HomeEnvironment & Climate NewsPresident Biden’s Climate/Energy Policies Are an Exercise in Magical Thinking

President Biden’s Climate/Energy Policies Are an Exercise in Magical Thinking

President Joe Biden and the Democratic caucus’ efforts to remake America’s electric power system into one that emits no carbon dioxide (net zero) by 2050 in order to prevent climate change are pipedreams.

Physics indicates the goal is an exercise in magical thinking. Reality suggest the attempt to reach the impossible goal will have little or no effect on climate, but they will cost jobs and imperil the nation’s electric power supply.

Copious evidence presented at Climate at a Glance and in reports by the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change show, even if the earth continues warming modestly, a climate apocalypse is not in the offing.

Domestic Cuts, International Growth

Even if this research is wrong, Biden et al.’s, climate proposals won’t prevent climate change. Emission reductions made by the United States by 2050 to meet the net zero goal will be swamped by the growth in emissions in developing countries.

China alone produces more than double the U.S. emissions at present and it has stated it will grow emissions for the coming decade at the very least. And India, the third largest single emitter of carbon dioxide, recently announced that its emissions will continue to grow until at least 2070.

Developing countries already produce more than half of the global emissions, and as they strive to bring their peoples out of poverty, they are committed to using fossil fuels and growing emissions.

As a research report written by Mark Mills recently showed, when the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to just one-third of Europe’s per-capita level, global demand will rise by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.

Energy Transformation Fantasy

The physics of the transformation required under Biden’s plans show they are impossible.

In 2019 Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. calculated the amount of fossil fuel power that would need to be replaced, based on the amount of electricity used in the United States in 2018, to hit a net zero target by 2050. At the time Pielke wrote, to reach net-zero by 2050, the US would have needed to deploy one new nuclear power plant worth of carbon-free energy about every 6 days, starting September 30, 2019 and continuing until 2050. Pielke specifically excluded any growth in electric power consumption between time he wrote and 2050. Hint, the U.S. uses more electricity now than it did then.

A major expansion of nuclear power is, for political reasons, off the table under the Democrats net zero plans. To provide the same amount of energy, the U.S. would have to erect 1,500 2.5 megawatt wind turbines every five days, or 250 each day, every day between, when he wrote his article through 2050.

For those unaware, we have we’ve erected nowhere near that many turbines or replaced nowhere near that amount of fossil fuels. As a result, to hit net-zero by 2050 starting today, we would have to erect far more than 250 turbines each day and retire an equivalent amount of coal, natural gas, and oil fueled electricity to hit Democrats’ net zero goals. And, every day we don’t replace the required amount of carbon-dioxide-emitting with non-emitting energy means an even greater amount of shifting is necessary each day going forward.

In short, just to meet current electric power needs, we would need to erect millions of wind turbines and millions of solar panels installed, and install billions of battery packs to store the energy for use when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.

Wind turbines would have to cover one-third of the continental United States, or solar panels just over 20 percent of the countryside, just to meet current demand. We would also have to erect thousands of additional electric towers and string thousands of additional miles of transmission lines. Talk about a devastating impact on wildlife and wilderness!

Policies Require Electricity Use Growth

And that’s before Biden’s policies force the shift from natural gas to all electric appliances in homes and businesses, and replaces all cars with electric vehicles. In short, the Democrats’ zero emission policies will be increasing electric power demand, even as they reduce the reliability of the grid by replacing stable power from fossil fuels with unstable, intermittent power sources.

As Mills points out, for security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons is in storage at any time. Today, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all the batteries in one million electric cars in the United States.

It’s a recipe for total grid collapse or, at least, regular rolling blackouts nationwide. If you don’t believe me, see what happens in California every year, happened in Texas, this past winter, and is happening in Europe, even as I write. They have already set out on the path Biden and his Democratic allies want the whole nation to tread, and are suffering as a result.

In short, physics and economic growth in the developing world makes clear, trying to obtain net zero energy is all pain, no gain. Americans will suffer in the vain pursuit of an impossible to reach goal, and the world’s climate won’t notice the difference.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hburnett@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

A modified version of this article was originally published by Inside Sources. It is reprinted with the permission of its author.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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