Can’t Get Enough Of That Tasty Cognitive Dissonance

And the editorial pages of last Friday’s Wall Street Journal were serving up the good stuff.  First there was this cap and trade critique by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels,  who, after ranting for a while about imperialism, bragged that “the world’s first commercial-scale clean coal power plant is under construction in our state.”

Apparently Mr. Daniels isn’t a fan of The Daily Score,  where Eric de Place just reminded us again that clean coal doesn’t exist.  To which Daniels would no doubt reply, “that depends on what the meaning of clean is.”

In the context of an article about greenhouse gases, one might assume that clean-coal means limited CO2 emissions, but no, the Indiana plant will not sequester CO2 (though a tiny portion of the construction budget was set aside to “study” that process).   What the plant will do is use a process that reduces emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury — so in that sense it is cleaner than the status-quo coal plant.

So far the closest the world has gotten to carbon-free coal-based power generation  is a small-scale demonstration plant in Germany.  Waste CO2 is liquified and pumped nearly two miles underground — not cheap.  The 30 MW German plant would have to be scaled up about 20 times to match the capacity of the Indiana plant — not trivial.

The WSJ’s circulation is second only to USA Today.   So now presumably some large fraction of their huge readership is under the mistaken impression that carbon-free clean coal is a done deal and being built in Indiana.  And the convenient thing is, this is exactly what most of them badly want to believe.  Cause it implies that everything is going to be alright; the American way of life will not be disturbed by climate change or peak oil; comfortable denial is maintained.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a dose harmless denial now and then  — it helps keep us sane.  But unfortunately denial has a habit of biting back.

But wait, there’s more:  printed on that same randomly sampled WSJ editorial page was this fun little exercise in cognitive dissonance on energy policy that concludes with the following:

So it’s little more than socialist Malthusianism to argue that the world is running out of cheap energy. Science will always find and harness new sources.

“Always.”  Mr. Utley  ought to be writing for religion.com instead of  reason.com.

9 Responses to “Can’t Get Enough Of That Tasty Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. Bailey

    depressing

  2. blaster99

    So what’s the solution here? Nuclear? Major lifestyle change? Going back to living in huts made of dung? Or are we just going to sit around and lament how f*cked we all are.

  3. Matt the Engineer

    The electricity side solution is quite easy. Concentrated thermal solar plants in regions with sun, wind power in regions with wind, a good power grid to move power to places with either, and bumping up efficiency efforts to fix the rest.

    This is all off-the-shelf technology. Concentrating thermal solar power is actually quite a bit cheaper than nuclear, and the fuel is free.

  4. John

    It is true that to bail ourselves out of our energy conundrum clean coal has not been implemented on a large scale. But neither are the electric car, the solar utility grid, or conservation in any position to save the day. There is no perfect technology and we don’t have time to wait. I’m for some combination of “all of the above” because we can ill afford to be particular at this point.

  5. Lance

    This is American exceptionalism at it’s finest- the majority of us all feel that none of this affects us. Unfortunately until a major paradigm shift occurs in our social consciousnesses, all we can really do is sit around and lament about how f*ed we are.

  6. BrianM

    Well…even the living in dung huts option will not work with 6 billion people (and 300 million Americans). So…be sure to include “massive resource wars, starvation, and extinction of 90% of the population” to your forecast, M. Blaster

  7. Dan Staley

    There’s going to be a lot more of this in the near future.

    Many more folk are now admitting we are at or near Peak Oil, and the Cornucopians and their ilk are having their beliefs, self-identities, and ideologies negated in front of their eyes. You’d be in denial too if your identity was shown to you to be wrong.

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    And the editorial pages of last Friday’s Wall Street Journal were serving up the good stuff. F [...]…

  9. Burton Haynes

    glad to read this information

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