Are we suffering from illusions about alternative energy? Have solar panels become a pointless fetish that could make climate change worse? What about electric cars? Is the whole “green energy” game just an extention of the fossil fuel industry, dressed up in green clothing?
Those are the claims made by a California engineer, and student of alternative energy. Ozzie Zehner published all this in his 2012
book ” Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism“. The book has won awards and caused a stir.
For this radio program, I’m going to run you a talk given by Ozzie on September 19th, 2012. It’s part of the “Authors at Google” series – and there were green energy techies from Google in the audience. We’ll get some questions from them.
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Before we start, let me say categorically that I agree and disagree with Ozzie Zehner. He gives us fundamental truths about the need to stop wasting so much energy. Reducing energy cuts our impact on the planet and cuts the risks of climate change like no other strategy. Of course, we haven’t cut back at all, and global greenhouse gas emissions are increasing every year.
But then Ozzie tries to tell us solar and wind power can’t work. In fact, if applied in a wide-spread way, Zehner claims that would destroy civilization as we know it in one generation. So here’s the deal. This week I’m going to run Ozzie Zehner’s Google talk.
Next week, I’ve got a green tech expert to give us a different view. And I’ll present my own research into all this. Before you give up on green energy, be sure and listen to next week’s Radio Ecoshock show as well.
Ozzie is introduced by a Google software engineer, Valera Zakarov.
Ozzie talks about the problems with electric vehicles, based on his article “Unclean at Any Speed” found here.
You will also find a reference to studies by the National Academies on the hidden costs of renewables here.
The collection of papers is: “Hidden Costs of Energy, Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use” authored by the Committee on Health, Environmental, and Other External Costs and Benefits of Energy Production and Consumption, of the National Research Council.
There is a newer paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on electric vehicles here. They still criticize them, but find EV’s are beneficial when the electricity comes from wind or solar power. Find that paper here.
This week you heard Ozzie Zehner, author of “Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism”. This talk was lightly edited for radio, and due to time limitation, questions about health care and population control had trimmed. You can view the full talk on You tube. Find more on Ozzie Zehner at his web site here.
We are out of time this week. But don’t give up all your green hopes just yet. Next week I’ll be back with green tech investment guru Dan Miller. He thinks Ozzie is just plain wrong. I’ll add my own research into this; some very different conclusions reached by other scientists and Radio Ecoshock guests; plus ideas on where we go from here. Don’t miss next week’s Radio Ecoshock show.
As we wrap up the year 2014, likely the hottest ever recorded, there are a couple of bits of good news. First, the Catholic Pope is starting a campaign to raise awareness of climate change in his flock, and to get action in the Paris climate negotiations in 2015.
Second, one of the most dangerous reactors in America began the shutdown process this week. Vermont Yankee went off line. It is one of those dangerous GE Mark I reactors. Like Fukushima, the fuel rods in this flawed design rise from the bottom, meaning any melt-down leaks out of containment. One down, a dozen more like it in the U.S. to go.
I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and thank you for caring about our world.
I will listen next week but do not expect to be dissuaded. Ozzie's ideas are not new to me, I have long been very skeptical of solutions where you have to buy something. The economic system is the problem. Ozzie didn't say it exactly like that but he gets it. One of the great myths of modernity is that tech can save us. Tech is the problem, the only way forward is to live humbly and simply and to purge the bullshit from your life. Grow your own, stop driving cars. I'm doing that and I'm not missing sitting in traffic jams and spending money in the supermarket! Alex sometimes you veer, like the vast majority of North Americans, towards positive solutions. This is childish. Adults deal with reality. Unfortunately our situation is very negative. Change can only come when you face up to it.
Too many generalizations in Zehner's speech, like "renewables cause increased emissions". Then when questioned, he admitted renewable tech could be created using clean energy as an input. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Looking forward to the opposite view next week.
MASS EXTINCTION VS. GREEN ENERGY
Solar-wind power and batteries are the bic lighters of the environmental era made from billions of tons of toxic exotic minerals that need continual replacement for part-time energy. After roughly 25 years, all these panels and turbines will become toxic waste and need replacement. 75 years ago, building dams to block rivers was supposed to liberate us from coal. All it did, was add more power and kill off life in river ecosystems.
