AC/DC as a Fetish

The pursuit of electricity as a climate relief strategy has become rather a fetish on the left, even in quarters where you’d expect more skepticism about any power source. Mainstream media are fully on board. There’s an all-out push in Washington and around the country for subsidizing battery-powered vehicles, even though 1) combustion engines are growing remarkably more fuel efficient and less polluting; 2) batteries have uncertain technology and risks, the kinds that progressive normally worry much about; and 3) their charging has to come from electricity that, for all we know, long will be substantially from burning fossils in many jurisdictions that lack hydro or dreaded nuclear power. (Hydrogen fuel cells are an iffy alternative.) Then there is the push, starting in Berkeley in 2019 and spreading nationwide, to curb “natural” gas hookups in residences. Los Angeles is the focus of this Real Deal story but you see the same in other big metros, including New York. Those of us old enough to remember “All Electric, Gold Medallion” homes from the 1960s, when we thought such power would be too cheap to meter (sorry, nuclear) can feel a dark deja vu. Fossil gas may be “clean” (and great for cooking) but it puts out CO2 for warming we don’t want. Heating oil and propane are similarly marked for extinction–heat pumps (electric, again) are in vogue. Thomas Edison & Co. never had it so good, but I wonder about the rest of us in the near term.

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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