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.