In our view, this is the over-riding issue regarding all energy and environmental matters.
Science is not a collection of facts, but rather a methodology to be used when attempting to solve technical problems (like energy and environmental matters). This methodology (known as the scientific process) is a comprehensive, independent, transparent, and empirical assessment of a claim or proposed solution (also called a hypothesis). [An example of a hypothesis is the assertion that wind energy saves a consequential amount of CO2.]
Let’s clarify these four important terms a bit. Comprehensive means a technical, economic, and environmental assessment. Independent means that evaluating scientists have no economic or political stake in the outcome. Transparent means that all data is readily available for inspection. Empirical means that real-world data is used, not computer models. [Computer models are acceptable when there is insufficient empirical data, and when all model assumptions are published.]
Note that in the scientific methodology explained above, none of it has anything to do with polling experts as to their opinion. Consensus is not, and has never been, a part of the scientific process. In fact, many of the great scientists of history are remembered precisely because they broke from the scientific consensus of their time.
Skepticism is at the heart of scientific thinking. Although we should consider all hypotheses with an open mind, we should remain skeptical until there is legitimate scientific proof (through the methodology mentioned above) that said claim is true. A critical understanding is that those who put forward a hypothesis are responsible for proving it is correct — it is not the responsibility of others to prove it wrong, or to provide a “better” hypothesis.
Currently, most of our energy and environmental policies are NOT Science based. Instead these policies have essentially been written by lobbyists representing clients with economic or political agendas. The predictable result is that almost all of these policies cost taxpayers, businesses, etc. considerably more than originally promised — and accomplish significantly less than we were assured. Additionally, there are usually numerous “unintended consequences” of these lobbyist driven policies that make the net effects even worse.
Insisting on Science-based technical policies would guarantee better results. AWED’s hope is that the current economic hard times might be the motivation for changing the traditional way of writing technical policies. Our belief is that this change is essential if the U.S. wishes to remain a leader in affordable, cutting edge energy technology in the 21st century and beyond.
Wind energy is a favorite alternative energy source for advocates of all things green — and we use wind energy as an example of what happens when we deviate from using real science: we end up with high-cost, low-benefit boondoggles. (Much the same could be said about solar.)
The main justification for wind energy by its promoters, is that it will substantially reduce the threat of climate change. Unfortunately this is a political science position, not one based on real Science. No scientific assessment has proven that wind energy saves a consequential amount of CO2 — or that it is a NET societal benefit to us. NET, of course, is the key word.
The obvious question is: why are governments investing so much in wind energy when there has never been a genuine scientific assessment of its merits — anywhere in the world? The reason is that our energy policies are written by lobbyists, and any true Science in the process is inadvertent.
So, after a policy has been in effect for 10+ years, we wonder why it has cost WAY more that we were told it would, why the results are WAY less than we were promised they would be, and why there are numerous other negative consequences that we were never told about…
None of this should be a surprise — in fact they are the expected results — when policies are written to benefit the interests of a few, rather than the public. All of these problematic results could have been minimized if our technical policies were based on real Science. It’s as simple as that.
We favor reducing the pollutants of fossil fuel power facilities (like coal), and of aggressively investigating other good options for producing electricity. Our main concern is that we should not be wasting time and money on illusionary solutions — like some of the alternatives being promoted by those with vested financial interests in them.
A critical fact to understand is that just because a power source is an alternative, or a renewable, does NOT automatically mean that it is better than any conventional or fossil fuel source!
In other words, energy alternatives/renewables should not be given a free pass on common sense scrutiny, and the use of scientific methodology, in objectively evaluating their merits. (Read the Obituary for Common Sense.)