The Bizarre World of Radical Climate Science

The Bizarre World of Radical Climate Science

By Norman
Rogers

Imagine that you are a climate scientist and the Earth
is threatened with a climate disaster.  You need to warn the people of Earth and
lobby Earth’s governments.  If you are tired of poring over boring computer
printouts, you may be only too ready to accept this mission of transcendent
importance.

On the other hand, maybe you have lost touch with
reality.  Maybe you have become a true believer fighting a dubious battle.
Maybe you are Dr. James Hansen, high civil servant, recipient of cash awards
from left-wing foundations, and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space
Studies.  Hansen was arrested in front of the White House, dressed up to look
like J. Robert Oppenheimer, the 1950s scientific martyr.  Hansen wants CEOs of
energy companies to be prosecuted for
“crimes against humanity.”

When scientists are fanatical believers in a cause,
the authority and credibility that attach to science are turned into political
capital to be spent in pursuit of that cause.

The late Stephen Schneider, Stanford climate
scientist, explained how this works:

To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up
some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of
any doubts one might have.  Each of us has to decide the right balance between
being effective, and being honest.

Global warming catastrophism is convenient for climate
science.  It is simplistic to claim that climate scientists are making up the
global warming scare in order to promote research funding.  But global warming
catastrophism clearly does promote research funding.  So there is a convenient
congruence between catastrophism and the bureaucratic ambitions of
research establishments.

Climate science deals with the energy balance of the
Earth and the behavior of the atmosphere.  This is a very complicated system
involving convection, evaporation, precipitation, clouds, ocean heat storage,
reflection, and emission of radiation, and more.  Although scientific
understanding of the system has advanced, especially with the advent of
computers and satellites, the system is still quite mysterious in important
respects.  It’s not at all clear that climate science will ever advance to a
point where long-range predictions can be trusted, or, as they say, demonstrate
skill.

Burning fossil fuels adds CO2 to the
atmosphere faster than natural processes can remove it.  As a result,
CO2 has been slowly increasing.  Increasing the proportion of
CO2 in the atmosphere will probably exert a warming influence because
CO2 has an inhibiting effect on the outgoing infrared (heat)
radiation that cools the Earth.  Nearly everyone, skeptic or believer, agrees
with these basic facts.  Another basic fact that the purveyors of global warming
like to keep quiet about is that more CO2 in the atmosphere makes
plants grow much
better
with less water.  That’s because plants in general
struggle to extract the scant CO2 in the air.

What is controversial is how much warming can be
expected and whether the warming will create practical problems.  The evidence
supporting substantial warming (i.e., 3 degrees C) is output from bad computer
models.  It’s said that dogs come to resemble their masters.  Computer models
tend to reflect the aspirations of their creators.

The global warming promoters try to hang all kinds of
supplementary disasters on
their proposed 3-degree warming over a century.  This is even more dubious than
the warming itself.  Some of their claims are absurd, such as the suggestion
that the oceans are going to rise substantially, a claim for which there is zero
credible evidence.
The data has been running against the theories of global warming.  The
atmosphere has failed to warm
since 1998, and, more importantly, the upper ocean has failed to warm
since 2003.

The idea that we are on the verge of a climate
disaster caused by modern civilization is a romantic idea that appeals to people
who have lost traditional religion.  It’s another iteration of the
environmentalist dogma that civilization is ruining the earth.  It’s a Garden of
Eden story.   Anyone can see that the landscape of areas where industry and
technology dominate nature, like Germany or New Jersey, is in far better
condition than the landscape is in most third-world countries — countries that
lack evil industry and that practice the precious local small-scale agriculture
so loved by the ideologues who want remake the economy to prevent global
warming.  The idea that the Earth would be a paradise without civilization is
contradicted by the wild climate swings that we know have taken place in recent
geological time.  Ice sheets a mile thick retreated from much of North America
10,000 years ago.

The reports of the International Panel on Climate
Change (the IPCC) are often taken as the authoritative last word on climate
change.  These reports are are disorganized and unfocused.  As a result, most
people go no further than the introductory Summary for Policy Makers.  If you
dig deep into the reports, solid scientific support for the claims of impending
catastrophe is not there.  Computer models are the shaky foundation of global
warming.  Models from different modeling groups disagree with each other by wide
margins.  As the IPCC admits, the models have serious deficiencies.  The IPCC
uses misleading graphical illustrations to
make it appear that the models can accurately mimic the Earth’s
climate.

