The Power of Power Density


In an August 7 article, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claimed that “technological progress in renewable energy has made it possible to envisage major reductions in emissions at little or no cost in terms of economic growth and living standards.”

He continued, writing that last year’s Inflation Reduction Act “consisted almost entirely of carrots — tax credits and subsidies for green energy. Yet thanks to the revolution in renewable technology, energy experts believe that this all-gain-no-pain approach will have major effects in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

That last line included a link to an analysis done by academics at Princeton University. They claim that massive deployments of wind and solar energy — deployments that would require covering state-sized tracts of land with wind turbines and solar panels and doubling or tripling the size of our high-voltage transmission system — could result in significant cuts in emissions. Krugman went on to claim that “the climate war is now part of the culture war” and that “right-wingers” are “rejecting the science in part because they dislike science in general.” All of this, he avers, is part of a years-long conspiracy to prevent action on climate that’s being led by “fossil-fueled think tanks.”  

Before going further, it must be noted that in his piece, “Climate Is Now A Culture War Issue,” Krugman failed to mention the disgraceful role that two richly funded climate NGOs played in increasing New York’s reliance on fossil fuels. Not a word about former New York governor Andrew Cuomo and how he and his co-conspirators at Riverkeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council forced the premature closure of the nuclear reactors at the Indian Point Energy Center in 2021, a move that resulted in increased generation from natural gas-fired power plants and a huge jump in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. (It must also be noted that presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was a key player in Riverkeeper’s push to shutter Indian Point.) Nor did Krugman mention that Riverkeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council callously cheered the closure of the plant in the pages of the New York Times.

But I digress.

None of the claims in Krugman’s August 7 column are new. For years, academics from elite universities, climate activists, leaders of the anti-industry industry, and legacy media outlets (and the New York Times in particular) have been peddling shopworn claims about “all-gain-no-pain” renewables.

You’ve no doubt heard them: renewables are cheap and getting cheaper, wind and solar energy are the future, and the main reason that conservatives and knuckle-dragging rural landowners are opposing massive renewable projects all across America is that they don’t understand “science.”

That’s the spin. Here’s the reality: the conspiracy against wind and solar is one of basic math and simple physics. It’s not conservatives who are wrong on “science,” it’s liberals like Krugman and his myriad allies in the climate claque who refuse to recognize (or even discuss) the physical limits on our energy and power networks.

Read the rest of this piece at Robert Bryce Substack.

Robert Bryce is a Texas-based author, journalist, film producer, and podcaster. His articles have appeared in a myriad of publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Time, Austin Chronicle, and Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo: Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York, in 2018. Credit: Tyson Culver.