The Premeditated Murder of the Greatest Story Never Told

The Left and the environmental movement are conspiring to destroy a multi-trillion-dollar global free market that was created by American innovation and disruptive technology.

This market is the global value chain of natural gas, with U.S. fields like the Appalachian basin fueling competitive economies everywhere. Millions of people across wide demographics will suffer life-altering consequences if the market-homicide machinations of the anti-carbon crowd are realized, with the biggest losers being the American middle class and the developing world poor.

Natural Gas 101

The U.S. went from being a net annual importer of natural gas a few years ago (as recent as 2016) to the largest global producer of natural gas and a net annual exporter today. What catalyzed this stunning rapid transformation? Innovative and disruptive technology in the form of horizontal drilling and advanced completions techniques. American ingenuity allowed methane, aka natural gas, to be liberated from shale rock deposits at prolific rates and low cost.

Unleashing abundant supplies of carbon-based energy at low cost has massive follow-on effects, from the micro to the macro. Cumulatively, the benefits across this virtuous value chain total in the trillions of dollars.

You see these benefits locally, often in rural locales.

In American gas basins, from the Appalachian to the Permian, landowners have enjoyed a windfall from gas rights leasing proceeds that they’ve reinvested into family farms, homes, kids’ education, and local businesses. Communities ravaged by global “free” (unfair) trade now see high employment in jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. The services industry in these areas, from hotels to car dealerships, enjoy steady consumer demand never before contemplated. Where no hope existed not long ago for these communities, attention has now turned to a future with promise.

You see the benefits regionally across our great land.

Pennsylvania retooled its power grid to feed off domestic natural gas and the state’s carbon dioxide intensity declined nearly 40 percent in just 12 years while its manufacturing sector is revived and businesses and homes enjoy lower energy bills. The southeast U.S. sees natural gas as an opportunity to expand its economic growth even further, and the region helps spur construction of new pipelines to transport the molecules from where they are produced to the Carolinas. Old-line manufacturing in automobiles, petrochemicals, and industrial products are resurrected across the Rust Belt by the jolt of cheap and reliable energy.

Benefits are evident across North America beyond our borders.

Ontario’s heavy industry is now fed by new pipeline infrastructure conveying Appalachian carbon-based molecules, making it more competitive and willing to invest additional capital. Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. natural gas, helping to raise the living standards for millions of its working poor. The U.S. shale industry and free market have done more for North American prosperity than the NAFTA and USMCA, combined.

America’s carbon manufacturing industry is redrawing the geopolitical map beyond North America.

Massive liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals are popping up all along the east and gulf coasts, to liquify natural gas transported from inland basins via those new pipelines. The liquified product is then loaded onto new ocean-voyaging transport ships to places like Poland, South Korea, Spain, Japan, and India. There, the natural gas is re-gasified and utilized for home heating, electricity generation, and manufacturing. Our carbon-based molecules are being utilized globally to help spur improved quality of life for billions of people.

Natural gas’ redrawing the geopolitical map broke OPEC’s back. Domestic carbon manufacturing allows the U.S. to withdraw from endless conflicts in faraway lands since we now deliver our own energy security. U.S. natural gas is the biggest strategic lever against the growing threat of the ominous Chinese communist state and its global ambitions, as well as Russia and Putin.

There are two underlying reasons why this miracle occurred in a very short time.

First, the free market was able to function without major government intervention. The industry innovated quickly and economies adjusted rapidly; bureaucrats in government couldn’t keep up to meddle.

Second, the free market allocated capital across the global value chain in a way where what were once fragmented, independent, and illiquid natural gas markets to become an integrated and liquid global market.

Before the shale revolution and cumulative capital investment, the demand for and price of natural gas in Japan had no relation on what the natural gas markets were experiencing in the U.S. Today, the value chain serves as a market stabilizer, equilibrating disconnects in supply, demand, and pricing across different regions of the map. That type of equilibrium improves the prospects of all economies and peoples of all nations, colors, creeds, and genders.

