Prosperity got you down? Tax your guilt away.

by Michael Smith.

In an August 4 column in the Los Angeles Times, Bill McKibben of 350.org threw down the green gauntlet. From now on, it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy for the folks who want to tax fossil fuels into oblivion. Taking their cue from the civil rights movement, they’re going to hit the streets and demand that society abandon the cheap and abundant energy that powers the modern world—ready or not.

That’s the problem. We’re not ready. Only a tiny sliver of the world’s energy comes from renewable sources—and for very good reason. Electric cars are the wave of the future, and have been for 100 years. Ethanol is a bad joke; filling gas tanks with a material that could be feeding people in the third world is perverse. Solar power? You could cover entire states with solar panels and still come up short, especially on cloudy days. You can’t save electricity in a jar and use it later.

In other words, the shift to alternative energy is a scientific and technical problem, not a political one. Throwing a tantrum won’t help; neither will punitive taxes on carbon. That’s the point of my response to Mr. McKibben’s column on the L.A. Times website. Moral outrage and “people power” won’t keep the lights on; we need brainpower.

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