4.6 Wouldn't Electric Cars, Windmills and Solar Panels be Better for the Environment?

IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, estimates that there will be twice as many tons of worn-out solar panels by 2050 as there are of  all today’s plastic waste.  Solar panels are hard to recycle which is why they wind up in landfills where lead and carcinogenic cadmium leach out of them when it rains.  If lead gets into drinking water and children drink it, it can affect their brains so that they have trouble learning, it can make it harder for them to hear and it can slow down their growth. 

There is another way to use solar energy which doesn't require solar panels, which is to focus light onto water towers.  The heat generated causes build up of steam which turns generators and generates electric power.  It requires fossil fuel to build these and to get the water hot enough every morning.  This is discussed in the clip below from Michael Moores documentary Planet of the Humans.  The video in this clip starts out black but it comes on after 13 seconds.


An alternative to using the sun is using the wind for energy.  Wind turbine blades are massive. 

Their blades are designed to withstand hurricane force winds.  What happens when they've lived out their useful life and have to be disposed of?  They are very hard to recycle because they were built to last and to be so strong.  So they pile up in landfills.  The problem is there aren't enough landfills. So some are sent to landfills in Africa.   One problem with that is that they are made of materials such as Bisphenol A that has been reported to be toxic The magnets in wind turbine generators are made from neodymium and dysprosium, rare earth minerals mined almost exclusively in China, which controls 95 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals. The processing of which has covered whole tracts of China with fields of toxic waste and giant toxic lakes Rare earth minerals for batteries are also mined in the United States.  One byproduct is radioactive waste as is discussed in the clip below.


Wind turbines and solar farms displace plants and wildlife.  Wind turbines kill birds that fly into the blades.  Solar farms that work by focusing light and heat on a water tower with mirrors also kill birds because the birds fly into the heat.  Solar panel farms don't kill birds but they take up a lot of land on where plant life and wildlife might otherwise be.  There is a lot of concern about carbon dioxide but where is the concern for the loss of oxygen when plant life is replaced with solar cells?  Here is a video clip from the documentary Planet of the Humans, of a football size solar array that can only provide the power needs of 10 homes.  That doesn't include the power needs for the cars of the people owning those homes.


Wind turbines take up a lot of land.  In the video below (also from the documentary, Planet of the Humans) people from Vermont express concern about the removal of a mountain top so that giant solar wind turbines can be installed. 


I haven't seen anyone mention this but it makes sense that wind farms will reduce the flow of wind.  On a hot summer day that nice summer breeze that cooled you down might be gone because of wind farms. 

The high cost of energy from wind turbines and solar panels is a big problem because replacing cheap fossil fuels with them leads to more poverty and energy blackouts.  It costs the same to drill one oil well as it does to build one large wind turbine. While the wind turbine generates the equivalent of one oil barrel of energy per hour, an oil well produces ten oil barrels per hour.  That means that you would have to build 10 wind turbines to get the same amount of energy as you get from one oil well.  Another way to look at it is energy from a wind turbine is 10 times as expensive as energy from an oil well.  Wind energy is actually more expensive than that because it has to be stored.  One oil barrel of energy costs about $0.50 to store whereas you need $200 of batteries to store the same energy from a wind turbine.  Another problem is that wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. 

Tony Heller made the following video showing wind turbines in Wyoming.  The song he chose for the video is "She's like the wind"  What message is Tony trying to get across?


Notice how the blades of the wind turbines are not turning.  Notice the trucks moving on the highway. What is powering them, the solar turbines, or fossil fuel?  An enormous amount of money went into building those wind turbines. 

People who defend solar power say it's cheaper than fossil fuel energy and that the price has come down.  They leave out the reason why solar is cheaper which is that the government subsidizes solar power.  Once you take into account how much of your tax money is paying for solar energy it becomes clear that fossil fuel is cheaper. If solar and wind energy was really cheaper government subsidies would not be needed.  Oil companies would switch to making solar panels and wind turbines or be outsold by other companies that made them. 

The Biden administration is spending vast amounts of our tax money to pay for wind turbines.  They wouldn't have to if wind turbines were cheaper.  The Biden administration plans to increase taxes to pay for all of this.  If they tax the oil companies they drive up the cost of oil.  That in turn drives up the cost of everything that depends on the cost of oil, like heating homes, driving cars, getting food to supermarkets and so on. 

The Biden administration tells us that what they are doing will increase the number of jobs.  It is true that they will hire people with the money they are spending.  What the Biden administration doesn't tell people is that when they take money away from people with taxes they reduce the number of jobs.  If people have less money to buy things then there are fewer jobs for the people who make those things.  If the government spends our money on more expensive energy in the end there will be fewer jobs not more. 

Switching to electric cars and trucks is another expensive idea being pushed by the Biden administration.  They are a lot more expensive to build than gas cars and trucks.  The only reason that people buy electric cars is the government subsidizes those cars with our taxes.  Electric cars require electric charging stations have to be built all over the country.  They require lithium batteries.  Lithium is a very light high energy metal.  It's important to use a light weight metal because the heavier the battery the heavier the car and the more electricity is needed to move it.  Lithium is ideal also because it can store a lot of energy.  There is not enough lithium to make all the batteries that would be needed if everyone bought an electric car.  Making batteries involves strip mining, toxic chemical leaching, and massive water consumption of rare metal lithium extraction for non-recycled car batteries. Electricity to charge those batteries comes from power plants.  Some of the power for those plants comes from the burning of coal.   This is mentioned in the video below.


Burning coal is likely to pollute the environment far more significantly than any gas-powered vehicle. Disposing of carcinogenic, half-ton batteries will also pollute the environment.

Some people believe that burning down trees and other plants is the answer because when new trees are planted and grow they will remove carbon dioxide from the air.  The idea is that the carbon dioxide that is released by burning trees will become part of the new trees that grow.  What's wrong with that idea is explained in the following clip taken again from Planet of the Humans.


High costs of energy affect everyone.  They hurt the poor the most because they can make it too expensive to stay warm in winter or cold in summer or even to pay for groceries.  The cost of groceries goes up when the cost to transport them goes up and the cost to transport them goes up when the cost of energy goes up.  These costs don't just mean more poverty.  They could lead to hyperinflation in which money loses its value and everyone except the top leadership becomes poor.  The most recent country where hyperinflation happened is Venezuela.  It could happen in the United States.  There is already a lot of inflation in the United States.

 Considering all the disadvantages of solar farms and wind turbines fossil fuels aren't that bad.  There may be something else we can do.  During the Covid pandemic many people worked from home.  They were able to do this because of computers and the internet.  Maybe we could keep doing this as much as possible to cut down on the use of energy for transportation.  Probably ordering from a company that delivers goods in ones neighborhood requires less fuel than driving to the store every time one needs something.

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