A Fool’s Errand: Al Gore’s $15 Trillion Carbon Tax

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Al Gore wants to reverse modernity and save the world from itself through an elimination of its fossil-fuel-based energy system. During the final week of April, his newly created Energy Transitions Commission released a document setting forth a fool’s errand pathway to “decarbonize” the world’s energy system.

If you scroll through the verbiage surrounding the document, you will find the core policy recommendation is a massive, punishing carbon tax. Gore would start the tax at $50 per ton, which would increase to $100 per ton over time, essentially destroying the market for continued robust development of the world’s fossil-fuel base. Our economic growth and personal well-being depends on robust fossil-fuel use, so Gore’s plan would destroy these as well.

But, don’t worry! The all-in estimated cost to re-engineer humanity is only a mere $15 trillion—enough money to give every man, woman, and child in the United States more than $46,000.

Al Gore has been demonizing fossil fuels and attempting to marginalize all those involved in the traditional energy sector since 1988, the year the climate-change movement was rolled out in Washington, D.C., which happened to correspond with a nationwide heatwave and with Yellowstone in flames. Ever since, Gore’s pathway to political power and personal riches has been a successful one, to be sure, but his multi-trillion-dollar effort today is his most sophisticated effort to date. Unfortunately for him, it will also fail, because what he’s selling in his “new” proposal is bad for the people being asked to embrace it.

Over the years, Gore has emerged in many contexts in his effort to eradicate carbon-dioxide emissions, a benign gas required for all life to thrive on Earth—plant, animal, and human alike. It has never mattered to Gore that ordinary people everywhere have been hurt and will continue to be hurt by his continual efforts to make fossil-fuel energy expensive and that the poorest among us are harmed the most by the energy policies he supports.

The anti-humanity proposals in Gore’s latest initiative have as one of their chief goals the elimination of fossil fuels, full stop. Gore does allow for greater use of natural gas into the 2030s, but he eliminates coal right away. He also allows for oil use to grow into the mid-2020s, but “decarbonize” means just that; his plan inevitably ends with a phase-out of fossil-fuel use. Fortunately for us all—and make no mistake about it, the American people understand this—the fossil-fuel-free future Gore imagines is not supported by observation-based science, and it is contradicted by all the evidence we have gained from recorded human history.

April 22 was the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day, which occurred in 1970. Since that day, the number of people on Earth has increased from 3.7 billion to 7.5 billion, and average life expectancy for all the world’s people has risen by 11 years, to 67 years old. Likewise, food production has soared and energy production and consumption, mostly thanks to fossil fuels, has increased by more than four times.

Since the first Earth Day, the natural environment has improved substantially, through urbanization, and the biosphere and agriculture are more robust. Earth is greener, because of the additional carbon dioxide in the air, as numerous studies now show.

Since the first Earth Day, the flawed computer models backed by radical environmentalists have failed continuously, and we now know they can never serve as a reliable tool to make policy judgments governing the future of human life on Earth.

And since the first Earth Day, we can now say with confidence that all these positive developments have resulted from, or are closely linked to, the robust use of fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas, and coal.

The world is blessed with an abundance of fossil-fuel reserves, which allow the billions of people alive today and the billions yet to come to enjoy longer and better lives. They will continue to provide additional energy to grow food, resources to build cities, and by helping urbanization, they will allow the natural environment to improve, as it has for decades.

Fred Palmer is a senior fellow for energy and climate policy at The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank founded in 1984 and based in Arlington Heights, Illinois.