Three-Pronged Attack

Despite the undeniable and epic benefits of the American shale revolution, the natural gas industry in 2021 faces a three-pronged attack. The masterminds behind the attack seek to derail the multi-trillion-dollar value chain that was created when innovation and disruptive technology were set loose in the free market. The success of the natural gas value chain only motivates the aspiring value-destroyers more.

The first prong of attack is heightened regulatory standards on natural gas production and reduced access to natural gas reserves. You see this attack every time an administrative state bureaucrat in the EPA issues a new regulation on the industry, and increasingly the standard embodied in the regulation is at a level of performance above that of activities outside of natural gas or oil production. You also saw it on day one of the Biden presidency when he signed an executive order putting a moratorium on natural gas development on federal (i.e., our) lands. Although these attacks have a cumulative negative impact, the industry has become adept at efficiently rising to meet such onerous challenges.

The second prong of the attack targets the industry’s access to capital and looks to cut off supply of the vital lubricant for any capitalistic endeavor. This attack will be evident when major banks bow to pressure from environmental groups to stop lending to the carbon economy, when foundations or endowments of universities chest-thump about their divestment from carbon producing companies, or when credit ratings firms assign poor credit ratings to such companies not because of quantitative metrics but instead because of subjective views of the industry’s social worthiness. The logic of this prong is simple: starve a growing industry of capital and you can slowly strangle it to death.

The third and final prong of the attack is the most insidious of all: thwarting the future demand growth for natural gas. This attack manifests through the throwing of regulatory and legal roadblocks into the paths of new pipeline projects that would convey natural gas from the producing basins to the growing demand centers.

You see this attack every time ill-advised politicians on state (à la California), regional (à la Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), national (à la Green New Deal), or international (à la Paris Climate Accord) levels commit to nonsensical, expensive, and unachievable renewable portfolio standards for power generation. Sometimes along with the bureaucrat-induced protected market share for renewables you also find excessive taxpayer subsidy, whether direct or indirect. These protected markets and subsidy for wind and solar are done in the name of saving the planet, yet they do nothing to improve the climate and act as a brutal regressive tax on those least equipped to pay it.

The Winners and the Losers

The collateral damage from the ideological-induced destruction of the natural gas value chain is deep and wide.

Middle-class Americans (including building trade workers in Appalachia, homeowners in California, and service providers in New England) will have either their jobs destroyed by onerous regulation or their disposable incomes reduced by higher energy bills (unfortunately, many middle-class Americans will endure both). Small business owners, whether in the gas fields or in regions where the demand for natural gas is growing, will face an even tougher road to grind out consistent profit. Kids in economically disadvantaged urban and rural school districts will see the clear path to a job paying family-sustaining wages right out of high school evaporate.

Democracies standing up to China or Russia will need to fend for themselves when it comes to their strategic energy security. And the global poor will pay the steepest price of all, by surrendering years of their life expectancy and having a better quality of life torn from their grasp.

The winners in this scheme constitute a rogues’ gallery of players who make a living off the backs of society’s doers.

Government bureaucrats will grow perpetually, using the regulations and market interventions as convenient cover. Corporations designed to suck subsidy and tax credits with little regard as to whether the underlying activity garnering the subsidy and credits has any economic rationale will flourish. The despots running nations aligned against the U.S. will capitalize on our foolishness to strengthen their hands and weaken us and our allies. The one-percenters will do just fine, paying a pittance more of their comfy incomes for energy but reaping substantial rewards as their investment portfolios position to feed at the trough of the scheme.

Adding insult to this tremendous injury is the realization that none of it will improve climate to any measurable extent. Perhaps that is not surprising when one realizes none of this has anything to do with the environment. Instead, it’s about killing off the greatest of stories before it’s ever told and replacing it with an unsustainable fiction that fits the sanctioned ideology. Let’s tell the true story and dispel the fiction.

