Let’s All Use More Wind & Solar Energy (/sarc/)

By Calvin Beisner Published on October 6, 2017

It’s amusing what can substitute for thinking nowadays.

A visitor to the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation’s Facebook page commented sarcastically on our new documentary Where the Grass Is Greener 2: Helping the Poor amid Climate Confusion,

Thank you, Cornwall Alliance, for all you do to help us to be so grateful to the big oil companies for their contribution to the stewardship of creation! As you stated, “using fossil fuels not only gives us abundant, affordable, reliable energy indispensable to lifting and keeping whole societies out of poverty,” but also (and how great is this!) “CO2 increase resulting from emissions has enormous benefits, food crops growing better all over the world!”

So let’s all use more oil and help the planet! And be good stewards!

But while she thought she threw a knock-out punch, she swung and missed.

The facts — empirical facts — show her sarcasm is misdirected.

Are Wind and Solar Energy Practical?

Set aside the enormous benefit of increased atmospheric CO2 to plant life, and therefore all other life. Let’s just compare fossil fuels with wind and solar as energy sources — and their impact on the environment.

Robert Bryce, Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future (Public Affairs, 2010), p. 86. Used with permission.

Robert Bryce, Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future (Public Affairs, 2010), p. 86. Used with permission.

Start with their impact on land use. Were it not for fossil fuels, how much land would have to be taken over by wind turbines and solar arrays to provide equivalent energy?

An oil stripper well produces 27 watts/square meter. Solar PV produces only 6.7 and wind turbines only 1.2. So to get as much energy we’d need to cover 4 times as much land with solar arrays or 22.5 times as much with turbines.

The average natural gas well produces 53 watts/square meter. So we’d have to cover 8 times as much land with solar arrays, or 44 times with turbines.

Coal has nearly the same energy density as natural gas, so comparisons for it would be similar.

Then, of course, there’s the problem of wind and solar’s intermittency. That requires constant, 24/7 backup by fossil fuel or nuclear plants at (low-efficiency, wasteful) spinning reserve. Otherwise, when the sun’s not shining or the wind’s not blowing, brownouts and blackouts occur, often with deadly results.

And without machinery powered by — and fertilizer made from — fossil fuels, agriculture would yield far less per acre. So to feed 7 billion people we’d have to farm more land.

Is “Green” Energy Even Good for the Environment?

What about the poor?

Electricity from wind and solar costs far more than from fossil fuels. That has already led, in countries like Britain and Germany, to “fuel poverty.” The result? The poor can’t heat their homes enough to prevent hypothermia (freezing to death). Consequently, excess premature winter deaths have doubled and tripled.

But won’t CO2-driven warming wipe out all these benefits? No.

Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration causes far less warming than climate alarmists predict. How much? No one knows for sure. It’s probably at most half, more likely one-third, quite likely so little as to be undetectable.

Assume the models turn out right over the long haul. The alarmist Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself predicts the poor will be better off with the warming than without it.

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Why? Because economic growth will enable them to adapt. And that growth is driven more by fossil fuels than by renewables. So they’ll have longer and healthier lives than we in developed countries have now.

That’s not even to mention the environmental disasters from mining and smelting rare-earth metals to make turbines and solar arrays. Or the nightmare of disposing of the toxic metals when the turbines and panels wear out. Oh, yes — and the aesthetic blight their vast expanses create.

Because … “Green”

Now, all that said, we wouldn’t add, “So let’s all use more oil.” We should avoid waste of any resources, including oil.

But we would say, with appropriate sarcasm, “So let’s all use more wind and solar!” Because … “green.” Who cares about land covered, crop yields reduced, grids destabilized, the poor hungry or freezing to death, and toxic waste from turbine and solar panel disposal?

 

 

Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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  • ncsugrant

    That we need articles to illustrate these facts shows how effective the “green” lobby has been in it’s efforts to confuse people.
    Cheap, reliable energy and transportation are the basic ingredients for prosperity. Yet we are bombarded by the elitist progressives with the message that people are destroying the planet. It would seem that they are not really interested in the plight of the world’s poor.

    • Myth Buster

      There’s nothing more inexpensive then wind and solar energy. Anyone who travels to western Europe (Hungary too), Australia, New Zealand and even China (recently), sees solar panels and wind turbines everywhere. A huge percentage of the German economy, for instance, is now powered by solar energy and they are no longer giving government subsidies to people or companies converting to it, because it’s “cost effective”. We need to start moving away from 19th Century fossil fuels and into 21st Century technology, regardless what the oil companies would like us to do. There’s nothing “elitist” about it and with three destructive tornadoes that have recently caused hundreds of billions in damages (predicted a decade ago by scientists), another major storm coming this weekend and now the reason for a down-turn in the most recent unemployment numbers (first time such job losses seen in seven-years), it not too profitable to maintain our reliance on fossil fuels.

