“The only thing green about Renewable Energy is the money it makes” is one take away quote from Michael Moore’s movie, Planet of the Humans. I hope this blog can do justice to the movie which is directed by Jeff Gibbs. It is wonderfully insightful of the groups involved and our obsession with energy substitution from fossils. Incredibly thought provoking and at times visceral for how man is shaping the environment we live in and the climate impact we are responsible for. It portrays the players involved from Goldman Sachs, Solar Molex, Fulcrum BioEnergy, KiOR and the many environmental groups like Apollo Alliance, 350.org whose interests are often mis-aligned together.
This movie digs at the “feel good” myths we have with Green Energy. We believe that we have found the answer and that Green Energy is the ultimate replacement for fossil fuels such as Gas, Coal, and Oil. Moore’s movie examines how we’ve been ” fed a climate change lie ” not realizing that the feel good story ultimately benefits billionaires, bankers and other business interests and make no allowances that the switch to renewables doubles and quadruples our energy consumption and environmental impact. Instead we should be talking about over-population, consumption and the suicide of economic growth and making the correct moral decisions as a species. This however would be bad for business. Examining such themes would force us to take a look at ourselves and our families and make judgments on all our purchase decisions and the carbon foot print we have decided is our right. We would have to make a stance and step up and rock the organisational structures. Not many of us are prepared to do that.
Alot of us have the great fortune to have been born in ” developed world societies ” and never lack for anything within reason. Skiing, boating, foreign trips, cars, camp fires, food and drink excess, flights, clothes, dumped papers, throw away clothes and accessories, poor and inadequate discipline for rubbish elimination etc. These are all things we are still fully guilty of. Great for us, but not so good for the polar bears I mention below. * Polar bear is merely a symbol for everything we have destroyed.
So called Green Energy does not deliver on its promises on its production. How can we square away the extra resource consumption allocated to new projects?. According to Sky News, each megawatt of wind power generated requires 870 cubic metres of concrete and 460 tonnes of steel. In comparison to natural gas which requires 27 cubic metres of concrete and 3.3 tonnes of steel.
Green energy and renewables dont seem to break down the cost of production for us in terms of shipping to the manufacturing site, the extraction costs of coal, iron ore. In production we forget that we are destroying forests, using incredible amounts of resources i.e. land, water, minerals, rare metals to build solar, thermal and wind farms which inevitably need to be replaced and upgraded 20-30 years into the future. There is nothing green about this.
We cant help but see the damage and destruction we are doing to our land, oceans and the animals and plant life we exist on. Ecosystems are collapsing and many species are severely threatened. To prove my point, I don’t think many of us believe that the Artic Circle can regrow and I believe that most of us have given up on that. The polar bears, hmm, tough, but progress has deemed their demise – sorry lads!
Moore reckons that Green Energy is a fraud. Governments ( meaning us tax payers ) are happy to get our renewable targets up to 50-80% of overall energy use. In doing so banks and financiers are profiting enormously where it has become environmentalism by capitalism. Capitalism has infiltrated environmentalism and are aligned perfectly together. There is no resistance. Governments are incurring Green Energy targets and those targets are included in yours, and my energy monthly bills where levies are paid indirectly to vulture capitalists and overseas investors. It is almost like a Trojan horse in that consumers are paying for their energy well after the initial capital projects are completed, and will continue to do so with each new energy project.
In the movie we see that wind and sunlight are indeed renewable, but the solar panels or the turbines do not have an unlimited life span, They are not renewable, but are made from scarce resources, where when they become obsolete, a new cycle of reinvestment occurs. Possibly only 20-30 years for the turbines and less for the solar panels which are not always 100 % efficient either. They too need to be recycled which in turns takes enormous energy to do so. Thereafter we build it all up again to the benefit of the financiers that are only too happy to assist.
Moore also takes a swipe at ethanol plants which are used to create energy for the airlines industry. One of his interviewees, Vandana Shiva says “the only reason corn and soy has been planted for biofuel in the US is the subsidies make it profitable.” The tax payer is paying the subsidies, not the energy conglomerates. The same person points out that ” our minds have been manipulated to give power to illusions, we have shifted to measuring growth, not in terms of how life is enriched but in terms of how life is destroyed”. In replacing the fossil jet fuel we are now damaging the planet with biofuels.
United Airlines has a stake in Fulcrum BioEnergy which is a biofuel company. The airline used 3.9 billion gallons of fuel last . Are we really consuming the living planet ? You bettcha.! I don’t even know how many zeros that is after the number three, but I can tell you that 3.9 billion gallons takes up alot of land ( I use Google too ) – Through research performed at Cornell University, we know that 1 acre of land can yield about 7,110 pounds (3,225 kg) of corn, which can be processed into 328 gallons (1240.61 liters) of ethanol. That is about 26.1 pounds (11.84 kg) of corn per gallon. or 3.9 billon X 26.1 = 102 billion pounds of corn. I checked and 7560 pounds of corn grows on an acre or a land mass of 1.3 million acres . Co.Kerry, Ireland has a land mass of 1.18 acres. The calculations for BA, AerLingus, JAL, Aeroflot, RyanAir, Delta etc can likewise estimated.
Some tree numbers and COs Emissions
In 2019, about 43.1 billion tons of CO2 from human activities were emitted into the atmosphere. This was an all time high, breaking the previous record from 2018. The emissions could form a giant “CO2 cube” measuring 30 km on each side. The atmosphere is getting warmer right ? If we were to be really carbon neutral to compensate we would have to plant trees. Each tree will remove 7 tons of Carbon Dioxide and so we would need to plant about 6.1 billion trees per year to account for current emission levels. “There are about three trillion trees on the planet today and they play a major role in producing the oxygen we all breathe. But twice as many existed before the start of human civilization. Today, 10 billion more trees are cut down than are planted every year. This can easily be remedied.
So how does this end. ? Suggestions !
- Lets look at renewables again and do the maths. Break down what they are costing us environmentally to produce.. Shouldn’t we should deplete our oil reserves and plant the required tree plantations to cover the amount of Carbon dioxide emitted.
2. Manage the venture capitalists and other business involvement and tax them heavily on the excess environment damage their renewables are causing over traditional fossil types. Profits are understandable but not much good to anyone if we are all extinct
3. Lastly, regarding the herd of the elephants in the room. Lets look at society’s excess. Population growth continues to be. Jeff Gibbs asks, “Can a single species that’s come to dominate an entire planet be smart enough to voluntarily limit its own presence? Is there any precedence for that in nature? – We have to have our abilities to consume reined in. We’re not good at reining them in if there are seemingly unrestrained resources.”
I have tried to summarize the Moore movie a carefully as I can, but I highly recommend you have a look at it. It is about 90 minutes long, incredibly captivating and leaves plenty of room for thought. Enjoy !