House of Life of Pittsburgh: Battling Society’s Toughest Challenges

Everyone, from politicians to giant corporations, talks the talk of social justice and moral imperatives. So, it’s rare to find those who actually walk the walk by delivering tangible results to improve society in a meaningful way. I’ve stumbled across one of those who walks the walk, an inspiring group you will not want to forget: House of Life of Pittsburgh (HLP).

A Small Few Making a Huge Difference

Lou Gentile is a friend and one of the driving forces behind HLP. Lou is one of the most gracious human beings I know, but his kindness and pleasant demeanor belie a steely resolve you do not want to test. He was highly decorated as a law enforcement officer, spending decades working undercover in the narcotics and organized crime divisions of various state agencies. Today, Lou runs a private security firm he founded and teaches at Pitt and Duquesne. He’s dealt up close and personally with the challenges of crime, incarceration, and ex-convict struggles upon release.

Lou doesn’t just care or simply talk about making a difference; he acts.

A number of years ago, he teamed up with a small group of individuals, consisting of a criminal justice academic and a group of formerly incarcerated men who did their time (one serving nearly 50 years in prison and two serving almost 40 years in jail) and turned their lives around through education and discipline. This group committed to make a difference in criminal justice reform.

That was the genesis of the creation of HLP. The founders and leadership of HLP know the criminal justice system and lived on both sides of “the wall.” It’s not an issue in the abstract for them; it’s real life.

HLP’s Twin Objectives

Success in this effort hinges on achieving two objectives.

The first is to establish, reinforce, and grow higher education opportunity in prison populations. I know what you’re thinking, because initially I thought the same thing: why in the world do we need to spend taxpayer money to send the incarcerated to college?

Upon reflection, the answer is quite simple and rational. Society suffers when an individual commits a serious crime, is incarcerated, and then is released to the streets to commit another crime and end up back in prison. That’s another victim of another crime, another fractured family, a local community subjected to increased strife, a criminal justice system further strained, more government expenditure, and less tax revenue. We all lose in this revolving door of repeat offenders, not just the person recommitting the crime.

A pathway designed to make productive use of an inmate’s time while serving a sentence by taking up coursework toward a degree drastically improves the chances of a positive outcome for both inmate and society upon eventual release. Data show that the recidivism (i.e., when a prior incarcerated commits another crime after release) rate for inmates who did not graduate from college is at an alarming 80 percent while the recidivism rate for incarcerated who graduated from college is only 11 percent.

Recidivism is a lingering and growing cost to society and devastating to the individual offender, new victim, and their families. Substantially reducing America’s recidivism rate is a massive value creator for society. HLP understands this, and its leadership experienced its benefits firsthand.

The second objective of HLP is to establish an infrastructure and support system to efficiently integrate released inmates into society. This is straightforward bricks and mortar: modest homes close to public transportation and jobs, where a small group of “returning citizens” live while under supervision. An added benefit would be realized by HLP acquiring neglected buildings in need of repair, upgrading them, and then putting them to good use.

Help House of Life of Pittsburgh Make a Difference

Lou and his team, the catalysts for HLP, are living proof of how education and well-thought-out post-incarceration integration change lives. Turning HLP loose will create a multiplier effect that will benefit individuals, families, economically disadvantaged communities, free enterprise, and society.

The hard work has been done. These doers set the vision. They drew the blueprint. They created the vehicle in HLP. It’s time for HLP to realize its full potential.

Now it’s simply a matter of money. Join me in supporting this noble endeavor.

To learn more, contact Lou Gentile at lgentile@csiinvestigators.com. To make a tax-deductible donation, please send a check payable to “House of Life of Pittsburgh” and mail it to:

House of Life of Pittsburgh
c/o Lou Gentile
181 Clearview St.
Beaver Falls, PA 15010

On the Precipice: Rewriting the History of Financial Crashes

Legendary Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan knows a thing or two about the history of financial crashes. He often stated that every financial crash in U.S. history can trace its roots to a cause that was unanticipated and unexpected prior to the calamity. That held true from the Panic of 1873 through the financial crisis of 2008.

