By: sebastianjer , 11:56 AM GMT on April 18, 2012
The Answer Really Isn't Blowing in the Wind
By William Sullivan
Ninety billion is a rather large number. To get a gauge of just how large, consider that 90 billion minutes ago equates to roughly 171,090 years, the moment in history when scientists believe our ancestors began preening their bodies of lice.
Three hundred thousand kilometers per second is the speed of light. We all know that's pretty fast. Well, 90 billion kilometers per second is the speed of light-squared.
And the vast, seemingly infinite yonder of the entire universe, some scientists postulate, is 90 billion light-years across.
In the natural world, 90 billion goes a long way. But as we've discovered, a $90-billion investment to subsidize renewable energy sources in the natural world does surprisingly little. This amount, allocated in 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to subsidize green energy initiatives, has thus far yielded today's bustling "renewable-energy sector" that employs roughly 140,000 Americans. And even that dismal figure is wildly inflated. Consider that according to Hans Bader of the Examiner, "most of America's existing green jobs predate the Obama administration, which did not create them."
That is not to say that this investment our politicians made on your behalf did not have positive results -- it just didn't have positive results for you. In the first year of this green stimulus, an estimated 79% went to foreign nations; among the larger of these payments went to Babcock & Brown, an Australian company that went bankrupt just two months after the passage of the stimulus bill. Couple this fact with notorious domestic failures like Solyndra and Beacon Power Corp., and the obvious conclusion is that this administration's green energy initiative has been a spectacular failure to this point.
But in no other floundering green energy sub-sector is that failure so strikingly apparent as in wind energy. According to Andy Sullivan of Reuters, the wind industry has actually "shed 10,000 jobs since 2009 even as the energy capacity of wind farms has doubled." Andy then takes the liberty of giving us context for those results by reminding us that meanwhile, "the oil and gas industry has added 75,000 jobs since Obama took office." And one can only imagine how much larger that figure could be if the president had not cauterized job growth in that time frame with a senseless drilling moratorium to appease environmentalists.
To punish their success, the Obama administration is now seeking to hamstring the oil and gas industry further with a bevy of new taxes. The clearly impotent wind industry, on the other hand, may enjoy continued subsidization to the tune of $3.5 billion per year.
Of this prospect, Louis Woodhill of Forbes has a different suggestion for Congress. "First, we end the subsidies" to the wind industry, he says. He continues:
This will stop new turbines from being built, and, over time, cause all of the existing ones to shut down. Second, we allow the free market to replace the electricity obtained by wind energy with power produced by burning cheap natural gas. Third, we hire 17,500 unemployed veterans at $100,000/year each, and put them to work as snipers to kill the 400,000 birds (including 70 golden eagles) that are now hacked to death by wind turbines each year. Voila, the same results as wind power, and a savings of $1.75 billion/year for the taxpayers.
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
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