Fossil Fuels: At What Price?


Human Wrongs Watch

By John Scales Avery*

5 September 2016

We often read comparisons between the prices of solar energy or wind energy with the prices of fossil fuels. It is encouraging to see that renewables are rapidly becoming competitive, and are often cheaper than coal or oil. In fact, if coal, oil and natural gas were given their correct prices renewables would be recognized as being incomparably cheaper than fossil fuels.

Grangemouth04nov06

**A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK.| Author: User:John from wikipedia | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. | Wikimedia Commons

Externalities in pricing

The concept of externalities in pricing was first put forward by two British economists, Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) and Arthur C. Pigou (1877-1959).

In his book “The Economics of Welfare!, published in 1920, Pigou further developed the concept of externalities in pricing which had earlier been introduced by Sidgwick. He proposed that a tax be introduced to correct pricing for the effect of externalities.

An externality is the cost or benefit of some unintended consequence of an economic action. For example, tobacco companies do not really wish for their customers to die from cancer, but a large percentage of them do, and the social costs of this slaughter ought to be reflected in the price of tobacco.

The true environmental costs of fossil fuel use are much greater than those of smoking. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels within one or two decades, we risk a situation where uncontrollable feedback loops will lead to catastrophic climate change regardless of human efforts to prevent the disaster.

If we do not act very quickly to replace fossil fuels by renewables, we risk initiating a 6th geological extinction event. This might even be comparable to the Permian-Triasic extinction, during which 96 per cent of all marine species and 70 per cent of all vertebrates were lost forever.

http://eruditio.worldacademy.org/files/issue-5/reprints/ej-i5-need-for-renewable-energy-javery-reprint.pdf

http://www.countercurrents.org/avery210615.htm

Subsidies to fossil fuel companies

Far from being penalized for destroying the global environment and threatening the future of all life on earth, fossil fuel companies currently receive approximately $500,000,000,000 per year in subsidies (as estimated by the IEA).

They use part of this vast sum to conduct advertising campaigns to convince the public that anthropogenic climate change is not real.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37231-evidence-suggests-big-oil-didn-t-just-borrow-big-tobacco-s-playbook-to-lie-about-climate-change-they-wrote-it

Oiled_bird_3

***An oiled bird from Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay. About 58,000 gallons of oil spilled from a South Korea-bound container ship when it struck a tower supporting the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in dense fog on 11/07/07. | Author: Brocken Inaglory | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Betrayal by the mainstream media

If we turn on our television sets, almost nothing that we see informs us of the true predicament of human society and the biosphere.

Programs like “Top Gear” promote automobile use. Programs depicting ordinary life show omnipresent motor cars and holiday air travel. There is nothing to remind us that we must rapidly renounce the use of fossil fuels.

A further betrayal by the mainstream media can be seen in their massive free coverage of US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is an infamous climate change denier.

Despite the misinformation that we receive from the mainstream media, we must remember our urgent duty to leave fossil fuels in the ground. If threats to the future are taken into account, the price of these fuels is prohibitive.

Some suggestions for further reading:

https://human-wrongs-watch.net/2016/03/15/peace/

http://eruditio.worldacademy.org/issue-6/article/institutional-and-cultural-inertia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Cecil_Pigou

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigovian_tax

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tax

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change

https://human-wrongs-watch.net/2015/08/24/the-need-for-a-new-economic-system-part-ix-a-new-society-a-new-social-contract-a-new-way-life/

johnavery21

*John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London.

He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent book is Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century http://www.learndev.org/dl/Crisis21-Avery.pdf.

Don’t miss these articles by John Scales Avery in Human Wrongs Watch:

Human Nature: An Evolutionary Paradox

Mainstream Media Are Betraying Humanity

US Elections Cry Out for Reform!

NATO Threatens Europe With Annihilation

USA: Another Stolen Election?

The Danger of Fascism in the United States

Creating the Future

OPEC Oil and Climate Change

A Scientist Presses for Action on Many Fronts: A Review of The Need for a New Economic System by John Scales Avery

John Scales Avery – Collected Essays

Pharming

Culture, Education and Human Solidarity

The United States Drifts Towards Political Irresponsibilty

Paris: We Need System Change!

Paris and the Long-Term Future

We Must Stop the Madness of Brinkmanship

Paris, India, and Coal

Paris: A Sense of Proportions Is Urgently Needed

Debt Slavery

Book Review: Aurelio Peccei and Daisako Ikeda, “Before It Is Too Late”

The Need for a New Economic System – PART IX: a New Society, a New Social Contract, a New Way Life

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VIII: The Cooperative Movement

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VII: The Global Food Crisis

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VI: Adverse Effects of Globalization

The Need for a New Economic System – PART V: The Threats and Costs of War

The Need for a New Economic System – PART IV: Neocolonialism and Resource Wars

The Need for a New Economic System – Part III: Climate Change and the Urgent Need for Renewable Energy

The Need for a New Economic System – PART II: Entropy and Economics

The Need for a New Economic System – PART I : Limits to Growth

Israel, Iran and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Debt Slavery

Will the Real Issues Be Discussed in 2016?

Militarism’s Hostages

New Hope for Avoiding Catastrophic Climate Change

Exponential Growth

Albert Einstein, Scientist and Pacifist

“The Path to Zero: Dialogues on Nuclear Dangers”, by Richard Falk and David Krieger

Millay’s “Epitaph for the Race of Man” 

The Future of International Law (Part I)

The Future of International Law (Part II)

The Future of International Law (Part III)

Europe Must Not Be Forced Into a Nuclear War with Russia

Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe – The Dangers Are Very Great Today

Why Is the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons So Urgent?

Why Is the Military-Industrial Complex Sometimes Called “The Devil’s Dynamo”?

Of Reciprocity and Karma

Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand Is at Our Throats

Perpetual War

Kill or Be Killed… Or Both!

Does It Make Sense to Saw Off the Branch on Which You Are Sitting?

Blood for Oil – The Close Relationship Between Petroleum and War

 Images:

**A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK.| Author: User:John from wikipedia | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. | Wikimedia Commons

***An oiled bird from Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay. About 58,000 gallons of oil spilled from a South Korea-bound container ship when it struck a tower supporting the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in dense fog on 11/07/07. | Author: Brocken Inaglory | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

2016 Human Wrongs Watch

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