Green New Deal: Fact versus Fiction

This to me is an existential crisis. The green generation has risen up. You are talking about zero carbon emissions, no use of fossil fuels? That is the goal. That's a goal, you could only imagine possible if you have no idea how the energy economy works or how energy is produced in this country. James Meigs, former editor of Popular Mechanics, says the Green New Deal is just not feasible. Renewable is especially hard because it's so inconsistent. Because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. You can't just put in wind turbines and solar panels. You also have to build all this infrastructure to connect them with energy consumers possibly very far away, and you always need some kind of backup power. That means many more transmission lines, and bigger batteries to store more energy. You have to mine all these materials for the batteries and those mines are environmentally hazardous.

Disposing of batteries is hazardous. Batteries are a lousy way to store energy. Physicist Mark Mills says the ingredients to green energy, like battery packs, are anything but green. You have to consume a 100 barrels of oil's worth of energy in China to make that battery pack. I have to dig up a 1,000 pounds of stuff to process it. Digging up is done with oil, by the way, big machines, so we're consuming energy to quote, save energy. It's not a good path to go. He calls the so-called "New Energy Economy" magical thinking. Wind and solar and batteries now are 10 times better than they were. And then they stopped getting better because they hit physics limits. You have to believe in kind of magical materials to get 10 times better again. In comic books we have that I can fly Tony Stark has that magic power source. Can do things that are unimaginable today, but we know that the physics make it impossible to make solar 10 times better again. We should also make sure we're spending money on stuff that really works.

And right now, we're doubling down on technologies like wind and solar, that have their place, but they're not going to get the job done by themselves. But that's where all the money's going. Solyndra was granted a 34.5 billion dollar subsidy. Billions in subsidies… but solar still makes up less than 1% of America’s energy, and wind just 2%. And none of that energy is really “clean.” We use billions of tons of hydrocarbons to make the number of windmills that are already in the world and we've only just begun to make them at the level people claim they would like to have them to be built. If you pursue a path of wind, solar, and batteries, we increase how much we dig up and move by 100 to a 1,000 fold. There's a magical thinking that there's somehow a free lunch.

If I pick this energy source, it doesn't do anything, it doesn't emit anything, it doesn't consume anything. This isn't comic book land. Every energy source, of energy, every kind, uses land, uses materials to make the technology and always uses hydrocarbon along the way. Of course, we don’t see that when we look at, say… wind turbines [Wind turbines] They're beautiful. The gleaming blades. They take enormous amounts of land. You gotta clear cut the forest. These machines kill a lot of birds. I agree that we should bring down our carbon emissions. There's the global warming risk. There's also the risk that the oceans become more acidic and start killing off the plankton. But we should also make sure we're spending money on stuff that really works. Why are we making electric cars? Are electric cars what “really works?” Electric cars are great for the environment. If we just switched to electric cars we’d use less fossil fuels. How do you make electricity? Coal, and natural gas.

Yeah. Fossil fuels. Yeah. Exactly. Many electric car buyers don’t realize that most of America’s electricity comes from coal and natural gas. [sounds] People think they're doing something wonderful buying a Prius. They're basically burning coal and natural gas from the shale fields. But electric cars will get a lot better? Sure they will. I'll make the windmills a little better and they'll get cheaper. Solar arrays will get cheaper. The problem isn’t that they’ll get a little better, a little better is not enough. They can never get 10 times better. But there is one energy source that produces LOTS of power, with no carbon emissions. Nuclear power. Nuclear is the best answer we have right now. These plants have been around since the 1960s. They work well, they're safe. There has been an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

SAFE? Fukushima helps prove how safe nuclear power really is. No one was killed. People were killed during the evacuation. The fear of radiation is what killed people. They evacuated a lot of older people out of nursing homes and apartments that really didn't need to go. One of the atomic reactors at the Chernobyl atomic power plant in the city of Kyiv was damaged. Chernobyl was worse. We don’t truly know exactly how many people died from radiation as a result of Chernobyl. The plant design was idiotically bad. Reporters said that thousands of people living near Chernobyl would die. It is not considered fit for human habitation. Thousands of cancer deaths. She's wrong about that. The rates of thyroid cancer did go up, but nothing, not even remotely in the range of what was forecast.

Those radiation limits are set extremely conservatively. But the word nuclear frightens politicians. There are just 50 people standing between Japan and nuclear catastrophe. All this talk about nuclear catastrophe reveals that people don't really understand how these plants work. They're not bombs. A dam breaks, and hundreds of thousands of people probably die. Nuclear plants, their safety ironically is actually evident in their accidents. More people have died falling off of roofs installing solar panels than in the entire history of nuclear power in the US. And yet, from these accidents, countries all over the world are shutting down nuclear plants. People aren't stupid, but they are vulnerable to fear. Germany says it will give up nuclear energy within a decade. Germany foolishly shut down a lot of their nuclear plants. So what did they wind up doing instead? They wound up burning more coal. France, on the other hand, gets more than 70% of its power from nuclear energy. They pay some of the lowest electricity rates in Europe and their emissions are excellent. But now in America, many people demand that nuclear plants be shut down.

In Bernie Sanders' home state of Vermont, they shut down their one nuclear plant. Guess what happened? Their carbon emissions went up. So, this supposedly green state, ultra-liberal Vermont, actually went backwards. These efforts at great expense buy literally nothing. We have to get to a 100% renewable energy in 10 years. They want to impoverish all of humanity today to solve a putative problem in the future. I think that's immoral. If the Green New Dealers win, who's hurt the most? Poor people. Having energy and food cost more means it's a higher percentage of the household budget, that's who we hurt. We're charging more for people who can't afford it and we give money to wealthy people in the form of subsidies to buy 100,000 dollar cars, to put expensive solar arrays on their roof, or to be investors in wind farms. So we have an upside down Robin Hood going on in our country to the tunes of 10s and 100s of billions of dollars. That's a bad deal. So the Green New Deal, even if it were scientifically possible, would hurt the poor, cost everyone more, and make energy less reliable, Yet it’s popular.

Majority of Americans support the idea. that includes 64 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats. Polls show majority of Americans support the idea. People support all kinds of things that sound good. I mean, I would support free apple pie for everyone, but whatever policies we put in place to protect the planet, your first responsibility is to make sure they work..

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