Almost a year ago to the date, I wrote about how the Green New Deal, the extremely insane, costly and ridiculous communist power-grab supported by communists in and out of Congress would not do anything to combat climate change even if it worked entirely as advertised.
Of course, that is a situation far from reality for economic and environmental reasons. However, a recent study has pointed out that, were the GND to be made law of the land, it would be an absolute environmental DISASTER to try and implement in full.
Paul Driessen wrote a fairly short study titled: “How the Green New Deal’s Renewable Energy Mining Would Harm Humans and the Environment,” clearly not pulling any punches here and getting straight to the point.
The Left is practically in love with “renewable” energies such as wind and solar power, and hate gas, coal and oil, as well as nuclear power because they believe them to be dirty and unsafe.
However, what the Left fails to realize is that, in order to create these wind and solar plants, one must gather the resources to build them. In order to do so, natural resources such as copper, cobalt, lithium, iron, aluminum and other rare earth elements (REE)s must also be gathered and in order to do so, mining must be done in the places where they are available.
I can only assume you know where I am going with this: the Left can’t have it both ways. In order to get the GND to work (speaking strictly about gathering the materials for wind and solar plants), mining must be expanded. But the Left hates the amount of mining already being done because of the environmental harm the operations are causing to their local areas.
According to the study: “[E]xpanding mining on the scale needed to meet the renewable energy requirements contained in the Green New Deal and other proposed renewable energy mandates would cause unimaginable harm to the environment, wildlife, and humans.”
The paper goes over six particular topics:
1. The Green New Deal’s Need for Metals and Minerals
2. Ruinous Rare Earth Elements
3. Lethal Lithium
4. Killer Cobalt
5. Copper Complexities
6. And Green New Deal Mining Hypocrisies
Let’s briefly go over each of these points. First, the Green New Deal’s need for metals and minerals. According to the study: “The solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries needed to replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy over a 10-year period to produce the 8.2 billion megawatt hours of power for America’s annual electricity-equivalent needs under the GND would require an unprecedented increase in mining for raw materials.”
“To replace all energy generated by [fossil fuels] with power from solar panels – which now generate just 1.5 percent of the country’s electricity – plus a week’s worth of backup power, would require nearly 19 billion solar panels, blanketing an area the size of New York and Vermont. A 2018 study by Harvard University scientists who believe in a human-caused global warming crisis shows that to meet present-day U.S. electricity demand, wind turbine projects would need to cover one-third of the continental United States. Transforming motor vehicles to run on electric batteries would require even more land.”
In other words, in order to even just replicate the output this country can generate, A TON of land would have to be used up. That means destroying entire habitats and ecosystems to fit these plants, not to mention the destruction of rocks around the mining operations that also destroy their local environments.
Ruinous Rare Earth Elements. According to the study, “more than 70 percent of… rare earth minerals are mined in China or by companies under Chinese control, with much of China’s production coming from areas north of Baotou, Inner Mongolia, though there are substantial reserves in other parts of the world.”
“Not long ago, the Inner Mongolia region included massive tracts of fertile farmland. However, it has become a vast toxic wasteland, where virtually nothing grows and few wildlife or humans can live.”
So not only do these mining operations already cause great environmental harm to their local communities (a point which the Left will agree with), but they also would mean reliance on foreign powers, namely China. And we have seen, especially in recent time, how bad of an idea such reliance would be.
Trump has already talked about the supply chain that currently exists and how if one part of the chain breaks, the entire chain becomes compromised. In this instance, the supply chain would be about building and maintaining energy production, which would be a sight worse than a supply chain of cars or phones being disrupted.
What’s more, according to the study, “Producing one ton of REEs releases up to 420,000 cubic feet of toxic gases, 2,600 cubic feet of acidic wastewater, and one ton of radioactive waste” in just that particular region of China. Not only is there far more environmental damage being caused in other mining operation areas, but the damages would be exacerbated to meet the demand of so many solar panels, wind turbines and lithium batteries.
