By ALEX GIMARC
“Thinking past the sale” is a powerful persuasion technique that moves your attention from whether or not something ought to be done to all the wonderfulness that will happen once you do it.
The most common and infamous example comes from the used car sales field, where the sales critter pushes hard the wonderful new world of sex, booze (or drugs) and rock and roll that will open to you once you sign on the dotted line.
The important point here is to ensure that you spend very little time considering whether to make the purchase and almost all time and effort on how Life Will Be Good after you bring your new play toy home.
With that in mind, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power out of UAF in Fairbanks is working a project named the Railbelt Decarbonization Study. The presenters gave a briefing / Q&A session Sept. 26 at the Westmark in Fairbanks. The video is available below.
The project kicked off May 2022 and is scheduled to be completed June 2024. It is being funded by the Office of Naval Research and State of Alaska FY23 Economic Development Capital Funding.
The goal is to identify several pathways to a completely decarbonized Alaska energy system and to see if it is in anyway affordable. Happily, the scenarios include Big Hydro (Watana) and nuclear (Gen IV nukes). Wind, solar, tidal, biomass, and in-stream generation are all part of the work. I expect them to conclude that it is possible to get from here to there. But at what cost?
“Thinking past the sale,” is what the Alaska Center for Energy and Power is doing, telling us how Alaska can construct a pathway from where we are today to a carbon-free future in 27 years (2050). This is their job, and someone needs to be doing that sort of analysis.
But the most critical question is not how to do it, but why should Alaska decarbonize its energy use? And if we choose to travel that pathway, what will it cost and how will our lives and the lives of our children and future generations change?
As I have previously written, energy use here in Alaska is divided roughly into three equal buckets, electricity (90% natural gas in the Railbelt), heating (natural gas and propane), and vehicular fuel (gasoline, diesel, AvGas).
Think of this mix as three legs on a stool. If one leg goes away, you can still remain relatively upright with the other two intact. If the electricity goes away, which it does from time to time, you can keep from freezing in the dark with heating and still retain mobility with your vehicle.
The decarbonization crowd would take us ultimately to a single legged pogo stick relying on electricity for everything. For me, something less than a positive lifestyle choice.
At a more basic level, why should Alaska adopt decarbonization? What are we hoping to change? While the climatistas will spend a lot of energy arm waving and chair throwing about manmade global warming due to CO2 emissions, precisely what impact does a state with 732,000 people have on the global climate? Is it even measurable?
I would submit the answer is really close to zero / none. And if we are having no measurable impact, why are we even considering this future?
Choosing a decarbonization pathway before even agreeing that we have a problem is a fool’s errand, thinking past the sale.
This will be a difficult discussion, as we have a political party supported by half our population that already adopted decarbonization as a matter of faith. They are in the process of installing it in their party platform. As they control the Senate majority, expect some legislation to make this so to start percolating through the process in January.
Make no mistake, Democrats are interested in decarbonization, which means decarbonization is interested in you. It is their latest faith-based climate prescription, completely ignoring the unpleasant experience of Europe, California and Texas traveling that path over the last few decades. And if we’ve seen nothing else out of Democrats recently, they aren’t a bit bashful of cramming their shiny new solution down the uncooperative throats of a skeptical public the instant they have a one-vote majority in any legislative body.
This is coming. Be ready for it.
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.