I keep reading people on the Right alleging that people on the Left want to ban fossil fuels NOW. I wonder who they are talking about?
Most people who think climate change is a crisis caused by the burning of fossil fuels, seem to want to phase fossil fuels out, so as to stop the potential destruction of large scale society.
If we banned fossil fuels immediately, we would destroy large scale society equally as well as we would by burning them. So extremely few people in the world want to stop completely now. I’ve not met any, or heard any, anyway.
The main political questions humans face are more like:
- Do we need more oil, gas or coal fields?
- (Probably not, as it seems we have more than enough to destroy us already. So the idea of more new fossil fuels has a lot going for it.)
- Do we need to keep up taxpayer subsidies of fossil fuel companies?
- (Probably not. It just encourages them, and postpones the phase out. They are powerful and rich companies and do not need subsidies or bigger tax breaks)
- How quickly should we phase out fossil fuels, before the emissions make destruction become irrevocable?
- (We don’t know exactly, but the best estimates are a lot faster than we are doing now)
- What should we do with Underdeveloped countries who want to reach western standards of military power, and prosperity?
- (This is very complicated, but trying to help them generate plentiful low emissions energy, rather than trying to sell them more fossil fuels, could be a good start)
- Do we have to lower standards of living in the West to lower emissions and avoid destruction?
- (Quite possibly. But maybe not as much as people think – living in the 60s was not that horrible and produced a lot fewer GHG emissions, even other forms of pollution were high. We may need to redistribute some wealth to do this, and that will be bitterly resisted)
So something like these are the real questions.
Saying that people want to ban fossil fuels now, is just a way of escaping these more difficult questions, by proposing something that sounds horrible so people will react by running away, and not thinking.
The proposition acts to obscure reality and prevent action.