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  • Good and Bad in President Obama’s Global Warming Speech at MIT

    President Obama traveled to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology today to deliver a speech on climate change. Part of the speech focused on innovation and the benefits of entrepreneurial risk taking while the other focused on government investments for renewable energy and the importance of climate change legislation. There was both good and bad parts of President Obama’s speech.

    The good:

    “Dr. Moniz is also the Director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, called MITEI. And he and President Hockfield just showed me some of the extraordinary energy research being conducted at this institute: windows that generate electricity by directing light to solar cells; light-weight, high-power batteries that aren’t built, but are grown — that was neat stuff; engineering viruses to create — to create batteries; more efficient lighting systems that rely on nanotechnology; innovative engineering that will make it possible for offshore wind power plants to deliver electricity even when the air is still.

    And it’s a reminder that all of you are heirs to a legacy of innovation — not just here but across America — that has improved our health and our wellbeing and helped us achieve unparalleled prosperity. I was telling John and Deval on the ride over here, you just get excited being here and seeing these extraordinary young people and the extraordinary leadership of Professor Hockfield because it taps into something essential about America — it’s the legacy of daring men and women who put their talents and their efforts into the pursuit of discovery. And it’s the legacy of a nation that supported those intrepid few willing to take risks on an idea that might fail — but might also change the world.”

    President Obama is right in that innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit is largely why the United States’ economy is what it is. These innovative technologies could eventually save Americans a lot of money on their energy bills. But it also goes to show how far away some of these technologies are from commercialization, which means they may not be able to hit the market yet without help from the taxpayer. When it comes to basic research and development, government funding may be prudent, but after that, it should be left for the market to determine whether or not these innovations will be successful. And even much of the research and development stage, including MITEI, is privately funded.

    Let’s not forget, however, that wind, solar and biofuels aren’t new technologies and have been subsidized by the government for decades and still only provide an insignificant fraction of our energy supply. The reason they’ve been subsidized for such a long period of time is that they simply can’t compete but that shouldn’t stop American ingenuity. It should stop subsidies for failed projects. If private investors want to step up and continue to fund these projects, it’s their money. They can spend it how they please.

    And this is where the President’s speech takes a wrong turn:

    “That’s why the Recovery Act that we passed back in January makes the largest investment in clean energy in history, not just to help end this recession, but to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity. The Recovery Act includes $80 billion to put tens of thousands of Americans to work developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles; modernizing the electric grid; making our homes and businesses more energy efficient; doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity. These are creating private-sector jobs weatherizing homes; manufacturing cars and trucks; upgrading to smart electric meters; installing solar panels; assembling wind turbines; building new facilities and factories and laboratories all across America.”

    But the green stimulus, free lunch rhetoric neglects the costs, both real and opportunity costs, that come with a government stimulus. Heritage analyst Ben Lieberman writes that a green stimulus is actually a contradiction in terms: “Support for renewables would likely cost more jobs than are created. For example, subsidies for wind and solar energy would, at least from the narrow perspective of the wind and solar industries, create new jobs as more of these systems are manufactured and installed. But the tax dollars needed to help pay for them cost jobs elsewhere, as would the pricey electricity they produce.”

    Our analysis of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill finds that there will be 1.9 million fewer jobs by 2012 after accounting for green jobs. Job losses would grow to 2.5 million by 2035. This makes us a cap and trade naysayer, who Obama attacks towards the end of his speech:

    “The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized. But I think it’s important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we’ll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we’re engaged in. There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy — when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who cynically claim — make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.”

    We’re naysayers because we believe the huge costs of this bill far outweigh the negligible environmental benefits. On top of the job losses we project that: Cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) losses are $9.4 trillion between 2012 and 2035; Gasoline prices will rise by 58 percent ($1.38 more per gallon) and average household electric rates will increase by 90 percent; And a typical family of four will pay, on average, an additional $829 each year for energy-based utility costs. We’re cynical for a reason.

    If MIT students wanted to listen to a real expert on climate change, perhaps they should have gone with one of their own: Richard Lindzen.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Good and Bad in President Obama’s Global Warming Speech at MIT

    1. David Germany says:

      it is just stupide to think that the US can go on and waste energy like in the last 100 years

    2. Spiritof76 says:

      David Germany's one liner above is factually incorrect and hence is nothing but the usual socialist rant based on envy. If you look at the BTU (energy) used to produce $ of GDP, US economy is in the top five countris in the world-meaning it is highly energy efficient. Check facts. China on the other hand is a very high energy inefficient country!

