To the editor:
In his letter to the editor on July 9 (“Pope should ‘study up on world history’”), Mr. Stefan Schemine claims that “[i]f I were to have sat down and tried to come up with a plan to lead people into self-induced oppression and poverty, I could not have come up with such an ingenious plan” — meaning “man-caused catastrophic global climate change.”
Mr. Schemine writes about the response to scientific evidence that humans are warming the planet, causing people to place “themselves in a situation where they no longer have the ability to pay for food, pay for electricity to have clean water, pay for heat to keep from freezing to death in the winter, pay for keeping cool to avoid dying of summer heat, pay for refrigeration to preserve their food, to have decent housing or clothing.”
Ironically, though, renewable energy is becoming competitive with fossil fuel-generated energy even with the estimated $5.3 trillion in annual fossil fuel subsidies, according to the International Monetary Fund. Professor Sir Nicholas Stern wrote about these fossil fuel subsidies: “This very important analysis shatters the myth that fossil fuels are cheap by showing just how huge their real costs are. There is no justification for these enormous subsidies for fossil fuels, which distort markets and damages economies, particularly in poorer countries.”
According to Bloomberg, as reported, the world is poised to invest “$12.2 trillion on new power-generating capacity,” two-thirds of that into renewables through 2040; that 60 percent of new generating capacity in 2040 will be renewable energy; and that “wind will become the cheapest form of power generation in the world” by 2026.
I’m currently reviewing a book for the American Journal of Physics, “Energy revolution: the physics and the promise of efficient technology,” published by the Harvard University Press. The author, Dr. Mara Prentiss, Mallinckrodt professor of physics at Harvard, ends the book with this conclusion: “Electricity generated by renewable energy can easily provide 100 percent of the average electricity consumption of the United States during [the] next 50 years, virtually eliminating the negative environmental consequences associated with fossil fuel consumption … reduc[ing] energy consumption and cost without lifestyle sacrifice. … We could be on the cusp of an energy revolution, which might significantly improve the lives of almost everyone on Earth, if only we have the courage to seize the opportunity.”
Mr. Schemine is clearly right about governments being part of the problem; it’s just not the way he thinks. Our Ohio governor allegedly signed the renewable energy freeze because he was disturbed that renewable subsidies were distorting “the free market” and had a distaste for picking energy winners and losers — but the energy companies with their big political donations were already the big winners.
Mr. Schemine advised the pope in his letter to “study up on world history.” I gather Mr. Schemine is Catholic, based on previous Gazette letters. I am amazed that he doesn’t recall that the pope is a Jesuit, and Jesuits are the scholars of the church. Jesuit founder St. Ignatius Loyola and his fellow priests had founded more than 70 colleges in Europe and the Americas by the time St. Ignatius died.
There are now 28 Jesuit-founded universities in America and nearly 200 worldwide. I am pretty certain that, as an educated Jesuit, Pope Francis already has a pretty sound grasp of world history, governments and religion. He presumably follows Jesus’s admonition to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”