During last Thursday's debate, Joe Biden said his goal as president would be to "transition away from the oil industry." He has also said the future is in cars powered by electricity. Biden would build 500,000 charging stations across the country. It wasn't the first time he attacked the oil and job-producing industry in his worship of the cult of "climate change."

According to Energy Information Administration data, petroleum is America's number one source of energy, providing approximately 40 percent of the nation's power needs. Biden claims oil is also a major pollutant. According to the website IQ Air, the United States ranks 87th out of 98 on a list of the "world's most polluted countries." We have done well in reducing pollutants without the overreaching arm of government forcing us into electric cars. We are also now energy independent.

My car gets 22 mpg and can go 400 miles between fill-ups. As of 2016, there were approximately 111,000 gas stations in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says they employ about 900,000 people. Would Biden force us to own electric cars and replace all those stations and convert every employee to jobs making windmills, solar panels?

Current technology does not support battery life sufficient to drive long distances. If a battery dies and no charging station is near, what then? Would Americans willingly give up the freedom the gasoline-powered car has provided for more than a century and embrace the apocalyptic predictions of politicians who likely will continue to enjoy transportation choices?

It is dangerous to predict the future. Americans should not be forced to accept such a radical lifestyle change that would have serious economic, political and worldwide implications.

It is wise - even fun - to recall past predictions, which were sold at the time as certainties, but were wrong and, fortunately, not embraced by the public. As CNN.com notes, "According to various experts, scientists and futurologists, we would have landed on Pluto and robots should be doing our laundry by now. Oh, and we'd all be living to 150." Nanobots and ape chauffeurs were also predictions that were said to be the norm by this year.

There are more, which seem laughable now, but were taken seriously by some at the time. In 1800, Dr. Dionysis Larder, professor at University College London, said: "Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breath, would die of asphyxia."

In 1859, associates of American businessman Edwin L. Drake mocked his suggestion to drill for oil: "Drill for oil? You mean dig into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." Later that year, Drake successfully drilled the first oil well.

In 1876, an internal Western Union memo said of the newly invented telephone: "This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." Western Union believed the telephone's inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, to be a competitor.

Reacting to Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb, Henry Morton, president of The Stevens Institute of Technology, said in 1880: "Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."

The Wright Brothers had their critics, who said humans could not fly. There were people who said movie-goers did not want to hear actors talk, motorcars were only a fad, radio and TV are useless and won't last, there is no reason for anyone to have a computer in the home and online databases would never replace newspapers. If only.

And then there are the wrong predictions of climate catastrophes and other end-of-the-world forecasts that never materialized.

Risking our future on unproven claims and predictions based on wishful thinking has a bad track record. If Biden is elected and follows through on his promises, it would wreak havoc on an American economy that was booming before the virus struck and is on the verge of a major recovery.

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Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com. Look for Cal Thomas’ new book “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan).

(2) comments

CheeseNarb

On the economic front, why subsidize an industry like oil that is profitable that has pollution as a side effect? Investing in innovating clean energy technologies ultimately lowers the cost to consumers and lowers the cost of transportation. Lowering transportation costs makes supplying everything else we consume cheaper and so we can buy more with our money and increase GDP output.

I’ll leave others to argue the global warming side – but the impacts of car exhaust on our health should be considered. It drives up respiratory diseases and asthma that contribute to our growing medical expenses as a nation. We have hard choices in our near future to fund medicare and social security and the conservative side of us should look for these win-win situations to help us keep cost down.

We may never be able to cost in the negative externalities that fossil fuels have back to oil producers, but we can at least remove the subsidies that incentivize them to stop innovating in better technologies. Stop subsidizing and let the free market do its thing.

ClayCoConut

1.) Using the phrase "worship of the cult of "climate change" infers climate change doesn't exist — it does.

2.) "According to Energy Information Administration data, petroleum is America's number one source of energy" — Correct, just in front of natural gas. 100 years ago it was coal. Before that it was streams powering mills, horses pulling carts and whale oil powering street lamps. To think we shouldn't move forward is illogical.

3.) "Would Biden force us to own electric cars and replace all those stations and convert every employee to jobs making windmills, solar panels?" — Nope, he won't.

4.) "If a battery dies and no charging station is near, what then?" — That's why it'd sure be nice if the government invested in infrastructure to support this — kinda like the 500,000 charging stations Biden wants to invest in. Where do you think all those precious petroleum gas stations came from in the first place? They came from investments in the form of taxes, roads, highways, interstates, drilling leases, etc., etc...

5.) "It is dangerous to predict the future." Yep, but it's not the future. Electric cars are here. Have been here. The Tesla Model 3 is in the top 5 of best selling cars in the U.S. The free market demands it.

6.) "Nanobots and ape chauffeurs were also predictions that were said to be the norm by this year." — I'm genuinely sad this isn't a thing, so long as the apes were paid a fair wage.

7.) "And then there are the wrong predictions of climate catastrophes and other end-of-the-world forecasts that never materialized." — You should pay attention to what's happening around the world: record breaking heat waves, raging wild fires, longer and more powerful hurricane seasons, more extreme droughts and flooding, and all the resulting deaths, loss of property and loss of economic output. These are things affecting the US and the world at large RIGHT NOW and all were predicted as a result of global warming.

8.) "Risking our future on unproven claims and predictions based on wishful thinking has a bad track record." — Not investing in the future and wellbeing of the nation is irresponsible and a dereliction of leadership.

Here's to a future that's greener, cleaner, and full of ape chauffeurs.

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