The developed world’s response to the global energy crisis has put its hypocritical attitude toward fossil fuels on display. An estimated 3.5 billion of the world’s poorest people have no reliable access to electricity. Rather than give them access to the tools that have helped rich nations develop, wealthy countries blithely instruct developing nations to skip coal, gas and oil, and go straight to a green nirvana of solar panels and wind turbines. Rather than selfishly block other countries’ path to development, wealthy nations should do the sensible thing and invest meaningfully in the innovation needed to make green energy more efficient and cheaper than fossil fuels. That’s how you can actually get everyone to switch to renewable alternatives. Insisting that the world’s poor live without plentiful, reliable and affordable energy prioritizes virtue signaling over people’s lives.
By Bjorn Lomborg and
GREEN HYPOCRISY by Bjorn Lomborg
The developed world’s response to the global energy crisis has put its hypocritical attitude toward fossil fuels on display. Wealthy countries admonish developing ones to use renewable energy. Last month the Group of Seven went so far as to announce they would no longer fund fossil-fuel development abroad. Meanwhile, Europe and the U.S. are begging Arab nations to expand oil production. Germany is reopening coal power plants, and Spain and Italy are spending big on African gas production. So many European countries have asked Botswana to mine more coal that the nation will more than double its exports.
The developed world became wealthy through the pervasive use of fossil fuels, which still overwhelmingly power most of its economies. Solar and wind power aren’t reliable, simply because there are nights, clouds and still days. Improving battery storage won’t help much: There are enough batteries in the world today only to power global average electricity consumption for 75 seconds. Even though the supply is being scaled up rapidly, by 2030 the world’s batteries would still cover less than 11 minutes. Every German winter, when solar output is at its minimum, there is near-zero wind energy available for at least five days—or more than 7,000 minutes.
This is why solar panels and wind turbines can’t deliver most of the energy for industrializing poor countries. Factories can’t stop and start with the wind; steel and fertilizer production are dependent on coal and gas; and most solar and wind power simply can’t deliver the power necessary to run the water pumps, tractors, and machines that lift people out of poverty.
That’s why fossil fuels still provide more than three-fourths of wealthy countries’ energy, while solar and wind deliver less than 3%. An average person in the developed world uses more fossil-fuel-generated energy every day than all the energy used by 23 poor Africans.
Yet the world’s rich are trying to choke off funding for new fossil fuels in developing countries. An estimated 3.5 billion of the world’s poorest people have no reliable access to electricity. Rather than give them access to the tools that have helped rich nations develop, wealthy countries blithely instruct developing nations to skip coal, gas and oil, and go straight to a green nirvana of solar panels and wind turbines.
This promised paradise is a sham built on wishful thinking and green marketing. Consider the experience of Dharnai, an Indian village that Greenpeace in 2014 tried to turn into the country’s first solar-powered community.
Greenpeace received glowing global media attention when it declared that Dharnai would refuse “to give into the trap of the fossil fuel industry.” But the day the village’s solar electricity was turned on, the batteries were drained within hours. One boy remembers being unable to do his homework early in the morning because there wasn’t enough power for his family’s one lamp.
Villagers were told not to use refrigerators or televisions because they would exhaust the system. They couldn’t use cookstoves and had to continue burning wood and dung, which creates air pollution as dangerous for a person’s health as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, according to the World Health Organization. Across the developing world, millions die prematurely every year because of this indoor pollution.
In August 2014, Greenpeace invited one of the Indian’s state’s top politicians, who soon after become its chief minister, to admire the organization’s handiwork. He was met by a crowd waving signs and chanting that they wanted “real electricity” to replace this “fake electricity.”
When Dharnai was finally connected to the main power grid, which is overwhelmingly coal-powered, villagers quickly dropped their solar connections. An academic study found a big reason was that the grid’s electricity cost one-third of what the solar energy did. What’s more, it was plentiful enough to actually power such appliances as TV sets and stoves. Today, Dharnai’s disused solar-energy system is covered in thick dust, and the project site is a cattle shelter.
To be sure, solar energy has some uses, such as charging a cellphone or powering a light, but it is often expensive and has distinct limits. A new study in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, found that even hefty subsidies couldn’t make solar lamps worth their cost to most people. Even in wealthy nations such as Germany and Spain, most new wind and solar power wouldn’t have been installed if not for subsidies.
This is why, for all the rich world’s talk of climate activism, developed nations are still on track to continue to rely mostly on fossil fuels for decades. The International Energy Agency estimates that even if all current climate policies are delivered in full, renewables will only deliver one-third of U.S. and EU energy in 2050. The developing world isn’t blind to this hypocrisy. Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, articulated the situation elegantly: “No country in the world has been able to industrialize using renewable energy,” yet Africa is expected to do so “when everybody else in the world knows that we need gas-powered industries for business.”
