America is at the threshold of a bright energy future. Why is it then that bold, intelligent steps aren't taken to cross that threshold?
Our economic success in this new year depends on energy. So, what will be the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline? How will fracking of deep natural gas wells be developed? Is an increase in nuclear power a serious consideration? Will coal still be king for the production of electricity?
The answers to these questions rest with the President and the new Congress. But, the push to control carbon emissions through government intervention because of carbon dioxide's purported effect on climate change will continue to slam the brakes on efficient energy development.
Supposedly there is a consensus among scientists that disaster is sure to follow if we continue in our errant, carbonaceous ways. But, is there also a consensus among scientists that greater government control over our lives is the correct solution? There seems to be.
To treat one interpretation of scientific evidence as incontestable merely because it is the consensus interpretation is to abandon skeptical inquiry in favor of dogma. To link that dogma to a specific public policy prescription is the height of arrogance. If this trend continues, then the people will be disenfranchised--the power to govern will rest solely in the hands of elite specialists.
One prediction that can be made with a high degree of confidence is that the imposition of carbon rules as is currently underway courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be a major setback for individual liberty. The more restrictions there are on what private companies and individuals can do, the fewer choices will be available.
When government intrusion leaves individuals with less choices, it increases the average person's level of servitude. When government rules and regulations determine what food we eat, how we stay warm, what kind of vehicle we drive, and even what type of light bulbs we can use, then we have achieved what could be fairly characterized as a cap-and-trade on freedom.
The health of our planet and its inhabitants requires a sound, science-based energy program. Such a program would focus on developing more clean and safe energy--not less. Such a program would be unbiased; it would look at ways to make the use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy cleaner and safer as well as develop so-called "renewable" energy sources.
For a better future in 2013 and beyond for the earth and especially its inhabitants, any carbon reduction system, especially one based on a cap-and-trade scheme like that already in place in California, must be capped-and-exchanged for a more sound, science-based energy program. And if a reasonable, compassionate, free people have their say, it will be.
Veteran air-pollution meteorologist Anthony J. Sadar is author of In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic's Guide to Climate Science (Telescope Books, 2012).