Dig, Baby, Dig!
There is an absolutely fascinating study that was done in July 2020 by Mark P. Mills, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, called “Mines, Minerals and Green Energy: A Reality Check.”
In it, Mills lays out a very convincing case that makes two major points:
- Regardless of how well-intentioned, the production of so-called “Green” machinery and energy devices consumes prodigious amounts of materials and produces an incredibly excess amount of waste, beyond all expectation or general awareness, and
- America is dependent on unreliable foreign sources for too many of the critical minerals needed for manufacturing eco-efficient products, yet despite our huge mineral reserves, we don’t make the requisite effort to recover and produce our own uninterruptable supply.
Let’s look at each broad point a little more closely:
It is phenomenally wasteful and costly to manufacture Green devices
Their manufacture ends up being a net loser, both economically and environmentally.
From the report:
- Building wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity, as well as batteries to fuel electric vehicles, requires, on average, more than 10 times the quantity of materials, compared with building machines using hydrocarbons to deliver the same amount of energy to society.
- Oil, natural gas, and coal are needed to produce the concrete, steel, plastics, and purified minerals used to build green machines. The energy equivalent of 100 barrels of oil is used in the processes to fabricate a single battery that can store the [energy] equivalent of one barrel of oil.
- By 2050, with current plans, the quantity of worn-out solar panels—much of it nonrecyclable—will constitute double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste, along with over 3 million tons per year of unrecyclable plastics from worn-out wind turbine blades. By 2030, more than 10 million tons per year of batteries will become garbage.
In all the Democrats’ speeches and publicly stated positions over the past several years on renewable energy, the Green New Deal, etc., there is not the slightest indication from any so-called liberal environmental “expert” or elected officeholder that they have even the dimmest awareness of any of this. Instead, Democrat politicians and their Green supporters simply spout their vacuous, predictable, totally inaccurate party lines about “saving the earth before time runs out,” or the “evils of big energy corporations.” The smart money says that not one liberal environmental proponent—elected or otherwise— has even read this report, much less is able to refute any of it in a coherent, logical manner.
Demand for rare-earth minerals is set to skyrocket
Demand for the rare-earth minerals needed for lithium car batteries, niobium used in the manufacture of superconducting magnets for MRI machines, neodymium for the electrical systems in wind turbines, and countless other devices essential for modern living will absolutely skyrocket in the coming years. Estimates are the lithium demand will rise more than 2,000% for cars alone, excluding a commensurate rise in its demand for the nation’s electrical grid. The World Bank estimates that we’ll need up to 4,000% more neodymium to meet demand. Where will this supply come from? Which countries hold the greatest mineral reserves? Do Democrats and other Green proponents understand that the extraction and processing of this material are at least as environmentally intrusive as anything associated with fossil fuels? Undoubtedly they do not.
The exploration and extraction of these critical minerals are guided by the same considerations that govern the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels: The world’s economy requires a certain amount (constantly growing) of these minerals to meet product production needs. The only question is where these minerals will be acquired and by what means. Do we want to depend on hostile countries with inadequate environmental procedures? Or do we want to control our own supply—independent of global political instability—using far cleaner American environmental methods?
Just about every paragraph of this report contains a nugget of information worthy of a “Stop the Presses!” headline, such as:
- Compared with hydrocarbons, green machines entail, on average, a 10-fold increase in the quantities of materials extracted [from the earth] and processed to produce the same amount of energy.
- Replacing the energy output from a single 100-MW natural gas-fired turbine, itself about the size of a residential house (producing enough electricity for 75,000 homes), requires at least 20 wind turbines, each one about the size of the Washington Monument, occupying some 10 square miles of land.
- Compared with a natural gas power plant, all three [wind, solar, water] require at least 10 times as many total tons mined, moved, and converted into machines to deliver the same quantity of energy.
- As recently as 1990, the U.S. was the world’s number-one producer of minerals [but] it is in seventh place today. America is now 100% dependent on imports for some 17 key minerals.
The Democrats fall into one of two categories regarding all of this: There is the Squad/Buttigieg/Granholm wing of the party, that spouts its baseless warning of imminent doom if the world doesn’t eliminate its reliance on fossil fuels. Then there is the John Kerry bloc, the ones that know better, yet they pontificate about the danger of anthropogenic global warming in a particularly disingenuous, condescending manner anyway. Kerry knows it’s not true, but to his ilk, the political value of scaring the uninformed masses is too great to ignore.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence whatsoever that Kerry, the Squad, Pete Buttigieg, or any so-called “Pro-environment advocate” has any recognition or grasp of how vital the world’s mineral market is to America’s future and how great the environmental ramifications are as that sector is expanded to meet future demand.
The complexity, detail, and depth of the information contained in “Mines, Minerals and Green Energy: A Reality Check” is well beyond the pitifully shallow, wholly inadequate, sorrowfully emotional blatherings of the Environmental faction of the Democratic Party and their blindly ignorant supporters. National energy production strategy and our future policy needs to be based on fact and science, not on knee-jerk fanatical responses by uninformed Democrat partisans.
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