Rather than selfishly block other countries’ path to development, wealthy nations should do the sensible thing and invest meaningfully in the innovation needed to make green energy more efficient and cheaper than fossil fuels. That’s how you can actually get everyone to switch to renewable alternatives. Insisting that the world’s poor live without plentiful, reliable and affordable energy prioritizes virtue signaling over people’s lives.
Mr. Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus and a visiting fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. His latest book is “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.”
GREEN MADNESS: IS IT ETHICAL TO DRIVE AN “ELECTRIC” VEHICLE? by Ron Stein
With numerous State Governor’s having issued executive orders to phase out the purchasing of gasoline driven cars within the next decade or so, and the automobile manufacturers efforts to phase into only manufacturing EVs, here’s some food for thought about the lack of transparency about “Clean Energy Exploitations” that I coauthored.
The top image is an oil well, where 100 percent organic material is pumped out of the ground, taking up around 500 to 1000 square feet. Then it flows in pipelines safely transporting the oil to refineries to be manufactured into usable oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products for society, and into transportation fuels needed by the world’s heavy-weight and long-range infrastructures of aviation, merchant ships, cruise ships, and militaries.
The lower image is just one lithium supply mine where entire mountains are eliminated. Each mine usually consists of thirty-five to forty humongous 797 Caterpillar haul trucks along with hundreds of other large equipment. Each 797 uses around half a million gallons of diesel a year. So, with an inventory of just thirty-five the haul trucks alone are using 17.5 million gallons of fuel a year for just one lithium site.
There is virtually non-existing transparency of the environmental degradation and the human rights abuses occurring in developing countries with yellow, brown, and black skinned people. Both human rights abuses and environmental degradation are directly connected to the mining for the exotic minerals and metals that are required to manufacture wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries.
Today, a typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds. It contains 25 pounds of lithium, 60 pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminium, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.
It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.
The current fossil fuel infrastructure is less invasive than mining for the exotic minerals and metals required to create the batteries needed to store “green energy”. In developing countries, these mining operations exploit child labor, and are responsible for the most egregious human rights’ violations of vulnerable minority populations. These operations are also directly destroying the planet through environmental degradation. The 2022 Pulitzer Prize nominated book that I coauthored with Todd Royal, “Clean Energy Exploitations – Helping Citizens Understand the Environmental and Humanity Abuses That Support Clean Energy,” discusses the lack of transparency to the world of the green movement’s impact upon humanity.
How many environmentalists are going to support lithium mines in America? There are two things needed to make the EV technology work for the billions of lightweight cars:
Get the mining practices for these exotic minerals and metals to the point that they are acceptable to the environmental movement and stop the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring in developing countries where people are being exploited with yellow, brown, and black skin.
Further development of battery technology to somewhat clone how phones have been reduced in “size” with smaller and smaller batteries and increased capabilities in those small phones and reduce the alarming tendency of lithium batteries and their charging sources from spontaneously catching fire without warning.
If You’re Worried About Rising Gas Prices, watch this 11-minute video about why to NOT buy an EV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-q4nGBHWTI. Since you’ve probably read about EV fires, here’s a site that keeps tabs just on TESLA EV fires https://www.tesla-fire.com/, now at 85 and growing almost daily.
So, the next time you are thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle, or driving your EV car, before congratulating yourselves on saving the environment, remember that it came at a cost of entire mountains in developing countries, thousands of square miles of land and billions of gallons of oil and fuel.
We should all know that an electric vehicle battery does not “make” electricity – it only stores electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, and occasionally by intermittent breezes and sunshine. So, to say an EV is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid as 80 percent of the electricity generated to charge the batteries is from coal, natural gas, and nuclear.
Since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from coal-fired plants, it follows that twenty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered.
Since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from natural gas, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are natural gas-powered.
Since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from nuclear, it follows that twenty percent of the EVs on the road are nuclear-powered.
Life Without Oil is NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU MAY THINK as renewable energy is only intermittent electricity from breezes and sunshine as NEITHER wind turbines nor solar panels can manufacture anything for society.
The West’s obsession for green electricity to reduce emissions must be ethical and should not thrive on human rights and environmental abuses in the foreign countries providing the exotic minerals and metals to support America’s green passion. Check out the quick 7-minute video interview between myself and Rick Amato on “Your America TV” about The Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) movement to divest in fossil fuels, that may be leading society back to the decarbonized world of the 1800’s and before.
So, before your next vehicle purchase, be knowledgeable that most of the exotic minerals and metals to build EV batteries are being mined in developing countries.
EV buyers should be aware that they may be contributing to the pursuit of “blood minerals” to achieve their efforts to go green. If you feel comfortable supporting the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring in those developing countries, then proceed with your purchase.
Ron Stein is an engineer who, drawing upon 25 years of project management and business development experience, launched PTS Advance in 1995. He is an author, engineer, and energy expert who writes frequently on issues of energy and economics.