RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fossil-fuel companies are reducing our carbon footprint. Let's punish them!

The divestment movement in the 1970s and 1980s urged colleges, universities and other institutions to sell stockholdings in companies doing business in South Africa, at the time ruled by a racist and rather vicious regime. I was a small part of it. I sat out on the steps of University Hall, Harvard, blocking administrators from entering. It all felt very high-minded, and JK Galbraith gave us a clenched-fist salute, which was pretty darn kewl.

Unfortunately, some environmentalist kooks are now trying to emulate our success by campaigning for universities to divest from fossil-fuel companies, on the theory that said companies are destroying the planet. More unfortunately, the campaign has hit my institution, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. And even more unfortunately, some of my less rational colleagues are apparently supporting it.

One of the most inconvenient truths of modern climate policy (for environmentalists, that is) is this. The US has dramatically reduced its CO2 output since 2006. This was done not by taxing carbon or by creating a corrupt malfunctioning carbon credit market. Subsidizing renewable energy and encouraging efficiency had relatively minor contributions. The major reason is fracking. It was done, not by the government, but by fossil fuel companies. Fracking releases natural gas, which is higher in hydrogen and lower in carbon than petroleum or coal. It's been so successful that natural gas is incredibly cheap, and companies that build natural gas engines for heavy trucks are prospering. Meanwhile countriies that have invested in renewables, and have restricted fracking, are increasing their CO2 output.

UNL has virtually no equities holdings anyway; the UNL Foundation, a private charity, holds most stocks associated with UNL. And I encourage the Foundation board to ignore the loonies and continue to hold -- maybe even increase -- our holdings in fossil fuel companies.

More on fracking; how the EPA used phony data and hilariously bad methodology in a 'draft report' condemning fracking, and then stealthily withdrew the report.

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