There are enough serious consequences from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill that it would seem they could not be surpassed.

Yet, we appear to be ready to compound a complex disaster created by human error with a series of ideologically based political decisions that would have harmful effects long after the leak is capped.

We are on the verge of making highly unwise long-term decisions about future energy policy partly in reaction to this emergency, which would be just as foolish as deciding to bail out of an airplane because some air turbulence made you spill your drink in your lap.

Many Americans may not know it — probably because few of their leaders, and even fewer in the major media, bother to tell them — but all the demands we are routinely bombarded with to wean ourselves off our “addiction” to oil are about as realistic as a demand to wean ourselves off our “addiction” to food — or anything approximating a lifestyle combining productive work with a modicum of comfort and leisure.

Which is to say, if there’s a single material reason why not just this nation but the entire developed world has lifted itself out of an agricultural economy over the past 150 years, it’s oil.

True, not all nations blessed with it are paradises. But when you look for prosperity that extends beyond a national elite to reach the average citizen, such broad-based well-being has been carried far and wide by an economy riding on fossil fuels.

We didn’t get there by “oil-company lobbying,” as our president appears to believe, but because fossil fuels are, as Charles Krauthammer pointed out in a June 18 commentary, “very portable, energy-dense and easy to use.” And so far, all the potential substitutes into which governments have poured hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide are none of those things.

Some of those nations are reconsidering their subsidies to wind, biomass, tidal and solar projects for reasons that have not been very well reported.

It turns out that big investments in alternative energy have yielded only tiny payoffs — or negative ones.

A 2009 study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid found for every “green job” created in Spain by government investment, 2.2 jobs were lost in private industry, due to the diversion of resources to less-productive uses. The subsidy for each job created since 2000 was $774,000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor and author of the report.

Bloomberg News reported on June 17 that Spain plans to cut subsidies for solar power plants by 30 percent, a move a trade group said “would put many out of business.”

A Danish study of the wind industry there concluded, “In the long run, creating additional employment in one sector through subsidies will detract labor from other sectors, resulting in no increase in net employment but only in a shift from the non-subsidized sectors to the subsidized sector.

“In this case the subsidy per job created is $90,000-$140,000 per year. This subsidy constitutes around 175-250 percent of the average pay per worker in the manufacturing industry.

“In terms of value added per employee, the energy technology sector over the period 1999-2006 underperformed by as much as 13 percent compared with the industrial average.

“Danish GDP is approximately $270 million lower than it would have been if the wind sector work force was employed elsewhere.”

Last year, the U.S. House passed a “cap-and-trade” bill that opponents immediately labeled “cap-and-tax.” It would give companies emitting greenhouse gases permits intended to put a overall limit on U.S. emissions, but allow industries emitting levels below the “cap” to “trade” them to allow higher-emitting firms to operate.

But, as John Hindraker at the Powerline blog said, “How does the House make clean energy profitable? imposing a gigantic tax on carbon. The idea is to make fossil fuels artificially expensive, so that less-efficient energy sources become competitive.

“This is another way of saying that the plan is to make the American people poorer.”

That’s because, of course, the average cost of a unit of energy from all sources will increase far beyond what it otherwisewould have. That is a direct threat to the broad-based “productive work with a modicum of comfort and leisure” society we have built via fossil fuels.

“The ‘addiction’ meme is moronic,” Hindraker points out. “We are not addicted to oil, we make a rational decision to use it because it is the most efficient and versatile energy source on the planet.”

When President Obama, in his recent Oval Office speech, said that “we consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves,” the president was deliberately not mentioning that reserves are not counted if they have been placed off-limits for extraction.

Ergo, Hindraker said, “the U.S. government could cause reserves to skyrocket overnight by opening new areas on land and in shallow water to drilling. But the U.S. is the only country in the world that has deliberately chosen not to develop its own energy resources. No one else is that dumb.”

And Krauthammer makes the same point: “We haven’t run out of safer and more easily accessible sources of oil. We’ve been run off them by environmentalists. They prefer to dream green instead.”

Those dreams are already expensive, and our government wants to make them more so.

Yes, the cost of cleaning up the Gulf spill will be huge, but it won’t kill our economy. As other nations are learning, you can’t say that about the taxpayer-gouging “green” subsidies and taxes that kill jobs galore.

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6482 or:

[email protected]