Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Today’s worst person in the world: Stephen F. Hayward

Posted by Rich Sweeney on May 27, 2008

Somehow I missed Stephen Hayward’s Wall Street Journal Editorial on “The real cost of tackling climate change” a month ago (oh yeah, I missed it because it was on the Wall Street Journal editorial page). I was made aware of it last week though, when Environmental Capital dropped this little nugget of disinformation into a post on rising US emissions,

As Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute noted last month in the WSJ, those residential emissions represent a high standard of living: flat-screen TVs, tumble dryers, and ubiquitious air conditioning. Trimming America’s emissions enough to meet the targets politicians preach, Mr. Hayward wrote, will mean putting U.S. household energy-consumption on par with Haiti and Somalia.

Needless to say, this quote sounded pretty dubious. I was hoping it was just hyperbole, but after reading the op-ed and thinking about it for 1.5 seconds, it became clear that this statement is both mistranscribed and innacurate. Unfortunately, the op-ed author, Mr. Hayward, appears to have intended both errors. In his apocalyptic rant about the implications US carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, Hayward uses carbon consumption and energy consumption interchangeably. This has the (intended?) effect of making the reader believe that cutting carbon emissions by 80% means cutting energy consumption by 80%. It doesn’t. What the op-ed actually said was that such a cut would put emissions on par with Haiti and Somalia, not energy consumption, but clearly Keith Johnson fell for the bait, and posted the latter.

Slight of words aside, Hayward’s claims are poorly substantiated and thus predictably erroneous. He justifies his ridiculous assumption that kilowatt hours are perfectly correlated with carbon emissions with one solitary sentence, “It is unlikely that renewables – wind, solar, and biomass – can ever make up more than about 20% of our electricity supply.” Well, if you say so.  Nevermind the fact that the EIA’s most recent annual energy outlook has renewables growing to over 16% of generation in that time frame under most conservative of assumptions, assuming no national carbon policy, no national RPS, and no extention of the PTC beyond this year. And just disregard the DOE’s recent study which shows we can get 20% of our electricity from wind alone by 2030. And forget about the fact that California is on the verge of enacting a 33% RPS by 2020…….

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2 Responses to “Today’s worst person in the world: Stephen F. Hayward”

  1. Sky Hiatt said

    Thank you for illuminating the deceit and mindlessness of those among us who believe that driers and A.C. are perfectly legitimate reasons to destroy the planet and the future. Something has to change soon, and it isn’t going to be me. If conservatives believe in the present, it’s just not enough to overwhelm my belief in the future. All they have is the self. I have everything else.

  2. [...] global warming denial, paying climate skeptics Roy Spencer, Glenn Beck, Steven Milloy, and Steven Hayward to speak before their [...]

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