This is the beginning of a long thread (actually, a couple of long threads) from the Making Sense of Climate Denial Course ("Climate change is real, so why the controversy and debate? Learn to make sense of the science and to respond to climate change denial"), which ran from April-June, 2015.
If you want to read the full thread which contains this introduction then go here straight away. Otherwise, keep reading here if you first want the introduction which sparked the thread before deciding whether or not to read the whole thing.
It represents a challenge to the course organisers on the issue of whether renewables are more expensive than fossil fuels.
Fact: Renewable energy costs more than fossil fuels
discussion posted 4 days ago by ArthurD
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This simple fact is common ground among all serious participants in debates concerning what to do about global warming.
It is the central reason why many argue for a carbon tax and subsidies to renewables. Without such measures there is no hope of renewables replacing fossil fuels.
It is also the central reason for concern that the world will continue on the present "business as usual" track towards significant problems from global warming before the end of the century. No such measures are in fact being taken to the extent that would be required to make a significant difference.
The vast majority of emissions are expected to come from poor countries like India and China rapidly industrializing over the next few decades.
They are not cannot and will not be switching from fossil fuels to renewables because they cannot afford the extra cost. Consequently 4 times as much additional energy is being supplied by coal each year as by renewables.
There are NO serious claims that renewables will become cheaper than fossil fuels. What IS being claimed is that they will become cheaper than they are now but that it is still NECESSARY to make fossil fuels more expensive through such measures as carbon taxes in order to internalize the external costs imposed by emissions.
Numerous posts with "good news" about trends towards renewables demonstrate that many students in this course are unaware of these facts.
Worse, course staff are actively in denial about them.
I started a thread on this, which had 47 posts --> this course helps preserve fossil fuels
Another student posted several links as follows:
"I'm a serious student of the economic debate, with a degree in economics and in science: renewables demonstrably cost less than consumables, and I nor the World Bank, nor http://thesolutionsproject.org/ nor https://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/Renewable_Power_Generation_Costs.pdf nor Swanson's Law nor http://www.skepticalscience.com/renewable-energy-is-too-expensive.htm nor the IEA do not tacitly or otherwise agree to the myth of cheap consumables; it's a bald misrepresentation to suggest consumables are cheaper."Not one of these links claims that renewables are or will become cheaper than fossil fuels so that poor countries could switch to them while industrializing. The last, from the group behind this course, repeats what is in fact usually claimed:
"When you account for the effects which are not reflected in the market price of fossil fuels, like air pollution and health impacts, the true cost of coal and other fossil fuels is higher than the cost of most renewable energy technologies."This is true but completely irrelevant to the question of whether renewables will or can replace fossil fuels in the poor countries that are industrializing.
They are paying ACTUAL costs in the ACTUAL situation of no "carbon price" and people on $2 per day have much higher priorities. They do NOT "account for the effects". (Neither for that matter do most developed countries that could afford to, but the point is that even if they did, poor countries still CANNOT do so while industrializing).
The response of course staff was to close down the thread before I could even point out that NONE of the links offered even denied, let alone refuted the commonly accepted basis for all serious debate that renewables are not replacing fossil fuels because their actual costs are greater.
Please take a look at the closed thread and then come back here and follow this thread if you are interested in serious discussion of what can be done about the ACTUAL situation rather than pretense that endlessly repeating what OUGHT to be can change what is continuing to happen - "business as usual" with rapidly growing emissions.
For the subsequent (lengthy) discussion of these introductory comments go here