A new op-ed in Nature argues that countries which have air conditioning owe the world up to $298 trillion. And counting.

That figure is virtual money. Like virtual water, or virtual pregnancy, it isn't a real thing, it is a computer model by activist economists who love to use terms like "reparations" because the modern world doesn't have people routinely freezing to death.

The economists behind the paper want to give the money collected to poor countries - but they ignore why it would fail. If the stipulation is that poor countries only use it for solar and wind, and it is, then 2 billion people would still use food and dung for fuel, just like now. Emissions would not improve even a little because solar and wind don't even work in rich countries, it doesn't even work in mid-countries like South Africa. It cannot work in poor ones. The largest emissions problem the world faces is not food, nor travel, nor rich countries using air conditioning. It is wood stoves. Solar does not prevent that, it is the music therapy of energy - nice to have alongside real medicine for cancer but a bad idea on its own. 

Were you harmed by a reckless country that built air conditioners and airports and farms? You could be entitle to compendation. CALL NOW! Credit: Dr Andrew Fanning

Instead of yet another mandate-and-subsidize scheme that will fail, if economists knew any science they would first regain credibility by not using nonsense terms like "fossil" fuels - it isn't valid and never has been, it is instead the geological equivalent of saying 'all lives matter' where you know the people saying it have an agenda that is beyond reasoned discourse.  Then they would embrace coal. That's right, coal. Put me in your social media mentions if you want, but Science 2.0 doesn't get a penny for energy programs.

It's not me saying it, it was the leader of the climate change awareness charge, Dr. James Hansen, 15 years ago when he showed there would be no emissions issue if we just embraced clean coal. We don't need to pretend Pinocchio puppets like solar will become real boys, he argued the technology was there to keep using coal if it was cleaner. Which means natural gas would also do it. The Clean Power Plan in the US was withdrawn years ago because we didn't need more regulations - with natural gas and clean coal, the US met the emissions target for the CPP in 2017, no regulations or fines needed. Greedy capitalist companies actually don't want their product and profits going up in smoke. As technology develops, they embrace it. 

Wood and dung are far worse for the environment than coal yet a third of the world is still forced to use it. They can't afford centralized energy on their own and the World Bank refuses to fund anything for them except solar and wind.

It is the ultimate in White Savior thinking to tell developing countries they are being oppressed and need money from wealthier nations - but can only do what wealthier nations want them to do with it.

Solar has not advanced because it is government mandated and subsidized. No company will spend billions of dollars to improve solar when they can keep trotting out products that have not improved in 50 years and get paid by government to sell it. 

Not only is government involvement ineffective and expensive - the usual government leaky bucket has no bottom at all with alternative energy - it holds progress back. A fraction of the $4 trillion the world has squandered on solar and wind subsidies while barely moving the needle of conventional energy could have had huge impact were it spent on basic research to improve solar. Wealthy governments instead block progress by refusing to get out of the way of science.

As Samuel Broder, former Director of the National Cancer Institute, once said, "If it was up to the NIH to cure polio through a centrally directed program instead of independent investigator driven discovery, you'd have the best iron lung in the world, but not a polio vaccine."

That's all we are doing with our current alternative energy policies - making the energy equivalent of more iron lungs rather than preventing the disease.