The full court press is on the verge of a disaster for chaos and salvation of renewable energy. CNN recently hosted a seven-hour climate event for Democratic presidential aspirants. Each day provides more gloomy-and-doom stories about absurd, often taxpayer-funded pseudoscience reports of yet another natural event or supposed accident that alarmists insist is due to fossil fuels accounting for 80% of the US and global energy.
MSNBC just hosted another two-day presidential candidate's climate forum at Georgetown University – where I was speaking on a contrarian program. At the same time, a major climate march took place in New York, while protesters tried to block the streets of Washington, DC. They all started the UN Global Climate Week in NYC, with a Youth Climate Summit and the UN General Assembly event where world leaders will demand "global action" to probably stop the assumed climate crisis.
Their standard solution is biofuel, solar, wind and battery power. My latest article dumped buckets of ice cold reality on several of these claims. They obviously need to be adorned with some more icy buckets.
To repeat: Wind and sunshine are free, renewable, durable and environmentally friendly. But the chips and raw materials needed for technology to exploit this widely distributed, intermittent, weather-dependent energy to benefit humanity are absolutely not. In fact, their environmental impact is monumental.
The Democrat candidates and their supporters want to replace coal and gas reverse power plants with batteries, to ensure that we have (much more expensive) electricity even if intermittent, weather dependent wind and sunshine refuse to cooperate with our need for 24/7/365 power for our electricity-based homes, schools, hospitals, factories, companies, computers, social media and civilization.
So let's assume that we cover the United States with enough industrial shells and solar plants to replace the 3.9 billion megawatt-hours the Americans spent in 201
We would need something on the order of one billion 100 kilowatt-hours, 1,000 pounds of lithium- and cobalt-based battery packs – similar to what Tesla uses in its electric vehicles. (This does not include the extra battery storage required to recharge cars, trucks and buses that we will replace with EV.)
All of these batteries would support the millions and millions of Green New Deal solar panels and wind turbines we need to build and install. They would require large quantities of iron, copper, rare earth metals, concrete and other raw materials. And all these batteries, turbines and panels have to be replaced much more often than coal, gas, nuclear or hydroelectric power stations.
What should we actually do with all the worn and broken turbines, panels and batteries? The International Renewable Energy Agency has said that disposing of only the worn-out solar panels the UN wants to set up around the world by 2050, under the Paris climate treaty's solar energy targets, could result in twice the tonnage of US total plastic waste in 2017!
So another icy reality is this: All this "free, renewable, sustainable, environmentally friendly, ethical" energy would require the greatest expansion in mining the world has ever seen . But when was the last time any environmentalist or Democrat supported opening a single American mine? They hate mining.
Which leads us to the dirtiest pseudo-renewable, pseudo-sustainable energy secret of all – the one that these people absolutely do not want to talk about: slave and child labor .
Due to rabid environmentalist opposition, the United States and Europe no longer allow much mining within their borders. They only import minerals – many of them from China and Russia. And the same groups that extend the virtues of wind, solar and battery power are just the opposite of western mining companies that extract rare earth, lithium, cadmium, cobalt and other minerals almost anywhere on earth – even under strict western work, safety, environment and recycling rules.
This means that these materials are mined and processed in places such as Baotou, Inner Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly under Chinese control. They are excavated and processed by fathers, mothers and children – under terrible, precarious, inhumane conditions that few of us can even imagine … under almost non-existent standards of labor, wages, health, safety and pollution.
This renewable energy, high-tech slaves get a few pennies or dollars a day – while risking caves and constantly being exposed to dirty, toxic, radioactive clay, dust, water and air. The mining and industrial areas become large toxic wastelands, where nothing grows and no humans or animals can live.
For cobalt alone – says UNICEF and Amnesty International – over 40,000 Congolese children, as young as four years old, are slaves in mines, from sunrise to sunset, six or even seven days a week. It is today. Imagine how many will be needed to serve "ethical green energy utopia."
Green new retailers demand sustainable, ethical, human rights-based coffee, sneakers, T-shirts, handbags and diamonds. Absolutely no child labor, sweatshop or toxic, polluted workplace conditions allowed. But they have little or nothing to say about the Chinese, Russian and other companies running the awful operations that supply their wind turbines, solar panels, smart grids and batteries for their mobile phones, Teslas, laptops and backup power.
I've never seen them make ethical wind turbines, solar panels and batteries a problem. They have never protested outside a Chinese, Russian or Congolese embassy or corporate headquarters in Beijing, Moscow or Kinshasa. They probably do not want to be pushed or sent to gulags.
And just a few weeks ago, California legislators voted for Assembly Bill 735. The bill simply stated that California would certify that "zero emissions" electric vehicles sold in the state must be free of materials or components involving child labor. The issue is complicated, the lawmakers said. It would be too difficult to enforce. That would mean state climate targets. And in addition, many other industries also use child labor … the "explained".
As Milton Friedman said, there is no free lunch. Wind, solar, biofuel and battery power are not free, clean, green, renewable or sustainable. America must not allow misunderstanding, dishonesty and ideology to drive public policy that will determine our future jobs, prosperity, living standards, freedoms and civilization.
What the Green New Dealers are talking about has nothing to do with stopping dangerous human climate change – or with real sustainability, resource protection or environmental protection. It has everything to do with increasingly socialist, largely taxpayer-funded activists, politicians, regulators and crony capitalists who control people's lives; dictate our energy use, economic growth, job opportunities and living standards; and become richer, more powerful and more privileged in the process.
At the same time, poor, minority and working class families pay the price. And poor families in hungry, poor, electricity-deprived nations pay the highest price. China, India, Indonesia and Africa are not about to give up their resolute efforts to take their rightful, God-given places among the earth's healthy and prosperous people. They will not stop using fossil fuels to reach their goals.
They will not let anyone – including the UN, the EU, US Democrats and other eco-imperialists – say that they can never enjoy these blessings. Or they may be "allowed" to improve their health and standard of living only at the margins, only to levels attainable by wind, solar and meat.
That's why the United States reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 12% between 2000 and 2017 – when India's growing carbon dioxide emissions increased by 140% and China's skyrocketing 194% – further greening Planet Earth. In 2019 alone, China alone will add more coal-fired production capacity than all existing US coal-fired power plants generate.
While all these countries continue to use more and more fossil fuels to improve their economy, health and living standards – why on earth would the United States want to join Green New Dealers and others crazy in an environmentally destructive ban fossil fuel economic suicide pact?
Paul Driessen is a senior policy analyst for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, climate, environmental and human rights issues.