      • ncsugrant

        Friend, you have posted quite a few myths.
        If solar and wind were cheaper, they would have been adopted with no subsidies or legislative mandates. The tactics of the green crowd lately is to coerce a conversion to solar and wind through political pressure and activist shareholders, or just outright legislative mandates.
        The true environmental impact of solar and wind are unknown because their proponents silence any debate on the matter. We will get to find out when all the solar farm leases expire, and the landowners get to figure out what to do with the old, non-producing solar panels that contain several substances currently regulated as hazardous material.
        US Fish and Wildlife was given marching orders to permit the “taking” of many birds on solar and wind facilities, which would have triggered howls of protest had they been traditional energy facilities.
        It is absolutely elitist to push for policies that impose nominal costs on you, while ignoring the burden those policies place on the poor.
        We were told first that we were running out of energy sources so we had to switch. Now that there is clear evidence to the contrary, we are told that the world will end if we don’t switch (and the cost is irrelevant).
        Lately, after passing big surcharges to end customers to offset the mandates, now we are told wind and solar are “cheaper”. Cheaper than what?
        By the way, your “21st century technology” is pretty useless for the strip mining of lithium deposits, or the refining of nickel or cadmium. All those activities were “dirty” until we needed them for “clean energy”.

        • Myth Buster

          You’re actually the one posting quite a few myths. First, like many new technologies they started off in Europe with subsidies or legislative mandates, but this is ending. Germany would be the strongest example of this. Secondly, the oil companies and their lobbyists crowd lately is to coerce a conversion to solar and wind through political pressure and activist shareholders. Next, the environmental impact of solar and wind are not unknown. I have know idea where you got that one from.

          “US Fish and Wildlife was given marching orders to permit the “taking” of many birds on solar and wind facilities …” I have no idea what you mean by this point. Are you saying ther fossil fuel industry is kinder to US Fish and Wildlife???? Really. Now that’s a new one.

          The science is very clear on the negative impact of Global Warming. There is no debate in the science community on this point. Lastly, we are not talking about strip mining of “lithium deposits, or the refining of nickel or cadmium.” So that’s a non-issue to this discussion. “All those activities were “dirty” until we needed them for “clean energy” – you are comparing apples and oranges when the overall negative world impact is being measured.

          • ncsugrant

            Just curious, were you claiming “elevated negative impacts of hurricanes…” two months ago? Since it had been over ten years since a landfall, which was the longest period on record.
            Whoever claims “global warming” is scientific fact, or that the pause in temperatures that has been observed for the past 20 years is somehow related to hurricane activity is either 1) simply ignorant of the facts, or 2) a shill for the industry known as “climate science”.
            Your whole argument is a house of cards.
            Poor people are paying for this nonsense, and you refuse to admit it.

          • Myth Buster

            Scientists have been predicting increased global heat temperatures and hurricanes now for over a decade as a result of global warming. Also, 98% of scientists studying Global Warming believe it is man made and it will have negative longterm effects on the world. There has only been one recorded year over the past 14-years where record high levels of heat have not been observed and 30% of the polar icecaps have melted, resulting in polar bears becoming endangered within our life time. Droughts are expanding throughout the world. Coral reefs thousands of years old are fragile and can’t handle the slightest temperature change and now also dying; which will have a huge negative impact on the fish industry. Small fish have difficulty hiding from the bigger ones, get eaten more easily; then the shortage of food for the bigger fish and they start to noticeably die.

            You’ve also got it backwards. People are not paying to promote the Scientific Theory of Global Warming; fossil fuel companies are paying politicians and lobbyists to obstruct solar and wind energy advancements/research simply because it will financially hurt their industry. Just like the cigarette industries tried obstructing scientific research connecting smoking and cancer 50-years ago. They employed a handful of well paid scientists in the 1950s and 1960s in an attempt to refute the overwhelming evidence in support of that connection, just as the fossil fuel companies are doing today and some gullibly believe them.

          • Dire Distress

            The science on this issue isn’t too hard to follow regardless what the oil companies say. With each passing day less and less people are buying into what the anti-science crowd vomit out and wonder where Trump’s brain was when pulling out of the Paris Accords. We now look like knuckle draggers throughout the rest of the world.

    • Myth Buster

      Scientists have been predicting increased global heat temperatures and hurricanes now for over a decade as a result of global warming. Also, 98% of scientists studying Global Warming believe it is man made and it will have negative longterm effects on the world. There has only been one recorded year over the past 14-years where record high levels of heat have not been observed and 30% of the polar icecaps have melted, resulting in polar bears becoming endangered within our life time. Droughts are expanding throughout the world. Coral reefs thousands of years old are fragile and can’t handle the slightest temperature change and now also dying; which will have a huge negative impact on the fish industry. Small fish have difficulty hiding from the bigger ones, can get eaten more easily; then the shortage of food for the bigger fish and they start to noticeably die. All for the love of a handful of people in the fossil fuel industry to make a lot of money. This being something Jesus would never have approved of.

