The world was supposed to end in January.
Well, at least according to Al Gore. In “An Inconvenient Truth,” the 2006 global warming documentary featuring the former Vice President, Gore famously warned that without taking major steps to cut greenhouse gases within the next decade, the world will “reach a point of no return.”
That deadline has come and gone. We’re still here. And Gore has been forced to scale back on making dire warnings of a “true planetary emergency.” Indeed, the last decade rebukes Gore’s entire alarmist worldview.
Gore has made grand promises about the power of renewables to meet America’s energy needs. At a recent “ideas summit” sponsored by the Atlantic magazine, he stated that solar energy electricity offers “the most exciting source of hope.”
And yet, despite taking in billions in federal supports, renewables are a tiny fraction of American energy production. Combined, solar, wind, and hydroelectric generate just 10 percent of our power. Without lush subsidies, most of these businesses would collapse.
Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry continues to meet most of our energy needs. Revolutionary new drilling techniques like fracking have improved our energy output. America is now on pace to be the top energy producer in the world by the end of 2016.
That growth has generated serious economic returns. The oil and natural gas industry supports 10 million jobs and comprises 8 percent of our country’s GDP.
Gore also alleges that migrating away from fossil fuels will improve American energy security. During a recent interview, he claimed that renewables are an “investment worth making because we cannot continue to be so dependent on expensive foreign oil.”
America’s energy security has been improving — but no thanks to renewables. The rapid expansion of the domestic supply of fossil fuels has enabled this country to slash its energy imports from rogue nations. Net imports today account for only 27 percent of all locally consumed petroleum — the lowest level since Ronald Reagan was president.
The real irony of Gore’s anti-fossil fuel agenda is that the recent growth of this industry has helped the environment.
That’s thanks to the invention of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” This innovative drilling technique empowers developers to tap into previously inaccessible underground energy deposits. Fracking has dramatically increased the production of domestic natural gas, which is cheaper to use and more environmentally friendly than coal.
That’s caused many companies to shift away from coal and towards natural gas. As a result, the country’s carbon emissions have dropped to their lowest level in over 20 years. In fact, despite not signing the Kyoto Protocol, America has actually met the treaty’s emissions reduction targets on schedule.
As a rich man in a wealthy nation, Gore can afford to disdain fossil fuels while benefiting from them. When “An Inconvenient Truth” premiered, Gore’s mansion used 20 times as much electricity as the average American home. But those living in third-world countries aren’t so fortunate. They need access to affordable energy to survive.
Developing countries, for example, depend on fossil fuels to support their economies. By 2040, these countries will produce more carbon emissions than their developed counterparts. Only when they have economic stability can such countries consider cutting emissions.
Gore’s crusade is wrongheaded. The expansion of the fossil fuel industry has created jobs, boosted economic growth, and reduced our dependence on foreign oil — all while reducing harmful emissions. Fossils fuels are not the enemy.
Drew Johnson is a Senior Fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to limited, responsible government.