Friday, May 05, 2023

The Green Revolution's Dirty Secret

 

Much of the chatter in mainstream media these days revolves around achieving 'net zero', completing the transition to a clean, green, prosperity free world in order to 'save the planet.' Whether the planet needs saving or not is moot, the powers that be have decided there is big money to be made from 'net zero' and the switch to 'sustainable' energy and also that granting themselves powers to ban freedom to travel, the right to refuse untested and potentially dangerous medication, and the right to speak our minds, criticise the government's policies, call out the pseudo - scientific bollocks cited by certain minorities in support of  ideologies that deny basic scientific truths offers a path to establishing the authoritarian, technocratic world government they have craved for almost a century.

 All around the world politicians, banks, global corporations, electricity producers and healthcare providers have merged into a unified machine around the idea that the new, clean, green economy can be achieved via a just transition to a global energy system free of carbon emissions.

Unfortunately there can be no energy transition without critical minerals: no batteries, no electric cars, no wind turbines and no solar panels. The sun provides raw energy, but electricity flows most economically through copper. Wind turbines need manganese, platinum and rare earth magnets. Nuclear power requires uranium. Electric vehicles require batteries made with lithium, cobalt and nickel and magnets. Indium and tellurium are integral to solar panel manufacturing.” And the mining and refining of these minerals is a series of environmentally disastrous processes involving the release of vast amounts of substances among the most toxic known to science being released into the environment. And the manufacturing processes involved in making the products these materials are needed for are even more damaging.

But hey, we're not talking about measures to eliminate nasty toxic shite from the environment, the real enemy, according to academics, politicians and all manner of experts is Carbon Dioxide. OK, it may be a trace gas in the atmosphere, the presence of which is essential to the continuance of life on earth. The Science has declared CO2 the enemy and so we must strive to eliminate CO2 emissions from all human activity to create a clean, green, brave new world and never again dare to be so arrogant as to question The Science.

But exactly how clean and green is the net-zero economic strategy?  A commentary by veteran Canadian environmental journalist Andrew Nikiforuk. Writing in The Tyee, a Vancouver-based online publication, Nikiforuk reviews the work of academics and a “rising chorus of renewable energy sceptics” who believe that the great transition to a renewable energy future is a green pipe-dream that is “vastly destructive.”

He is not the only one thinking along these lines. The International Energy Agency (IEA) published a special report recently, setting out its proposals for achieving ‘Net Zero’ carbon emissions. One of its headline demands is that gas-fired domestic boilers should no longer be sold after 2025. This echoes one of the main policies in the UK government’s Net Zero plan. This is no coincidence. National governments, including the UK, draw all of their climate policies from faceless global agencies like the IEA (as well as domestic quangos like the Climate Change Committee). This process leaves out one important constituency: the public.

A ban on gas boilers will impose serious costs on ordinary people. A backlash is highly likely. You might think the practicalities of the policy would be of interest to journalists and the media. But journalists have taken the IEA’s proposals at face value, and have mainly reported them without scrutiny.

Nikiforuk is not writing for NetZeroWatch. Nor is he in the same camp as anti-renewable author Alex Epstein, whose book, Fossil Future, rips the renewable alternatives and champions oil and gas. At The Tyee, Nikiforuk continues his work as an anti-fossil-fuel environmental writer whose books include Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, and The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude.

In his new commentary, which has received far too little attention in the media and among policy-makers, Nikiforuk spares no one and pulls no punches. “For largely ideological reasons,” he writes, “many greens and ‘transitionists’ have presented the transition to renewables as a smooth road with no potholes.” Drawing on the work of an array of analysts and scientists, Nikiforuk describes the destructive forces that will be unleashed by the global push to replace fossil fuels.

Even If The Climate Threat Was Real And Not Grossly Overstated, Net Zero Is Unaffordable

Trillions of dollars need to be spent every year for almost three decades to hit net zero targets, according to consultancy McKinsey. On top of current spending, the equivalent of half of all corporate profits will have to be invested to tackle global warming, it says. McKinsey highlights that gaining acceptance will be tough, especially from those paying energy bills.

But the alternative is more extreme weather, scarmongering experts warn. Such warnings have been debunked many times of course, statistics show there are no more extreme weather events now than the annual average going back to the beginning of reliable records. The difference is that run of the mill local disasters are sensationalised by media to make them seem like global crises.

The McKinsey report estimated that the annual cost of getting to net zero - when carbon dioxide emissions are completely reduced or offset - will be $9.2tn (£6.8tn).

The world is already spending $5.7tn a year to lower the impact of fossil fuels and use alternatives.

However, an extra $3.5tn, every year from 2021 to 2050, will need to be put towards alternative energy sources and land use including agriculture to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, it said.

Much of the impact of the renewable crusade should be obvious. Solar panels, windmills or electric cars cannot be built without mining more copper, lithium, iron and aluminium. “That means vastly more destructive scraping and digging of ocean floors, rainforests and tundras on a scale inconceivable to most environmentalists.”

Nikiforuk then highlights the inconceivable scale of the taskes involved in replacing current infrasructure with 'net zero' compatible systems, citing various sources, including Simon Michaux at Finland’s Geological Society. Michaux calculates that to replace 46,423 power stations run by oil, coal, gas and nuclear energy would require the construction of 586,000 power stations run by wind, solar and hydrogen.

Another example: “Every electric vehicle contains about 75 kilograms of copper or three times more than a conventional vehicle. A single wind turbine generally contains 500 kilograms of nickel. That nickel requires 100 tonnes of steelmaking coal to be refined. And every crystalline silicon solar panel contains 20 grams of silver paste. It takes 80 metric tons of silver to generate approximately a gigawatt of solar power.”

On copper, Michaux states that current copper reserves at 880 million tonnes are equal to approximately 30 years of production. “But industry will need 4.5 billion tonnes of copper to manufacture just one generation of renewable technologies,” he estimates. “That’s six times the volume of copper mined throughout history.”

When the cost of keeping supply chains stable during the energy transition, as well as broad energy investment is accounted for, calculation of how much the transition to a CO2 neutral energy system is much higher than estimates quoted by economists working for governments.

In spite of these realities more than 130 countries have pledged net zero emissions by 2050. However most of these are socially developed nations that have de-industrialised over the past 30 years because it is cheaper to manufacture in low labour cost nations and ship goods half way round the world (on ships that emit Carbon Dioxide every inch of the way.) Others are small, economically undeveloped nations with small economies. Large carbon dioxide emitters such as China and India aren't part of the group.

There are also concerns thatof developed countries may shut down even more  their energy-intensive industries, and import these goods from other countries.

That means even if they get to net-zero, the world's emissions will not be reduced in the process. The whole farrago is so ridiculous it could be the script for a surreal comedy.

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