The CO2 reduction proposals of the global
warming gang are relentlessly ideological and impractical.  CO2-free
nuclear power supplies 80% of France’s electricity and 20% of the electricity in
the U.S.  Nuclear fuel is very cheap, and vast supplies are available.  The real
problem with nuclear is that environmentalist groups have run a hysterical
anti-nuclear campaign for the last 50 years.  A reversal now would be a severe
blow to their credibility.  So, instead of nuclear, the global warming gang
proposes that we use solar power and wind power, technologies that can cost 10
times more
per kilowatt-hour
.
They don’t seem to understand that solar doesn’t work when a cloud blocks the
sun or at night, and wind doesn’t work when the wind isn’t blowing.  As a
consequence, solar and wind need to be backed up by fossil fuel or hydro plants
with spinning generators ready to quickly assume the load of the grid.  People
who are ignorant concerning engineering or science may accept the notion that
wind and solar are realistic sources of electricity.  It is more difficult to
explain why the government is dumping billions of dollars
into these technologies, both in the form of cash and in the form of mandates
that shift the cost to electricity users.

Many scientists may have a predilection for green
fashion — for example, backyard compost heaps, organic food, bicycles, solar
panels, or giant wind turbines.  Nobody cares.  But it is wrong to misuse the
authority and credibility of science to scare the rest of us into embracing the
green lifestyle.

Norman Rogers is a physicist and a
Senior Policy Advisor at the
Heartland
Institute
.  He maintains a website:
www.climateviews.com.

Al Gore Might Be Getting Weirder, But the Weather Isn’t

Al Gore Might Be Getting Weirder, But the Weather Isn’t

By Doug Powers  •  February 12, 2011 12:49 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Al Gore blamed the nasty late-January/early February winter weather on global warming, in spite of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Environmental Protection Agency predicting warmer winters with less snow.

With an additional inconvenient truth for the Goracle, Anne Jolis writes in the Wall Street Journal about the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project. The project is analyzing atmospheric circulation from 1871 to present to determine if blizzards, cyclones, heat waves and deep-freezes are are worsening. So far that doesn’t seem to be the case:

As it happens, the project’s initial findings, published last month, show no evidence of an intensifying weather trend. “In the climate models, the extremes get more extreme as we move into a doubled CO2 world in 100 years,” atmospheric scientist Gilbert Compo, one of the researchers on the project, tells me from his office at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871.”

In other words, researchers have yet to find evidence of more-extreme weather patterns over the period, contrary to what the models predict. “There’s no data-driven answer yet to the question of how human activity has affected extreme weather,” adds Roger Pielke Jr., another University of Colorado climate researcher.

And this whole time I thought Al Gore was a fool to spend millions of dollars on an seaside mansion after predicting the oceans would rise and alter the world’s coastlines, but it turns out he must have known all along that he was just blowing hot air.

Re-packaging and re-selling global warming to an increasingly skeptical America may be one of the first assignments of Gore’s new Chief News Officer, and they’ll have to do it one viewer at a time — almost literally.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Climate change study had ‘significant error’: experts

Climate change study had ‘significant error’: experts

by Kerry Sheridan                    Kerry SheridanWed Jan 19, 11:33 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A climate change study that projected a 2.4 degree Celsius increase in temperature and massive worldwide food shortages in the next decade was seriously flawed, scientists said Wednesday.

The study was posted on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was written about by numerous international news agencies, including AFP.

But AAAS later retracted the study as experts cited numerous errors in its approach.

“A reporter with The Guardian alerted us yesterday to concerns about the news release submitted by Hoffman & Hoffman public relations,” said AAAS spokeswoman Ginger Pinholster in an email to AFP.

“We immediately contacted a climate change expert, who confirmed that the information raised many questions in his mind, too. We swiftly removed the news release from our Web site and contacted the submitting organization.”

Scientist Osvaldo Canziani, who was part of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was listed as the scientific advisor to the report.

The IPCC, whose figures were cited as the basis for the study’s projections, and Al Gore jointly won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007 “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change,” the prize committee said at the time.

Canziani’s spokesman said Tuesday he was ill and was unavailable for interviews.

