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About mediocrity of mind, spirit or both

Columnists who rail in the Daily Mail against the Department of Energy's renewable energy loan guarantee program failures, such as Solyndra or electric car company Fisker, pretend not to know what they know.

 They surely know failure is the most common fate of new businesses. Capitalism, like a force of nature, is wasteful in producing abundance.

They likely know, as reported in Forbes magazine, that loan failures constitute only 3.6 percent of the DOE program, better than average for venture capitalism. Further, the government has been involved in start-ups for every major successful technology emerging since the Civil War.

Finally, most deplorably, these columnists pretend not to recognize the urgent driver of these efforts, the harrowing reality of climate change.  

Self-deception - fooling yourself to better fool others - is a behavioral tactic apt to backfire.

Individuals may not condescend to notice the icy Arctic cap melting away in recent summers. Nevertheless the summer sun now directly warms Arctic seabed, where lie vast frozen deposits of methane, a potent green house gas.

This is the "methane bomb," its fuse smoldering in strings of hydrocarbon bubbles.

Former Wall Street trader and author Nassim Taleb writes that persons who fail in business should be treated like war heroes crippled in a worthy cause - that is, trained in other handiwork  or generously pensioned off.

It is time to discuss how this principle can be applied to the fossil fuel business.

As the April 26 issue of the prestigious journal Science explains, we have in effect a CO2 budget. We can safely emit just so much CO2 and no more, or face collapse as a society and a living planet.

Energy enterprises failing to help meet the CO2 budget must be retired.

Not acknowledging this necessity betrays mediocrity of spirit or mind or both.

Regan Quinn

Charleston

 


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