Wind and Solar are the Most Environmentally Destructive Energy Sources

Wind and Solar are the Most Environmentally Destructive Energy Sources


By Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris


Like many cities across the developed world, the City of Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, now has its own version of “net-zero by 2050.” To try to achieve this impossible goal, the city plans to generate essentially all of its electricity from so-called renewable sources with an overarching “vision to transform Ottawa into a thriving city powered by clean, renewable energy.”


In particular, the city’s energy transition strategy asserts:


“… the minimum results required to meet the 100% scenario under the electricity sector are:


    • Solar photovoltaic (PV) reaches 1,060 MW by 2050 (approximately 36 km2 of solar PV mostly on rooftops)
    • Wind generation reaches 3,218 MW by 2050 (approximately 710 large scale turbines)


Even ignoring the mass slaughter of local wildlife by erecting 710 bird and bat-killing large-scale turbines, it turns out that wind and solar power are anything but clean and renewable. This 2-minute clip from Michael Moore’s new film, “Planet of the Humans,” demonstrates that, when you consider how these machines are made, wind and solar power may very well be the dirtiest and most environmentally destructive energy sources on the planet.


So, like most governments around the world, Ottawa’s leaders have had the wool pulled over their eyes. They are enabling the worst possible energy sources if their true goal is a “city powered by clean, renewable energy.”


To understand what has happened, and how so many good-hearted people across the world have been deceived by the clean, renewable energy myth, readers should look up the newly released book, “Clean Energy Exploitations – Helping citizens understand the environmental and humanity abuses that support ‘clean’ energy,” by engineer and energy consultant Ronald Stein and Todd Royal, an independent public policy consultant focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy.


Stein and Royal’s book helps the public understand how the development of so-called clean energy by countries such as the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Australia are exploiting the most vulnerable people in the world and destroying their environments. They explain that many African, Asian, and South American children are being enslaved and dying in mines and factories to extract and process the rare-earths and exotic minerals required for solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles (another City of Ottawa favorite), and utility-scale storage systems to work. These are unquestionably BLOOD MINERALS.


The most important components of electric vehicles, for example, are lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The principal materials used in lithium-ion batteries are cobalt, lithium, manganese, and graphite. ICSC-Canada Economics/Policy Advisor Robert Lyman explained:


“A recent United Nations report warned that the raw materials used in EV batteries are highly concentrated in a small number of countries where environmental, labor, and safety regulations are weak or non-existent. ‘Artisanal’ cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now supplies two-thirds of the global output of the mineral. Many of the mines employ child labor in extremely dangerous tasks. Up to 40,000 children are estimated to be working in extremely dangerous conditions, with inadequate safety equipment, for very little money in the mines in Southern Katanga. The children are exposed to multiple physical risks and psychological violations and abuse, only to earn a meager income to support their families.

“Lithium mining also presents social and environmental risks. Again, to quote the UNCTAD report:


‘For example, indigenous communities that have lived in the Andean region of Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina for centuries must contend with miners for access to communal land and water. The mining industry depends on a large amount of groundwater in one of the driest desert regions in the world to pump out brines from drilled wells. Some estimates show that approximately 1.9 million liters of water are needed to produce a tonne of lithium. In Chile’s Salar de Atacama, lithium and other mining activities consumed 65 percent of the region’s water. That is having a big impact on local farmers – who grow quinoa and herd llamas – in an area where some communities already must get water driven in from elsewhere.’”


So less-developed countries are mining for these materials in jurisdictions with virtually non-existent environmental regulations to help wealthy nations “decarbonize” and move to an all-electric society. This lack of oversight inflicts humanitarian atrocities and environmental degradation to the local landscape beyond comprehension. Whatever emission reductions the Canadian, U.S., European Union, and other governments believe they are achieving by using solar panels and wind turbines for electricity is entirely negated by the heavy reliance of the third world, vulnerable populations on coal-fired power.


And we, in the healthier and wealthier countries, have no right to insist that poor countries limit their use of fossil fuels. As our own experience proves, cheap, reliable, accessible power, and products from fossil fuels are lifesaving, and one of the best ways out of poverty.  The poorer and less healthy countries, such as China, India, and those in Africa, are desperate for reliable energy and electricity for billions of residents. Until energy technologies such as solar, wind, and hydrogen can meet the five electricity standards of being abundant, affordable, reliable, scalable, and flexible, they are nothing more than niche forms of intermittent electricity. Under current technological constraints, they are nowhere near meeting the five standards of reliable electricity.


Stein and Royal’s book also shows something we should be very glad to see: there is a worldwide abundance of fossil fuels in virtually every country. However, such is not the case with the minerals and metals for a “green” society which are mostly limited to environmentally negligent human rights abusers such as China, Russia, the Congo, and the lithium triangle in South America. Yet, none of the world’s prominent politicians, environmental groups, or billionaires thriving off the backs of enslaved children have condemned less-developed countries for their labor practices or their degradation of landscapes from mining for these minerals and metals to support the “green movement.” It’s about time they did.


Under the anti-fossil fuel electrification plans of the City of Ottawa, Joe Biden, and indeed most western leaders, we would need to mothball most of the huge energy demands of our economies. Western climate plans put a major focus on electrifying everything powered by weather-dependent renewables and banning gas-powered vehicles, which means a crushing change for our lifestyles and economies.


To truly phase out hydrocarbons such as oil, gas, and coal, we would also have to end our use of the many products that make our modern societies prosperous and healthy – things such as vaccines, iPhones, and all products based on plastics, so that we can feel good about our electric cars supposedly saving the planet. Meanwhile, global minorities suffer and die, and local environments are ruined, to produce the raw materials for our virtue-signaling fantasies.


Climate change activists and their allies in government and the press apparently do not understand another crucial fact about wind and solar power: there are not enough “green” exotic minerals and metals to achieve their net-zero ambitions even if it was worth trying to do so. They should review the paper by Cambridge University Emeritus Professor of Technology Michael Kelly, which shows that replacing just the United Kingdom’s 32 million light-duty vehicles (of the 1.42 billion cars in operation worldwide) with next-generation EVs would require incredibly vast quantities of materials such as lithium, cobalt, copper, and neodymium.


And finally, with Communist China dominating so much of the supply chain required to produce “clean” energy, every single EV battery, windmill, and solar panel is money for China.


All of this and more is detailed in Stein and Royal’s “Clean Energy Exploitations – Helping citizens understand the environmental and humanity abuses that support “clean” energy,” a book that should be on the desk of everyone responsible for our energy plans.


Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris
Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.