However, Greenspan’s adage no longer holds true, because today we are teetering on the edge of an economic abyss in plain view for all to see.

The next financial calamity will be a seismic one, claiming a full spectrum of victims. The root causes will be self-induced through ill-advised policy instituted by government across local, state, federal, and international levels.

The looming crisis will be catalyzed by a handful of massive missteps that share one thing in common: this country lacking the political will and leadership to stop unsustainable fiscal and monetary policies that are doing irreversible harm.

Any one of these missteps has the potential to wreak economic damage on its own. Together, they offer a toxic cocktail.

Let’s meander through a rogues’ gallery of economic fright.

Monster Government Debt

Start with the biggest – federal debt level. The national debt sits at nearly $28 trillion (within a few weeks of posting this commentary, it will likely exceed $28 trillion). That’s over $84,000 per citizen, over $220,000 per taxpayer, and over 130% of annual GDP. These numbers should shock anyone with a sense of financial acumen.

Here’s an even more shocking metric to put the level of federal government debt in perspective: debt-to-revenue ratio. The federal government carries a debt-to-revenue ratio over 8. The S&P 500 index of public corporations posts a debt-to-revenue ratio less than 0.5.

That’s right, our government carries over 16-times the proportional debt load that the companies in the S&P index carry. If the federal government were a corporation, it would be in default of its debt obligations today.

Worst of all, government debt is only going to continue to grow, because of the following problem.

Perpetual Government Budget Deficit

Remember the good old days, when conservatives and Republicans advocated for balanced budgets and when liberals and Democrats pushed for budget deficits only during times of duress or crisis? Such days are long gone.

Today, everyone on all sides of political and ideological spectrums knows only one thing: government spending more than it brings in. Budget deficits are now a wired-in reality during all economic cycles, in good times and in bad. After all, that’s how we racked up $28 trillion in national debt.

The current annual “official” federal deficit, counting only president- and Congress-approved expenditures, is projected at over $3.2 trillion. The actual annual federal budget deficit, which adds off-budget expenditures to the tally, will exceed $4.6 trillion. Every dollar of outspend grows the national debt.

Balancing the federal budget will require many things, including getting the administrative state out of the path of economic growth. But most of all, it will require meaningful entitlement reform to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and so on. To say the will of the political leadership to take on entitlement reform is weak borders on misleading. The fact is there exists no political will to perform necessary entitlement reform in Washington, D.C.

The Higher Education Racket Lays a $1.7 Trillion Egg

The American higher education system has been collaborating with government to bilk trillions of dollars from students, their families, and taxpayers. Student loan debt sits at over $1.7 trillion, or almost $40,000 per student. The portfolio is a dumpster fire in the process of imploding.

Many of those carrying the largest student debt loads earned degrees that don’t garner anything close to a wage in the job market that will cover the loan debt payments, let alone a legitimate rate of return on the student’s invested time and money. Academia sold students and families a fiction about job prospects that never had a hope of materializing.

Government played along by offering endless subsidy to colleges and universities and student borrowers. The government interventions created an inflationary bubble, with tuition doing nothing but exponentially increasing and administrative bloat at colleges ever expanding. Students were goaded into borrowing more and more, while the probability of being able to get a job to pay the debt off went lower and lower.

The federal government took over wide swaths of the student debt portfolio, at the time promising that taxpayers would enjoy a return on the “investment.” With default and forbearance levels at epidemic-crisis levels, that promise looks ridiculous today. The reality is taxpayers are going to have to absorb a gargantuan loss across the more than $1.7 trillion toxic portfolio, making the government debt situation worse.

All of this is about to come crashing down. When it does, don’t expect the higher education system to reform or our political leaders and government bureaucrats to own up. Instead, expect a lost generation of workers and taxpayers having to eat another bailout.

Poking the Inflation Bear

Economists, the Fed, and government bureaucrats assure us constantly that inflation is tame, despite the government turning the money printing press at a dizzying pace. Many of these experts cite modest consumer-price-index (CPI) levels as evidence that inflation is held firmly in check. The experts have nuzzled into an all-is-well on the inflation front slumber.

