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US & World

Prioleau Alexander: America’s Environmental Insanity

The good, the bad and the crazy of America’s environmental movement …

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For the last fifty years, environmentalists have done a lot of good. Amazing levels of good. They successfully addressed air and water pollution, pesticides, chemical dumping, unhealthy ingredients in food — the list is long.

But the bulk of those changes came about because true believers were fighting the good fight, usually for low pay – or as volunteers. They marched, picketed, led petition drives, handed out flyers, wrote editorials, and educated the public about their specific cause. Yes, using the endangered snail darter fish to stop construction of the Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River for two years was sheer lunacy, but sanity prevailed – and the dam was built.

And surprise, surprise … the snail darter did just fine, and was recently removed from the endangered species list.

That idiocy aside, most recent environmental fights were righteous. Now, though, true believers and crusaders are fewer and further between – and Big Enviro has become a booming industry run by fat cats, corrupt politicians, lobbyists and wildly profitable non-profits. 

Nothing is more important to Big Enviro than wind, electric cars and solar — all to combat a man-made global warming climate change climate crisis … which is settled science among scientists who receive funding from the federal government.

In researching wind turbines, a few interesting facts arise … but they are hard to find, only popping up on page 29 of Google searches. I did find a report where a little school called the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reported it would take a wind farm 40 miles x 40 miles to power NYC.

Huh? That sounds feasible. 

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Poking around further, additional interesting facts emerge: For example, decommissioning a windmill costs more than building one. The blades, which are built to withstand hurricane winds, are huge and hard as rock. At 260 feet and 63 tons, very few municipalities own crushing equipment anywhere near big enough to deal with them. So, they cut them into three pieces, and bury them. 

Due to the blades’ high resistance to heat, sunlight, and moisture, it takes hundreds of years for them to degrade in a landfill. The wood and other organic material present in the blades also end up in landfills, potentially releasing methane, a greenhouse gas. Oh, and it was recently estimated by NPR that America will have to deal with 720,000 tons of blade material over the next 20 years. 

That sounds sustainable.

If you dump Google and use DuckDuckGo – and dig deep enough – you’ll find an article by that untrustworthy bastion of right-wing rhetoric, Forbes. According to Forbes’ energy and environment reporter, wind turbines have “emerged as one of the greatest human threats to many species of large, threatened and high-conservation value birds, behind only habitat loss from agriculture.” 

“Wind energy threatens golden eagles, bald eagles, burrowing owls, red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks, American kestrels, white-tailed kites, peregrine falcons, prairie falcons, and countless migratory bats. The expansion of wind turbines could result in the extinction of the golden eagle in the western United States, where its population is at an unsustainable low,” the writer continued.

Hilariously, the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club now support the “responsible development of wind turbines.” Would love to have a forensic CPA study the source and size of their donations over the past decade.

The next obsession amongst environmentalists is electric vehicles. 

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A parking lot with charging stations for electric cars (Getty Images)

As anyone who isn’t neuro-divergent knows, 90 percent of electric vehicles are charged by coal or natural gas burning plants. Since coal and natural gas will be the source of energy for electric batteries for decades to come, we should want the energy they create to be used in the most efficient way possible. 

It feels like charging electric cars would be the most efficient way, until you meet someone who actually understands physics… specifically the second law of thermodynamics, and the pesky step-downs that occur when you convert energy from one form to another. I wouldn’t expect the average electric car owner to put that math together, but given it’s a law of physics—not a theory—perhaps this would be a good time to “believe the science.”

The most brutal aspect of electric cars is, or course, the artisanal mining of cobalt in the Congo, of which CBS News reports that “children as young as four pick cobalt out of piles, and those too young to work spend much of the day breathing in toxic fumes.”

What’s the problem? Come on, they’re raking in around 50 cents an hour — that’s a livable wage, no? Plus, they’re just Africans, not African-Americans. For some reason, those Black lives don’t matter to the woke mob.

There’s no need to write more on this slave labor situation — virtue signalers can simply google “dangers of cobalt mining in Congo,” where they’ll find dozens of articles and photo essays offered by environment haters like ABC, CBS, BBC, Amnesty International, and CNN. 

Hey, here’s an idea: If you have a printer, maybe you can print some of the horrifying photos and write Black Lives Matter on them, and tape them up in your virtue-mobile.

There’s good news, though — cobalt-free batteries are increasing in use, and we could be cobalt-free in two or three decades. I mean, it is a bummer — depriving Congo of all those “good, high-paying” jobs — but they’ll still have the privilege of dying so you feel good about yourself for another 25 years or so.

Solar, beyond its use on the roof of a private home, isn’t much better.