The study cited the UN group’s figures for its projections, combined with “the business-as-usual path the world is currently following,” said lead author Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund (UEF), a non-profit group headquartered in Argentina.

But climate scientist Rey Weymann told AFP that the “study contains a significant error in that it confuses ‘equilibrium’ temperature rise with ‘transient temperature rise.’”

He also noted that study author Hisas was told of the problems in advance of the report’s release.

“The author of the study was told by several of us about this error but she said it was too late to change it,” said Weymann.

Scientist Scott Mandia forwarded to AFP an email he said he sent to Hisas ahead of publication explaining why her figures did not add up, and noting that it would take “quite a few decades” to reach a warming level of 2.4 degrees Celsius.

“Even if we assume the higher end of the current warming rate, we should only be 0.2C warmer by 2020 than today,” Mandia wrote.

“To get to +2.4C the current trend would have to immediately increase almost ten-fold.”

Mandia described the mishap as an “honest and common mistake,” but said the matter would certainly give fuel to skeptics of humans’ role in climate change.

“More alarmism,” said Mandia. “Don’t get me wrong. We are headed to 2.4, it is just not going to happen in 2020.”

Many people do not understand the cumulative effect of carbon emissions and how they impact climate change, Mandia said.

“This is something that people don’t appreciate. We tied a record in 2010 (for temperature records) globally. That is primarily from the C02 we put in the atmosphere in the 70s and early 80s, and we have been ramping up since then,” he said.

“So it is not good. We are seeing the response from a mistake we were making 20 years ago, and we are making bigger mistakes today.”

The public relations firm that issued the report on the UEF’s behalf said the group stands by the study and would issue a statement to that effect.

Leftist media in full court press backing warmism

Leftist media in full court press backing warmism

Russell Cook

If a major news story casts doubt on man-caused global warming, does it make a sound? If you are a promoter of the global warming crisis, those stories misdirect public opinion and prevent everyone from solving the crisis, while the rest of us see them as specks of gold in raging torrents of stories affirming Al Gore’s settled science.
Consider the ClimateGate story and its recent one-year anniversary. According to the Media Research Center,
Even though many considered it a huge scandal, the three broadcast networks didn’t think so. They ignored the story for roughly two weeks, and have only mentioned it in a dozen stories in the past year.
My own favorite mainstream media punching bag, PBS’ NewsHour did at least give the story cursory mention ten days after it broke, but then couldn’t be troubled to offer in-depth discussion of it until four months later, its solitary effort of lengthy analysis on the topic. This was noteworthy if only because it featured skeptic scientist Pat Michaels, the first such skeptic to appear on the NewsHour offering any opposing viewpoint of significance since George Taylor in 2007. That 2007 program was the NewsHour‘s first major foray into global warming skeptic opinion since the interview of an industry executive in 1997, and was one of just a few bits that prevented the NewsHour from having a 100% bias against presenting such viewpoints, as I quantified in a prior American Thinker article.
Yet, Joe Romm had this to say about ClimateGate’s anniversary in his 11/15 ClimateProgress blog titled “A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice” (hat tip to Michael Wiant),
The media will be doing countless retrospectives, most of which will be wasted ink…focusing on climate scientists at the expense of climate science…the overwhelming majority of the mainstream media…devoted a large fraction of its climate ‘ink’ in the last 12 months to what was essentially a non-story…
Meanwhile, we have the infamous recent op-ed in the NY Times in which the ‘science’ tells us to expect nasty snowstorms caused by global warming, and the NewsHour telling us about the ‘science’ of rapidly melting glaciers, and ‘studies’ of how to save polar bears
Romm’s efforts to frame the media as not doing its job properly are nothing new, Ross Gelbspan had this to say in his 2004 Boiling Point book about the media,
For many years, the press accorded the same weight to the “skeptics” as it did to mainstream scientists. This was done in the name of journalistic balance. In fact, it was journalistic laziness.
And for good measure, he said this about snowstorms in his 1997 The Heat is On, when speaking about a series of weather patterns being proof of global warming,
The severe weather has continued into 1996. My own back yard became a snow-buried casualty of New England’s 1995-96 winter from hell.
It’s a no-win exercise: excess snow is proof of global warming… unless someone in the mainstream breaks ranks and seriously asks if the prior “warming” from a few years ago couldn’t be proof for the original 1970s global cooling crisis.
Everyone knows how fickle the mainstream media is, and how they are ultimately driven to out-scoop each other for ratings gains. If they smell blood in the water of an imminent collapse to this entire so-called crisis, they will turn on each other and promoters like Romm and Gelbspan in a heartbeat, no doubt with yells of being hoodwinked or assumptions that other news outlets had initially checked the voracity of the “warming” science everyone else relies on.
2011 could turn out to be quite an entertaining year.
Russell Cook’s collection of writings on this issue can be seen at “The ‘96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists – or at least what I’ve dredged up.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/01/leftist_media_in_full_court_pr.html at January 03, 2011 – 09:31:41 AM CST

White House Plans to Push Global Warming Policy, GOP Vows Fight

White House Plans to Push Global Warming Policy, GOP Vows Fight

By Kimberly Schwandt

Published December 28, 2010 | FoxNews.com


HONOLULU, Hawaii — After failing to get climate-change legislation through Congress, the Obama administration plans on pushing through its environmental policies through other means, and Republicans are ready to put up a fight.

On Jan. 2, new carbon emissions limits will be put forward as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares regulations that would force companies to get permits to release greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Critics say the new rules are a backdoor effort to enact the president’s agenda on global warming without the support of Congress, and would hurt the economy and put jobs in jeopardy by forcing companies to pay for expensive new equipment.

“They are job killers. Regulations, period — any kind of regulation is a weight on economy. It requires people to comply with the law, which takes work hours and time, which reduces the profitability of firms. Therefore, they grow more slowly and you create less jobs,” said environmental scientist Ken Green of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Dan Howells of Greenpeace disagrees.

“I was looking at some advertisements from the 1970s where they were making the very same arguments about stopping acid rain. And that didn’t turn out to be a job-killer. In fact, it created jobs in some places,” said Howells, the environmental group’s deputy campaign director. “The more we keep making these decades-old arguments, the more we won’t be creating the jobs of the future and working towards the new energy economy.”

The administration says it has the power to issue the regulation under a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that directed the agency to make a determination on whether carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming, was a hazard to human health.

Rep Fred Upton, R-Mich., the incoming House Energy Committee Chairman, penned an op-ed in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal along with Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips, and charged that Congress should act.

“The best solution is for Congress to overturn the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations outright. If Democrats refuse to join Republicans in doing so, then they should at least join a sensible bipartisan compromise to mandate that the EPA delay its regulations until the courts complete their examination of the agency’s endangerment finding and proposed rules,” the op-ed read in part.

With Republicans taking control in the House, the GOP will be in a better position to take on some of these policies, and members are promising a fight if the Obama White House moves forward with any carbon crackdown. There was bipartisan support for a bill proposed this year that would have stripped the EPA of the power to set carbon emissions limits. GOP lawmakers could bring the measure back.

The White House seems prepared for a fight.

The administration recently circulated a memo from the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren to the heads of all federal departments and agencies calling for “a clear prohibition on political interference in scientific processes and expanded assurances of transparency.”

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

US Senator Writes Letter to Santa About Global Warming… No, Seriously

Michelle Malkin 

US Senator Writes Letter to Santa About Global Warming… No, Seriously

By Doug Powers  •  December 23, 2010 11:09 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is still a true believer. This letter appeared in the Huffington Post:

Dear Santa Claus,

I am writing out of concern, because you may have to move from the North Pole due to the dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice. The Navy’s chief oceanographer says that by the summer of 2020 the North Pole may not have summer ice and other scientists project that an ice-free Arctic is possible as soon as 2012!

Scientists overwhelmingly agree that polar ice is melting because of greenhouse gas pollution and I am working hard to reduce these emissions. But there is probably nothing we can do in time to save the North Pole. I am worried about your safety and your ability to deliver billions of Christmas gifts if the ice cap on the North Pole no longer stays frozen all year. What will happen to your house, your workshop, the elves’ houses and your reindeer barns?

The rest is here if you dare. Hasn’t Menendez received the latest memo that another ice age is on the way due to the warming which causes the cold and snow that makes it hotter, creating blizzards? That should be enough to save the North Pole… I think.

