We all want a cleaner environment, but can we get there without mining ourselves into oblivion, without destroying open space? Can we reduce emissions without lithium batteries? Can we reduce emissions without raping the wilderness and deserts with millions of miles of heinous solar panels? Can we reduce emissions without windmills, that disrupt the patterns of migratory species like whales and birds?
In 2017, the World Bank released a report that took a first comprehensive look at the factors involved in a transition to ‘Green Energy’. It models the increase in material extraction that would be required to build enough solar and wind utilities to produce an annual output of about 7 terawatts of electricity by 2050. 7 terawatts are only enough to power half of the global economy. To get to zero emissions would take 34 million metric tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead, 50 million tons of zinc, 162 million tons of aluminum, and around 4.8 billion tons of iron.
Steve Jobs’ widow Lauren Powell owns a $66 million Gulfstream jet that burns 500 gallons of jet fuel per hour and sails on a $120 million yacht. But she’s funding activists to make sure you can’t own a gas stove.
For neodymium—an essential element in wind turbines—extraction will need to rise by nearly 35 percent over current levels. Higher-end estimates reported by the World Bank suggest it could double.
Silver extraction, needed for solar, will go up 38 percent and perhaps as much as 105 percent. Indium would rise by 920 percent.
Trying to power the grid with batteries will be insane, requiring at least 40 million tons of lithium—that’s 2,700 percent increase over current levels of extraction.
Windmills, solar panels, and electric batteries for cars and trucks are not biodegradable, creating a toxic waste storage nightmare.
Open Space will be gobbled up. Bloomberg reports that getting to zero carbon by 2050 would require a land area equal to five South Dakotas “to develop enough clean power to run all the electric vehicles, factories, and more.” A nuclear plant takes up at most 1 square mile of land. Wind and solar farms require hundreds of thousands of acres.
To power up just Manhattan would require paving over nearly the whole state of Connecticut with windmills and solar farms.
Stop the posing and lame rhetoric, and replace myth with solid engineering. Go Nuke, or Go Home.