- FORBES - Feb 15, 2021 -
The massive blast of Siberia-like cold that is wreaking havoc across North America is proving that if we humans want to keep surviving frigid winters, we are going to have to keep burning natural gas — and lots of it — for decades to come.
That cold reality contradicts the “electrify everything” scenario that’s being promoted by climate change activists, politicians, and academics. They claim that to avert the possibility of catastrophic climate change, we must stop burning hydrocarbons and convert all of our transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial systems so that they are powered solely on electricity, with most of that juice coming, of course, from forests of wind turbines and oceans of solar panels.
But attempting to electrify everything would concentrate our energy risks on an electricity grid that is already breaking under the surge in demand caused by the crazy cold weather. Across America, countless people don’t have electricity. I’m one of them. Our power here in central Austin went out at about 3 am. I am writing this under a blanket, have multiple layers of clothes on, and am nervously watching my laptop’s battery indicator.
This blizzard proves that attempting to electrify everything would be the opposite of anti-fragile. Rather than make our networks and critical systems more resilient and less vulnerable to disruptions caused by extreme weather, bad actors, falling trees, or simple negligence, electrifying everything would concentrate our dependence on a single network, the electric grid, and in doing so make nearly every aspect of our society prone to catastrophic failure if — or rather, when — a widespread or extended blackout occurs.
This blizzard proves that we have not been taking our energy security seriously enough. The concept of energy security has many aspects. But the most fundamental one is that we all have enough reliable and affordable energy (of whatever type) so that we don’t freeze to death during cold spells like the one now wreaking havoc across the continent.