The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation claims that policies to curb climate change “would destroy jobs and impose trillions of dollars in costs”. These are odd claims to make for an organisation for stewardship of creation.

Policies to curb climate change are of only two kinds. Both kinds have as their object to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that people are emitting into the atmosphere through energy creation by burning. The first kind is to require more clean renewable energy instead of dirty fossil fuel burning. The second kind of policy is to require the saving of all kinds of energy by efficiency and curbs on unnecessary energy use.

I cannot understand that either kind of policies to curb emissions would “destroy jobs”. Creating clean energy does tend to create jobs, rather than destroy jobs. If we closed all the fossil fuel industries overnight then many jobs would be lost, but no one I know is seriously proposing closing all fossil fuel industry as a policy of curbing climate change. Climate change policies involve using less fossil fuel, not using no fossil fuel.

Introducing more clean renewable energy creates more jobs; Building wind turbines or introducing solar water heating does not cause people in the coal, oil and gas industry to become unemployed. This might cause fossil fuel industries to make less money over the long term but creating a renewables industry inevitably creates a need for people to do the renewable energy work.

The saving of energy by, for example, not wasting energy may cause some small additional loss of jobs in industries which benefit from people wasting energy, but such loss of jobs is more than offset by the work that needs to be done in installing the measures to ensure that we do not waste energy or use it needlessly.

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation’s claim concerning loss of employment is therefore easy to dispose of. The claim is simply false.

The claim by theAllianceconcerning cost increases is one that is often made but no one has ever explained it in terms which I can understand.

In the case of thisAlliancetheir claim is in particular that

“the potential damage from (EPA) regulation of carbon dioxide emissions is enormous. Energy prices would skyrocket, driving up costs for food, shelter, transportation, and everything else consumers need. Businesses would face dramatic permitting costs, and employment would plummet”.

It is a wild claim. The claim seems to be founded on an idea that the cost of bringing renewable energy is greater than the cost of providing fossil fuel energy. This concept is false. Once the upfront costs of installing clean renewable energy is paid the fuel costs of clean renewable energy are virtually zero. If you rent your heat or power from an energy utility company you avoid the upfront costs of installing a clean renewable energy system, but you are paying every month for the energy that you consume. Once you pay the upfront costs there is no monthly charge for the energy that your renewable energy system provides. In many cases if you do the calculations you will save money with your renewable energy system, even without government incentives.

This relationship between capital costs and ongoing costs makes theAlliance’s claim spurious. Only the capital side of the cost is increased, the ongoing costs are reduced. Energy prices would fall, not skyrocket, by emission regulation. However for emission regulation to be effective large scale capital investment would be needed. The large scale investment that nations undertook to build electricity and gas grids and provide water and sewage systems did not destroy their economies. The large scale investment that nations are undertaking to curb emissions will provide benefits to those nations as important as energy grids and water systems; they will provide an important measure of energy independence and improve public health by reducing pollution.

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation by its title seems to want us all to exercise good stewardship (an old fashioned word for management) on creation, the creation of this good earth.  We use this creation for our life spans and after we die creation is used by those who follow us on this earth, this good earth. It is our duty to hand over our inheritance to our heirs having kept good stewardship. Whether we have kept good stewardship is judged on the state of the planet when we leave it, not on the wealth we generate at the expense of stewardship because curbing pollution and waste is the essence of good stewardship.

One Response

  1. The means by which jobs are lost, as happened in Spain (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFaqmHOeNmg&feature=share), is that the rising costs of production from increased energy and material costs, cause employers to lay off “non-essential” people that could otherwise be employed.
    The costs of electricity under wind (which causes more pollution because of its inefficiency and requirement for constant back-up power) is many times what it is for coal and oil-powered EGUs. It is hundreds what it would be if we used nuclear, which despite two major accidents and one minor accident is still safer than all the others (thousands die per year in coal and oil powered plant accidents. “Renewables” are no safer, and are more expensive). Solar powered units, either at home or as “fields”, provide only temporary jobs, use expensive, rare and environmentally unfriendly components (not counting the battery rigs used to harness and release their power). The average person using a solar set-up at home needs more than twenty years to make up the savings from lower electric bills, and that doesn’t count the maintenance, the generators they have to run at night, when its cloudy out, or the fact that the solar panels only have a working life of about fifteen years.
    It simply IS the case that coal and oil-powered electricity are cheaper now, even as a long term investment, and have allowed Americans to innovate new and cheaper forms of energy production. Artificial taxes on fossil fuels only raise the price in places where the people cannot, or struggle to afford fuel. They cannot run their tractors, or jeeps, and so the efficiency of labor and food production decrease, increasing the price of food and starving people. I may not like $8/ gallon gas, but I can still eat if I have to pay for both. In Southeast Asia people starve if gas is $8/gallon.

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