after all.

The solution? Nuclear, like SMR's and other emerging technologies. They are green and safe, and could be made inexpensive if the political will existed. They have far less impact on the environment than solar and wind solutions. And no, they can't be turned into weapons. Their problem is that they don't enable Washington to grift billions of green energy subsidies to donors, friends and family members.

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Fossil fuels are great, but they are much more limited than the industry cares to admit. Just yesterday, Reuters reported that the Gulf of Mexico will peak by 2025 [1]. Last month, WSJ reported that oil from fracking is likely to peak on a similar timeline [2]. It is true that we have decades of fossil fuels remaining, but what this statement obscures is the reality that fossil fuels will become increasingly scarce and expensive throughout this entire period. That's a very inconvenient coefficient when you're trying to power continuous growth and human flourishing around the world.

Climate mitigation technologies are woefully inadequate, and have no real promise to deliver meaningful changes. The world's largest carbon capture facility is able to remove 0.0001% of our annual carbon emissions each year [3]. Meanwhile, climate change is accelerating, occurring at least twice as fast today as in 1997 [4]. The pace will only increase as we trigger new tipping points and create new feedback loops. It is impossible to imagine how these technologies would keep pace with exponentially rising emissions.

And emissions will rise exponentially, as standards of living improve around the world, as cities demand more and better climate mitigation technologies, as the growth economy trudges onward and upwards. The Earthx forum touches on "clean" fossil fuels, but this is a myth promulgated by fossil fuel lobbyists. Natural gas is cleaner when burned, but it's every bit as dirty at the site of extraction. There is no solution except to reduce consumption.

Fossil fuels have an essential role in the future of human civilization, but the laissez-faire approach of using these resources to generate maximum short-term profits is suicidal. Our energy future must be built with existing fossil infrastructure and resources. Given that these resources are nearing peak production, they must be applied judiciously towards an abundant energy future.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/oil-output-peaks-us-gulf-mexico-makes-room-carbon-capture-2023-05-01/

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-shale-boom-shows-signs-of-peaking-as-big-oil-wells-disappear-2adef03f

[3] https://electrek.co/2022/06/28/worlds-largest-direct-air-carbon-capture-facility-will-reduce-co2-by-0001/

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/06/risky-feedback-loops-are-accelerating-climate-change-scientists-warn.html

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