Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Warming Thoughts #8---Moral Hazard, the Precautionary Principle and Defunding Fossil Fuels


By: James F. Lavin, CEO Electron Storage, Inc.


If fossil fuel use, as advocated by many, ceased tomorrow, anthropomorphic global warming would indeed be dramatically slowed.   But most climate activists and most politicians haven’t considered the potential costs of such an abrupt transition; if tomorrow fossil fuels vanished, most of the humanity would be dead within a month.   There would be no food, no water, no sewage, no fertilizer, no communication.  I have read endless articles on the moral hazards of geoengineering research, and the moral hazards of CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) due to the potential that they might delay the end of fossil fuel use, but I have not seen any articles on the real potential hazards of government policies, mandates, bank regulator dictums, lawsuits, societal opprobrium, and shareholder resolutions aimed at ending the use of fossil fuels.


The precautionary principle so often used with regard to drugs and chemicals is to be very careful and ban the use of unproven technologies that may cause harm until proven otherwise, yet even optimists admit that 40% of the technologies we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 have yet to be developed.  The clean energy supply and energy distribution system to replace fossil fuels doesn’t yet exist.  If the incredibly rapid, difficult and technologically difficult doesn’t happen a schedule dictated by political sound bites, and we have crippled our fossil fuel distribution networks and power generation networks, the risk is to billions of lives. 


Why doesn’t the precautionary principle, so aggressively applied to minor plant genetic modifications, or, say, vaccines, apply to the grand experiment mandating the end of fossil fuel use?   There is too much comfort that fossil fuels and fossil fuel infrastructure will be there as a backstop despite every attempt to defund and cripple them.


Why aren’t we discussing the moral and real hazards involved in cutting off investment in new oil and gas fields, which are required to maintain earth’s population until we have proven on a wide-scale we can achieve transition?  Oil and gas supply, power plants, and the pipelines to distribute them take decades to develop; if a transition away from fossil fuels is ineffectively managed, they can’t simply be turned on at a moment’s notice to replace lost energy.  Suppose we can’t develop and deploy myriad technologies at the massive scale needed to effectuate the energy transition-- and we don’t have the fossil fuels and fossil fuel infrastructure still in place because we have starved them of investment? 


Because I still live here, let’s discuss New York.  New York is behind only Rhode Island in energy efficiency; it uses much less fuel for transportation than other states due to the extensive mass transit use in New York City.  It had one of the least carbon-intensive power grids due to hydropower largely from Niagara Falls, and until the shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear plant, 1/3rd of its grid power was nuclear.  NYSERDA has been taxing ratepayers to supposedly aggressively funding energy efficiency and transition projects for 45 years.


Despite these advantages, New York, to achieve net zero (ignoring the fact that New York imports many carbon-intensive products and foodstuffs) has to TRIPLE the capacity of the electrical transmission and distribution grid and find massive new clean power sources capable of meeting winter peak demand. There’s not a lot of sun in upstate New York in the winter, and electricity needs will grow dramatically as home heating is forced to switch from fossil fuels to electric heat pumps.  


But there has been no building of new large scale electrical transmission and distribution lines.  There is opposition to on-land wind farms, and the US government just cancelled two of the proposed offshore wind projects.  Despite this the government has blithely banned fracking and prohibited new pipeline development.  No progress, no feasible plan, and more proclamations competing for how soon New York must stop emitting CO2.


However, lets image that the sky is filled with linemen running new electric lines, no lawsuits delay massive new high voltage transmission lines, everyone wants modular nukes (assuming they are developed) in their backyards, multiple communities don’t object to massive wind projects everywhere, and somehow gas supply remains robust.   Even in this fantasia, what happens as gas main volume drops until they are uneconomic to maintain for those communities and individuals who couldn’t transition to electric heat and electric cars, and electric apparatuses for drying crops? 


Government officials and regulators proclaim and mandate the end of fossil fuels and enforce these proclamations with actions from banning pipelines to stopping new gas connections to forcing fossil fuel power plant retirements and dictating disinvestment in fossil fuels—but where is the responsibility for their citizens safety?  Is there any other area where they operate with such a true disregard for human life while being praised for it?  This is all with regard to New York.  The potential problems imposed upon the less developed world by banning oil and gas are much greater.  Where is the discussion of “climate justice” for killing fossil fuels without adequate, inexpensive replacements?


I believe CO2 buildup threatens life as we know it, endangering endless species and altering the planet.  I have dedicated the past 8 years of my life to CDR technologies and discussions.   If we are late in stopping global warming, we create a series of difficulties, most of which we can adapt to or mitigate as we continue to develop solutions.  If we prematurely cripple fossil fuel infrastructure, we will kill billions.  This real, and moral, hazard needs to be front and center in any honest discussion of stopping global warming.



  1. Great article. Sounds as if there are too many cooks in the kitchen trying to 'save the world from the 'corrupt use' of fossil fuels '. Trouble is, none of them know how to cook.

  2. Jim, thank you for this. And thank you for your dedication. Have you considered posting this sobering account of what will occur when the current, oil-intensive supportive infrastructure comes to a grinding halt in the LinkedIn matrix?

  3. Great article, I love your writing technique, it’s outstanding. I will surely revisit. Deep Good Morning Message for Her

  4. Thanks for sharing. I found a lot of interesting information here. A really good post, very thankful and hopeful that you will write many more posts like this one. You may want to see short memorial quotes

  5. Great post, Thank you for sharing this amazing post, I really appreciate your work You may want to check out happy birthday in heaven, dad 

  6. This blog will show you the fastest, most reliable way to get help with QuickBooks. You will find numerous live chat options that are either 24/7 or available during business hours. When you need support, call QuickBooks Customer Service at +1 855-742-7868 or visit their website.

  7. Quickbooks Customer Service representatives can help you solve any problem that you're having with the software. You can call the number +1 888-272-4881 at any time to speak with a representative. So, if you are having issues with your QuickBooks software, visit Quickbooks Customer Service

  8. Sand Blasting Machine
    Are you looking for shot Blasting machine for your industry,
    We are the leading manfacturer and provider of Shot Blasting Machine , Sand Blasting Machine, Abrasive materials equipments related to Airo shot blasting industry like SPray gun , Thermal SPray gun etc

    Visit our website for more information


  9. This blog is so nice to me. I will keep on coming here again and again. Visit my link as well.. 백링크

  10. To an extraordinary degree beautiful and enthralling post. I was chasing down this sort of data and recognized inspecting this one. Continue posting. Grateful for sharing.

  11. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before. You might also like walmart carpet cleaner rental near switzerland 

  12. You are looking for something quick and convenient when you want to transfer a critical patient from one place to another. Something that would make sure that the situation is being taken care of, without any delay. This is where Delhi air ambulance service cost
    come into the picture, and they seem to be the only option available when it comes to moving patients from one place to another

  13. Online gambling clubs, otherwise called virtual club or web gambling club are an internet based rendition of customary gambling clubs출장안마추천

  14. This article is too informative. This is all with regard to New York. The potential problems imposed upon the less developed world by banning oil and gas are much greater. Now it's time to avail HALFCASTE CREAM SET for more information.

  15. The principal region is in choosing the lawyer and the subsequent region is botches made in the wake of choosing the lawyer.
    Brain Injury Attorneys

  16. I have read your article, it is very informative and helpful for me.I really appreciate the valuable information that you provide in your articles. Thanks for posting it. Now it's time to avail taxi milwaukee for more information.

  17. In business matters, lawyers usually charge a discussion expense for the principal office meeting. https://frouharlaw.com/