It's all about control, control, and more control

Climate change activists keep talking about electrifying our economy because it is the only way to conceivably get to zero or near zero carbon emissions.

Now I have no problem, in principle, with reducing the carbon footprint of the economy, as long as it can be done with inexpensive, abundant, and reliable power sources that perform the job as well or better than fossil fuels. And that is the promise that is made by the advocates of electrifying our economy.

Perhaps someday that dream can be achieved, but that day is way way off in the future. In the here and now a fossil fuel-free future isn’t even a pipe dream. It’s a nightmare.

The activists pushing for uber-electrification (I won’t call them climate alarmists, because I suspect many of them aren’t actually alarmed, but play-acting for effect) absolutely know that our current and near-future electrical generation and transmission cannot conceivably produce enough power to keep our economy going.

They simply don’t care. Or rather, they care, but the immiseration and impoverishment of millions of Americans is a feature, not a bug of these policies.

The federal government is no longer sure whether it’s possible, after over 100 years of widespread usage, to safely operate a gas-powered stove. It’s deadly serious, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Science” suddenly says that gas stoves are the new cigarettes. “Gas-burning stoves in kitchens across America are responsible for roughly 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases nationwide — on par with the childhood asthma risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a study,” the Washington Post said in its Climate 202 newsletter.

The asthma study that has triggered the latest uproar was funded by RMI, an environmental group with the radical goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 50 percent within the next seven years. Its lead author is part of the group’s Carbon-Free Buildings initiative. The study was not based on any actual scientific research into the effects on the body of having a gas stove in the house during normal use. It’s based on looking at previous studies from North America and Europe, making extrapolations about the number of children living in homes with gas stoves from data in the American Housing Survey, and then coming up with a mathematical formula to get the result that the authors wanted. Even if we accept the data as sound — that is, that children living in homes with gas stoves were observed to have higher rates of asthma — it does not remove other variables. Gas stoves could simply be more common in households that have other factors making their children more likely to suffer from asthma.

But follow the science we must, without looking too closely at it. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm used the study as a sales pitch for the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, which includes tax credits for electric stoves. “We can and must FIX this,” intoned Granholm. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned,” said CPSC commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. That is the son of longtime AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, and he’s one of the many union connections that President Biden has appointed to government positions. With the exception of a stint in private legal practice, Trumka Jr. has only ever worked in government, his most significant career accomplishments are authoring government reports, and he has no background in science.

The Post newsletter admitted that the Clean Air Act only gives the EPA power to regulate outdoor emissions. Unable to countenance the thought of an unregulated part of American life, “for decades, advocates have urged the Consumer Product Safety Commission to fill this regulatory vacuum that persists inside people’s homes,” it says.

Gas-stove hysteria isn’t new among progressives. In the past, as its inclusion in the Washington Post climate newsletter suggests, gas stoves were treated as a climate issue. It’s not just stoves; progressives are coming for your gas-powered furnace as well. Some progressives want to ban gas-powered anything and replace them with electric equivalents powered by wind and solar. That’s what motivated the inclusion of tax credits for electric appliances in the Inflation Reduction Act, which was, as the press acknowledged after it passed, really a climate-and-health-care bill.

Progressives have decided to up the alarmism about your stove with two reliable tactics. First, make it an issue for the sake of the children, with one four-page childhood-asthma study publicized by activists and the secretary of energy. Second, say gas stoves are racist, no matter how tenuous the connection between the issue and race actually is. In a letter to the CPSC, a group of Democratic lawmakers wrote, “Statistics show that Black, Latino, and low-income households are more likely to experience disproportionate air pollution, either from being more likely to be located near a waste incinerator or coal ash site, or living in smaller homes with poor ventilation, malfunctioning appliances, mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, lead dust, pests, and other maintenance deficiencies.”

In just a few days, Democrats and the media have conjured a moral panic about a commonplace household appliance, and the only solution is the full force of the federal bureaucracy.

In reality, gas stoves are preferred by chefs because they make temperature control easier. The discrimination argument goes both ways: Gas-stove bans hurt ethnic cuisines. Above all, though, should be the obvious fact that it is entirely possible to safely operate a gas stove. Millions of Americans do it every day, with no assistance needed from the federal government, thank you very much. Trumka is speeding past an intermediary step of recommending better ventilation, and going straight to floating an outright ban on popular appliances for everybody.

Democrats have long said they don’t want government in the bedroom, but they never said anything about the kitchen, and their appetite for regulatory overreach is insatiable. If this instantiation of the government-savior complex makes stoves into a political issue, conservatives should be confident about standing for sanity and stove choice. And when they eventually reassume control of the executive branch, they should not hesitate to reduce the power of administrative agencies that act as though they can ban any product that a few days’ worth of media coverage portrays as “unsafe.”

In recent months the electrical grid has sagged and even broken under the strain of electrification. Heat pumps in the South drew more power than was available due to cold weather, and of course California is utterly incapable of delivering enough electrical power to its citizens reliably.

As they push for 100% electrification of transportation, they also mandate energy policies that create shortages that will strand people at home, without air conditioning or heat, and of course with the lights out. This is as predictable as a sunrise.

Unsurprisingly, the wealthier will have backup generation and will be able to afford massive battery backups for their own use, but the average person doesn’t have the same resources. And, if they did, the price for such systems would skyrocket due to the lack of enough available minerals to build them.

