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Renewable Energy: Second Thoughts (Moore/Gibbs documentary in the news)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 14, 2019

“Sure, ‘Planet,’ Jeff [Gibbs], Ozzie [Zehner] and Michael [Moore] will come under fierce fire from those who benefit from the current half (at best) measures. Already, many of the organizations and people – a huge multimillion dollar Climate Campaign industry … have panned it, without ever even seeing it.” (- Michael Donnelly, “Consuming the ‘Planet of the Humans:’ The Most Important Documentary of the Century,” CounterPunch, August 9, 2019.)

Michael Moore’s new documentary on renewable energy, Planet of the Humans, has put the alternative-energy lobby on notice. Early screenings have prompted great applause, so get ready for the Washington, DC, climate PR machine to fight back.

One eco-activist summarized the film’s findings as follows:

The bottom line [of this film] is that there are: Too many Clever Apes; consuming too much; too rapidly. And ALL efforts on addressing the climate costs are reduced to illusions/delusions designed to keep our over-sized human footprint and out-of-control consumption chugging along without any consumer sacrifices or loss of consumption-based profits….

Forget all you have heard about how “Renewable Energy” is our salvation. It is all a myth that is very lucrative for some. Feel-good stuff like electric cars, etc. Such vehicles are actually powered by coal, natural gas… or dead salmon in the Northwest.

Michael Donnelly of CounterPunch continues:

  • all “alternative energy” itself is fossil-fuel-based. None of it could or did exist without fossil fuels. Solar panel themselves are made with metallurgical coal and quartz – both derived from blowing up mountains. The top beneficiaries of tax subsidies to promote solar? The Koch Bothers!;
  • same with wind and even hydro and Nukes, as the essential major ingredient in the creation of cement and steel is…coal. None of these technologies existed, nor could they exist, without fossil fuels. The grid cannot even operate without fossil fuel-derived steam-generated baseloads – in the spring when hydro is surging, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) cuts off wind power (and still has to pay its providers after a lawsuit), yet has to keep the Boardman Coal plant (Oregon’s top carbon polluter) running in order to balance the baseload. Even eCon Musk’s famed battery plant in Nevada is powered by…fracked natural gas. The huge bird and desert-destroying Ivanpah Solar array in California also has fracked natural gas as an essential ingredient;
  • the documentary depants the ubiquitous memes/reports of how “Germany gets its energy from renewables.” It trots out footage of a series of the top misleaders stating one after the other: “Germany gets 30% from renewables,” “40%,” “50%,” “60%”,… The reality is that Germany gets just 3.5% of all its renewable energy from solar and wind combined. A whopping 70% of what passes for “Green” energy in Germany comes from Biomass – grinding up trees in the Amazon and the US Southeast and shipping them to Europe where Germany (and Great Britain) burns them for electrons and get Carbon Credits for doing so!;
  • the other part of the Germany myth is that “Germany gets off coal…” The reality here is that Germany gets 37% of its energy from coal and is even trying to level one of its last intact forests to get at the coal underneath. The only thing currently stopping the destruction of the 12,000-year-old Hambach Forest is mass protests;
  • the top beneficiaries of Biomass are, of course, Big Timber giants. The Koch brothers, again, own Georgia-Pacific, the second largest stump creator in the world after Weyerhaeuser. G-P’s two mills in Oregon are the state’s #4 and #5 carbon polluters, as well.

Gibbs/Moore Comments

The film’s director, Jeff Gibbs, commented:

It turned out the wakeup call was about our own side. It was kind of crushing to discover that the things I believed in weren’t real, first of all, and then to discover not only are the solar panels and wind turbines not going to save us … but (also) that there is this whole dark side of the corporate money … It dawned on me that these technologies were just another profit center.

Michael Moore explained:

We all want to feel good about something like the electric car, but in the back of your head somewhere you’ve thought, ‘Yeah but where is the electricity coming from? And it’s like, ‘I don’t want to think about that, I’m glad we have electric cars.’


I’ve passed by the windmill farms, and oh it’s so beautiful to see them going, and don’t tell me that we’ve gone too far now and it isn’t going to save us … Well, my feeling is just hit me with everything. I’m like let’s just deal with it now, all at once.


This revelation is a sad commentary that the Progressive Left, nominally wed to the environment and beauty of the rural landscape, has refused to deal, frontally at least, with the problems of land- and resource-intensive wind and solar facilities.

But from time to time, some did in a backdoor way. The rest of this post provides examples of momentary truthfulness of the dark side of renewable energy.

Appendix: Some Past ‘Confessions’

Paul Gipe 1995 (Wind Energy Comes of Age (New York: John Wiley & Sons)

Flashing lights are particularly annoying at night, as is the bright ‘security’ lighting common at wind plant substations in California. . . . For many rural residents, nightfall is a time of tranquility. Flashing strobe lights atop wind turbines or security lighting will exacerbate any annoyance the turbines’ presence causes residents. (p. 320)

Although the impacts of wind plants may be minor in comparison to those of a coal-fired plant, they are no less real to those living nearby. . . . The people who choose to live in such locations do so primarily because the land is unsuitable for other urban uses. They reasonably expect that the area will remain rural and undeveloped. (p. 324)

The people who build wind farms are not environmentalists. . . . Business is a delicate balancing act, and chief executives are always walking a tightrope between the needs of the community, their employees, and the marketplace. (p. 454)

Chris Flavin 1995 (on Gipe)

To its credit, Wind Energy Comes of Age tackles even the most nettlesome issues plaguing the wind industry, including the problem of bird kills, often referred to euphemistically as ‘avian mortality.’ Although the magnitude of the problem is not yet fully clear, Paul raises important warning flags about the dangers of not taking it and other environmental issues seriously. Unless the industry heeds Paul’s warnings, it will lose the environmental high-ground that helped get it where it is today. . . . Even those who feel stung by his criticisms would do well to remember the fate of the nuclear power industry, and others that chose to ignore early problems.” (pp. xiv–xv.)

Fortune Magazine (1983)

Are environmentalists cooling to the sun, wind, and water—energy sources they have long touted as ecologically superior to oil, coal, and nuclear power? A report by the National Audubon Society, now attracting considerable attention in Washington, warns that ‘renewable’ energy sources are far from benign.

Observes one startled environmental consultant: ‘Symbolically, it’s like someone in the nuclear industry saying nukes are dangerous. . . . ‘

Some of the side effects the study identified: air and water pollution caused by converting plant matter into energy; urban sprawl from solar collectors, which are best suited to detached, single-family houses; depleted forests from wood burning; and increased chances of earthquakes from hydropower dams.

– Staff Article, “The Graying of the Green Lobby,” Fortune, February 7, 1983, p. 22.


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