By Peter Burrows 12/26/17 email@example.com - silvercityburro.com
Most "Progressives" I know suffer from a huge sense of moral and intellectual superiority. They are always right and they are better people, too. Protected by what Eric Hoffer called "fact-proof shields," they can inflict great damage on the rest of us if we let them and alas, we are letting them.
The typical progressive refuses to recognize the dangers of Islam, black racism, economic populism, judicial activism and rampant environmentalism, to name a few of their sacred cows. Occasionally, one of them gets "mugged by reality," and such a person deserves to be praised, whether they like it or not.
Michael Shellenberger is such a person. He is a 46-year-old environmentalist with impeccable liberal credentials. A life-long Democrat, he was on Time Magazine's 2008 list, "Heroes of the Environment," and coauthor of "Break Through," which won the 2008 Green Book of the Year Award.
In 2003 he co-founded The Breakthrough Institute, which advocates higher levels of public funding to advance technologies that would make clean energy that was also cheap, just the opposite of current policies. He has been described as an "ecomodernist" and an "eco-pragmatist," a couple of fancy words that are shorthand for: "person with common sense."
Last year, Shellenberger resigned as president of the Breakthrough Institute and started a new organization, Environmental Progress, which has the following Mission Statement:
Environmental Progress (EP) was founded to achieve two goals: lift all humans out of poverty, and save the natural environment. These goals can be achieved by mid-century — but only if we remove the obstacles to cheap, reliable and clean energy.
Eliminating world poverty and simultaneously saving the environment. Isn't that what "100% renewables" is all about? Those may be the claims, but the reality is that 100% renewable energy is so expensive it would dramatically INCREASE world poverty.
Shellenberger has spent a lot of time in poor countries, and he knows that standards of living correlate with access to electricity, cheap, reliable electricity. "Cheap" and "reliable" are simply not possible with 100% renewable energy. (See my blog of 11/30/17: "Dear Public Service of New Mexico, I'm still waiting for an answer.") Shellenberger knows this.
"Clean" rules out the use of natural gas for true-believer carbon dioxide warriors like Shellenberger. What's left is Shellenberger's solution: nuclear power. I don't think nuclear today qualifies as "cheap," but it's a helluva lot cheaper than wind and solar, so that's good enough for me.
Advocating nuclear power pits Shellenberger against the solar and wind industry, a powerful, subsidy- sucking crony constituency that enjoys support of both political parties and is a huge waste of money. This may be Shellenberger's political Achilles' heel. Once a constituency gets entrenched, it is almost impossible to overcome, and they fight tooth-and-nail, with lots of bucks, to protect their turf.
Case in point: ethanol. Almost NOBODY, except a bunch of RINOs in Iowa, including two Republican Senators, supports ethanol anymore. Since Iowa is where the first presidential primaries are held, Iowa corn farmers can expect to get their butts kissed at least every four years, at our expense. As bad as it is, the ethanol lobby is chump change compared to the huge "global warming apocalypse" industry.
When Shellenberger says we must "remove the obstacles to cheap, reliable, clean energy," he means among other things, he wants to stop the emotion-driven closure of viable nuclear power plants. Wherever that has happened, the vast majority of the CO2- free nuclear electricity has been replaced with new CO2-spewing fossil fueled power plants. It's happening right now in Germany and Japan.
Make no mistake: Shellenberger is a CO2 warrior. He's also a decent human being who would rather reduce poverty than engage in the moral grandstanding so common among the environmental elite.
In early December, after watching an interview in which the famed New York Times columnist Tom Friedman planted lusty smooches on Governor Jerry Brown's ass because Brown was shutting down more nuclear plants, Shellenberger declared his candidacy to succeed Brown as governor of California.
The centerpiece of his campaign will be stopping the closure of Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which currently supplies 9% of California's electricity. He will point out that California's CO2 emissions under the sainted Jerry Brown increased while CO2 emissions went down in the rest of the country, all because of Brown's crusade to shut down nuclear power.
Shellenberger started his campaign to save Diablo Canyon in early 2016 and soon followed that with a campaign to stop Illionois from shutting down six nuclear power plants. Shellenberger's pro-nuclear movement has been joined by a number of prominent environmentalists, most notably retired NASA scientist James Hansen, "The Father of Global Warming."
Hansen testified to a Congressional committee way back in 1988 on what he saw as the danger of CO2 induced global warming. If you are a CO2 alarmist, there is nobody, NOBODY, more credible than James Hansen.
Shellenberger also claims the support of "the ecomodernist and atomic humanist movements." (Atomic humanist!! No, I didn't make that up. I'm not that good, but count me in: EL BURRO, ATOMIC HUMANIST. I think I'll buy a cape.)
More important than his allies, Shellenberger has discovered renewable energy advocates who "were wrong, or lying," corrupt unions, a clueless mainstream media, compliant utilities, and demagogic politicians. They're all "progressives," so what's not to like when one of their own takes them on?
If I lived in California I'd vote for Shellenberger in the primary, even though he won't win. The leading Democratic candidate is Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. He used to be Mayor of San Francisco and he's real pretty. Plus, he'll buss as many Lib/Prog butts as it takes to win both the primary and the general elections. I bet he'd support ethanol if he was an Iowa Republican.
In a future article, I'll outline Shellenberger's case for nuclear power. Most of it will be based on a 20-minute You Tube in which he lays out chapter-and-verse on why he became a nuclear advocate. It's worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak .