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Breaking News renewables are fossil fuel in a different form | Breaking News

Renewables Are Fossil Fuel In A Different Form

by: J. Gibbs
renewables are fossil fuel in a different form | Breaking News

If the world isn’t careful, renewable energy could become as destructive as fossil fuels. The conversation about climate change has been blazing ahead in 2019. Propelled by the school climate strikes and social movements like Extinction Rebellion, a number of governments have declared a climate emergency, and progressive political parties are making plans - at last - for a rapid transition to clean energy under the Green New Deal.

Renewables Are Fossil: The Green Deal

This is a welcome shift, and we need more of it. But a new problem is beginning to emerge that warrants our attention. Some proponents of the Green New Deal seem to believe that it will pave the way to a utopia of ‘green growth’. Once we trade dirty fossil fuels for clean energy, there’s no reason we can’t keep expanding the economy forever. This narrative may seem reasonable enough at first glance, but there are good reasons to think twice about it. One of them has to do with clean energy itself.

The phrase ‘clean energy’ normally conjures up happy, innocent images of warm sunshine and fresh wind. But while sunshine and wind is obviously clean, the infrastructure we need to capture it is not. Far from it. The transition to renewables is going to require a dramatic increase in the extraction of metals and rare-earth minerals, with real ecological and social costs. We need a rapid transition to renewables, yes - but scientists warn that we can’t keep growing energy use at existing rates. No energy is innocent. The only truly clean energy is less energy.


                    Michael Moore Presents: Planet of the Humans | Full Documentary | Directed by Jeff Gibbs

Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It's too little, too late.
Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business. Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, “green” illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end—and we’ve pinned all our hopes on biomass, wind turbines, and electric cars? Click here to read bout Planet of the Humans.
No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine"). This urgent, must-see movie, a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows, is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late. Featuring: Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Robert F Kennedy Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Van Jones, Vinod Khosla, Koch Brothers, Vandana Shiva, General Motors, 350.org, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nature Conservancy, Elon Musk, Tesla.

Recommended: Earth Day 2020: One World Stays Together At Home

In 2017, the World Bank released a little-noticed report that offered the first comprehensive look at this question. It models the increase in material extraction that would be required to build enough solar and wind utilities to produce an annual output of about 7 terawatts of electricity by 2050. That’s enough to power roughly half of the global economy. By doubling the World Bank figures, we can estimate what it will take to get all the way to zero emissions—and the results are staggering: 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.

Renewables Are Fossil Fuel: Massive Increase Of Extraction

In some cases, the transition to renewables will require a massive increase over existing levels of extraction. For neodymium—an essential element in wind turbines—extraction will need to rise by nearly 35 percent over current levels. Higher-end estimates reported by the World Bank suggest it could double.

Recommended: Wind Turbines: Waste From These Blade Runners?

The same is true of silver, which is critical to solar panels. Silver extraction will go up 38 percent and perhaps as much as 105 percent. Demand for indium, also essential to solar technology, will more than triple and could end up skyrocketing by 920 percent.

And then there are all the batteries we’re going to need for power storage. To keep energy flowing when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing will require enormous batteries at the grid level. This means 40 million tons of lithium—an eye-watering 2,700 percent increase over current levels of extraction.

Renewables Are Fossil Fuel: Electric Cars

That’s just for electricity. We also need to think about vehicles. This year, a group of leading British scientists submitted a letter to the U.K. Committee on Climate Change outlining their concerns about the ecological impact of electric cars. They agree, of course, that we need to end the sale and use of combustion engines. But they pointed out that unless consumption habits change, replacing the world’s projected fleet of 2 billion vehicles is going to require an explosive increase in mining: Global annual extraction of neodymium and dysprosium will go up by another 70 percent, annual extraction of copper will need to more than double, and cobalt will need to increase by a factor of almost four—all for the entire period from now to 2050.

Recommended: Electric Cars: Truly Green Or A New Kind Of Liability?

The problem here is not that we’re going to run out of key minerals—although that may indeed become a concern. The real issue is that this will exacerbate an already existing crisis of over extraction. Mining has become one of the biggest single drivers of deforestation, ecosystem collapse, and biodiversity loss around the world. Ecologists estimate that even at present rates of global material use, we are overshooting sustainable levels by 82 percent.

man, head, hole, mine

Take silver, for instance. Mexico is home to the Peñasquito mine, one of the biggest silver mines in the world. Covering nearly 40 square miles, the operation is staggering in its scale: a sprawling open-pit complex ripped into the mountains, flanked by two waste dumps each a mile long, and a tailings dam full of toxic sludge held back by a wall that’s 7 miles around and as high as a 50-story skyscraper. This mine will produce 11,000 tons of silver in 10 years before its reserves, the biggest in the world, are gone.

To transition the global economy to renewables, we need to commission up to 130 more mines on the scale of Peñasquito. Just for silver.

Renweables: Lithium Mining

Lithium is another ecological disaster. It takes 500,000 gallons of water to produce a single ton of lithium. Even at present levels of extraction this is causing problems. In the Andes, where most of the world’s lithium is located, mining companies are burning through the water tables and leaving farmers with nothing to irrigate their crops. Many have had no choice but to abandon their land altogether. Meanwhile, chemical leaks from lithium mines have poisoned rivers from Chile to Argentina, Nevada to Tibet, killing off whole freshwater ecosystems. The lithium boom has barely even started, and it’s already a crisis.

Recommended: Environmental Costs Of Lithium Battery Addiction: Worldwide

And all of this is just to power the existing global economy. Things become even more extreme when we start accounting for growth. As energy demand continues to rise, material extraction for renewables will become all the more aggressive—and the higher the growth rate, the worse it will get.

Recommended: Why Is Our Renewable Technology Powered By Child Labor?

It’s important to keep in mind that most of the key materials for the energy transition are located in the global south. Parts of Latin America, Africa, and Asia will likely become the target of a new scramble for resources, and some countries may become victims of new forms of colonization. It happened in the 17th and 18th centuries with the hunt for gold and silver from South America. In the 19th century, it was land for cotton and sugar plantations in the Caribbean. In the 20th century, it was diamonds from South Africa, cobalt from Congo, and oil from the Middle East. It’s not difficult to imagine that the scramble for renewables might become similarly violent.

If we don’t take precautions, clean energy firms could become as destructive as fossil fuel companies—buying off politicians, trashing ecosystems, lobbying against environmental regulations, even assassinating community leaders who stand in their way.

Renewables Are Fossil Fuel: Nuclear Power

Some hope that nuclear power will help us get around these problems—and surely it needs to be part of the mix. But nuclear comes with its own constraints. For one, it takes so long to get new power plants up and running that they can play only a small role in getting us to zero emissions by mid-century. And even in the longer term, nuclear can’t be scaled beyond about 1 terawatt. Absent a miraculous technological breakthrough, the vast majority of our energy will have to come from solar and wind.

Recommended: Climate Change Halted By Nuclear Reactors: Fission, Fusion

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t pursue a rapid transition to renewable energy. We absolutely must and urgently. But if we’re after a greener, more sustainable economy, we need to disabuse ourselves of the fantasy that we can carry on growing energy demand at existing rates.

Of course, we know that poorer countries still need to increase their energy use in order to meet basic needs. But richer countries, fortunately, do not. In high-income nations, the transition to green energy needs to be accompanied by a planned reduction of aggregate energy use.

How might this be accomplished? Given that the majority of our energy is used to power the extraction and production of material goods, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that high-income nations reduce their material throughput—legislating longer product life spans and rights to repair, banning planned obsolescence and throwaway fashion, shifting from private cars to public transportation, while scaling down socially unnecessary industries and wasteful luxury consumption like the arms trade, SUVs, and McMansions.

Reducing energy demand not only enables a faster transition to renewables but also ensures that the transition doesn’t trigger new waves of destruction. Any Green New Deal that hopes to be socially just and ecologically coherent needs to have these principles at its heart.

Before you go!

Recommended: Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope?

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In our world, WhatsOrb refuses to turn away from the changes in our society and environment which succeeds each other at a rapid pace.

For WhatsOrb, publishing on the environment is a priority. We give reporting on climate, nature, waste, lifestyle and sustainable solutions the prominence it deserves.

At this turbulent time for ‘all’ species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on facts, not on political prejudice or business interests.

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Breaking News, as the world changes…

In our world, WhatsOrb refuses to turn away from the changes in our society and environment which succeeds each other at a rapid pace.

For WhatsOrb, publishing on the environment is a priority. We give reporting on climate, nature, waste, lifestyle and sustainable solutions the prominence it deserves.

At this turbulent time for ‘all’ species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on facts, not on political prejudice or business interests.

WhatsOrb Breaking News will be published as soon as urgent events from around the world and startling sustainable innovations reach us.

If there is anything we should know and publish about, please send a note to: [email protected] or write your own story on: www.whatsorb.comthe only news site which gives you a ‘sustainable voice!’

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More like this:

Renewables Are Fossil Fuel In A Different Form

If the world isn’t careful, renewable energy could become as destructive as fossil fuels. The conversation about climate change has been blazing ahead in 2019. Propelled by the school climate strikes and social movements like Extinction Rebellion, a number of governments have declared a climate emergency, and progressive political parties are making plans - at last - for a rapid transition to clean energy under the Green New Deal. Renewables Are Fossil: The Green Deal This is a welcome shift, and we need more of it. But a new problem is beginning to emerge that warrants our attention. Some proponents of the Green New Deal seem to believe that it will pave the way to a utopia of ‘green growth’. Once we trade dirty fossil fuels for clean energy, there’s no reason we can’t keep expanding the economy forever. This narrative may seem reasonable enough at first glance, but there are good reasons to think twice about it. One of them has to do with clean energy itself. The phrase ‘clean energy’ normally conjures up happy, innocent images of warm sunshine and fresh wind. But while sunshine and wind is obviously clean, the infrastructure we need to capture it is not. Far from it. The transition to renewables is going to require a dramatic increase in the extraction of metals and rare-earth minerals, with real ecological and social costs. We need a rapid transition to renewables, yes - but scientists warn that we can’t keep growing energy use at existing rates. No energy is innocent. The only truly clean energy is less energy. {youtube}                     Michael Moore Presents: Planet of the Humans | Full Documentary | Directed by Jeff Gibbs Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It's too little, too late. Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business. Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, “green” illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end—and we’ve pinned all our hopes on biomass, wind turbines, and electric cars? Click here to read bout Planet of the Humans. No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine"). This urgent, must-see movie, a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows, is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late. Featuring: Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Robert F Kennedy Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Van Jones, Vinod Khosla, Koch Brothers, Vandana Shiva, General Motors, 350.org, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nature Conservancy, Elon Musk, Tesla. Recommended:  Earth Day 2020: One World Stays Together At Home In 2017, the World Bank released a little-noticed report that offered the first comprehensive look at this question. It models the increase in material extraction that would be required to build enough solar and wind utilities to produce an annual output of about 7 terawatts of electricity by 2050. That’s enough to power roughly half of the global economy. By doubling the World Bank figures, we can estimate what it will take to get all the way to zero emissions—and the results are staggering: 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. Renewables Are Fossil Fuel: Massive Increase Of Extraction In some cases, the transition to renewables will require a massive increase over existing levels of extraction. For neodymium—an essential element in wind turbines—extraction will need to rise by nearly 35 percent over current levels. Higher-end estimates reported by the World Bank suggest it could double. Recommended:  Wind Turbines: Waste From These Blade Runners? The same is true of silver, which is critical to solar panels. Silver extraction will go up 38 percent and perhaps as much as 105 percent. Demand for indium, also essential to solar technology, will more than triple and could end up skyrocketing by 920 percent. And then there are all the batteries we’re going to need for power storage. To keep energy flowing when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing will require enormous batteries at the grid level. This means 40 million tons of lithium—an eye-watering 2,700 percent increase over current levels of extraction. Renewables Are Fossil Fuel: Electric Cars That’s just for electricity. We also need to think about vehicles. This year, a group of leading British scientists submitted a letter to the U.K. Committee on Climate Change outlining their concerns about the ecological impact of electric cars. They agree, of course, that we need to end the sale and use of combustion engines. But they pointed out that unless consumption habits change, replacing the world’s projected fleet of 2 billion vehicles is going to require an explosive increase in mining: Global annual extraction of neodymium and dysprosium will go up by another 70 percent, annual extraction of copper will