When woke environmentalism is its own worst enemy
We are trapped within a false dichotomy. On one side, we have the enlightenment of leftist environmentalist wokeness, and on the other side, we have racists, bigots, Earth-burning capitalists, and maybe a few Nazis tossed in for good measure. On the side of the woke, we have those that support more restrictions on capitalism and push for us to “protect” the earth at all costs, even if that cost becomes detrimental to America and harmful to other nations. One could say that woke logic necessarily backfires by turning the woke leftist voter into a person benefiting from what they call white privilege by pushing harm upon others.
Ignoring the triggered screams of protest, we can start with the example of energy sources. Those leaning left have praised President Biden for his actions leading to the closure of the Keystone XL pipeline, originally designed to help move massive amounts of fuel from Canada down into the USA. Even more recently, Biden suspended a Trump era oil drilling lease in Alaska, fearing the damage such drilling would do to wildlife. In an attempt to protect the Alaskan wildlife and slow climate change, the cessation of drilling has been mandated, but what are the repercussions? Obviously, in a country like ours that runs on this fuel source, it leads to increased gas prices. In January of his first year in office, President Biden signed an executive order that put drilling and fracking on federal lands and waters on hold for 60 days in an attempt to combat climate change, yet some claim that the increase in gas prices was not due to Biden’s actions. Biden though, while on the campaign trail, called for the U.S. to phase out its dependence on fossil fuels. It is quite clear that the goal of the progressives is to drastically reduce oil and gas production.
Here is where it gets funny: In the attempt to cut fossil fuel usage in the United States by stopping pipelines and in-country drilling, the Biden administration is increasing carbon emissions, which they believe increase climate change. Take, for example, the end of the pipeline projects: without the pipelines, how are these millions of gallons of fuel transported across the nation? By train of course! When one relies on trains to move millions of gallons of anything, one must realize that these trains themselves run on fuel, which in turn produces more greenhouse gasses. University of Alabama mechanical engineering professor Amit Kumar discovered that pipelines create less greenhouse gas emissions than rail—61-77% less—when transporting large capacities of crude oil over long distances. Here we see the logical shallowness of leftist policies in full swing. In the attempt to reduce carbon emissions, they increase carbon emissions. Makes sense, right?
It does not end there either. By placing a moratorium on drilling in the US, Biden’s administration is also demonstrating phenomenal levels of what the woke call “white privilege.” Here in the majority white country of America, we have a tremendous reliance on fossil fuels. This will not be changing any time soon, so what happens when the President decides to stop drilling for oil on our own lands in his effort to protect wildlife? Obviously, we are forced to get the oil from somewhere else! America imports fuel from the Persian Gulf, but also from Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, and even Nigeria. Once again, looking to basic Progressive woke logic requires us to note that America’s old white male president is seeking to enjoy the beauty of nature in his country, all the while exporting the ecologically destructive work to poorer countries which cannot afford to protect their wildlife like we can. Clearly, some excessive patriarchal white privilege coming from the Biden administration here!
Since ecologically destructive policies have been mentioned, let us take a look at other attempts at saving the Earth that inadvertently do just the opposite. Many progressives today push legislation that limits the use of fossil fuels, especially in motor vehicles. With the urge to reduce carbon emissions from the burning of gasoline, electric cars have shot up in popularity. It is common to see political “environmentalists” driving a new Tesla or Prius instead of a gasoline powered vehicle in their not-so-modest virtue signaling. The question is “are they actually helping the environment?” The answer is a resounding NO. These types of vehicles come with a terrible cost. We pay with heavy ecological damage in our attempt to try to stop a few excess molecules of CO2 to escape into the atmosphere.
It does not take very long to research the destructive nature of lithium mining. (Lithium is one of the most commonly used chemicals for modern electric car batteries.) Besides once again exporting the ecologically destructive mining work to comparatively impoverished countries (GASP! White privilege alert!), lithium mining requires huge quantities of water—upwards of 500,000 gallons per single metric ton of lithium—stealing water from other areas that need it. In some dry regions of South America, the mining process takes 65% of the regions water supply, stealing it from the farmers. In other regions, like Tibet, toxic chemicals have been known to seep into the water supply, killing livestock or impacting fish as far as 150 miles downstream from a lithium processing operation. Residents from parts of Argentina believe that lithium mining has contaminated streams used by humans, livestock and for crop irrigation. In Chile, the landscape is dotted by mountains of discarded salt and canals filled with contaminated water with an unnatural blue hue. According to Guillermo Gonzalez, a lithium battery expert from the University of Chile, “This isn’t a green solution – it’s not a solution at all.” Clearly battery powered vehicles are causing just as much, if not more, ecological damage than the standard fossil fuel powered vehicle. And yet the privileged progressives continue to push the use of these ecologically destructive products in direct contradiction to their eco-friendly initiatives.