Yet common sense tells us something quite different than this pleasant inflation narrative. Everywhere we look, the inflationary warning signals are blinking red. We already discussed how college tuition levels have escalated at fantastic rates. Real estate prices are once again raging in regions and cities all over the nation, creating speculation and extended, heavily mortgaged homeowners. The prices of art, rare coins, expensive wine, and other collectibles continue to skyrocket.

Even commodities are experiencing price run-ups. This is noteworthy when you consider the pandemic and global shutdowns of economies throttled the demand for virtually every traditional commodity. Yet the prices of commodities such as oil, copper, and gold are percolating up. Even the prices for prior owned vehicles (what we used to call used cars) sit at elevated levels.

If wage rates experience similar increases once workers are allowed to return to job sites, it will only further stoke the inflation flames. Bureaucrats and politicians hand out pay raises to the public unions they answer to throughout the pandemic and shutdowns, stoking wage inflation in the public sector.

Everything is getting more expensive, no matter what the experts tell us about the CPI. The inflationary bear is coming out of hibernation.

Monetary Policy Morphs Investing Into Online Gambling…and the House Always Wins

Stock market indices sit at all-time highs. Debt prices are also at historic highs while bond yields sit at historic lows. That’s true for Treasury, municipal, corporate investment grade, or junk bonds. Rank speculation (GameStop) and day trading (Robinhood) have become normal as millions of investors gambling on laptops believe the market can only go in one direction.

Fed monetary policy induced this crazed, herd behavior. When the Fed cuts interest rates to zero and signals it has no intention to raise rates for years, it is eradicating traditional investment options in portfolios. Options like bonds and cash savings accounts provide little-to-no yield, forcing the smallest to largest investors to pile into riskier asset classes like equities and alternative investments to chase returns. Inflows into those asset classes drive their valuations higher, destroying the risk-reward balance.

Most markets, including equity and debt, increasingly feel like they are balanced on a precarious bubble. The slightest of jitters could precipitate a quick rush for the exists, leading to a rapid and severe popping of the bubble(s).

The Fed’s Cred Crumbles

The Federal Reserve convinced global markets far and wide that the United States can continue to pump money supply at unprecedented rates, purchase trillions of dollars in bonds to place on its balance sheet, and perpetually outspend revenues so that debt runs up. Amazingly, the global markets have witnessed all this largesse and have been perfectly comfortable receiving next to nothing in yield for lending to the U.S. federal government.

That magic trick is poised to fray, with dire consequences.

Money is nothing more than a barometer of value in society and confidence in the government printing it. If value is vilified or appropriated by government or if government acts irrationally, a central bank will go from the entity setting the terms to the one having the terms dictated to it.

The Federal Reserve may be rapidly approaching that point. As its balance sheet bloats and it inflates asset bubbles, it looks to expand its already multi-faceted mandate under pretense of everything from fixing economic inclusion (worthy but not exactly in the Fed’s wheelhouse) to tackling climate change (creating a mandate of “weather”).

If the Fed loses the trust of the market, it loses control of the value of money. That will surely equate to much higher interest rates. Higher interest rates will drown this nation in more debt and larger budget deficits, since interest payments on our massive accumulated debt pile will expand.

What to Do?

The cumulative headwinds facing our economy have never been stronger.

Massive national debt, huge annual budget deficits, growing student loan defaults, awakening inflation, risky market bubbles, and a Fed spread way too thin are all parading in the open, staring us in the face. Wrap all of it in the government-induced economic coma of the pandemic-justified shutdowns and the Left now setting economic policy in the corridors of federal power, it is amazing that things have held together for as long as they have.

But that may change quickly. What to do? Perhaps it’s time to pay down debt, tread lightly in riskier investments, think twice before you pay-up for that mint rookie Jordan card, and instead build a little cash. To do otherwise ignores those red-blinking signals and puts your personal full faith and credit in government bureaucrats and politicians.

