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The Climate Deniers Case for Clean Energy

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. Climate change is not coming; it is already here. 2023 is thus far the hottest year on record, with 2024 becoming a serious contender for the crown. As such, if we as a species do not drastically change course soon, the effects of climate change will likely become irreversible by the end of the decade. Despite the majority of climate scientists and much of the global population aware of its threat, there are still disbelievers who deny the existence of this climate catastrophe. There are even policymakers who are climate deniers. If they are unwilling to acknowledge the evidence before them, another argument must be made to get them on board.

Climate advocates struggle to market their concepts to climate deniers. If one truly does not believe that climate change even exists (let alone is a major issue), then no amount of apocalyptic rhetoric is going to bring them over to the other side. However, climate activists often fail to acknowledge the benefits of shifting to clean energy, and many such rewards would appeal to the aforementioned climate deniers, such as boosting America’s global standing.

Imagine a world where the nations of the global stage are not dependent on Gulf State dictatorships or Russian oligarchs. Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, exported 16.2% of the world’s crude petroleum in 2022, totaling about $236 billion. The Russian Federation holds second place in this ranking with 9.14%, and both Iraq and the United Arab Emirates hover around 7.62% and 7.24%, respectively. This already equates to about 40.2% of the world’s crude petroleum coming from undemocratic regimes, and it does not even account for other non-democracies, such as Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Iran and Venezuela. Removing these countries’ influence over the energy sector would be a boon to democracy everywhere. Additionally, a domestically located renewable energy source would increase national sovereignty for many nations, making them far more self-reliant and less prone to outside economic influence. Additionally, the average American would benefit from a green overhaul of our energy sector.

A Gallup poll from 2022 stated that 67% of Americans claim the price of gasoline is causing them hardship. Greater prices and tighter purse strings will do that. But if the price of gasoline were to start dropping, then the average American would be in far better financial straits. This is what a green transition would accomplish before it is complete. Less need for fossil fuels would mean less need for and more supply of oil and gas. Thus, as basic economics tells us, when demand drops and supply increases, a company must sell its products at lower prices to turn a profit. The same logic can be applied to all fossil fuels. As we become less reliant on these energy sources, they begin to stockpile, forcing companies to lower the price and make the fuels cheaper so they aren’t completely phased out. 

The real economic issue regarding the climate crisis is how these transitions would affect employment, which is something that, in reality, is of little concern. A 2016 study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst estimates that “each $1 million shifted from [fossil fuels] to green energy (e.g. solar, wind, hydro and arguably nuclear power) will create a net increase of [five] jobs,” essentially disproving the idea that the transition to clean energy would harm the economy by taking away jobs. In actuality, employment increases! The issue then becomes what to do with these now-unemployed fossil fuel workers. 

The political solution to climate change is often touted as the “Green New Deal,” a play on Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s original “New Deal.” The original New Deal included publicly funded projects that “created over 20 million work relief jobs from 1933 to 1942.” As such, any Green New Deal must do the same, with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy saying that a “just transition means ensuring that displaced workers are protected with income support and a federal jobs guarantee—providing the necessary education, experience, and job training to perform low-carbon work with high wages in their communities.”

Ignoring the climate benefits, a green transition also means more jobs, lower fossil fuel prices, economic and energy diversity and far less reliance on anti-democratic regimes. The only difficulty now is convincing those with vested interests in fossil fuels to make the transition, which is far easier said than done.

Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the individual author. 

1 Comment

I really like the presentation of this argument, driven by positives rather than fear. With any upheaval, there are winners and losers. Convincing the "winners" on the current climate trajectory we're on that they can still be winners on a greener planet is a strong appeal to their personal interests.

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