Since when does a self-respecting Democrat care about St. Nick, anyway? Santa Claus is a morbidly obese future burden on the health care system who utilizes animal slave labor and vertically-challenged sweatshop workers who are paid well below a living wage in a non-union environment to manufacture and deliver toys that are fraught with small-part choking hazards that may promote violence. Democrats should be more than happy to see Santa forced to move down here where he’ll be more easily regulated and they can confiscate their fair share of the presents.

Just to cover all the bases, because global warming has been found to cause dental problems in children, Menendez also hand-delivered a letter to the Tooth Fairy, who just happened to be in DC attending the signing of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal.

The threat global warming poses to American pikas is also expected to prompt Menendez to write a letter to the Easter Bunny this coming April. Stay tuned.

(h/t Weasel Zippers)

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Homeland Security to ‘battle’ climate change

Homeland Security to ‘battle’ climate change

Rick Moran

 

I imagine they’ll call this a “man
caused disaster” too:

At an all-day White House conference on “environmental justice,”
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that her department is
creating a new task force to battle the effects of climate change on domestic
security operations.
Speaking at the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice on Thursday,
Napolitano discussed the initial findings of the department’s recently created
“Climate Change and Adaptation Task Force.”
Napolitano explained that the task force was charged with “identifying and
assessing the impact that climate change could have on the missions and
operations of the Department of Homeland Security.”
According to the former Arizona governor, the task force would address
specific questions, including:
“How will FEMA work with state and local partners to plan for increased
flooding or wildfire or hurricane activity that is more serious than we’ve seen
before? What assistance can the Coast Guard bring to bear to assist remote
villages in, for example, Alaska which already have been negatively affected by
changes up in the Arctic?”

This sounds like a lot more fun than protecting the country from terrorists,
doesn’t it? It actually makes sense – if you believe that there will be
“increased flooding or wildfire or hurricane activity that is more serious than
we’ve seen before.” So far, sorry Janet but the disasters just aren’t big
enough. Of course, that won’t stop DHS from carving out a bureaucratic niche for
themselves so they can horn in on some of that global climate change dough the
government is throwing around.
Just another opportunity to grow the size of government at our
expense.

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Global warming brainwashing

Global warming brainwashing

Carol
Headrick

 

It’s freezing.  Our kids have been lied to their entire
lives.

Step outside and ask yourself if billions of your tax dollars were well
spent on Global Warming.  What if the amount is in the trillions?  Generations
of American children have grown up being taught the dangers of man-made global
warming.  On just one day, my twelve year old son heard about global warming in
his science class, his Planet Earth video in English class, and in the Green
Ideas in his school newspaper.  It comes close to being brain-washed.  Many
teachers are also brain-washed.  They too have been taught that the science
behind global warming is settled.  Our teachers need to be introduced to
Climategate.  Simple words will spell it out.  The data was manipulated and made
up, facts omitted, disagreements silenced.  Pass this on to our children.  They
have been lied to their whole lives and deserve better.
The great Global Warming Scientists were and are still well-funded and
continue this farce.  The latest name is Global Climate Disruption.  We have
been lied to and continue to be lied to.  We should not only be mad but demand
that anyone participating in this fraud be prosecuted.  Any funding should
immediately be ceased.  Thinking Americans should research Global Warming for
themselves.  The worst part is finding out why.  But most of all, I want our
children to grow up to be thinkers.

Page Printed from:

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Climate Change in the House: Republicans to Axe Pelosi’s Global Warming Committee

Climate Change in the House: Republicans to Axe Pelosi’s Global Warming Committee

By Doug Powers  •  December 1, 2010 10:21 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Is it getting hot in here, or is Nancy Pelosi crazy? House Republicans will most likely bet on the latter:

Republicans will eliminate the House committee created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to highlight the threat of climate change, Representative James Sensenbrenner, the top Republican on the panel, said today.

In one of her first acts as speaker in 2007, Pelosi, a California Democrat, created the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to draw attention to climate-change science and showcase how a cap on carbon dioxide needn’t be a threat to economic growth.

The good news is that many pro-rationing climate change worry-warts won’t find out about this until they fly home next week from their low-budget meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

Another tidbit:

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said it’s “very disappointing” that House Republicans will shut the committee and won’t make energy independence and climate change a priority in the next Congress.

President Obama just extended offshore drilling moratoriums and imposed new drilling bans in the Gulf, as well as the Atlantic and Pacific coasts for the next several years, and Pelosi’s spokesman thinks Republicans cancelling some committee meetings will put a serious dent in America’s quest for energy independence?

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Obama’s Green Energy Myth

Obama’s Green Energy Myth

Posted By Rich Trzupek On June 28, 2010 @ 12:26 am In FrontPage | 20 Comments

President Obama’s attempt to turn the Deepwater Horizon disaster into an advertisement for alternative “green” energies and “cap and trade” legislation was so offensive that even Senator Diane Feinstein was forced to observe [1] that “the climate bill isn’t going to stop the oil leak.”

In a June 15 column [2] published by the New York Times, Peter Baker took that analysis a bit further:

“The connection to the spill, of course, goes only so far. While (Obama) called for more wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, neither fills gasoline tanks in cars and trucks, and so their expansion would not particularly reduce the need for the sort of deepwater drilling that resulted in the spill.”

This entirely reasonable and technically accurate statement enflamed the president’s cheerleaders over at Media Matters, where Fae Jencks [3] took Baker to task:

“While wind and solar energy may not fill cars’ tanks, it will power their batteries. What Baker fails to acknowledge is that by ensuring that ‘more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power,’ Obama would ensure that those vehicles are powered with clean energy rather than with electricity produced by fossil fuel plants.”

Those two sentences summarize the green nirvana that the president is trying to foist upon America. It’s a goal that’s entirely unachievable, because of a number of technical and economic realties that lie just below the surface of simplistic analysis.  It’s not surprising that a technically-illiterate blogger who posts at a site devoted to echoing this administration’s progressive agenda would make such an assertion, but it’s quite disturbing that the man who is supposed to be the leader of the free world would utter such foolishness.

Both wind power [4] and solar power [5] are more expensive – incredibly so in the case of solar – than either fossil power or nuclear power. Worse, you can’t count on either wind or solar as a reliable source of energy, since the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Accordingly, for each megawatt of wind and solar capacity we develop, another megawatt of back-up power, typically powered by fossil fuels, has to be in place. This redundancy adds to the already unacceptable cost of “green energy.”

Even if we ignore the economic aspects and accept the progressive proposition that the government has an infinite supply of money available to spend, the idea that the wind and sun can power our cars makes no sense. The reason that our vehicles use gasoline is that gas is a very efficient means to store energy. A gallon of gasoline, which weighs a little over six pounds, contains far more useful energy than the six pounds of the best batteries on the market. So, before you factor anything else in, gasoline’s weight to power ratio makes it the better choice in terms of energy efficiency. Will batteries improve over time? Sure they will, although modern, high-capacity batteries typically involve using materials that come with their own environmental hazards. Still, no battery that exists or that is being contemplated comes close to matching the energy storage capacity of gasoline.

Next, there are the unavoidable inefficiencies of the electric transmission system itself. America’s power grid is a wonder of modern technology and it’s obviously necessary to distribute the power we need to run our refrigerators and computers, light our homes and keep the pumps and motors that industry depends on turning. Yet, electric power distribution is hardly the model of efficiency. A significant portion of the energy generated by power plants is lost in distribution [6], due to voltage drops, resistant heating and other line losses. In many cases, moving energy around the nation via a network of thousands of miles of metal cables represents the best way to transmit power, but it’s hardly the most efficient way to do it.

Consider motor vehicles. By the time we work our way through all of the inherent, expensive and unavoidable inefficiencies of generating, transporting and storing so-called green power in the vain effort to fuel our transportation needs, we are left with the unavoidable conclusion that doing so would create more of a demand for power, not less. Or, to put the president’s proposition another way, if America somehow transformed itself into a nation in which the transportation sector was fueled entirely by electricity, we would be significantly less energy efficient than we are today. We can, and should, continue to develop hybrids, for that technology provides even more bang for our fossil fuel buck, without pretending that the ultimate source of power – crude oil – isn’t our best energy option.

Ultimately, if we can figure out a way to use as-of-yet undiscovered solar-powered catalysts to produce hydrogen inexpensively, we may free ourselves from the tyranny of fossil fuels altogether. Yet, as technology proceeds along those paths, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the promise of a green energy panacea.

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