The original energy crisis goes back to the Jimmy Carter administration. There was a shortage of gasoline, which the Carter administration made worse by fixing oil prices. Cars lined up around the block to pump what little gasoline was for sale. Carter, of course, had a solution. And it sounds remarkably familiar, as Willis Eschenbach points out at Watts Up With That? We can’t keep relying on fossil fuels. They’re running out! We need to subsidize renewables!
From Carter’s April 1977 energy speech:
The oil and natural gas we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are running out. In spite of increased effort, domestic production has been dropping steadily at about six percent a year. Imports have doubled in the last five years. … Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil that it can produce.
The world now uses about 60 million barrels of oil a day and demand increases each year about five percent. This means that just to stay even we need the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every nine months, or a new Saudi Arabia every three years. Obviously, this cannot continue.
But it did continue; in fact, it exploded.
His conclusion was that “We must start now to develop the new, unconventional sources of energy we will rely on in the next century.” So he started throwing money at the problem. His “solution” involved, inter alia:
• A “gas-guzzler” tax on automobiles
• A rebate on electric vehicles
• A gasoline tax
• Subsidies to buses
• Taxes on aviation and marine fuel
Sound familiar? It should, as these are all parts of the current war on fossil fuels.
So for thirty-eight years, our government has been predicting the demise of fossil fuel energy and subsidizing, to varying degrees but amounting cumulatively to many billions of dollars, solar and wind energy. What has the result been?
This chart tells the story. It plots global energy consumption from 1965 to the present; you can see the contributions of solar and wind power as a virtually straight line, approximating zero, across the bottom of the graph:
The world’s energy story is almost all about developing coal, oil and natural gas resources. Nuclear energy makes a contribution, although it is severely limited by hostility from so-called environmentalists and most of the world’s governments. Solar and wind are a joke, existing mainly because they provide opportunities for graft. And nothing about this picture has changed since 1977.
UPDATE: Peter Grossman writes to point out that the original energy crisis predated the Carter administration. He’s right: the first gasoline shortage began in 1973, during the Nixon administration, with the OPEC embargo of that year. And the Nixon administration fixed prices, too–in fact, it tried to fix pretty much all wages and prices. The Carter administration partially decontrolled oil prices, a task which the Reagan administration completed.