A Rational Person’s Guide to Climate Change

The great Tom Wolfe astutely defined a cult as a religion with no political power. Wolfe’s observation resonates today when it comes to climate change. What was once a cult has now become the official religion of academia, government bureaucracy, rent-seeking corporations, and the Left. Just like Galileo who dared to challenge the Catholic Church’s official scientific consensus of the sun revolving around the Earth, those brave enough to question aspects of the climate change credo are immediately labeled as deniers, akin to heretics in the temple, risking banishment.

The primary challenge with rationally assessing the topic of climate change is that a very complex set of discrete issues has been boiled down to a neat, simple, universal, and erroneous view of political convenience. For a rational person to seriously reason through climate change issues, one must unpackage the singular, simple rhetoric into component pieces that, once properly assessed and sequenced, can build views anchored in science, data, and fact.

Query #1: Is climate change occurring?

Undoubtedly, the answer is ‘yes.’ Climate change has been a reality since Earth had a climate. Warming periods, cooling periods, Ice Ages, and widespread droughts have been occurring for millions of years and before humans appeared on the scene. Global climate change and trends in regional climates have been, and will remain, a reality.

Query #2: Can future climate change and its effects be accurately modeled?

Attempts to accurately predict climate have been abject failures. If the poor success rates of climate modelers were posted by a surgeon, attorney, or professional sports coach, all would be fired for incompetence. The failure is not from lack of effort or poor scientific acumen, although Climategate exposed how some in the racket of subsidy and government largesse are more than willing to play fast and loose with the scientific method.

The reason models have proven unreliable is they are attempting to simulate and predict the most complex fluid flow system ever: global climate.

The most advanced tools and techniques in meteorology struggle to accurately predict a hurricane path three days out, whether it is going to snow next week, and if the upcoming summer will be unusually hot or mild. What makes one think we would be able to accurately predict global temperatures fifty years out?

Anyone who states models can accurately predict future climate metrics (temperature, storm severity, etc.) is either uninformed or has a hidden agenda.

Query #3: Is human activity increasing the global carbon dioxide level?

Like our first question, the answer here is clearly, ‘yes.’ We know with certainty that since mankind harnessed the power of the carbon atom, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased from about 200 parts-per-million (ppm) to about 400 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will continue to grow as nations and economies further develop. Coincidentally, we should celebrate the rise in carbon dioxide levels because it brought higher life expectancies, lower infant mortality rates, and improved individual rights for billions of people. Carbon has driven, and continues to drive, quality of life on the third rock from the sun.

Query #4: Are increased carbon dioxide concentrations materially impacting the climate and global temperature?

This is the question that is least understood by the public and is most suspect to distortion and abuse by the leaders of the religion. The key phrase here is ‘parts per million,’ or ppm. People don’t understand the context of 200 ppm doubling to 400 ppm, because they have been instructed for decades to exclusively focus on the 200 and the 400, and to ignore the ‘ppm.’ A helpful analogy will illustrate the flaw in ignoring the ‘ppm’ part.

Imagine a Pennsylvania college football stadium that holds 100,000 fans on gameday when Penn State is playing Ohio State (sadly, it’s hard to picture that in the age of pandemic). A 200-ppm level of Ohio State fans (carbon dioxide) in the crowd of 100,000 (atmosphere) would be equivalent to 20 fans wearing Ohio State jerseys versus 99,980 wearing Penn State jerseys. If the concentration of Ohio State fans in the crowd doubled to 400 ppm, it would mean the number of fans wearing Ohio State gear went from 20 to 40, and the number of fans wearing Nittany Lion gear declined from 99,980 to 99,960. Clearly, the nature of that crowd did not change in any material sense, despite the concentration of Ohio State fans doubling.

A doubling of trace amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured in the parts per million and over hundreds of years since the Industrial Revolution, is not going to materially change climate or global temperature. Instead, it is going to have a very small, perhaps unmeasurable, impact on climate. Climate change is a reality. But simple math shows increases in trace levels of carbon dioxide, from 0.02% (200 ppm) to 0.04% (400 ppm) of the atmosphere, due to human industry and energy consumption are not the major, rate-setting driver.