Speaking of lithium, we move on to “Lethal Lithium.” According to the environmental group “Friends of the Earth”, so clearly a Leftist organization, “lithium extraction inevitably harms the soil and causes air contamination.” Lithium is most often found and mined in the South American countries of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
According to the study, “in Argentina’s Salar de Hombre Muerto (‘salty basin of the dead man’), locals say lithium operations have contaminated streams used for human drinking, livestock, and crop irrigation water.”
University of Chile lithium battery expert Guillermo Gonzalez said “Like any mining process, [lithium mining] is invasive, it scars the landscape, it destroys the water table, and it pollutes the earth and the local wells. This isn’t a green solution – it’s not a solution at all.’”
The actual wind turbines and solar panels also require lithium, not only the batteries, so lithium mining would have to exponentially increase to meet the demand.
“Killer Cobalt”. Since this is getting to be a bit of a long article already, I will summarize this as largely being the same sort of thing as having to mine for other minerals and rare earth metals. More than 66% of the world’s annual output of cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where, unsurprisingly, health and safety standards, as well as labor laws, are pretty lax.
“Entire families – fathers, mothers, and children – work for extremely low wages in mines, from sunrise to sundown, six or seven days a week, to meet the constantly growing demand for this critically important metal.”
“More than 40,000 Congolese children, as young as four-years-old, work alongside their parents, often in mine tunnels too narrow for adults, say UNICEF, Amnesty International, and other investigators… The risk of cave-ins and mud slides is ever-present. Depending on the weather, they work in dust or muck, exposing themselves constantly to filthy, toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water, and air. Dangerous levels of cobalt, lead, uranium, and other heavy metals build up steadily in their body tissues, blood, and organs. Many have died as a result of their work under these horrible conditions.”
“Gloves, facemasks, protective clothing, and showers to wash the toxic dirt off their bodies at the end of the day are typically not available. Broken bones, suffocation, blood and respiratory diseases, birth defects, cancer, and paralysis are commonplace.”
“Copper Complexities”. The study explains that as much as three times more copper is required in electric vehicles than in gas-power engines, and “renewable energy systems consume approximately five times more copper than conventional power generation systems.”
In 2019 alone, a total of around 20,000 tons of copper was mined, with the world reserves standing at 870,000. It doesn’t take much to believe it would take a lot more than that, and a lot greater output, to meet the demand for these “renewable” energy options.
For this point, the focus is specifically in entire ecosystems, as ore contains just 0.8 percent copper, so 125,000 tons of ore have to be mined to get just 1,000 tons of finished copper, according to the study. In order to extract this copper, surrounding rocks would have to be removed and/or crushed. An increase in copper extraction would mean more and more land having to be destroyed.
The final point is the hypocrisies of the GND advocates. Namely in that they want the GND to be fully implemented but also do not want any more mining to be done. They already are angry at the amount of mining being done as it stands, so mining even more would be unacceptable. However, you can’t have one without the other. Even assuming GND was affordable, with the understanding that no mining would be done within the U.S. (as there are laws in Western states and Alaska against such mining), we would have to depend on other countries to do the mining and do a lot more of it just for the individual parts.
Land is destroyed as a result, animals die, humans get sick and die and the damage done to the environment is more than if there is no GND at all.
The GND’s technology goals are supposed to be “clean, renewable, sustainable, eco-friendly and ethical.”
However, actually putting in place this sort of policy would not accomplish any one of those things, let alone all of them.
Speaking specifically about the ethical part, in 2019, California law-makers voted down Assembly Bill 735. This bill would require that “zero emission” electric vehicles sold in the state must be free of any materials or components associated with child labor.
In other words, California legislators prioritized “zero emission” vehicles over human rights because they cannot have such vehicles without such child labor.
The goals of the GND as listed above are not achievable with the actual GND. It’s like saying that your goal is to lose 30 pounds but you go about it by eating McDonald’s every meal.
The GND is not only unaffordable, and not only would it not actually achieve its supposed goals of fighting climate change (as I noted in the article I mentioned in the beginning), but it would actually be COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to the idea of protecting the planet.
It would require an exponential increase in the sorts of mining that everyone agrees is a detriment to the local environments and the people having to work and live under these conditions, not to mention the animals and livestock that get sick and die.
The more we find out about the Green New Deal, the more insane and unrealistic it becomes. More so than it already was, surprisingly.
“The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.”
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