Appreciating the Master Resource (Part II: Energy Foes Agree!)
Robert Bradley Jr.
[Editor note: Part I in this two-part series examined quotations on the primacy of energy for human betterment from friends of conventional energy and from neutral analysts.]
“When energy is scarce or expensive, people can suffer material deprivation and economic hardship.”
- John Holdren, 1991 (full citation below)
“A reliable and affordable supply of energy is absolutely critical to maintaining and expanding economic prosperity where such prosperity already exists and to creating it where it does not.”
- John Holdren, 2000 (full citation below)
Free-market energy proponents gain the high ground when they stress the utilitarian nature of affordable, plentiful, reliable energy. Energy statists must play defense when their opponents stress the need to keep energy affordable for the less financially able and those billion-plus world citizens who do not have access to modern forms of energy.
Increased energy affordability is not bad but good. Yet cheap energy is the enemy to the other side (although the Obama greens will not publicly admit it). Julian Simon noticed as much when he wrote during the BTU tax debate in 1993, titled The Cheaper the Energy the Better:
Some people simply believe that it is ipso facto a good thing to use less energy and have less economic growth. As Paul Ehrlich put it, “Giving society cheap abundant energy is . . . like giving an idiot child a machine gun.” Other backers of the [BTU tax] bill seek not only to preserve the supply of energy but also to return to a “simpler life” (for others, of course, not for themselves) because it will make us better human beings. As Amory Lovins puts it, “If nuclear power were clean, safe, economic, assured of ample fuel . . . it would still be unattractive.”
This presents a quandary for the energy interventionists (aka forced energy transformationists) given that prominent voices in moments of candor have expounded on the importance of affordable, plentiful, reliable energy for humankind.
The following sampling of quotations documents this point. We start with John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, and continue with Paul Ehrlich, Amory Lovins, and some prominent left-of-center environmental and energy/environmental groups.