Afternoon TEA: “Green” doesn’t necessarily mean “Clean”
Did you know?
We hear a lot of feel-good buzz words thrown around on energy issues. There’s renewable energy, green energy, and clean energy. There are ambitious goals to be “carbon free” or “zero emissions.” But, it is important to stop and think about what all those words actually mean. In many ways, renewable energy is not clean or green, or at times, even truly renewable.
Wind and solar energy and the batteries necessary for electric vehicles require rare earth metals in their production. These metals aren’t renewable and China has a near monopoly on them. The mines in China that source these metals are far from clean and green. They poison water and soil and cause “cancer villages” in impoverished areas. And, the factories that process those materials are powered by China’s cheap, coal-fired electricity basically cancelling out any emission reductions from the solar panels they produce.
Wind and solar energy also require huge areas of land to replace traditional energy sources. Solar power would require 18.8 billion solar panels and wind would require 2.12 million turbines, and would blanket a land area larger than multiple states to meet the energy needs of the U.S.. And, retired wind turbine blades that can’t be recycled and are too large for landfills are already stacking up. While, we are also unprepared for a wave of old solar panel trash that will soon come. Hydropower, another renewable resource, “disrupts wildlife and vegetation and destroys natural water flows.” And, another, biomass, includes the burning of wood which not only produces more emissions than fossil fuels but also other air pollutants.
So, the moral is, always look for the common-sense truth behind the words you hear. The fact is the U.S. has worked hard to be a world leader in emission reductions and we are enjoying some of the best air quality we’ve had in a half century. All that is because of continued advances in technology and increased use of clean and reliable natural gas to power our nation. Our energy future lies in building on those successful results, not in emotional but empty words that take us backward.