Has global warming alarmism become a religious issue? Judging by a recent op-ed in the Wichita Eagle, it seems so. (Moti Rieber and Connie Pace-Adair: Make clean-energy generation a priority, February 22, 2009 Wichita Eagle. Link is to article at the Eagle, or see Eagle op-ed: Clean energy is a faith issue at Rieber’s blog.)
As always, we must recognize that the science behind global warming alarmism is not a settled issue. What else is there in this op-ed to be concerned about?
Mr. Rieber speaks of “free and abundant wind.” Readers of his op-ed may be excused for believing that wind power generation is free of cost, as that’s the message that comes through. But wind power, we are finding out, is quite expensive. My post A Reasoned Look at Wind Power reports on a study from the Texas Public Policy Foundation that examines the entire picture of wind power in Texas.
Or, as a piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal stated: “Renewables simply cannot produce the large volumes of useful, reliable energy that our economy needs at attractive prices, which is exactly why government subsidizes them.”
These expensive alternative energy programs make electricity more expensive, as evidenced by Westar’s recent rate increase request. It makes it more difficult for poor people — a group Rieber seems to care for — to pay their utility bills. This was the case last September when Westar asked for a rate increase that would amount to about $10 a month for the average homeowner. In Wichita Eagle reporting, Rep. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, was quoted as saying “When I’m (campaigning) door-to-door, people say they need help with the utilities.”
This directly contradicts Rieber when he writes “A clean-energy future … alleviates the burdens that our energy policies place on the poor and vulnerable among us.” Unless, of course, someone else pays for this expensive energy.
Rieber also advocates programs that give “Kansans access to programs such as programmable thermostats and weatherization rebates.” This gives us another clue as to Rieber’s political goals: expansive government programs that subsidize one group at the expense of another. These subsidies might be one-time, as in the case of helping someone buy a thermostat, or ongoing, helping them to pay for expensive power.
In a few follow-up email conversations with Mr. Rieber, some of which are available for reading on his blog, it became clear to me that he is quite comfortable with using the coercive power and force of government to achieve his personal political goals.
Both authors of this op-ed are members of the steering committee of Kansas Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that works with faith communities. Its steering committee is largely composed of religious leaders. It’s always puzzling to me how leaders like these are willing to use the force of government — and that’s what government is — to achieve their political goals. Always from the moral high horse, of course.