Comments about ‘My view: An economic case for divesting from fossil fuels’

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Published: Wednesday, June 25 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

Yes there is hope. If society, ours and the world's, behave responsibly it is possible to get off of the carbon diet while maintaing economic growth. You can even do it keeping your beloved capitalism. But take a piece of advice from a socialist, the longer you wait to make the adjustment from fossil fuels to renewables, the more central planning will be required and the greater the need for socialism. So, conservatives, if you keep sticking your heads in the coal pile you'll make global socialism a reality.

Hayden, ID

Anyone with a brain knows we can not divest ourselves from fossil fuels! People have to eat, have a job and stay warm in order to sustain life, which are all VERY dependent upon fossil fuels! So called green energy does not exist economically! Green energy is a rich man's toy! So liberals, pull your head out of your fantasies and join the real world!

Salt Lake City, UT

Here's what we as a species are up against - a government wholly in the thrall of corporate money, and a large portion of the electorate who genuinely believe that a Heartland Institute PR piece posted on your uncle's Facebook page has the same credibility as a research study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

clearfield, UT

Oh please

This author has been watching too much Star Trek and Back to the Future. When we develop dilithium crystals and Mr. Fusion energy sources, we'll talk. In the meantime, show me how we power a military, or an industrial economy, without carbon energy? Try flying airplanes without liquid fuel. At the very least the talk about getting away from fossil fuel has to include nuclear power. The sun and wind are not going to supply our power needs with todays technology. Until the technology can take the place of oil, natural gas, ect. the idea of getting away from it is nothing more than a pie in the sky dream.

Virginia Beach, VA

What we have here is a rare SENSIBLE opinion piece in the Deseret News.

Read it and savor it folks, because you don't get to see many like this on this site.

Yes, it makes all the sense in the world to NOT use up all our fossil fuels so that future generations have NOTHING left. That would not "promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity," would it?

And for the same reason, it makes all the sense in the world to focus HEAVILY on building a national power system that utilizes Renewable resources.

The sooner we get started the better.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

Energy science is still in it's infancy because the cheap energy obtained from fossil fuels for the last 100 or so years, discouraged research into other forms of power. Now even the oil companies can see the fuel gauge on their pumps getting lower and lower and have started looking for sustainable substitutes, in order to stay viable.

Just like when we substituted petroleum for whale oil, we'll find a better way.

When Prometheus gave us fire, it was meant to be a starting point.

Orem, UT

It boils down to simple economics. When power generation from non-fossil fuels (solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, etc) comes close to the cost of coal, gas, and oil (without huge tax subsidies); then we will adopt them everywhere.

I want to be "green". I just don't want to pay triple in exchange for some vague promise that it will "stop global warming".

So far the only "clean" energy that is viable comes from hydroelectric and nuclear plants. The environmentalists attack both of those solutions, so they never seem to be happy.

Durham, NC

Mountainman..... the irony is one of the most imaginative companies in green energy is located in Idaho - where they are developing paving tiles that can be used in roads and parking lots that capture energy. These tiles are in early testing - and I am not saying they are the answer - but we don't even have a clue how imaginative the futures solutions can be. 15 years ago no one would believe you could cary in your pocket more computing power than was available to NASA when they launched men to the moon. So to say we can't get there is very short sighted.

I don't think anyone has a clear vision of what is possible in 5 years, less alone 10 or 15.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@JoeCapitalist2 – “I want to be "green". I just don't want to pay triple in exchange”

Well then you’ll be happy to know that we’re almost there (much closer than “triple”). The 6-16-14 issue of Time ran a good piece on the economics of renewables and none other than Warren Buffett has recently invested billions in renewable energy – and no way does this guy invests in something that costs triple the alternative.

Now if we ever manage to get rid of all the tax breaks/subsidies oil companies enjoy not to mention actually pricing their product to reflect ALL societal costs, renewable would already be cheaper.

And no one is saying fossil fuels will be eliminated… only that they should be a smaller portion of the energy pie.

Durham, NC

@joeCapitalist.... waiting until something is economically viable has never been the way we have led the world in new technologies. Our westward march was accelerated by the railroads, that were heavily subsidized by the government through land grants. Electrification came through government subsidies.... many small towns today still wouldn't have power or telco access if it were left up to economics to justify the investment. Even Hydro and Nuke has been heavily subsidized through either Corp of Engineers projects, or DoD or DoE research funding or direct involvement. Boeings 787 would not be possible if not for the DoD investment into synthetic materials fabrication that was first developed for defense projects.

We do need to close the gap. No doubt. But it is a false narrative to believe core infrastructure for this nation ever has been or will be free of government support.

Salt Lake City, UT

RE: Happy2bhere "The sun and wind are not going to supply our power needs with todays technology."

True enough, that's why the technology needs to be developed, probably with government help. If we keep our reliance on fossil fuels for another 25 years we will be sealing the fate of our posterity - a very inhospitable earth. The situation requires us to take a long view, one which capitalism doesn't do very well. The long view required is very Marxian. That's why the late Keynesian Joan Robinson said over the long range Marx's methodology is better than Keynes.

The question for economics is, can capitalism adopt enough of the Marxian analytics to save itself? That remains to be seen, but the time is far spent.

Salt Lake City, UT

Yes! Major development and endowment funds, including State Retirement, Higher Education institutions, TIAA-CREF, religious institutions, and others should all divest from fossil fuels. It is the prudent and most risk-aversive action to take. And it sends a message that Utah cares about its air, water, lands, health, and overall quality of life.

Salt Lake City, UT

There are industries that require uninterrupted energy streams/supplies 24-7. None of the "green" sources in place can do that, and I suspect none on the dreamer's horizon and do that.

Do we have an obligation to clean up our environment, yes, but I doubt the idea of taxing people and giving it back is a lucid thought let alone a practical idea.

When I see the greenies down-sizing their life styles to small dwelling, super-insulated, solar-powered entities with a bike in the garage, large garden and hand-powered appliances from Lehman's catalog then I will give some consideration to their pie-in-the-sky ramblings.

Durham, NC

"None of the "green" sources in place can do that"

Really? Geothermarl? It doesn't do that? HydroElectric... Doesn't do that? BioMass... it too doesn't do that? Hydrogen Fuel Cell.... it doesn't do that? That is a pretty broad statement. Even wind, in some locations surely does satisfy that requirement.

Lets not make sweeping statements. Green or renewable is far more than just Solar and wind - though those two of the fastest growing flavors.

Salt Lake City, UT

Make no mistake about it - the climate crisis is a great big test for the free market. The private market is capable of vaunting ambition to do great things. Ironically, Enron is an example of that. Ken Lay wanted Enron to be a great energy bank which would develop efficient energy markets. Too bad Enron became an elaborate fraud. But the idea was good.

I repeat the longer the free market waits to do something about global warming, the more central planning and socialism will be required.

Spring, TX

Only a liberal would think humans can control the climate.

American Fork, UT

Eventually, diminishing supply versus increasing demand will make the choice inevitable. We've got a bit, not much, of the luxury of time to manage how well we approach that choice. So far, we've relied heavily on denial.

Pasedena, CA

To "Mark Molen" and what do we replace all of the fossil fuels with? If we cut off use of fossil fuels for our cars, explain how you will drive to work.

Fossil fuels account for 57% of our electricy generation, and 99.72% of our vehicles run on fossil fuels. How do you or ilk propose we change that? Many claim that wind and solar are the solution. The problem with those is that the sun doesn't shine as bright every day or at night, and the wind can and does stop. The power from those sources is variable at best. We have dammed up about every possible river, and environmentalists won't let us dam up more. Plus, it doesn't have the capability of providing all the power we need. Geothermal doesn't exist on a large enough scale to meet demands either.

The best solution that we have is nuclear power, but your environmentalist friends won't let us do that.

As for cars, going all electric is so expensive that the only people who would be able to afford them without government subsidies are upper middleclass and the wealthy.

What do we replace fossil fuels with?

Durham, NC

"As for cars, going all electric is so expensive that the only people who would be able to afford them without government subsidies are upper middleclass and the wealthy."

Same was said for cars when they showed up on the scene, and yet, somehow mans ingenuity figured it out. I don't think we have invented our last great invention, there is a lot more to come. Do you really think we have made our last great discovery?

Salt Lake City, UT

birdec: "Only a liberal would think humans can control the climate."

Control, no, but influence, absolutely.

happy2bhere: " In the meantime, show me how we power a military, or an industrial economy, without carbon energy?"

Spain and England once had the most powerful navies in the world without burning a single drop of petroleum.

RedShirtCalTech: "If we cut off use of fossil fuels for our cars, explain how you will drive to work."

Good urban design means you don't have to. We can start by emulating cities that grew up in pre-automobile times. I once visited a lovely Italian town with Medieval/Renaissance roots. Its urban core was maybe a mile or a mile and a half across. It was surrounded by bucolic dairy pastures. Everything-- markets, restaurants, churches, jobs, open space-- was within a 10-15 minute walk. I was flabbergasted to learn later that its population was 40,000 people. If cities are built right, cars become unnecessary, even a burden. Walkable cities have health benefits, too. You could spot the Americans clear across the piazza by their waistlines. I can attest, the Italian women who walk everywhere have gambe molto belle.

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