need to more than double, and cobalt will need to increase by a factor of almost four—all for the entire period from now to 2050. Recommended:  Electric Cars: Truly Green Or A New Kind Of Liability? The problem here is not that we’re going to run out of key minerals—although that may indeed become a concern. The real issue is that this will exacerbate an already existing crisis of over extraction. Mining has become one of the biggest single drivers of deforestation, ecosystem collapse, and biodiversity loss around the world. Ecologists estimate that even at present rates of global material use, we are overshooting sustainable levels by 82 percent. Take silver, for instance. Mexico is home to the Peñasquito mine, one of the biggest silver mines in the world. Covering nearly 40 square miles, the operation is staggering in its scale: a sprawling open-pit complex ripped into the mountains, flanked by two waste dumps each a mile long, and a tailings dam full of toxic sludge held back by a wall that’s 7 miles around and as high as a 50-story skyscraper. This mine will produce 11,000 tons of silver in 10 years before its reserves, the biggest in the world, are gone. To transition the global economy to renewables, we need to commission up to 130 more mines on the scale of Peñasquito. Just for silver. Renweables: Lithium Mining Lithium is another ecological disaster. It takes 500,000 gallons of water to produce a single ton of lithium. Even at present levels of extraction this is causing problems. In the Andes, where most of the world’s lithium is located, mining companies are burning through the water tables and leaving farmers with nothing to irrigate their crops. Many have had no choice but to abandon their land altogether. Meanwhile, chemical leaks from lithium mines have poisoned rivers from Chile to Argentina, Nevada to Tibet, killing off whole freshwater ecosystems. The lithium boom has barely even started, and it’s already a crisis. Recommended:  Environmental Costs Of Lithium Battery Addiction: Worldwide And all of this is just to power the existing global economy. Things become even more extreme when we start accounting for growth. As energy demand continues to rise, material extraction for renewables will become all the more aggressive—and the higher the growth rate, the worse it will get. Recommended:  Why Is Our Renewable Technology Powered By Child Labor? It’s important to keep in mind that most of the key materials for the energy transition are located in the global south. Parts of Latin America, Africa, and Asia will likely become the target of a new scramble for resources, and some countries may become victims of new forms of colonization. It happened in the 17th and 18th centuries with the hunt for gold and silver from South America. In the 19th century, it was land for cotton and sugar plantations in the Caribbean. In the 20th century, it was diamonds from South Africa, cobalt from Congo, and oil from the Middle East. It’s not difficult to imagine that the scramble for renewables might become similarly violent. If we don’t take precautions, clean energy firms could become as destructive as fossil fuel companies—buying off politicians, trashing ecosystems, lobbying against environmental regulations, even assassinating community leaders who stand in their way. Renewables Are Fossil Fuel: Nuclear Power Some hope that nuclear power will help us get around these problems—and surely it needs to be part of the mix. But nuclear comes with its own constraints. For one, it takes so long to get new power plants up and running that they can play only a small role in getting us to zero emissions by mid-century. And even in the longer term, nuclear can’t be scaled beyond about 1 terawatt. Absent a miraculous technological breakthrough, the vast majority of our energy will have to come from solar and wind. Recommended:  Climate Change Halted By Nuclear Reactors: Fission, Fusion None of this is to say that we shouldn’t pursue a rapid transition to renewable energy. We absolutely must and urgently. But if we’re after a greener, more sustainable economy, we need to disabuse ourselves of the fantasy that we can carry on growing energy demand at existing rates. Of course, we know that poorer countries still need to increase their energy use in order to meet basic needs. But richer countries, fortunately, do not. In high-income nations, the transition to green energy needs to be accompanied by a planned reduction of aggregate energy use. How might this be accomplished? Given that the majority of our energy is used to power the extraction and production of material goods, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that high-income nations reduce their material throughput—legislating longer product life spans and rights to repair, banning planned obsolescence and throwaway fashion, shifting from private cars to public transportation, while scaling down socially unnecessary industries and wasteful luxury consumption like the arms trade, SUVs, and McMansions. Reducing energy demand not only enables a faster transition to renewables but also ensures that the transition doesn’t trigger new waves of destruction. Any Green New Deal that hopes to be socially just and ecologically coherent needs to have these principles at its heart. Before you go! Recommended:  Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope? Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about the climate, the coronavirus, and Earth Day? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input.
Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations