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Wind and Solar Ramp-up Problematic (mainstream recognition of grassroots environmentalism)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- July 28, 2020

The Michael Moore documentary Planet of the Humans has educated millions about the dark, dirty side of so-called green energy. Producer Jeff Gibbs makes these points about wind power, solar power, and biomass in particular (verbatim):

  • … there is no “green,” “sustainable” version of growth.
  •  There is no technology that does not come from a profound cost to our Mother Earth.
  • The mining, smelting, manufacturing, mountain dissolving, forest clearing, pit digging, air polluting, water poisoning, human exploiting, and fossil fuel burning necessary to bring us our “green” energy are no small matter.
  • No “breakthroughs” in green technology will eliminate their significant and growing impact on the living planet.
  • Fairy tales of green technology saving the planet protect us from the full weight of just how bad things are and from making a real plan to save ourselves and a planet worth living on. 
  • Biomass and biofuel remain the largest portion of what’s defined as green energy around the world.
  • Millions of square miles of technology plastered across the planet is the wrong kind of “magic.”

Gibbs’s takeaways are filled with Malthusian limits-to-growth bullets, but he is spot-on that “green” technologies are eco-sinful, something I documented in my 1997 study, “Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green.‘”

The Guardian Acknowledges ….

The Guardian (UK, with a US edition) is one of the world’s leading organs of climate alarmism. Each climate story ends with an appeal for reader donations premised on now-or-never planetary doom. The pitch:

100 days to save the Earth … because that is when the US withdraws from the Paris climate accord, on 4 November…. [President Trump] is playing politics with the climate crisis – the most defining issue of our time…. The [2020] election will be a referendum on the future of democracy, racial justice, the supreme court and so much more…. If you can, support the Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

In a recent Guardian article, “Biden plots $2tn green revolution but faces wind and solar backlash,” author Oliver Milan acknowledges a strong undercurrent working against a major scale-up of wind and solar projects in particular.

He blames fossil-fuel interests, but the problem is really on-the-spot, grassroots citizens who have to live with (or despite) such “green” energy. Excerpts from his article, subtitled ‘Enormous overhaul will have to defeat opposition from fossil-fuel lobbyists and residents unhappy with nearby turbines,’ follow (subtitles added).

Joe Biden’s $2tn plan to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from the US electricity grid within 15 years has been applauded by climate campaigners, but the enormous overhaul will have to pick its way through a minefield of community as well as lobbyist opposition.

… A Biden presidency would aim to spur tens of thousands of new wind turbines and millions of new solar panels across the US to rapidly scale up zero-carbon energy. [But] … the sheer scale of the energy transformation risks a backlash from communities unhappy with the nearby placement of new solar and wind infrastructure.

Green” Tradeoffs

“We must decarbonize, but that’s not the only metric. We need to care about other environmental and social impacts too,” said David Keith, a climate and energy expert at Harvard.

In 2018, Keith co-authored research that found America’s transition to solar and wind would require up to 20 times more land area than previously thought. Land development was particularly significant for wind, which has an average power density – measured in watts per meter squared – that is 10 times less than solar.

“Wind turbines are wonderfully efficient and we shouldn’t abandon them, but we should take their footprint seriously,” Keith said. “You should tilt the energy system towards low land footprints, which means focusing on solar, nuclear and carbon capture and storage, with wind at the margins.”

“Green” Protests, Arrests

An incoming Biden administration would not only have to help navigate concerns over the placement of clean energy infrastructure, but also a massive new network of transmission lines required to bring solar and wind energy from remote areas to power homes and businesses.

“If there’s a seriousness about a Green New Deal and deep cuts in emissions there will need to be federal legislation that states’ rights people won’t like where decisions are made quickly,” said Keith. “It will need leadership to admit there will be tradeoffs for a shared national goal. Biden will need to be clear there will be local decisions people won’t like. We can’t pretend this is going to be easy.” ….

But protests have also started to flare around some clean energy projects, such as a Virginia community opposed to a huge solar farm 60 miles south of Washington DC, or demonstrations in the Hawaiian island of Oahu over new wind turbines that led to more than 100 arrests late last year.

“It’s not fair that AES [the company behind the wind project] can just build these monsters in our backyards, rake in all the money from them and leave us to live with the eyesore and all the side-effects,” said Kryssa Stevenson, one of the Oahu protesters, in December.

Objections to wind and solar projects range from complaints they are an eyesore and harmful to property values, to largely debunked claims they are dangerous to public health. Trump has attacked “windmills” for causing a “bird graveyard” for flying animals.

There are also broader environmental concerns over the land consumed for solar arrays or wind turbines. For example, conservationists have raised objections to the development of solar energy in the Mojave desert due to the threat posed to the desert tortoise, a creature that can live up to 80 years.

The US has repeatedly seen renewable energy infrastructure “sited and constructed in places that have led to a significant loss of biodiversity”, said Rebecca Hernandez, co-author of a recent University of California, Davis study that found the development of the Mojave imperils cacti and other desert plants. “We need land for energy, food and conservation – how will we make sure we allocate enough for each on an increasingly hot and full Earth? We make prudent decisions about where we put our renewable energy.”

Climate Alarmism for Green Pain

Ultimately, however, the impacts of a surge in renewable energy construction may have to be weighed against an alternative where emissions are not cut and the US is roiled by unbearable heatwaves, failed crops and increasingly powerful storms.

“It’s important that the Biden plan is technology neutral, so communities can pick their path to zero emissions,” said Melissa Lott, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “A portion of the country will oppose this but that’s the case for anything that is built. On balance, are these impacts better than a carbon-intensive grid that will cut thousands of lives short? The answer is an unequivocal yes.

“Getting to zero carbon for the power sector by 2035 is ambitious, it’s difficult, but it’s achievable with policy support. Every year we wait will make it harder to do. We have a narrow window in the next nine or 10 years to get everything running, and fast.”


The climate industrial complex simply cannot and will not face up to the here-and-now deficiencies of political correct energies. Instead, they resort to smears and fabrication, as documented in yesterday’s post on renewable energy educator/ critic, Kevon Martis.

Fact is, the climate alarm is exaggerated. Capitalist adaptation has been and will be the first line of defense against uncertain problematic weather from any source, natural or anthropogenic.

And never forget: dense, mineral energies offer the environmental advantages that dilute, intermittent “green” technologies do not. As Peter Huber classically noted:

The greenest fuels are the ones that contain the most energy per pound of material that must be mined, trucked, pumped, piped, and burnt. … [In contrast], extracting comparable amounts of energy from the surface would entail truly monstrous environmental disruption…. The greenest possible strategy is to mine and to bury, to fly and to tunnel, to search high and low, where the life mostly isn’t, and so to leave the edge, the space in the middle, living and green. [1]


[1] Huber, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists (New York: Basic Books, 1999), pp. 105, 108.

One Comment for “Wind and Solar Ramp-up Problematic (mainstream recognition of grassroots environmentalism)”

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