Editor’s Note: For another viewpoint, see POINT: We’re In A Climate Emergency; Biden Needs to Act Like It.
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 suggests the attempt to reach the impossible goal will have little or no effect on climate.
Abundant evidence presented at Climate at a Glance and in reports by the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change shows, even if the earth continues warming modestly, a climate apocalypse is not in the offing.
Even if this research is wrong, the left’s climate proposals won’t prevent climate change. Emission reductions made by the United States by 2050 to meet the net-zero goal would 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 increase CO2 emissions for the coming decade at the very least. Developing countries already produce more than half of the global CO2 emissions, and as they strive to bring their people out of poverty, they are committed to using fossil fuels and growing emissions.
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 United States would have needed to deploy one new nuclear power plant worth of carbon-free energy about every six days, starting September 30, 2019 and continuing until 2050. Pielke specifically excluded any growth in electric power consumption between the time he wrote and 2050. Hint, the United States 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, America would have to erect 1,500 2.5-megawatt wind turbines every six days, or 250 each day, every day between, when he wrote his article through 2050. For those unaware, 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 build 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 build millions of wind turbines and solar panels, 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 would have to blanket 20 percent of the countryside, just to meet current demand. We would also have to construct thousands of additional electric towers and string thousands of additional miles of transmission lines. Talk about a devastating impact on wildlife and wilderness!
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.
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 what the developing world is doing makes it 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.