Monday, October 21, 2019

Quickies: The Roots Of Economic Expansion

     When I read about the posturings of the anti-fossil-fuels campaigners -- here’s a recent example -- it causes me to wonder whether portions of the human race have been devolving. Such persons aren’t thinking. Perhaps they can’t, but it’s indisputable that they aren’t.

     The marvelous increase in general well-being among men, these past three centuries, has roots in a number of developments. All of them were necessary, though none were sufficient in isolation. One that’s all too often overlooked is the ability to travel steadily increasing distances in a modest amount of time.

     If your zone of economic interaction is limited to how far you can walk in an hour or two, you will be confined to working for and trading with only those persons very close to you. That’s a severe limitation on your economic betterment, for reasons that ought not to require explanation. The emergence of methods of transportation that permitted an individual to travel twenty miles or more in an hour expanded his economic zone by more than 1000%. It also made concentrations of labor possible – and that made mass production, with all the blessings it’s conferred upon us, possible as well.

     It could not and would not have happened without oil-based fuels, which offer the greatest usable energy per unit mass for powering a moving vehicle.

     That condition persists today. Speaking strictly of movable platforms, nothing comes near to the power or flexibility available from oil-based fuels. Electric vehicles are both sharply limited in range and utility, carry downsides of their own that are seldom discussed...and conceal the emissions produced by their power plants by shifting the burden to the local electric utility.

     Would electricity generated by nuclear plants change the calculus? Yes, somewhat. The electric car would still have other drawbacks, including the negative aspects of making the battery systems and disposing of them once they’ve worn out, but the emissions problem would have been addressed. However, the very forces that oppose fossil fuels are even more opposed to nuclear power.

     All of which leads me to a sad conclusion: These folks hate people. They want us all to be dirt poor: to starve while freezing in the dark. So the next time you confront an anti-fossil-fuels crusader, ask him, quite loudly:

“Why do you hate the poor?”

     Make sure to be conspicuously armed, of course.

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