The Dark Ages were accompanied by darkness (obviously), cold, poverty, starvation, plague and depredation. The world became smaller and feudal. Infrastructure collapsed. Everyone suffered, but especially the poor. It’s pretty much what the Democrats are doing to America today.
Let’s start with the “Dark New Deal.” The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which is overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), made clear a few days ago that Americans should prepare for unprecedented electric power failures and blackouts this year. A supposed 21st century, “advanced” country that cannot support the predictable energy needs of its nation? Now that is primitive and a colossal failure of government.
The problem is obvious to everyone except the White House and Democratic state governments. Energy policies that precipitously shut down traditional energy sources and rush toward unreliable, unsupported “new” energy sources wreck our economy and society. Suddenly there were blackouts throughout California and the state was forced to import energy from neighboring states because of what the governor called “unreliable solar and wind power.” Yet the state continues to shut down nuclear and fossil fuel plants and rush toward “renewables.”
At the same time, Sacramento pushes one of the most resource-rich and car-dependent states in the country to $7-a-gallon gasoline. The objective, of course, is to force people to stop using fossil fuel-powered cars and buy very expensive electric cars, or just walk or ride bikes, or not travel. The related objective, of course, is to force people to use electric power at home or simply to have hotter homes in the summer and colder homes in the winter. Variations of these plans are copied throughout the country.
The problem is that these plans will never get America to a “net-zero emissions economy” — unless progressives really intend a “net-zero economy,” i.e., complete economic collapse.
The central flaw is that progressives are far too impatient and are willfully ignorant of energy economics. For example, they fail to understand that fossil fuels and nuclear power are “nature’s batteries.” They store the vast amounts of energy that a modern industrial economy and society use, when and where they need it. Conversely, solar and wind are not batteries. They do not always produce energy when and where it’s needed, and they are far from producing enough energy to support America’s needs. And America lacks the batteries to store energy from solar and wind to access it when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing.
Specifically, to achieve a net-zero economy that operated by today’s standards would require 90 quads of utility-level battery storage capacity — today America has around nine quads. To fully electrify the American economy would require doubling, dramatically upgrading, and “hardening” the electric grid. It requires simply ignoring the limited lifespan and environmental degradation from the mining and use of modern battery materials. And it will take a minimum of 30 years or more to solve these problems.
In the meantime, “net-zero” politics leads to blackouts — net-zero light, net-zero heat, net-zero cooling, net-zero transportation to work or shopping, net-zero vacations, and huge spikes in energy prices. The Dark New Deal means a collapsing, net-zero economy.
In addition, these ideas will destroy America’s national security but have no positive impact on the environment. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea will continue to burn coal and have no intention of going net-zero. We will — we do — beg our enemies for fossil fuels that we could produce ourselves. As America’s economy and ability to defend itself declines, our enemies’ will not. Our way of life may be destroyed long before we reach net-zero emissions.
In the meantime, of course, the Democrats’ utopian dreams are hurting America’s middle class and poor the most. Skyrocketing gasoline prices; skyrocketing home heating, cooling and cooking costs; and skyrocketing food and commodity prices, driven by production and transportation costs of energy, are destroying poor families. All this is happening at the same time that open-border immigration policies are taking away lower-paying job opportunities and diluting the voting power of poor citizens. And, of course, federal spending-driven inflation is creating a huge new “tax” on all Americans, which is falling most heavily on the poor.
And all this will simply increase the level of urban crime and violence, disproportionately hurting the poor and middle-class Americans, and putting the Democrats’ continuing war on the police in high relief.
Is it little wonder that the Democrats are hemorrhaging Black and Hispanic voters? Who would ever support the progressives’ cultural suicide pact?
“Progressive” Americans fancy themselves as highly educated and civilized. The sonorous NPR and shrill CNN tell them so. But rushing into a complete overhaul of the American economy and society without any plan at all — a visual metaphor: the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan — is mindless and primitive. It is just willful anarchy.
For a time, the progressive battle cries (free money, free health care, free energy, free fill-in-the-blank) represented an effective formula for political power in selected parts of the country, e.g., California, the Northeast, Chicago. Never mind that these very formulations have never worked anywhere in the world. But now, with blackouts looming and $5- to $7-a-gallon gasoline, the curtain is parting and reality is setting in.
To build the country everyone wants requires careful planning and sound economics and should not casually crush America’s poor and middle-class families in the process.
Grady Means is a writer (GradyMeans.com) and former corporate strategy consultant. He served in the White House as a policy assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Follow him on Twitter @gradymeans1.