Tomorrow ~ Fossil fuels vs Renewables

Electric vehicle

By Paul Quigg, columnist

The world is in a headlong rush to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Wind, solar, electric vehicles, electric appliances, energy conservation, hydrogen, and on and on. We are very good at reducing fossil fuel emissions, in many cases, all you have to do is flip a switch. The burning of coal will be a thing of the past and natural gas will be the next to go. New laws will forbid the production of fossil fuel-energized products. This is a laudable objective, but it will not solve the energy problems in a growing power-hungry world. 

The urgency to replace fossil fuels with green energy is almost nonexistent. Green energy is highly subsidized and increasing production takes years to find the sites, mine the minerals, produce the products, and distribute the energy. Countries are already facing brownouts and system collapse when demand is high, and this situation is rapidly getting worse. 

As the realities of this situation become apparent, countries are slowing the rush to eliminate fossil fuel production. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has totally disrupted global energy markets to the point of reopening shuttered coal and gas production facilities. Future global population and economic growth will increase the demand for more energy, putting more pressure on any transition.

Should we sacrifice the emergence of the world’s poorest from abject poverty in our quest for less warming in the distant future? Should the wealthy sacrifice their lifestyle? Should we all live more frugally? I don’t know if we should do these things or not, but I do know we won’t. 

There is a strong possibility the world is going to get warmer and we should concentrate on adaptation. The costs for adaptation would be far less than mitigation, and we would get improved infrastructure in the bargain. A few feet of dirt would go a long way to solving the sea level.

Mr. Quigg, a University of Virginia graduate and resident of Luray, has practiced architecture in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1962. As a lifelong environmentalist, in the 70’s he was appalled at the polluted air and water and has dedicated much of his time since in studying and commenting on the environment. He has been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. 

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10 Comments

  1. Mr Quigg, I am so grateful that you are such a strong Conservative who is celebrating our AMERICAN fossil fuel industry. I couldn’t agree more that we should increase coal production and build bigger cars. Global warming is a liberal hoax as you so clearly state. Carbon dioxide is a benefit to the earth and helps plants grow better. I hope that your personal story of turning away from the environmental movement is inspiring to all young people. I love your articles and glad you support Trump the true President!

    • The satire here is a little over the top for me, even though I have thought that Paul Quigg may teeter on the edge of some views that you lampoon. In general, Paul goes along with the Danish statistician and think-tank president, Bjorn Lomborg, who became famous a couple decades ago with his book “The Skeptical Environmentalist.” I don’t believe Lomborg’s claim that global warming will be about as much a positive as a negative. I do think that he brings a legitimate point of view to the debate. He reminds us that we well-off people should not deny to the poor the same opportunities to prosper that we had. Fossil fuels played an essential role in our prosperity, so it really is a dilemma to figure out how to enable decent standards of living while shoving fossil fuels out of the picture.

      It’s a dilemma, but more fossil fuels aren’t the answer, I think. China and India have been successful in expanding their middle classes by using their coal wealth, but many of the world’s poor countries don’t produce enough fossil fuels or have any significant reserves they might exploit. Relying on imports reduces their energy security and leaves them in serious debt.

      Look at China and India again to see how they are greatly expanding renewables in order to keep pace with their goals of expanding industrialization. The problem there, in terms of global warming, is that they are finding it difficult to also reduce their use of fossils and thus to reduce their carbon emissions.

      So, the dilemma remains: how do we both greatly increase the supply of electricity, for the betterment of people, while making drastic cuts in combustible fuels? That is the same question Paul asks, and there aren’t any easy answers. Nuclear, anyone?

      • There is no problem to solve here. I agree with Paul that “A few feet of dirt would go a long way to solving the sea level.” Full steam ahead! Paul and I are very happy in our lives so there’s no reason to compromise or make any other changes in the status quo. The environmental movement is a way to control business and our freedoms.

  2. Roger, I’m afraid you have inserted far too much conservative thought into my article. Coal is a very dirty fuel and reducing its use is the way to go. I said nothing about bigger cars. Global warming is not a hoax and I never said it was. I deeply believe in the environmental movement and I do not support Donald Trump.
    Take off your rose-colored glasses and read the article.
    The transition to clean energy will have many ups and downs as world energy conditions change but clean energy is a worthy goal. My article points out how difficult the transition could be.

    • Paul, I have to take both of Roger’s posts as attempts at parody. They’re not bad attempts to parody some attitudes out there, but you don’t come across as the type of guy he’s targeting. He makes off-base assumptions.

    • Don’t be afraid to be loud and proud when it comes to declaring your love for fossil fuels. As you say, you and I shouldn’t have to sacrifice our lifestyles to please the Greenie Weenies. If we want to drive bigger cars, this is our right. You fought against the solar farm here in Luray and won! One more nail in the coffin of the environmental movement. Yeah to NO CHANGE and NO PROGRESS!

  3. “Even tip toeing through the tulips has some environmental concerns.”
    Yes, well said. I can’t quite figure out Gov. Youngkin. He’s been both forward and backward-thinking.

  4. The complexity of retiring existing energy producers and “tying in” various replacement energy producers to the regional grid is an enormous task. FERC Order 2222 requires grid operators to incorporate DER into their portfolios. As I mentioned previously, current transmission and distribution methods are not green. Permitting concerns related the construction and installation of infrastructure will need to resolved. Feasibility studies, planning, design, and permitting coordination is a large long-term undertaking and not inexpensive.

    Our regional grid operator PJM provides a nice snapshot of the path forward.

    https://www.pjm.com/-/media/library/reports-notices/special-reports/2022/20220510-planning-for-the-grid-of-the-future-in-pjm.ashx

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