    3. Galen, Texas says:

      To Obama and his cynical band of weasels, global warming is merely an opportunity to put a pretty dress on old-fashioned pork, waste and higher taxes. Shame on anyone who falls for this outrageous, "save-the-planet" hokum.

    4. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      Uh, what Global Warming? You can't play with that hockey stick, you can't heat Bear's Stadium with a candle. You destroy American Energy we will go back to fire wood. We Americans are innovators but you can not do it without capital. Beaten back to the Stone Age you can bet I will use Wind and Solar, small style. Out West we use windmills to pump water, but let Nancy's VAT go into effect then it is "We in the government think your cave is worth $500,000. You can't pay the taxes for what somebody thinks a windmill in the middle of nowhere is worth, so you can't build that wind mill! Woah! Hold on there, you cut a tree? Give us a hundred bucks. Oh? You hauled it? Give us another hundred. You cut it into lumber? Well that makes you a lumber company. We figure that is worth a million bucks (you see, statistically, to be an average tree cutter you have to have millions and millions to fight the tree huggers). Give us $500,000!" Of course the government will spend it all on propaganda. Screw it up some more.

      'Don't worry, we are Americans' is getting old when the truth of the matter is we are Communists, drug addicts, alcoholics, cowards, broken families, duped, deluded, audaciously hopeless and DEAD — BROKE! I have the sure fire idea for a billion dollar industry. Truth is the government already took my millions. The simple fact I am a blue blooded American going back to the Mayflower flotilla doesn't fix it. I am sure it will be yet more illegal to be, actually be American, when government compels us to actually be Communists. Historical Americans had free enterprise, they had God fearing people, they had Justice. What have we got?

    5. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      David Germany,

      Where does one begin to even answer these nonsensical "one-liners"?

      I have neither the inclination or time to give you a history lesson from 1909 to the present. Your statement has no historical perspective on past technologies available. It does not account for the goods and mass manufacturing that America produced, which the world enjoyed. And, now we are finding out that "new proposed technologies" are not cost efficient, will eliminate millions of jobs, will not perform as advertised, and will wreck our economy in the long term.

      It is wearisome to even try to explain the details. Believe what you will.

      We should be drilling for oil and natural gas now. We should be building nuclear energy plants (the cleanest and most efficient technology at the moment). Every day we hesitate on taking action NOW that will lead us to energy independence is at our national economic and military peril.

      Until new technologies are cost effective and DO NOT BANKRUPT US, it does not matter how "good" they are.

      One of the major points of this article is that the private sector spurs innovation. What are proposed policies from this admin doing for the private sector?

    6. Pingback: Right Wing Nut House » OBAMA’S RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY IS THE RIGHT APPROACH

    7. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      Oh, yeah: "prevents us from creating new jobs" means they know perfectly well they are wrecking everything, they already have their talking point lined up for the failure they know is coming. That is after the "saved job" count is seen for the lie that it is. Then it is the fault of capitalism when there is no capitalism, we haven't had capitalism since 1937. But then, don't look at Obama's culpability, infamy and Treason. ACORN/Community Redevelopment/bail out pay out. It is the Constitution's fault. Now there's a talking point!

    8. Barbara C, Green Val says:

      The Navajo Generating Plant near the Grand Canyon is a perfect example of the price of "clean" air. In spite of the fact that it provides jobs and is essentially the lifeblood of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe providing tribal members with employment, is the main power source for the CAP providing energy to 200,00 typical ARizona homes for a year and pumps 500 billion gallons of water from Lake Havasu to Phoenix and Tucson, and its sles of excess power are used to pay back the construction costs of the Central Arizona Project. Plus Tucson and Phoenix wouldn't have access to a renewable water source, etc., etc.,.

      However, EPA considers mandating a very expensive technology called Selective Catalyic Reduction (SCR) to reduce emissions which comes with a very high price tag – estimated at $800 milllion to $l.2 Billion. Could the Navajo and Hopi Nations really afford this.

      It is a disgrace. By the way who is producing all these plates for solar energy and the wind mills. I hear they are produced in foreign countries. That true?

    9. Bobbie Jay says:

      Anything good coming out of the American president's mouth, is cover up for the bad he is anxious to implement.

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