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The real, Luddite McCain: “The truly clean technologies don’t work”

By Joe Romm

"The real, Luddite McCain: “The truly clean technologies don’t work”"

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Late last year, after his campaign tanked, no one was paying much attention to McCain. As a result, some of the amazing things that he believes didn’t get a lot of attention, such as this Cheney-esque stunner:

JOHN MCCAIN: “When you say wind solar and tide, most every expert that I know says that, if you maximize that in every possible way, the contribution that that would make given the present state of technology is very small, is very small. It’s not a large contribution. It’s wonderful, it’s great to have it, I encourage it everywhere. I hope everyone will, for Christmas, buy their family a solar panel. But, that would be exciting. But they, but, I’d be glad to send you the figures that there’s the amount of–even if we gave it the absolute maximum, uh, wind, solar and tide, uh, etc. The clean tech – the truly clean technologies don’t work.
(Town Hall Meeting; Portsmouth, NH 12/04/07)

Yes, John McCain is the candidate from the 19th century. He has a Luddite mentality that not even the Bush energy Department believes (see “Wind Power — A core climate solution“).

This quote reveals what a narrow circle of experts McCain relies on. Just what we need, a President in a bubble. And one that he is completely unable to hear the truth, even when it is presented to him by a hard core conservative, like T. Boone Pickens, as we learned from these amazing remarks last month:


QUESTIONER: … I would just like to see more emphasis on our renewable resources that we have out there. [...]

MCCAIN: [...] I’m supportive of and the government is doing some pure research and development on a lot of this technology: wind, tide, solar, and others. But I also and this is where Mr. [T. Boone] Pickens and I disagree a little bit. I don’t think we can rely on those to be as much of the solution as some people think. We all love solar. Is there anybody that doesn’t love solar power? But when we look at the actual contributions, compared with the increased demand for energy that’s gonna be part of American in the next 20 years, it does not meet much of those demands, much less the existing requirements that we have.
(Town Hall Meeting; Warren, MI 07/18/08)

If this were true, McCain’s climate plan would be hopeless. That’s probably why his plan allows unlimited carbon offset and wants to shove 45 nukes down the throats of the American public (see “McCain speech, Part 2: Relying on offsets = Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic“).

Fortunately, the truth is quite different. McCain, of course, has a Cheney-like ignorance of and disdain for energy efficiency (see “McCain on energy efficiency: He is Cheney’s third term!“)

Wind, solar PV, and solar baseload, plus efficiency, can handle all of the demand growth for decades, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions sharply (see “Is 450 ppm possible? Part 5: Old coal’s out, can’t wait for new nukes, so what do we do NOW?“).

One thing is certain — this mentally old guy is not the man to solve either our oil problem or our climate problem.

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10 Responses to The real, Luddite McCain: “The truly clean technologies don’t work”

  1. John McCormick says:

    And, buble and all, he seems to be inching above Senator Obama in poll numbers.

    What is to become of us?

    John McCormick

  2. kenlevenson says:

    Canadians?

    (seriously though….Obama’s gotta win…)

  3. Rick C says:

    I have no illusions about Barack Obama. But change never originated with the politicians. Roosevelt raced to the front of the pack wheel chair bound to pass the National Recovery Act, Social Security, Tennessee Valley
    Authority, Works Progress Administration and other programs in order to beat that southern upstart Huey Long. There was a large grass roots movement hungry for change. How hungry are you?

    I’m starving for change and the area that I’m passionate about is reducing our green house gasses by phasing in renewable energy quickly and linking out transportation to the electrical grid. I’m excited about the abilities of efficient geothermal cooling, solar-thermal electrical generating technology, photovoltaics, renewed light rail and the possibilities of the electric car and plug-in hybrids.

    I talk to my coworkers to get them excited about the technology and reflect best on the candidate to best move forward. That’s the grass roots. So let’s dive in, there’s work to do!

  4. Ronald says:

    Not enough is said about where we would be in energy consumption if we hadn’t had energy avoidance and energy efficiency (I use the terms avoidance and efficiency instead of using conservation) the last few decades.

    I remember an article in I think ‘Policy Affairs’ book/magazine in which Amory Lovins in around 1976 said that energy use can and most probably will be less than what most energy people were pridicting. Many people in the energy industry were predicting that by the year 2000, the United States would be using 160 Quid a year. Amory Lovins predicted that we would use much less.

    Amory Lovins predicted with energy avoidance and energy efficiency of end uses, we could use less and be better off because of it. With increased insulation called out for in building codes, cars and furnaces being more efficient, all sorts better buildings, materials, processes and designs, much less fossil fuels was burned.

    Sometimes we only consider what we can measure. But it’s not so easy to measure negawatts, a term that Lovins developed, to describe how much energy is saved from not using as much energy through better designs, materials, processes, construction or whatever it is that allows for less energy use.

    But if you are insulated in the Senate with a pension for life and a rich wife, there is no need to know what is actually happening to reduce energy use, only to get elected and that oil, coal and natural gas companies give money to candidates to get elected.

    Presidential candidates and Presidents are at the mercy of their advisors to get policy right, its hard to know alot about every subject. Does anybody doubt that McCain’s advisors in energy will be the same as Bush’s? Obama’s advisors on energy will be better than McCain’s.
    This is not much of a choice.

  5. Ken…

    We’d welcome you!

    In Canada, as you know, we’ve got our own Luddite in power, and our progress on CO2 emissions is the worst in the world, and not likely to change under the current administration who is in the pocket of tar sands oil companies.

    So I’m actually doing just as Rick says… I’m trying to start a grass roots movement for change and environmental action in the next month, to make global warming the focus of the next election. I have no idea if my plan will meet with success, or be roundly ignored, but I can’t throw up my hands in frustration anymore. I’m going to fight this fight, or die trying.

    (And yes, Obama has to win).

  6. kenlevenson says:

    Richard & Rick C,
    I totally agree. Our interest has to be constantly translated to action – small, large, private, public. Our neighbors and towns must apply pressure upward to national policy as Joe has so clearly shown the only thing that has the potential to redeem us is concerted national and international policies on a WWII scale footing.

    I try to refrain from opening pushing my own blog but it seems appropriate here – for those interested in ideas for taking all types of action I suggest taking a look at my evolving checklist. I encourage any interested to download it, edit it for your local conditions, make it your own and distribute.
    http://www.checklisttowardzerocarbon.wordpress.com

  7. I’m trying to start a grass roots movement for change and environmental action in the next month, to make global warming the focus of the next election.

  8. (seriously though….Obama’s gotta win…)

  9. shop says:

    This quote reveals what a narrow circle of experts McCain relies on. Just what we need, a President in a bubble. And one that he is completely unable to hear the truth, even when it is presented to him by a hard core conservative, like T. Boone Pickens,

  10. porno says:

    I talk to my coworkers to get them excited about the technology and reflect best on the candidate to best move forward. That’s the grass roots. So let’s dive in, there’s work to do!