Using solar panel farms to get free energy only costs about $450,000 an acre to build. According to the Great Plains Institute, it takes ten acres to produce one megawatt. One megawatt powers about 400-1,000 homes per year, depending on which side of the solar debate you stand. Let’s say 700 as an average.

So, ten acres at $450,000 per acre equals $4,500,000 … divided by 700 homes equals $6,428 per home per year.

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U.S. Government subsidized solar firm Solyndra (Pedro Xing/ Wikimedia Commons)

You know, that kind of makes sense. If you spend upwards of $500 a month on electricity, your income likely offers you the luxury of worrying about things like solar energy, and not silly things like the price of milk, bread, and eggs. 

Oh, and remember — it’s $500 a month only if you remove all the costs to associated with the power company recouping the hell out of their start-up costs, the cost to runs ads telling you how green they are (that you’re paying for), the cost-plus associated with every employee, every truck, every line, and every golden parachute they pay when they bankrupt a project. And when the government subsidies stop? Rest assured Dominion Energy ain’t gonna virtue-signal those costs out of their own pockets.

Quite simply, solar is too expensive and demands to many other resources — but it does enable one thing to happen: Congressmen get to pay their friends subsidies to offset loses, and friends like that tend to hold campaign fundraisers.

The obvious answer to all this lunacy is natural gas — clean, cheap, and plentiful. We have the technology needed to use it today, so no one needs to say, “Well, the technology is getting better every year. Just another 20 years of access to public monies, and we’ll get it figured out.” 

However, natural gas has one big drawback: No congressmen get to give out billions of dolalrs in subsidies to private sector companies. After all, if you’re the CEO getting those subsidies, you are going to work veeeery hard to raise funds for the congressman who’s lining your pockets … and get that congressman re-elected.

Those zany congressmen — they’ve so clever. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR…

(Via: Provided)

Prioleau Alexander is a freelance writer, focusing mostly on politics and non-fiction humor. He is the author of two books: ‘You Want Fries With That?’ and ‘Dispatches Along the Way.’ Both are available on Amazon. He hopes to have another title published soon, but that would require his agent actually doing his job, so it may be awhile.

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5 comments

RC January 18, 2023 at 11:09 am

“I did find a report”

Yes let’s make an argument based on a report from 13 years ago. Certainly technology hasn’t advanced at all in that time, right?

“That sounds sustainable.”

So how does it compare to decommissioning other forms of energy plants? I’m sure you’ve done this research, right?

“an article by that untrustworthy bastion of right-wing rhetoric, Forbes.”

Said article was written by Michael Shellenberger. You don’t think he has his own biases? As for the issues with wind turbines killing birds, you ignore both the improvements in design to lessen them, and the fact that far more birds are killed by other forms of infrastructure including communication towers and power lines. Did you ever stop to think maybe the Audubon Society knows a little bit more about it than you? Wait, I think we all know the answer to that.

“As anyone who isn’t neuro-divergent knows, 90 percent of electric vehicles are charged by coal or natural gas burning plants.”

One would think anyone making such a strong statement in a published article would at least do a simple google search. In the US, electricity generation is roughly 60% fossil fuels. It is also the only form of energy we can generate cleanly. As for the “step downs” in converting energy, you also neglect to consider how much more efficiently electric power is versus combusting gasoline.

“One megawatt powers about 400-1,000 homes per year, depending on which side of the solar debate you stand”

Wtf does that even mean? You can look up the average electricity usage of a home. It has nothing to do with “what side of the solar debate you stand”.

“No congressmen get to give out billions of dolalrs (sic) in subsidies to private sector companies.”

In 2019, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute found that the US government spends $20 billion a year on direct fossil fuel subsidies. And bro, you really need an editor.

Reply
jbl1a January 18, 2023 at 2:22 pm

When the “green” militant climate change folks start looking at the waste produced and the plastics polluting the planet then I will start siding with them but as of now all the EV, solar and wind people are all about the $$$$$ nothing more…..

Reply
Red Uprising January 19, 2023 at 8:21 am

“EV, solar and wind people are all about the $$$$$ nothing more…..”

You live under capitalism. What else do you expect?

Thanks for the tacit admission that the free market cannot and will not solve global warming.

Reply
Charles Koch January 18, 2023 at 6:15 pm

Yeah, congress doesn’t give fossil fuels subsidies, oh no sir!

Reply
Chris Memminger January 18, 2023 at 8:25 pm

You can pay a therapist and not air your personal issues so publicly. Fools names and fools faces are often seen in public places, my grandmother used to say. Your vitriolic story about the time you used google to confirm your preconceived and notably inconsistent views about the environment is so boring I couldnt get past the part about how great environmentalists are….

Reply

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