I wanted to understand why you think I’m virtue signaling based on flawed ideology in asking that [company name] transition to using renewable energy sources?
As far as I’m concerned I’m using market forces (withdrawing my customers) to bring about a world that isn’t choking itself to death on toxic fossil fuels. Yes there’ll be some environmental cost to this short-term transition (presumably the “devastation” you refer to further up the post) but in the long term as we get our energy directly from the sun, wind and sea, rather that from the decayed carbon of dead animals from millions of years ago, the world will be a better place.
I’d love to understand how you could disagree with the above sentiment (without denying climate science)?
Have a fabulous day, and I hope you are open to having your mind swung round on this one 🙂
All the best,Ali
Thanks for reaching out.
First, let’s establish that civilization depends on energy. The higher the civilization, the more energy required. The availability of cheap and plentiful energy is the sine qua non of civilization.
Now, responding to your points in order:
- You may be attempting to apply market forces to bring about the conversion from fossil fuels to wind and solar energies, but in the real world, these new technologies are so expensive that they require government mandates and financial incentives to become viable alternatives to fossil fuel, hydro-electric, and nuclear energies. This government intervention distorts the marketplace.
- The world is not choking to death on toxic fossil fuels.
- The U.S., in general, is very clean in its use of fossil fuels, while other countries such as China are very dirty, so to imply that “the world” is somehow uniform in destroying our planet is a gross exaggeration.
- The “some environmental cost” to which you refer turns out to be massive both in quantity and quality. Some of the minerals used in “renewable” energies are harvested using child slave labor and are pollution-intensive at the source. Virtually all so-called “clean” energies require a lot of fossil fuels in their creation, and to date, there is no efficient way to recycle old solar panels, wind turbine parts, etc. These so-called “clean” energy components are creating a future ecological disaster. Most so-called “clean” energies are simply those that displace the pollution and other costs so that they are temporarily out of sight of the average person, which allows them to feel as though they are “helping the planet.” Another terrifying aspect of so-called “clean” energies is their deadly effects on wildlife, especially birds. Wind turbines slaughter untold thousands of birds — including some endangered species — and solar ovens literally cook the birds in mid-air.
- It is not currently possible to get our electricity from the sun, wind, and sea in a way that is both constant and inexpensive. The only way these technologies can even begin to be considered is with backup generating capabilities that are fossil-fueled.
- Life loves carbon dioxide. The most prolific period in our Earth’s history of plant and animal life occurred when CO2 levels were something like 40 times what they are currently. CO2 is not a poison, no matter what its source.
Eventually, we will have to find other sources of electricity for whatever reason. The only alternative that currently makes sense is nuclear reactors based on the thorium fuel cycle. Thorium is abundant on Earth, and the reactors are safe. They are so safe that it would be possible for each home/building to have its own “suitcase nuke” for power, giving us the ability to have a largely decentralized power grid, another huge benefit. The only thing holding them back that I can see is that governments cannot make weapons out of the byproducts of the thorium fuel cycle, hence the government mandate for other types of nuclear power plants.
As I see them, these are undeniable facts. To disregard them for whatever reason to support a counter-factual position is neither productive nor sustainable.
Now for some opinions.
No company wants to spend more to deliver less, so should a true alternative energy source become available, I’m certain that [company] would take advantage as soon as it could. However, [company] seems already to be relatively energy efficient: Servers are spun up only as needed, static files are served from a network of CDN, etc. It terms of energy cost per unit of performance, [company] is way ahead of the curve.
In the seventies, we were told that we would be running out of oil any minute. That turned out to be untrue. Now, 50 years later, the U.S. has enough proven oil reserves to be independent of other countries if need be, and there are ten other countries with even more proven reserves.
Despite what the government and activists tell you, these things cannot be rushed. The conversion from fossil fuels to other energy sources will take place when the time is right, as long as the government isn’t distorting the marketplace. A good parallel is the conversion from horse-powered transportation to cars and trucks. It happened after fossil-fuel-powered vehicles became viable alternatives to horses and oxen. We enjoy the many benefits of this transition to this day. However, it would have done no good in 1885 for the government to mandate that only horseless carriages would allowed by 1895 because the technology simply wasn’t ready.
Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA
“The concept of net energy must be applied to renewable sources of energy, such as windmills and photovoltaics. A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons. The question is: how long must a windmill generate energy before it creates more energy than it took to build it? At a good wind site, the energy payback day could be in three years or less; in a poor location, energy payback may be never. That is, a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.”David Hughes, 2009, Carbon Shift: How Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis Will Change Canada (and Our Lives)
Actual cost of a 2 MW wind turbine is $2.6 million dollars plus annual maintenance costs of $46,000.00. This includes insurance, land rent, service, administrative costs, power (it does take some electricity to run), and miscellaneous costs. Wind turbines commonly produce considerably less than rated capacity, which is the maximum amount of power it could produce if it ran all the time. For example, a 2 megawatt wind turbine with an efficiency factor of 33 percent may produce only ¾ a megawatt in a year — less if the wind isn’t blowing reliably. A 2 MW turbine on a 80-foot tower is capable of generating (under windy conditions) an average of ¾ MWH at a selling price of $50 per mwh, based on the levelized cost of energy, (The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is a measure of a power source that allows comparison of different methods of electricity generation on a consistent basis.) This calculates to a payback of 346 years. Would you invest your money in that kind of payback?