The Freeman and Hype

Kathryn Shelton and Richard B. McKenzie published an article in The Freeman titled Hybrids and Hype. As the title implies, it is a standard attack on green energy and technology, and an exercise in the common pitfall of libertarians: throwing the baby out with the bath water. According to modern libertarian propaganda, global warming must be a myth because government claims that it’s real.

Anyway, here is how Shelton and McKenzie present their arguments:

According to the best available research, which is somewhat dated, the EPA has overstated the fuel economy of hybrids by more than that of combustion-only engines.

The emphasis is mine, as are all subsequent emphases in this post. Where is the reference to that “best available research”? How was it determined to be best? This argument reminds me of those late-night radio infomercials that promise you that “Harvard studies have shown that this all-natural formula will improve your mood, increase your libido, help you lose weight in your sleep, and give you a nice, smooth skin.”

There’s more:

Researchers have found that although their commuting habits are similar to those of drivers of combustion-engine-only cars, hybrid owners drive 25 percent more miles on pleasure trips than their counterparts.

and

Also, obesity research shows that a reduction in the cost of driving will cause people to walk less and to go out to eat more frequently, consuming more calories that are energy dense and packing on the pounds that cause the consumption of more gasoline and jet fuel just to transport the added calories around.

and

Research shows that all-electric cars that charge their batteries off coal-fired generators emit 6.5 ounces of carbon per mile, half the emissions of gasoline-powered cars. However, much if not all of the pollution gap will evaporate in the exhaust from electric cars’ greater energy-dense production costs and battery replacements and from more miles driven, given the 25 percent lower (marginal) cost of miles driven.

None of these claims is accompanied by a reference. Nevertheless, we are reminded that “Kathryn Shelton is a research associate in the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom”.

One wonders what kind of research goes on in that center.

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