Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's All Good

In the car on my way home this evening, I was listening to a radio journalist interviewing a transportation activist about Washington Governor Jay Inslee's plan to mandate lower-carbon fuels for the state, in an effort to lower it's carbon footprint. (Washington, receiving a good portion of its electricity from hydropower, is as something of a disadvantage, given less low-hanging fruit to pick.)

The interviewer asked a simple question: basically, what are the pros and the cons of using lower-carbon fuels for transportation. The activist gladly rattled off the upsides he saw, but started his short statement of the downsides with "the oil industry says," before basically simply listing some scare tactics.

I was unimpressed. One thing that I know is there are the few unmitigated benefits simply lying around free for the asking. On some level or another, a wholesale switch of an entire, fairly populous state to lower-carbon fuels likely won't be painless. Petroleum and coal aren't popular sources of energy simply because of the perfidy of fossil-fuel suppliers. They're popular because they're really energy-dense and fairly safe to transport. That makes them worthwhile despite the fairly obvious downsides to using them as much as we do. If something manifestly better were simply available to anyone who wanted it - people would be using it already.

My personal experience is that anyone who won't be upfront with you about the costs and benefits of the approach that they're promoting doesn't trust that you will make the choice that they want you to make. And that leads me to be distrustful in turn, especially when I realize that they're not being forthcoming. Perhaps a little confidence, especially in the solutions that one is promoting, would go a long way. And if that confidence is unwarranted, perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board.

No comments: