- Jack Frauenhofer ’22
Over the past few years, politicians, environmentalists, and certain American demographics have pushed for government regulation on carbon emissions to limit the always changing climate of the Earth. Plans, such as the New Green Deal, propose for the U.S. to rely solely on renewable energy powered by windmills and solar panels by hopefully 2035.
This specific proposal calls for the elimination of all combustion-engine vehicles within ten years, which comprise 99% of all current automobiles and whose elimination would cost trillions to US consumers. Although, these proposals aim to end climate change, the only effects will be a ruined economy and the climate still changing. The only way to keep climate change in a safe region is through free market orientated solutions. The New Green Deal and similar proposals will only ruin the economy of the United States without even achieving their end goal: an end to global warming.
The New Green Deal plans on spending at least $93 trillion over the next ten years, resulting in taxes increasing by at least $600,000 (Fox News). The average American’s income is around $60,000. To solve this problem, supporters want to just print the money necessary, which will cause hyperinflation and economic depression. And, as a result, the United States will significantly decrease its carbon emissions, which consist of only fifteen percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This share is also declining as pollution from the developing world rises, meaning these cuts to carbon emissions of the United States will make little to no impact unless every other rich country makes similar cuts immediately. Therefore, the New Green Deal will not only ruin the economy of the United States, but really have no difference on climate change. As a result of only the United States economy diminishing, it would not have the political and economic power to help organize a global response to climate change.
The only way to solve the issue of climate change is through the free market. No one wants to pollute the Earth by using fossil fuels instead of using renewable energy such as solar and wind. The problem is, these solutions are not economically viable yet. These sources of energy are too expensive and give less energy than fossil fuels. An alternative should lead to more abundant and reliable power, not less. If this is not the case, why should anyone switch? The only way to save the Earth is by funding research for cheap, reliable, abundant, renewable power. As a result, competition of the free market will drive the use of renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels, causing most, if not all, countries to make the switch at the same time, reducing the carbon emissions of all humans dramatically.
One may argue that solar and wind are the only possible renewable energy sources and the only hope to fighting climate change. However, there already is a clean, cheap, efficient, reliable, sustainable energy source that has been around since 1951: nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is not renewable, but so abundant that no one should theoretically expend the resources necessary. The general population’s cautious view of nuclear energy is based on the Chernobyl incident where deaths and radiation occurred; however, nuclear energy is actually safer than solar energy. Solar energy has a death rate of 0.44 deaths per terawatt hour while nuclear energy has a death rate of 0.04 deaths per terawatt hour.
In addition, nuclear energy costs less with only 2 cents per kilowatt hour while solar energy costs 12 cents per kilowatt hour, and it takes up considerably less land to produce this energy. France is a huge supporter of nuclear energy with over 75% of their electricity coming from nuclear energy, and the largest net exporter of electricity. Nuclear energy is an example of the result of a competitive free market driving a more efficient and renewable energy source. If funding and government subsidies are given to a whole market to make solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources yet to be found economically available, then most, if not all fossil fuels will be eliminated. Therefore, investing in research to make cheap, abundant, and renewable energy sources is considerably better than forcing the current, expensive sources, ruining our economy in the process for no end effect.
Let the free market take its course, and this new energy source will not only decrease the carbon emissions of the United States, but rather the entire world. For example, nuclear energy is a clean and sustainable source of energy. If the population’s view wasn’t as misguided as it is, nuclear power plants would be taking over the world. It is evident that there is only one viable option to save our planet.
Source from EC Joint Research Center