Query #5: Are wind and solar renewable forms of energy?

It’s an article of faith in the climate change religion that renewable energy exists, it is the global savior from climate change, and it is best exemplified by windmills and solar panels. Such beliefs defy science and reality. Laws of thermodynamics instruct us that there is no form of truly renewable energy. Worse yet, windmills and solar panels as forms of electricity generation at scale represent massive carbon footprints that likely exceed the carbon footprint of natural gas-derived electricity. Life-cycle visualization of what it takes for renewables to provide electricity at scale helps illustrate the reality.

If, say, western Pennsylvania needed to add 650 MW of baseload electricity generation, doing so with windmills would have a massive life-cycle carbon footprint.

  • Nearly 300 large turbines/towers would be needed for a capacity of 650 MW (compared to a compact combined cycle array for natural gas).
  • The materials needed to construct the wind turbines must be mined and processed, likely in places like Mongolia where the resources are located, using carbon to do so while massively scarring the surface where the deposits are.
  • The components must be constructed, likely in places like China, in factories powered by carbon. The components then need shipped here, using carbon to power the trains, vessels, trucks, and planes.
  • Windmills in places like Pennsylvania only work on ridge lines, meaning wide swaths of trees must be felled to clear pads and right of ways for transmission lines, resulting in visible scars on scenic areas and another big contribution to carbon footprint.
  • Concrete must be poured for pads and miles of new transmission lines must be run to link the hundreds of turbines to the grid, consuming yet more carbon.

Finally, you need backup generation for when the wind is not blowing, which is most likely going to be carbon-based natural gas or coal. To top it off, much of this cycle needs repeated in about seven years when the turbines need replaced due to age (turbine disposal has its own carbon footprint).

A legitimate scoring of the life-cycle carbon ledger for wind shows it can suffer a much larger carbon footprint than natural gas-fired generation. The same conclusion would hold for solar, perhaps worse in places like Pennsylvania since the sun doesn’t shine as much as the wind blows.

Be wary of those who tout renewable energy and how the carbon footprints of wind and solar are zero, or close to it. Most likely they are angling for subsidies or political favor. They are not speaking from a position of scientific authority.

Query #6: Is climate change the biggest threat facing us today?

Climate change, whether caused by rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere or not, is always going to pose a risk to human health. Hurricanes destroy and drought kills. Mother Nature for millennia has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. But climate change is not even close to the top threats to our quality of life today.

Disease, as the past year of pandemic has demonstrated, is a much bigger threat to humans. Violent crime, particularly in large cities, is a bigger risk to urbanites than what the polar ice caps are doing. Corrupt government, the rise of socialism, and a broken public education system should worry Americans more than rising sea levels. Young adults in the developed world face a bigger safety risk from driving than climate change while young adults in the developing world are more at risk from contaminated water than carbon dioxide. Whatever twists and turns the climate may take over the years, have confidence that technology will allow humans to adapt to it.

Final query: What to think?

There are discrete issues that converge into the climate change discussion. The unpackaging of the cult/religion credo reveals logic and truth. Climate change has always and will always occur. Models forecasting the complexity of future climate have proven to be inaccurate.

Human activity since the Industrial Revolution has doubled carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration and may continue to increase it. However, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a trace amount, and its doubling over the past couple hundred years has not materially altered the climate.

There is no such thing as truly renewable energy. Wind and solar power are incredibly carbon intensive forms of electricity generation when an honest life-cycle assessment is performed. Although climate always will have the potential to harm or kill, there are much larger and more looming threats to the human condition at our doorstep today.

The Latin origin of the word ‘science’ derives from ‘knowledge.’ History’s greatest scientists did not trust other scientists; the scientific method and human progress rely on healthy skepticism of the scientific consensus. Don’t fear being labeled a denier, called a skeptic, or challenging the scientific/political consensus. Think of Galileo, Einstein, and Curie.

