A Democratic lawmaker said switching from an expensive Mercedes to an equally expensive, supposedly energy friendly Tesla makes you a better person.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, made his comments in mid-February at a man-made global warming forum in Germany, a country widely believed to be the “greenest” country in the world.
“Let me just push back very gently on one point,” Whitehouse said. “I don’t want to leave the impression that mankind must suffer in order to make these changes. The changes in consumption can actually be enjoyable and beneficial.”
His suggestion is bound to raise eyebrows, especially considering the hefty price associated with going green.
“If you trade in your Mercedes for a Tesla, your quality of life just went up,” Whitehouse said.
“It’s really not true that you have to suffer for changing lifestyle and habits,” one German panelist said, in hopes of running triage for Whitehouse.
“In Germany now, on average the German household is paying 30 percent more for energy than the neighboring countries, and 60 percent more than American households,” he added. “We’re doing this because we believe in the change.”
On the same panel, former head of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, said switching from fossil fuels to green alternatives is not an easy thing to talk about.
Green-friendly actions such as determining “what we eat, where it comes from, how we entertain ourselves, what kind of holidays we take,” Naidoo said about becoming a vegetarian. “All of these things actually are very painful to talk about.”
Recent studies, however, show renewable energy is too expensive to work without the help of a carbon tax and more public funds dumped into green energy projects.
A study published by MIT’s News Office Wednesday, for instance, showed fossil fuels, among other existing forms of energy, will be less expensive in years, ultimately leading citizens to continue using more and more oil, gas, and coal unless governments funnel more money into green energies and enact carbon taxes.
“If we don’t adopt new policies, we’re not going to be leaving fossil fuels in the ground,” Christopher Knittel, an economist at the MIT Sloan School of Management, told MIT News. “We need both a policy like a carbon tax and to put more R&D money into renewables.”
“Cheap gas is inimical to the green energy business (and all other competitors),” William Yeatman, an economist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Andrew Follett on Wednesday.
He added: “But even if gas prices were through the roof, like in early 2008, intermittent wind and solar power still couldn’t compete without subsidies and mandates, for the simple reason that you can’t rely on them.”
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