Environmentalism

David Suzuki Hates Fracking—Natural Gas Outcompetes Solar and Wind Power

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David Suzuki hates methane

In his article, "What's the Fracking Problem with Natural Gas," Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki comes clean on why he and other environmentalists hate fracking and the abundant and cheap natural gas it produces. Suzuki begins by citing some of the (minor) harms associated with fracking, but admits that "they don't pose the greatest threat from fracking." So what is the biggest threat? Suzuki declares:

The biggest issue is that it's just one more way to continue our destructive addiction to fossil fuels….

More than anything, continued and increasing investment in natural gas extraction and infrastructure will slow investment in, and transition to, renewable energy.

The chief reason that abundant natural gas will slow the transition to renewable energy? Because burning it to generate electricity is so much cheaper than deploying current versions of solar and wind power. How much cheaper? The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) calculated recently the levelized costs of 8 different technologies for generating electricity. Levelized costs take into account all capital, fuel, and financing costs. Here's what EPRI reported for 2015: 

EPRI 2015

In 2015, solar will be 4 to 7 times and onshore wind as much as twice as expensive as coal and natural gas electricity generation. What about 2025?

EPRI 2025

EPRI projects that by 2025 the costs for wind generation will get to within spitting distance of coal and natural gas generation combined with carbon sequestration and nuclear power. Solar thermal remains just a tad more costly, and solar PV is twice to three times more expensive. Of course, disruptive technologies could come along and make renewables economically viable, but then the world would not need scolds like David Suzuki to argue for taxpayer subsidies to favored technologies and restrictions on emissions.

For more background go here for my article on the environmentalists' "Natural Gas Flip Flop."

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  1. Broken windows ftw!

  2. He looks like a Mongolian Colonel Sanders.

    1. + one bucket of yak tenders

    2. “House of the Wise and Venerable Colonel”

    3. Given the xenophobic tendencies of the Japanese, he’d quickly point out his Japanese heritage and how his parents were mistreated.

  3. zeb and coal are dead

    1. I think there is some sort of Mark Twain quote that goes here.

      1. “The report of my death was accurate.” – Zombie Mark Twain

  4. Why does David Suzuki value marginal energy technology more than the meager wealth of the poor and working class?

    1. I’d say he values the meager wealth of the poor and working class so much he’d like to continue that condition indefinitely.

      1. I’m afraid that when you get to the bottom of it you will find that most environmentalists feel the same way as an aquaintance of mine and that is that there is no way to “sustain a US standard of living” for the masses of poor in the world.

        It’s not that they are worried about the poor, it’s that they think the rest of us are too rich.

        Not that this seems to lead any of them to cut their own living standards.

    2. Why does David Suzuki value marginal energy technology more than the meager wealth of the poor and working class?

      Because the poor and working class don’t pay his salary.

  5. Yeah but the ice caps are going to melt by 2035!!!!

    Or was that 2350?

  6. Don’t pick on David Suzuki. The man is senile.

    1. Would that not be the best time to do so? When he can’t counter?

      /cruelty off

  7. On a conference call right now with an investment strategist, there was a funny comment re: China =

    “China’s enormous investmments into things like alternative energy and high-speed rail are a dangerous misallocation of limited resources: these things simply don’t make money, and this kind of sinking of a trillion dollars worth of capital into things which simply increase long term costs does nothing to enable or promote growth or productivity”

    All of these words make David Suzuki’s ears hurt

    1. China needs those solar panels to create electricity to power the high speed trains that transport nobody to their homes in ghost cities the government’s borrowed billions of dollars to build.

      The whole country’s economic growth is a ponzi scheme set to collapse.

      1. Methinks you overstate it a tad

      2. I remember a story back in the eighties there was a story about a rail line in China that went hundreds of miles to a single station. The purpose of the station was to provide a stop for the train to carry supplies to the military garrison there.

        The purpose of the military garrison at the station at the end of the railroad line was to protect the railroad line.

        1. IIRC, the train was pulled by a coal-burning steam locomotive.

          Also, IIRC, the story was in Reason’s brickbats and I read it in the dead tree version way back then.

        2. The purpose of the military garrison at the station at the end of the railroad line was to protect the railroad line

          This is reminiscent of the Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

          http://www.reignofphil.com/excerpt.html

          Although, when you start to really consider the 20th century chinese ‘national defense’ psyche, it is less absurd than it would seem at face value – the chinese history with war has been mass formations of soldiers, and to employ them effectively, you have to be able to move them around the hinterlands unimpeded. Having a ‘train to nowhere’ that terminated in a military base would in fact be defended on the concept that it maintains the capability for rapid deployment to a given region…

          It seems even less stupid when one contemplates the far more diverse array of military anachronisms the US maintains

    2. G: How do I get on that call? 🙂

      1. http://www.innealtacapital.com/commentary

        commentary is free to the general public, the conf. calls i think are only for advisors + investors

  8. I hate David Suzuki
    He is treated as a national hero.

    1. Case in Point
      http://www.cbc.ca/documentarie…..sofnature/

      1. How did you manage to assimilate the timestamp into your name?

        1. BORGalertBORGwaningBORGalarmCANADIANBORG

        2. clearly BORG

        3. I’m a wizard.

          1. Bullshit, show me an ampersand

    2. Well, I like Suzuki for Quirks and Quarks and the early days of The Nature of Things when he focused on, well, presenting nature like a naturalist, but he sure has gone off the rails the last 25 years.

    3. Considering that Kieffer Sutherland’s grandpa is The Greatest Canadian, I have to conclude that Canadians have awful poor taste in national heroes.

      The fact that David Suzuki is The Fifth-Greatest Canadian only serves to confirm that belief.

      1. Yes, he should be The Negative First-, or at least Zeroth-Greatest Canadian.

  9. Of course, disruptive technologies could come along and make renewables economically viable

    What could reduce the likelihood of this outcome more effectively than government policies locking in current technology?

    1. Wouldn’t it be equally likely that disruptive technologies would make renewables irrelevant?

      Fusion? Zero point energy? Hell, liquid thorium reactors?

    2. An alien invasion. But at least we’d have a MASSIVE boost to the economy.

  10. The biggest issue is that it’s just one more way to continue our destructive addiction to fossil fuels…

    I’m not amazed or surprised that an environmentalist like David Suzuki would use such bombastic language when talking about the usage of fossil fuels. What amazes me is that a person as smart as David Suzuki would use the word “addicted” when referring to the use of fossil fuels as if there was some normalcy to which everybody could return if we just stopped using fossil fuels. This is not only preposterous, it is dumb. Worse, it is disingenuous and dishonest. He should know better.

    1. That Suzuki uses such language is not a repudiation of his intelligence but an indication that he thonks his audience is stupid. It is propaganda, pure and simple.

  11. More than anything, continued and increasing investment in natural gas extraction and infrastructure will slow investment in, and transition to, renewable energy.

    Just like the continued and increased investent in automobiles slowed down and stopped the transition to diaper-wearing horses and cuter buggies.

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