Minerals that are mined through child labor in countries with little to no environmental protection. Can’t let any mining go on in the US, you know.

In The Telegraph Andrew Orlowsky wrote about how lack of electricity generation capacity could doom the electrification of cars. He pointed to comments made by Toyota president Akio Toyoda, who questioned the wisdom of diving head first into an all-electric future. He also noted the declining reliability of the power grid in the UK, which applies to the US as well.

But the real issue Mr Toyoda has opened up is this: Western societies are charging into the electrification of transport and heating without actually providing the electricity. This cannot be wished away.

In January, the then secretary of state for trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, told Parliament that “we are going to be requiring up to four times as much electricity” to meet demand for electrified heating and transport. Yet we are not building four times as much electric generation capacity.

The energy legacy of the Conservatives will be the loss of reliable energy. For example, only two years ago, the UK was running 15 operational nuclear reactors, but by 2030 it will be just three, and that’s assuming no further delays. The reality is that we have created two parallel energy systems; one of which works, while the other does not. The politicised grid mashes them together, making the one that provides reliable and low cost energy both expensive and unstable.

And then along comes a genuine cold snap which exposes our new reliance on nature, and sub-prime energy technologies. Climate change campaigners who are inclined to view any weather event as a policy message dictated personally by an Earth deity should remember this trick works both ways.

During our recent dunkelflaute – a period of high pressure, freezing temperatures and no wind – our onshore wind blades stood still for three weeks, consuming power, but not generating any. What wind power we got, and it wasn’t very much, all came from offshore facilities.

The problem with Mr. Olowsky’s and Mr. Toyoda’s analysis is that they assume that for policymakers the decline in reliable power and hence the threat to mobility are seen as a pressing problem. So, too, with Secretary Trevelyan. Yet by their actions these policy makers have shown that they are at best indifferent to the problem, and even perhaps welcome it.

I simply don’t believe that the people in power care much about whether the electricity is there to keep our economy going. If they did, they wouldn’t rush headlong into the full electrification of the economy without ensuring that there is electricity to power it. If you are pushing electric cars while closing 4/5ths of your nuclear power plants, ensuring reliability is not a major concern of yours.

The forced electrification of cars, in particular, reveals their intentions: if you can’t charge your vehicle, you are utterly reliant on the government-run transit systems. These systems are collapsing due to reduced use by consumers, so the easiest way to get people to use them is ban fossil fuel cars and then restrict charging of electric vehicles, as California has already done at times. And if your mobility relies on regulated transit, the government owns your mobility.

An all-electric economy is an easily controlled economy. The infrastructure is there to control your thermostats, your car charging, your cooking times (if you go electric, as they demand). We have wired our houses to be “smart,” and those smarts don’t reside in your home, but in the cloud.

You are at their mercy.

Does this sound crazy? It should, because it is diabolical. But is it plausible? Of course it is. We already know that power companies can turn your thermostats up and down at will (right now people generally opt-in, but the tech is right there when the power supply runs out). We already know the Left has been at war with air conditioning. That they want “15-minute cities” without private cars.

You will own nothing and like it.

We still trust our lawmakers too much, because 20-30 years ago this sort of thing would have been unthinkable. But as we now live in the “emergency” economy where government has nearly unlimited power over us, a “climate emergency” is on the table.

When there is an “emergency,” governments can do anything they want. We know that because we have been living through it for the past 3 years.

Still, is it fair to say that the people in power are indifferent to or even want to see an immiseration of millions of people? That sounds kind of kooky. Who would do that?

Well, look at the history of the 20th century. Lots of leaders have done it, and  benefited mightily in the process. Every socialist, fascist, big government ideologue in the world has pushed or achieved policies that immiserate citizens. Hugo Chavez–whom you recall was a favorite of many on the Left–did so and became a billionaire in the process. Daniel Ortega entered power as a communist rebel, but now is super-wealthy.

There is a ton of money to be made in failing to solve these problems, and when people begin to solve them in reality they are reviled by the elites. If the problem goes away, the grift ends.

Look at Elon Musk, who now building over a million electric cars a year and ramping up; he is now a hate object on the Left, despite having done more to electrify the economy than anybody. He just has done it well, so Biden literally won’t even acknowledge his company exists.

Instead Biden points to Ford and GM, despite their manifest failures to produce electric cars at scale and with massive subsidies. Succeeding isn’t the point. It is dividing up the spoils and accumulating power.

Look at sales numbers.

Among GM’s electrified vehicles, Bolt EV and Bolt EUV (electrified utility vehicle) sales totaled 16,108 in the fourth quarter, up from 25 vehicles a year ago, while 72 Hummer EV Pickups sold after only 1 sold a year ago and 86 Cadillac LYRIQs sold versus zero last year.

Tesla delivered 405,000 vehicles during the same time period. Yet Biden touts GM, ignores Tesla. Because power. He doesn’t give a whit about anything but increasing his power, as is the same for all the Elite. That’s why nuclear power–the most obvious solution to our electricity woes–is being passed over in favor of solar and wind, which are less abundant and reliable, and need backup (of which there is much too little).

Electrification of the economy is not inherently bad, but doing so without ensuring inexpensive and reliable electricity is. Since the Elite clearly doesn’t care about affordable, abundant, and reliable power with appropriate backup to ensure 100% uptime, then they have a different agenda than they claim.

That agenda is getting more money and control over your life.

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