Discovering Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience

Americans who desire order, stability, and civility in life find themselves having endured a painful string of recent months. Order, stability, and civility seem to be in scarce supply of late, no matter where you live, what politics you subscribe to, or how old you are.

In trying times like these, thought-provoking reading helps place the current environment in better perspective. I recently read Henry David Thoreau’s essay, Civil Disobedience. Thoreau and the subject of civil disobedience would not normally be on top of my reading list for two reasons.

First, I am not the civil disobedience type; never have been and probably never will be. In fact, I am one of the least likely individuals to engage in breaking a law to prove a point, let alone someone who would look to do harm to property or my fellow man.

Second, I’ve always been inspired by the more overtly provocative writers: Rand, Orwell, Paine, Didion, and T. Wolfe to name a few. Thought leaders who jolt you into an awareness. Henry David Thoreau never struck me as that type of writer. My impression of him was a guy up in the New England sticks, sitting on his porch, and looking out over a pond as he contemplates nature. The Kenny G of literature (not that there is anything wrong with some alto sax from time to time).

I was wrong, big time. Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience is an impactful gem that has proved its relevance over 170 years and across the globe. Yet most Americans never read the essay and equate Thoreau’s legacy exclusively to his famous work, Walden. That’s too bad, because Civil Disobedience changed the world and history.

Thoreau was jailed for a night in the 1840s because he refused to pay a poll tax to the government. Afterward, he discussed the experience and his reasoning with a Concord newspaper and then expanded on the interview with an essay he published in a journal. Not much came of it, and it looked like Civil Disobedience would be quietly forgotten.

But decades later, Mahatma Gandhi gave it a read and become inspired. Gandhi tailored his version of civil disobedience to catalyze a movement that redrew the geopolitical map. Gandhi and Thoreau, in turn, served as motivators for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s as he utilized civil disobedience to combat racial segregation policies.

That’s one heck of a coaching tree, Thoreau-to-Gandhi-to-King, distanced by decades yet connected by the power of the written word. We should visit Civil Disobedience in our schools, homes, and professions. The themes captured and articulated by Thoreau sound more relevant today than ever.

A foundational belief in the essay is that government has the potential to be dangerous to the individual, and that the individual must be continually vigilant of the threat of government usurping his conscience. The essay implores an ethical duty to be skeptical of government.

Thoreau makes no apology for adherence to the principle that government is best which governs least. He recognized that progression from monarchy to democracy correlates to increased individual rights. Today, we should recognize a regression from democracy to socialism correlates to reduced individual rights. Thoreau would be horrified to see the extent government permeates American life and tramples the individual in 2021.

He also indirectly argues in support of the Electoral College, another of our Republic’s institutions that is under attack these days, by pointing out a danger of democracy without refining safeguards is that the majority can bully the minority. The majority rules, not because the majority is right or noble, but because it is simply the strongest. Conscience, justice, and what is right may get bulldozed over. Thoreau and the Framers knew we are individuals first, and subjects afterward. The Electoral College was designed to safeguard that view.

I wish I would’ve read Civil Disobedience in college, because it speaks to an issue I am particularly passionate about: the vital role businesses and corporations play in a free society. Corporations are vilified as soulless predators in the media, academia, and by the left on a consistent basis. Thoreau pointed out that although a corporation has no conscience, a corporation of conscientious individuals is a corporation with a conscience. Better late than never for me; I am going to trumpet this theme through 2021 and beyond.

I get the strong sense Thoreau would not be a fan of modern-day subsidy-seeking corporations, government lobbyists, environmental policy, or leftists/socialists. He points out we should be free to pursue our self-interests and beliefs, but not if we do so to the detriment of another. Think about how much government policy and regulation today is designed to take from one to subsidize another, with the schemers being the influential elite manufacturing a mathematical majority. All of it under the banners of the public good and socially just.

Put Civil Disobedience on your reading list. An inspiring work that reminds us of our duty of public discourse during challenging times.