Latest posts by H. Sterling Burnett (see all)
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I spent last Thursday and Friday and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Energy & Climate Policy Summit. The location was great and the people intelligent.
I must admit, I’ve become a bit jaded over the years having attended so many energy and/or climate conferences (as a speaker, moderator and attendee), most of which I learn little that I didn’t already know. The speakers were known quantities and they were preaching to the choir. This conference was an exception, though the choir was in attendance, and I knew (or knew of) many of the speakers, I learned something new from almost each and everyone of them. If was a very informative conference providing me with a lot of speakers for future podcasts and papers to be covered in The Heartland Institute’s various publications.
We opened with a luncheon at which scientist, author and now Lord, Matt Ridley spoke. He is a powerful speaker, discussing the critical nature of coal and other fossil fuels to historical economic progress and prosperity.
The first panel discussed the state of climate change science. Climate scientists Roy Spencer and Judith Curry (who has a new paper out) both hammered on the climate models and their overstatement of climate sensitivity. A scientist from NASA, Hal Dorian, then presented a new model developed by retired NASA scientists that shows climate change forecasts to be alarmist in the extreme. To his credit, Zong-Liang Yang, played Daniel in the lions den by defending the global warming orthodoxy as maintained by the IPCC.
The second panel addressed the nightmare of current and future climate regulation. It went through the history of how the Supreme Court landed us in the position of having to defend against EPA climate regulations, despite the fact, as Marlo Lewis pointed out, Congress refused to pass climate related bills 692 times between the 101 and 111 Congress.
Mike Nasi gave a frightening presentation on the costs of climate regulations in terms of what they would shut down in terms of energy use. His talk ended optimistically however, as he has come to the conclusion that I had long ago. In the end, reality will stymie these climate schemes because American’s want their energy, or more accurately, their cars and lights and air conditioners and refrigerators, and they want them to run on command or nearly constantly as need be. Thus, when power gets scarce (climate regulations can do a lot of damage before the lights start to flicker), citizens will demand change — or make change themselves by removing politicians.
Other sessions covered the history, politics and economics of climate change; the failures of alternatives to fossil fuels; and, refreshingly for me as an ethicist, a serious discussion of the moral case for fossil fuels and against energy poverty (a themed that carried over into the closing lunch). All to often, climate and energy conferences focus on science disputes or costs calculations and ignore the very real pain that climate policies cause, and the immorality of climate prescriptions for energy poverty and centralized control of the economy.
This last session included four great presentations, including a talk by TPPF’s own Kathleen Hartnett White, and, most interestingly speech Caleb Rossiter, a liberal/progressive who has lost friends and a job because he rejects climate alarmism. He’s a brave and honest man.
The Thursday night dinner featured speaker was Texas Governor Rick Perry. He detailed Texas’s trials and travails with the EPA and how and why our state (yes, I’m a proud 5th generation Texan) has lead the way on energy production and in the fight against overweening Federal interference with state affairs.
If this conference were a movie, I’d give it two thumbs up and four stars.