      You’ve also got it backwards. People are not paying to promote the Scientific Theory of Global Warming; fossil fuel companies are paying politicians and lobbyists to obstruct solar and wind energy advancements/research simply because it will financially hurt their industry. Just like the cigarette industries tried obstructing scientific research connecting smoking and cancer 50-years ago. They employed a handful of well paid scientists in the 1950s and 1960s in an attempt to refute the overwhelming evidence in support of that connection, just as the fossil fuel companies are doing today and some gullibly believe them.

    • Myth Buster

      Scientists have been predicting increased global heat temperatures and hurricanes now for over a decade as a result of global warming. Also, 98% of scientists studying Global Warming believe it is man made and it will have negative long-term effects on the world. There has only been one recorded year over the past 14-years where record high levels of heat have not been observed and 30% of the polar icecaps have melted, resulting in polar bears becoming endangered within our life time. Droughts are expanding throughout the world. Coral reefs thousands of years old are fragile and can’t handle the slightest temperature change and now also dying; which will have a huge negative impact on the fish industry. Small fish have difficulty hiding from the bigger ones, can get eaten more easily; then the shortage of food for the bigger fish and they start to noticeably die. All for the love of a handful of people in the fossil fuel industry to make a lot of money. This being something Jesus would never have approved of.

      You’ve also got it backwards. People are not paying to promote the Scientific Theory of Global Warming; fossil fuel companies are paying politicians and lobbyists to obstruct solar and wind energy advancements/research simply because it will financially hurt their industry. Just like the cigarette industries tried obstructing scientific research connecting smoking and cancer 50-years ago. They employed a handful of well paid scientists in the 1950s and 1960s in an attempt to refute the overwhelming evidence in support of that connection, just as the fossil fuel companies are doing today and some idiotically believe them.

    • Myth Buster

      Scientists have been predicting increased global heat temperatures and hurricanes now for over a decade as a result of global warming. Also, 98% of scientists studying Global Warming believe it is man made and it will have negative long-term effects on the world. There has only been one recorded year over the past 14-years where record high levels of heat have not been observed and 30% of the polar icecaps have melted, resulting in polar bears becoming endangered within our life time. Droughts are expanding throughout the world. Coral reefs thousands of years old are fragile and can’t handle the slightest temperature change and now also dying; which will have a huge negative impact on the fish industry. Small fish have difficulty hiding from the bigger ones, can get eaten more easily; then the shortage of food for the bigger fish and they start to noticeably die. All for the love of a handful of people in the fossil fuel industry to make a lot of money. This being something Jesus would never have approved of.

      You’ve also got it backwards. People are not paying to promote the Scientific Theory of Global Warming; fossil fuel companies are paying politicians and lobbyists to obstruct solar and wind energy advancements/research simply because it will financially hurt their industry. Just like the cigarette industries tried obstructing scientific research connecting smoking and cancer 50-years ago. They employed a handful of well paid scientists in the 1950s and 1960s in an attempt to refute the overwhelming evidence in support of that connection, just as the fossil fuel companies are doing today and some idiotically believe them.

  • Dena

    Wind turbines also kill a lot of birds. They also ruin scenery. There is downsides to everything.

    • Peace Maker

      Oh, and oil wells off the coast and oil pipelines don’t kill fish and and animals, and they’re wonderful to look at from the beach? Yes, there is downsides to everything.

    • Paul

      An interesting read … washingtontimes(dot)com/news/2016/dec/14/obama-admin-regulation-allows-wind-turbines-kill-4/

  • Myth Buster

    Scientists have been predicting increased global heat temperatures and hurricanes now for over a decade as a result of global warming. Also, 98% of scientists studying Global Warming believe it is man made and it will have negative long-term effects on the world. There has only been one recorded year over the past 14-years where record high levels of heat have not been observed and 30% of the polar icecaps have melted, resulting in polar bears becoming endangered within our life time. Droughts are expanding throughout the world. Coral reefs thousands of years old are fragile and can’t handle the slightest temperature change and now also dying; which will have a huge negative impact on the fish industry. Small fish have difficulty hiding from the bigger ones, can get eaten more easily; then the shortage of food for the bigger fish and they start to noticeably die. All for the love of a handful of people in the fossil fuel industry to make a lot of money. This being something Jesus would never have approved of.

    You’ve also got it backwards. People are not paying to promote the Scientific Theory of Global Warming; fossil fuel companies are paying politicians and lobbyists to obstruct solar and wind energy advancements/research simply because it will financially hurt their industry. Just like the cigarette industries tried obstructing scientific research connecting smoking and cancer 50-years ago. They employed a handful of well paid scientists in the 1950s and 1960s in an attempt to refute the overwhelming evidence in support of that connection, just as the fossil fuel companies are doing today and some idiotically believe them.

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