I understand the desire for a cleaner world. Who of us wants dirty air, polluted water, or contaminated soils? But the push for a Green New Deal is so ridiculous, it’s laughable.
In the rush to solve our environmental problems, we’ve forgotten the need for reliable science to support spending billions of dollars to eliminate fossil fuels from our lives. It’s too easy to mistakenly bet on unsustainable solutions.
Clean energy production is an example of not looking before we leaped into designating an unlimited line of credit to false starts. The infrastructure needed to transition to renewables demands increased extraction and processing of metals and rare-earth minerals, at serious ecological and social costs.
A 2017 World Bank report estimates that producing enough electric power for the global economy by 2050 using wind and solar utilities will require about 34 million metric tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead, 50 million tons of zinc, 162 million tons of aluminum, and no less than 4.8 billion tons of iron. Mining enough neodymium for wind turbines, silver for solar panels, and indium for solar technology will increase 35 to 1,000% increases.
Energy production by battery when wind and sun aren’t cooperating will require 40 million tons of lithium. Replacing the world’s 2 billion combustion engine vehicles will cause a 50 percent increase in copper mining and much higher in rare earth mineral mining.
Environmentalists already complain about mining-related pollution, deforestation, biodiversity destruction, and ecosystem collapse now because of unacceptable levels of extraction.
The world needs fewer environmentalists clamoring for immediate action, fewer “entrepreneurs” begging for government subsidies, and more scientists demanding honesty about addressing pollution without returning to life in the 17th century. Society’s demand for and reliance on petroleum-based plasticizers in cosmetics, packaging, tools, appliances, laptops and smartphones is too great. Plastics produce lighter vehicles with better fuel efficiency. Without petroleum-based fuel, jets can't fly.
If we’re to transition successfully to other resources, our schools had better produce fewer protesters and more material scientists, geologists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers with their feet in reality to affordably find, retrieve and process already abundant fossil fuels.
River Falls, Wis.