A Free-Market Energy Blog

Sustainability: Ideology versus Reality (Part III: The Big Picture)

By -- August 28, 2019

Editor Note: This post completes a three-part series with Part I on Biofuels and Solar and Part II on Wind Turbines.

“The world cannot afford to let delusion, dishonesty, ideology, or deliberate deception drive public policies that will determine our future jobs, prosperity, living standards, and civilization. What Salt Lake City’s UN conference discussed has nothing to do with real sustainability, resource conservation or recycling.”

“UN-supported policies are unjust, inhumane, eco-imperialist and lethal…. [T]he climate change-sustainability agenda that is being advanced by UN and other activists and bureaucrats is eco-fascist, totalitarian and racist.”

Yet another educational exercise for UN conference attendees would be to calculate the land, energy and raw materials required to manufacture and install the batteries necessary to make renewable energy dispatchable. In the process, they would need to add in the raw material requirements for batteries required to replace all the world’s cars, trucks and buses with electric vehicles – and recharge them every few hours. And then factor in the need to replace the batteries, wind turbines and solar panels every five, ten, or fifteen years.

As energy expert Mark Mills has documented, the UN-environmentalist dream of a centrally managed Green New World – powered by wind, solar, biofuels, and battery power – would require the biggest expansion in mining the world has ever seen. However, those attending the UN conference and nearly all Green New Dealers vigorously oppose nearly all new and expanded mining.

That opposition virtually guarantees that solar, wind and batter technologies will forever be only a utopian dream.

Slave and Child Labor

Due in large part to rabid environmentalist opposition, the United States and Europe have largely banned new mining within their borders or regulated it into oblivion. Meanwhile, the same groups that extol the virtues of wind, solar, and battery power stridently oppose Western mining companies that attempt to extract rare earth, lithium, cadmium, cobalt and other minerals in almost any country – even under rigorous Western labor, safety, environmental and reclamation rules.

As a result, those materials are primarily mined and processed in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and other regions that are mostly under Chinese or Russian control. In many of those places, the minerals are dug out and processed by fathers, mothers and children – often under horrific, unsafe, inhuman conditions regulated by few, no or antediluvian labor, wage, health and safety standards.

Those renewable-energy, high-tech slaves get a few pennies or dollars a day – while risking cave-ins and being exposed constantly to toxic and radioactive mud, dust, water and air. The mining and industrial areas become vast toxic wastelands, where nothing grows and no people or wildlife can live. According to UNICEF and Amnesty International, for cobalt alone over 40,000 Congolese children as young as four years old slave away in mines from sunrise to sundown, six or even seven days a week.

People like those who attended the UN sustainability conference demand perfection from Western mining companies – and zero mining in the West – while paying virtually no attention to the slave and child labor crimes against humanity for their pet technologies. It is highly likely that nearly every one of them would support and demand sustainable, ethical, human rights-based handbags, coffee, sneakers, T-shirts and diamonds – and tolerate no child labor, sweat shop, or toxic workplace conditions for these goods.

Yet they say virtually nothing about the Chinese and other companies that run the horrid operations that provide raw materials for wind turbines, solar panels, smart grids, and batteries for their cell phones, laptops, Teslas, and backup electrical power.

There is little to suggest that they have ever made wind turbine, solar panel, and battery materials an ethical or human rights issue. They certainly have never staged protests outside a Chinese, Russian or Congolese embassy – much less outside corporate offices in Beijing, Moscow or Kinshasa, where the penalty could be beatings, gulags or death.

Moreover, California legislators recently voted down Assembly Bill 735. That bill simply said the virtuous state of California would certify that “zero emission vehicles” sold in the state must be free of any materials or components that involve child labor.

The issue is complicated, the legislators said. It would be too hard to enforce. It would imperil state climate goals. And besides, lots of other industries also use child labor, they explained.

The Bottom Line

A anacronyism attributed to economist Milton Friedman is there is no such thing as a free lunch. Wind, solar, biofuel and battery power are not free, clean, green, renewable or sustainable.

The world cannot afford to let delusion, dishonesty, ideology, or deliberate deception drive public policies that will determine our future jobs, prosperity, living standards, and civilization. What Salt Lake City’s UN conference discussed has nothing to do with real sustainability, resource conservation, or recycling.

It has everything to do with self-righteous, virtue-signaling activists, politicians, regulators and crony capitalists imposing their views, controlling people’s lives, dictating energy use, economic growth and living standards – and getting richer, more powerful and more privileged in the process. Meanwhile the rest of humanity – especially poor, minority and working class citizens – pay the price; and the world’s most destitute families pay the highest price.

These policies are unjust, inhumane, eco-imperialist and lethal. They can no longer be tolerated. In fact, and I do not say this lightly or casually, the climate change-sustainability agenda that is being advanced by UN and other activists and bureaucrats is eco-fascist, totalitarian and racist.

Their agenda is fascist (as opposed to capitalist, socialist or communist) because it seeks to impose an economic system under which a centralized planetary government does not own companies outright – but does dictate what they can and cannot do, down to smallest details.

It is totalitarian because it is dictatorial in its demands, intolerant of differing viewpoints and dismissive of contradictory evidence. It bases its power and influence largely on myths or lies about dangerous manmade climate change, sustainability and renewable energy. It uses pressure, threats, intimidation and raw force to control speech and thought, and make discussion, debate and dissent almost impossible.

The would-be global rulers advancing this agenda are supported by Google, Face Book, YouTube, Twitter, Spotify, Wikipedia, universities and the so-called mainstream media – which censor, marginalize, ostracize, disinvite, shadow-ban, electronic book burn, and algorithm-eradicate differing, alternative, contrarian evidence and perspectives on where humanity is and ought to be heading.

They seek a total overhaul of energy and economic systems. Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown bluntly said “altering values and lifestyles requires nothing short of a revolution.” Former Vice President Al Gore echoed him, saying that rescuing the environment must become “the central organizing principle for civilization,” requiring “a wrenching transformation of society.”  

Former IPCC Executive Director Christiana Figueres made the incredible statement that “probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves … is to intentionally transform the [capitalist] economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years” – and replace it with socialist- environmentalist global governance. [emphasis added] Her former IPCC colleague Ottmar Edenhofer elaborated: “Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection.” It is really about negotiating “the distribution of the world’s resources.”

Their agenda is racist because it imposes its horrific, dehumanizing, lethal impacts most heavily on people of color – the poorest, most deprived, most politically powerless families on Earth.

It’s time for serious, honest, robust, evidence-based debates on all of this – with all interested and affected parties participating – including the world’s poor, as well as sustainable development and manmade climate chaos skeptics. Unfortunately, the UN, IPCC, World Bank and other international organizations have become so closely allied with intolerant, eco-imperialist, anti-fossil fuel environmentalist groups that it is difficult to tell who is leading whom on these issues.

Nevertheless, these taxpayer-funded global governmental institutions need to open their meetings and conferences to people with different viewpoints, information, concerns and objectives. They need to engage their critics in respectful discourse – and approach these critical, life-and-death decisions thoughtfully, not tendentiously … democratically, not dictatorially.

If they cannot or will not do that, they need to be defunded and stripped of their power and influence. The world paid a massive human, environmental and civilizational price for fascist-communist dictatorships in the twentieth century. We cannot afford to repeat those tragic calamities.


Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death, and many reports and articles on energy, climate change, sustainable development and human rights. This article is based on the talk he gave earlier this week at the Heartland Institute alternative sustainability conference in Salt Lake City (see here).