Fracking: Anatomy of a Free Market Failure « Real Climate Economics

16 Jan

Right now everybody knows that energy sources are key to our economic future, but nobody knows what sources will turn out to be the “winners” or “losers” in the short, medium, or long-run. Unless renewable sources dominate in the long-run, most knowledgeable observers believe we are in a lot of trouble. But what energy sources will dominate in the medium and short-run is very much up in the air. Again, scientists may tell us that unless renewables are playing a dominant role in the medium-run, and a much more important role in the short-run than they currently do, we are in more trouble than we should find comfortable. But betting odds on whether that will prove to be the case are much less certain than scientific opinion about what needs to happen.

What role does natural gas play in this scenario? To make a long story short: Oil has peaked, coal is plentiful but most likely to lead to cataclysmic climate change, and natural gas is cleaner than coal but a fossil fuel nonetheless. Which is what makes betting odds on the role natural gas will – as opposed to should play – in our energy future so difficult to predict. If wise political forces seize control over energy policy it will play a limited role, and only as a “bridge technology” as renewables replace all fossil fuels ASAP. If the fossil fuel industry continues to exert as much political power as it has over the past hundred years, natural gas may become the new “king” for many decades.

via Fracking: Anatomy of a Free Market Failure « Real Climate Economics.

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