Think of this as Volume 15, Number 30 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Government can help by seeing the opportunities and making sure capital reaches the people seizing them.
This is the true story of America. It always has been.
- Government power directed capital to complete the Erie Canal, and support the construction of railroads.
- Government power limited the monopoly rents of utilities so large-scale manufacturing could happen.
- Government power created demand for goods so producers could get a price.
- Government power fought the Cold War with technology, leading to computer chips and the Internet you have today.
In all these cases government power got behind trends that already existed in the marketplace, and because it did American businesses were able to seize these opportunities ahead of competitors.
Which is why Al Gore does not speak for me.
But the way to change does not lie through dire warnings of what might happen, or even what will. Fighting the climate crisis through politics only encourages political opposition, even silly opposition. History is replete with examples of civilizations ignoring warnings and being destroyed. Climate change, and the inability to adjust, destroyed most of the great native American civilizations long before the white man arrived.
The way to change lies through hope. It lies through growth. It lies through entrepreneurship. We solve our problems when we see them as opportunity and approach them in that way. Always have. Always will.
All the great ideas Gore has offered for redirecting capital toward the renewable energy space have come to nothing because he has fought this as a moral or political issue. Instead of having a "carbon tax," what we need is true "price equalization" among energy sources, a level playing field in which there are no subsidies and every form of energy pays all its own external costs, may the best technology win.
That "best technology" is going to be harvesting energy, not caveman energy. Costs are declining, and have declined for years, throughout the renewable space, as breakthroughs get capital and are turned into products or services. Those costs will continue to decline. They will break through the ceiling of prices we now pay, first for oil, then for nuclear, then for coal and finally for gas. They will keep going down.
We can hasten that day through price equalization. We can call pollution what it is, waste, acknowledging the waste in the renewable space but demanding that it all be accounted for.
Gore's fight for the planet has failed, as a moral and political exercise. It will only succeed as an economic one, through the construction of an industry that can fight, and win, the political changes needed to hasten its development.