Marita Noon

In honor of Margaret Thatcher’s memory, favorite quotes from the Iron Lady have popped up everywhere. This one came across my Facebook newsfeed: “Global warming ‘provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.’”

The hundreds of comments the quote received covered a variety of sentiments from hostility to adoration. A couple accused Thatcher of launching the entire global warming hoax to end a coal-miners’ strike.

Another cited an earlier Thatcher quote: “The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations. Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world's environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community. No one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order. It's because we know that, that we are here today. But the need for more research should not be an excuse for delaying much needed action now.” CFACT, the poster of the comment, responded: “Thatcher evolved. Millions have joined her.”

I do not know if Thatcher started the whole hoax. I do not know the facts behind her “evolution” on the topic. What I do know is the damaging impacts climate change mitigation attempts have had on the economy—a viewpoint the American government still clings to while the Brits (as evidenced by Thatcher’s comments) have “evolved.”

Perhaps, Thatcher did perpetuate the idea that CO2 emissions were warming the planet, but the theory was readily embraced in Europe. Natural-resource rich, the US has historically had lower energy costs than our European allies—which gave us a competitive advantage. Pushing the global warming narrative—which promotes wind and solar power as a curative—attempted to level the playing field by moving all of us to higher-priced energy. Regarding the 2011 UN climate change talks in Durban, the Financial Times said the European Union (EU) “is pushing hardest among developed countries for a new global deal” and is “the greenest voice among wealthy countries at the talks.” In a column I wrote in December 2011, I posit that the EU supported the climate change narrative specifically to raise energy prices in the US.

Richard Courtney, a consultant on matters concerning energy and the environment who has served as an expert peer reviewer for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, calls the global warming issue “political.” He says: “Each government has its own special interests in global warming but, in all cases, the motives relate to economic policies. In general, the USA fears loss of economic power to other nations while this is desired by those other nations. Universal adoption of ‘carbon taxes,’ or other universal proportionate reductions in industrial activity, would provide relative benefit to the other nations.”

Whatever the motive, the EU has led the way on renewable energy—especially wind and solar. Germany, home of the Energiewende (energy transformation) has garnered a reputation as the country to follow when it comes to green energy. Having passed the Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz (renewable energy law) in 1991, Germany has poured huge subsidies into wind and solar power. Twenty-two percent of Germany’s power is now generated with renewables (“solar provides close to a quarter of that”)—which are “guaranteed more-than competitive rates”—despite the fact that “producing electricity from sunlight costs 10 times more than generating power using coal or nuclear energy.” Power companies are passing the costs on to consumers in the form of higher rates.

I frequently hear Germany’s record being held up as a shining example. After all, if Germany can get nearly a quarter of its electricity from renewables, why can’t the US do the same? I’ve had listeners of a radio show where I am a guest call in and tout Germany’s record. If one doesn’t know the whole story, it does sound admirable. I ask: “Have you been following Germany recently?” Silence.

Post-Fukushima, Germany announced the closure of eight of its 17 nuclear power plants, with the remaining 9 to be closed within the next decade. To replace the 17 power plants, it was announced that Germany would build or revamp 84 power plants—more than half would be fossil-fuel-powered, including 17 coal-fueled. This winter, it was reported that energy costs in Germany were so high that its residents were literally cutting down trees in city parks and stripping the forests in order to heat their homes.

The tree thefts are just one of the bizarre consequences of the EU’s adoption of the climate change narrative. One of the newest revelations, reported by The Economist, is: “By far the largest so-called renewable fuel used in Europe is wood”—which it calls “the fuel of the future.”

The Economist reports that nearly half of Europe’s renewable energy comes from “biomass,” while in some countries—like Poland and Finland—“wood meets more than 80% of renewable energy demand.”

Apparently, wood was included as a renewable that would help cut CO2 emissions—the supposed driver of climate change—because if the wood came from “properly managed forests, then the carbon that billows out of the chimney can be offset by the carbon that is captured and stored in newly planted trees. Wood can be carbon-neutral.” As a result of the decision to allow wood to qualify for the “renewable” mandate, its usage has “soared.” In fact, wood has saved coal-fueled power plants that would have been shut down—making it popular with power companies. Unlike expensive forests of wind turbines that require brand new, expensive, transmission lines, the coal-fueled power plants are already connected to the grid. They can also be “adapted to burn a mixture of 90% coal and 10% wood (called co-firing) with little new investment.” Additionally, wood-fueled electricity generation doesn’t require back-up (redundant) power.

While the EU’s goal of getting twenty percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 is hurting the European economy and individual ratepayers, it is helping Canada.

Europe’s energy policy ends up helping the economies of both Canada and the US—both of which didn’t jump into “renewables,” as the EU did. The US never signed on to the Kyoto Protocol and Canada abandoned it in 2011.

Europe doesn’t have enough wood to meet demand, so a substantial chunk of it will come from imports—which has created a booming new business in Canada and the southeastern US. Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, calls it “an industry invented from nothing.” Who would have thought that not only is the US now a net exporter of gasoline, but now we are fueling Europe with “biomass?”

The EU is seeing the error of their ways. “The European Environment Agency said, in 2011, the assumption “that biomass combustion would be inherently carbon neutral…is not correct…as it ignores the fact that using land to produce plants for energy typically means that this land is not producing plants for other purposes, including carbon otherwise sequestered.” In fact, using trees for energy production actually, increases “carbon emissions compared with coal” and scientists have now concluded that the idea of using wood as a renewable fuel was an “oversimplification.”

Unlike Margaret Thatcher, the EU is unlikely to “evolve”—giving the US a competitive energy advantage Europe’s global warming encouragement was intended to erase.  

While the US didn’t sign on to a binding commitment to CO2 reductions, our energy policies have, like Europe, pushed the more expensive energies and punished the cost-effective. Data from the Energy Information Agency reveals that the average all-in cost for electrical energy to the customer has risen at twice the rate of inflation—with no real identifiable and quantifiable fiscal benefit.

Thatcher was correct. Global warming has provided “a marvelous excuse.” The question is, will the US “evolve” and correct its course like others, or will we allow the climate change hoax to steer us toward full-on socialism.


Marita Noon

Marita Noon is Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.
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