This contradictory behavior has not been limited to electric car batteries either. When we focus on solely carbon emissions, wind and solar power win hands down against coal and similar fossil fuel powerplants; however, is that really all that should be focused on? What if the use of these technologies actually increases the continental surface temperatures, the very thing that the switch from fossil fuels is trying to avoid by cutting C02? In a pair of published papers, Harvard University researchers calculated that the use of wind power would require five to twenty times more land than previously estimated. Such an excess of large-scale wind farms “would warm average surface temperatures over the continental U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius… with the largest changes occurring at night when surface temperatures increased by up to 1.5 degrees. This warming is the result of wind turbines actively mixing the atmosphere near the ground and aloft while simultaneously extracting from the atmosphere’s motion.”
On top of that, the wind farms cause major disruptions to local wildlife. For some unknown reason, most birds do not seem to comprehend the wind turbines’ spinning action and are struck and killed by them in large numbers. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service,
Estimates of bird/turbine collision range widely and all of the studies attempting to quantify this contain some level of bias and uncertainty. The most comprehensive and statistically sound estimates show that bird deaths from turbine collisions are between 140,000 and 500,000 birds per year. As wind energy capacity increases under the DOE’s mandate (a six-fold increase from current levels), statistical models predict that mean bird deaths resulting in collisions with turbines could reach 1.4 million birds/year.
With the drastic increase in wind farms that the Harvard researchers suggest is needed, one could safely assume these bird fatality numbers could also spike drastically. So not only do wind farms require considerably more land than previously thought AND cause climate change, but they kill millions of birds as well. How can this really be considered eco-friendly technology?
The list of actually “green” technologies grows shorter the more we dig. Solar energy is no different. While we indeed reduce the production of greenhouse gasses during the use of solar panels, they are nowhere near the ecologically “innocent” things they are portrayed to be. “Fabricating the panels requires caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid, and the process uses water as well as electricity, the production of which emits greenhouse gases. It also creates waste.” The production, and especially the recycling of older solar panels is a problem that is growing almost exponentially as reliance on the technology spikes. “The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2016 estimated there was about 250,000 metric tonnes of solar panel waste in the world at the end of that year. IRENA projected that this amount could reach 78 million metric tonnes by 2050.” Not only is the waste a problem, a German researcher from the Stuttgart Institute for Photovoltaics said that “Contrary to previous assumptions, pollutants such as lead or carcinogenic cadmium can be almost completely washed out of the fragments of solar modules over a period of several months, for example by rainwater.” This suggests that the solar panels themselves are even causing harm in the locations where they were installed, increasing the risk to the animal and human population living with them. And it does not take a genius to realize that all these toxic products and wastes are being produced and disposed of mainly in less “privileged” countries, just further solidifying the leftist woke agenda as part of the “white privilege” they claim to despise.
It does not end there. Solar farms, like wind farms, are found to cause increases in surface temperatures. “Findings demonstrated that temperatures around a solar power plant were 5.4-7.2 °F (3-4 °C) warmer than nearby wildlands. The result demonstrates that there are potential heat costs to generating green power although the added heat dissipates quickly and can’t be measured 100 feet away from the power plants.” Even though it is suggested that the heat cannot be measured 100 feet away, basic laws of thermodynamics can help one easily conclude that the heat, while apparently dissipating, must go somewhere. It is not a very big stretch to suggest that these drastic localized temperature spikes can and will cause long term climate change when solar farming reaches the levels the Biden administration seeks. Just like with wind power, the excessive use of natural land is enough to lead to increases in surface temperatures.
This brings us full circle back to our core issue: these ecological impacts of wokeness cause far more harm than good. Electric cars, wind power, and solar power are all known to cause dangerous levels of pollution, climate change, and damage to local environments due to habitat destruction and direct destruction of local wildlife populations. To top it off, these methods increase dangerous toxin exposure to desperate, impoverished countries. Instead of dismantling the imagined evils of fossil fuels, the woke progressive energy plans will simply shift our problems into other, often more serious environmental issues. In a similar theme, by pushing our problems to other countries, the progressives undermine their own agenda by participating in what they themselves deem the evils of white privilege. Perhaps we should instead call it “green privilege.”