By 2050, we will be in middle of post-peak everything. This will include peak minerals, food, water, energy, climate and not least civility. Millions of people live near the oceans, do you think that solar and wind power would have helped the people of the Philippines?
► 40% Green Energy requires 200% more copper says John Timmer of Ars Technica.
► Peak copper hits 2030 – 2040 says Ugo Bardi.
► Post peak copper production cannot accelerate at any price says Dave Lowell.
► This is true of any post peak mineral production.
► There is no real substitute for copper says Mat McDermott of Motherboard.
► We mined 50% of all the copper in human history in just the last 30 years.
► 100% green energy requires 500% more copper.
► Peak minerals includes more than just copper.
► By 2050, expect to be past peaks for tin, silver, cadmium and more.
► We move some 3 billion tons of earth per year to get 15 millions tons of copper.
► We can’t afford to mine 500% more copper at ever lower concentrations.
► We cannot recycle it into existence.
► We cannot conserve it into existence.
► Substituting aluminum for copper takes 5X the energy and is less safe.
► Google’s own green energy experts, Ross Koningstein and David Fork, tell IEEE Spectrum why green energy “simply won’t work” and is a “false dream”.
Here is Gail Tverberg on Green Energy.
► Green Energy is our solution to Climate Change.
► But, Climate Change is only 1 of 6 Direct Drivers for Mass Extinction.
► The 6 Direct Drivers of Mass Extinction are:
… 1) Invasive Species
… 2) Over-Population
… 3) Over-Exploitation
… 4) Habitat Loss
….5) Climate Change
► Therefore,… GREEN ENERGY WILL NOT STOP MASS EXTINCTION
► 10,000 years ago, humans and livestock occupied 0.01% of earth's land vertebrate biomass.
► Humans and livestock now occupy 97% of earth's land vertebrate biomass.
► 1,000,000 humans, net, are added to earth every 4½ days.
► 50% of vertebrate species died off in the last 50 years.
► 50% of remaining vertebrate species will die off in the next 40 years.
► +50% = Unstoppable Irreversible Catastrophic Cascading Extinctions Collapse.
► 75% Species Loss = Mass Extinction.
► Ocean acidification doubles by 2050, triples by 2100.
► World Bank says we have 5-10 years before we all fight for food and water.
► 97% of Tigers gone since 1914.
► 90% of Lions gone since 1993.
► 90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.
► 90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.
► 90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.77
► 80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.
► 75% of River & Riverbank Species gone since 1970.
.. ► 75,000 dams block U.S. rivers built over 75 years.
► 60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.
► 50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.
► 50% of Human Sperm Counts gone since 1950.
► 50% of Fresh Water Fish gone since 1987.
► 40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.
► 30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.
► 28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.
► 28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.
► 93 Elephants killed every single day.
► 2-3 Rhinos killed every single day.
► Bees die from malnutrition lacking bio-diverse pollen sources.
► Malnutrition weakens bee colonies for disease and poisoning.
► Green Energy provides 3% of world energy.
► World energy demand up 100% in 50 years.
► World emissions have drop 80% in 15 years for 50/50 chance of 2°C.
► It takes one ton of coal to make 6 solar panels.
► It takes 4 times the rated green energy to displace 1 equally rated unit of fossil energy.
So far, we have to replace fossil fuels with 4X its rated power, while emissions have to drop 80% while total energy demand doubles in the midst of energy, mineral, food and water shortages. Please don't be offended if I tell you this is fuckn impossible. You can't use solar panels to make 4X as much green energy without accelerating peak minerals, ecological destruction, water mismanagement etc. Here is a link to give you an idea of just some of the deadly poisons used to make solar panels.
We have no choice for even a small chance of survival but to use nuclear to provide the base power and experiential expertise needed to make renewable energy and nuclear power
CLEAN not just green.
We have just figured out how to burn 300 years worth of power from deadly nuclear waste and make it safer. We can do it safely. We need nuclear power to clean up nuclear waste before we lose our technical expertise. Lot's of people will die from Fukushima, we can't turn our backs on them.
► China has made 6 gigatons of cement in the last 3 years.
