Is renewable energy bad for the environment? Absolutely!
Be careful when you shake an old tree; if you shake it too hard, the chances are it might fall on you
The context of this grand old line should be well understood by today’s ultra-hyper green thinkers and environmentalists. Instead of doing anything significant on the ground level, they seem to be pretty happy in building perceptions about things that they are yet to understand fully.
Now allows me to explain what exactly I am referring to by using a hypothetical example.
Today, if you ask hundred random youngsters to choose either a conventional diesel car or a battery-powered electric car, based on their eco-friendliness, you can expect the same typical response from everyone except for one or two. And the worst part is that the intellectual community is celebrating this so-called mass-scale awareness about climate change among the public.
There is no doubt over the fact that these unconventional energy sources have some significant advantages over their counterparts, but that comes with loads of drawbacks, which are equally consequential, if not worse.
Unfortunately, we are painting everything black or white these days, and there is no scope of grey in between. In 2022, every single informed individual all across the globe genuinely thinks conventional energy sources like petroleum and coal are dirty, causing global warming, climate change, and whatnot. Whereas on the other hand, new-age energy sources like solar, wind, etc. are often termed extremely clean and presented as a desirable substitute.
Is it as simple as Greta Thunberg sounds? Definitely not!
It’s quite understandable for a teenager to treat her individual thoughts as universal facts. And spreading them on public platforms day in and day out as a desperate effort to sound cool seems justified to me. But, definitely, the biggest joker in this tale is us; we the people who are going gaga over it.
We were never courageous enough to ask difficult questions, like how disastrous the extensive mining work that we are doing in the Lithium triangle countries is to fulfill the increasing demand for batteries, particularly in the USA and the UK.
Now think carefully; who really is paying the price when we are busy protecting the environment by purchasing the Tesla electric vehicle? People of Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia?
If this is for a greater global good, I’m not ok with it; the concept of trading life with life. Is this the solution we deserve? Are we entitled to be called the most developed civilization ever? You must think about it.
Now make use of Google, and for me, please list down the number of large-scale wind, geothermal, and tidal power plants all across the globe that is commercially viable. There would be hardly any!
And, in this capitalist world, if something is not financially sustainable, you are wise enough to guess its future prospects. This is the truth that we all deserve to know.
Let’s talk about electronic waste, shall we? In the last few years, we have accelerated their production exponentially in the process of building more and more solar panels.
Do we really have the effective capability to recycle solar panels and their by-products at the end of their life cycles? How these Chinese firms are able to produce solar panels at such a low cost? Are these manufacturers using renewable energy sources in their factories while producing solar panels? And again, what about the effects of growing mineral explorations of Selenium, Gallium, and Cadmium to maintain the supply?
When the entire energy ecosystem of our world is greatly dependent on coal, how these electric vehicles would reduce the Carbon footprint?
If you start looking at different renewable energy sources with a microscope in hand, you will certainly be able to see the bigger picture.
So it’s quite evident that coals and petroleum are not as bad as they are projected. They are probably on the darker side of the grey region against the renewable energy sources that lie on the lighter side at best, but definitely not in the white.
In no way, I am defending the environmental impacts of coal and petroleum burning. But building this perception around coal, especially when we don’t have any efficient substitution, I fear, we are disrupting the existing system, which will backfire.
If you are looking for solutions here, I am afraid, it is going to disappoint you. I don’t have the answers, in fact, I have more questions. But, this is not a time to be critical, but probably the last chance to acknowledge these fundamental issues with renewable energy sources and discuss them more openly than ever before to find a solution and for the greater good of the society, where the stakes are so huge.
It took more than a decade to refine iPhone and around 3 decades for PC, so there is no shame in accepting the limitations and working in a positive direction.
The author has a specialization in domains like environmental science and sustainable energy. Being in the writing and editing industry for half a decade, he has produced numerous exceptional academic content and blog posts in multiple popular platforms.
At BleedGreen, he will share his solution-oriented thoughts to tackle sensitive issues like climate change, the greenhouse effect, and deforestation.