‘Renewable Energy’ Is Only (Kind Of) Renewable Electricity – OpEd
By Ronald Stein
The rage these days from the Green New Deal, the Paris Accord, and the recent Democrats Clean Energy Climate Policy are all focused on renewable energy to replace our demands from fossil fuels. But wait – renewable energy from wind and solar is only renewable ELECTRICITY! At best, that renewable electricity is intermittent as it depends on wind and sunshine to produce any electricity.
Before 1900 the world had no medications, electronics, cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers, and transportation infrastructures. Looking back just a few short centuries, we’ve come a long way since the pioneer days.
Also, before 1900, the world had very little commerce and without transportation there is no commerce. The two prime movers that have done more for the cause of globalization than any other: the diesel engine and the jet turbine, both get their fuels from oil. Road and air travel now dominate most people’s lives.
The current passion to implement a world with only intermittent electricity is oblivious to the unintended consequences of a world without fossil fuels. The signatories to the green movement have failed to imagine how life was without that industry that did not exist before 1900 when we had, NO medications and medical equipment, NO vaccines, NO water filtration systems, NO sanitation systems, NO fertilizers to help feed billions, NO pesticides to control locusts and other pests, NO communications systems, including cell phones, computers, and I Pads, NO vehicles, NO airlines that now move 4 billion people around the world, NO cruise ships that now move 25 million passengers around the world, NO merchant ships that are now moving billions of dollars of products monthly throughout the world, NO tires for vehicles, and NO asphalt for roads, and NO space program.
In case you don’t remember, we also had virtually no military aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, planes, and tanks around the world before 1900. Both WW I and II were won by the Allies, as they had more oil, petroleum, and coal than the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan to operate their military equipment, move troop convoys, and supplies around the world.
Post 1900, we now have medications, electronics, cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers, transportation infrastructures and more than 6,000 products that come from the derivatives of crude oil, including every part in solar panels and wind turbines as well as the various fuels to the world to operate planes, trucks, construction equipment, merchant ships, cruise ships, and automobiles.
Today, almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.
Incredibly, global poverty affects the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population and they account for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income. Water problems affect half of humanity.
Obviously, with limited income and poverty status, China, and India with 2.7 billion people, continue to pursue the energy source that’s abundant, reliable, and affordable – coal. Those two countries are home to more than half (5,884) of the world’s coal power plants (10,210). Together they are in the process of building 634 new ones. They are putting their money and backs into their most abundant source of energy – coal.
Countries where fossil fuels are in widespread use are generally wealthier and healthier, and prosperous countries are more resilient in the face of natural disasters than poorer countries lacking access to fossil fuels.
Before you jump onto the renewable train, those renewables have a very dark side of environmental atrocities and a non-existing transparency of human rights abuses associated with mining for the exotic metals and minerals that make the wind, solar, and EV batteries.
The key minerals used in today’s batteries are cobalt, of which 60% is sourced from one country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and lithium, of which more than 50% is sourced from the Lithium Triangle in South America, which covers parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. Today 20% of cobalt is mined by hand. Amnesty International has documented children and adults mining cobalt in narrow man-made tunnels, at risk of fatal accidents and serious lung disease.
Those underdeveloped locations in the world, mostly from oil and gas starved countries, are experiencing 11 million child deaths every year, mainly from preventable causes of diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.
Seems that politicians supporting the demise of the oil and gas industry should speak up and take accountability for supporting the elimination of the industry that did not exist before 1900 that could reverse the annual worldwide fatality atrocities occurring in those poor countries, that are a few hundred years behind us and yet to even join the industrial revolution.
Energy is more than electricity. We’ve had almost 200 years to develop clones or generics to replace the products we get from crude oil such as: medications, electronics, communications, tires, asphalt, fertilizers, military, and transportation equipment. The social needs of our materialistic societies are most likely going to remain for continuous, uninterruptable, and reliable electricity from coal or natural gas generation backup, and for all those chemicals that get manufactured out of crude oil, that makes everything else that’s part of our daily lifestyles.
The recently released book Just GREEN Electricity–Helping Citizens Understand a World without Fossil Fuel explains that no one has the answer at this time as to how we can continue to make products and move things without fossil fuels and the derivatives from petroleum, but most of all, the “aha moment” has arrived – electricity alone from wind and solar cannot replace the fuels and products that are manufactured from petroleum.