- - Friday, March 4, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION

The world was supposed to end last month. At least according to Al Gore, anyway.
 
 In “An Inconvenient Truth,” the 2006 global warming hysteria documentary featuring the former vice president famously warned that without taking major steps to cut greenhouse gases within the next decade, the world will “reach a point of no return.”
 
That deadline has come and gone. We’re still here. And Mr. Gore has been forced to scale back on making dire warnings of a “true planetary emergency.” Inconveniently for Mr. Gore, the last 10 years offer a firm rebuke to his entire alarmist worldview.
 
Mr. Gore has made grand promises about the power of renewables to meet America’s energy needs. For instance, at a recent posh “ideas summit” sponsored by the Atlantic magazine, he told the crowd that solar energy electricity offers “the most exciting source of hope.”
 
And yet, despite taking in billions in federal support, renewables still represent just a tiny fraction of American energy production. Combined, solar, wind and hydroelectric energy generate just 10 percent of our power. Without lavish subsidies, most of these green energy businesses would collapse.
 
Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry continues to meet the lion’s share of this country’s energy needs. Revolutionary new drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” has steadily improved our energy output. America has even become the top energy producer in the world.
 
And that growth has generated serious economic returns. The oil and natural gas industry supports almost 10 million jobs and comprises 8 percent of our country’s GDP.
 
Another central part of Mr. Gore’s pitch is that migrating away from fossil fuels will improve American energy security. Earlier this month during an interview with NBC Nightly News, he claimed that renewables are an “investment worth making because we cannot continue to be so dependent on expensive foreign oil.”
 
America’s energy security has been improving – no thanks to renewables. The rapid expansion of the domestic supply of fossil fuels has enabled this country to dramatically cut back on energy imports from rogue nations in the Middle East. Net imports today account for only 27 percent of all locally consumed petroleum – the lowest level since Ronald Reagan was president.
 
The real irony of Mr. Gore’s anti-fossil fuel agenda is that the recent growth of this industry has generated tremendous environmental benefits, largely thanks to the invention of fracking. This innovative drilling technique empowers developers to tap into previously inaccessible underground energy deposits. Fracking has dramatically increased the production of domestic natural gas, which is cheaper to use and far more environmentally friendly than coal.
 
That’s caused many companies to shift away from coal and towards natural gas. As a result, the United States’ carbon emissions have dropped to their lowest level in over 20 years. In fact, despite not signing the Kyoto Protocol, America has actually met the treaty’s emissions reduction targets on schedule.
 
As a rich man in a wealthy nation, the hypocritical former vice president can afford to disdain fossil fuels while benefiting from them. When “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Academy Award, documents I obtained through Tennessee’s Open Records Act revealed that Mr. Gore’s mansion used 20 times as much electricity as the average American home. But those living in third-world countries aren’t so fortunate. They need access to affordable energy to survive.
 
Developing countries, for example, depend on fossil fuels to support their economies. By 2040, these countries will produce far more carbon emissions than their developed counterparts. Only when they have economic stability can such countries have the luxury to consider cutting emissions.
 
Mr. Gore’s crusade is wrongheaded. The recent rapid expansion of the fossil fuel industry has created jobs, boosted economic growth, and reduced our dependence on foreign oil, all while reducing harmful emissions. It turns out fossils fuels are not the enemy – doomsday prophets and hypocritical alarmists are.


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