► U.S. has made 4 gigatons of cement in the last 100 years.
► China has lent $15 trillion in the last 5 years.
► U.S. has lent $15 trillion in the last 100 years.
► China will build 400 nuclear power plants in 35 years.
► India will have the first thorium commercial reactor by 2022.
► U.S. will have to replace all its surviving solar-wind power systems in 30 years, likely after economic collapse in times of shortages and energy poverty.
► U.S. has enough nuclear waste to power themselves for 300 years without emissions while solving proliferation, emissions and storage problems.
HERE'S HOW IT IS DONE
What I don't get is why Alex didn't just get in touch with Ozzie and have him on the show.
As Alex has responded to me previously in the comments he plans these guests months in advance.
Phil – as you'll hear in next week's show, I did try hard to get Ozzie on Radio Ecoshock.
He is willing but says his current work project precludes him from doing any media interviews for the next several months, likely until next summer.
Next summer for oz?
Next week for next show?
This could go on forever.
Why do I think we should try
even when I "know" we will fail?
In no particular order, here are the 5 top traded "commodities".
That was very much a talk containing a lot of cold hard facts. I look forward to your reply, but am wary of techno-fantasy.
technopile utopianism has been with us since we knapped the first flint right up to the latest Venus Project fantasies.
it was bad science that gave us uranium weapons and waste deadly for some 100,000 years.
it is good science that will provide emissions-free power, stop profliferation, and solve storage issues, cleaning 99% of uranium waste producing its own waste that last 300 years.
All this shows just how short sighted we are, but as Nate Hagens says, that's the way we were made, to survive in the minute.
We have not adapted to long range planning and it will be the death of us, now that we are so in overshoot regarding our planetary resources.
The exponential function. Al Bartlett's video should be mandatory in all schools, government offices and corporate policy.
Unfortunately it's too late to slowly let ourselves down.
We are locusts.
We are crusaders from different ends of the spectrum.
Maybe you're good cop, right? 😉
Check out my website
Well Well Well… It looks like the Koch brothers and their fossil fuel caball have a very effective followup program to deluge the landscape with pro OZZIE insanity… truly disgusting.
Ozzie is nothing more than a slick salesman for the fossil death machine spewing vague bull crap and minipulating vague data he NEVER really lays out…He is the worst of the worst. as is Robert Callaghan and others who trot out the same lies as facts to bolster oil company propaganda.
Have NEVER seen this kind of activity on Alex's blog… confirms what is obvious… Ozzie is a shill with a big secret swiss bank account…
I shake my head every time I'm surrounded by sick humans manipulating data to destroy our home. Fortunately, Amory Lovins, Mark Jackobson, and many others are moving our relationship with the earth foreward and as Tony Sebo is so fond of saying, despite their last gasp of lies, they will all die as the solar age finally emerges.
I consider these people traitors to children everywhere…don't really know what sickness drive them but we will not go into the darkness of their disease… we will prevail!
Well Vastman, lost the plot utterly, Eh?
typical delusional rant by someone in the Koch Bros pay. I can safely say you painted a self portrait in words.Your bio is all lies too or it would not be possible to believe your own tripe. Troll alert!
Compared to your other guests, this guy seems very shallow and unqualified, which raises questions about why Google is so interested in listening to him.
All I could think of while he was talking was, "Who's paying this guy?" He clearly is trying to ingratiate himself with the right wing nut jobs who are set upon derailing alternative energy. And given the latter's numbers, he will likely make a tidy sum.
Thank you Alex for your excellent follow-up show, which is far more credible and informative than Ozzie's presentation. I love Radio Ecoshock!
LOSE OZZIE ZEHNER
I guess I could be charitable and simply note that Zehner is misinformed, careless with the facts, and speaking outside his area of expertise. But I can't help but wonder about the motives of someone whose presentation consist almost entirely of misinformation and specious reasoning.
Alex, I'm not convinced that your new formula of having a provocative yet reckless guest one week and a sensible, fact-based refutation the following week is working. I'd prefer that you stick to guests with some factual grounding or at least some interesting ideas. Zehner brings neither. He represents a new low for the show.
But I too love Radio Ecoshock.