You don't often read about it in the press, but there are some very serious problems with the Green Energy solution. The usual response that I get from Environmentalists and other Liberals when I mention these problems is something along the lines of:
You Republicans only care about serving your Real Masters:
I'm actually in favor of cultivating alternative energy sources.
It should be done in a rational, reasonable manner, however, instead of the break-neck crisis frenzy that you see today. We shouldn't be investing hundreds of billions of dollars in a sprint to convert from Oil to Green Energy in a just a decade, as President Obama would like. We, as taxpayers, shouldn't be subsidizing the sale of every single Chevrolet Volt to the tune of $7500 per $41,000 car just because its the Liberal Poster Child for the vehicle of the future. This should be a market driven change adopted slowly over time while we make the adjustments and find what works best in the long run.
1. Many Green Technologies including electric cars, hybrid cars, wind turbines, energy saving light bulbs, and others gizmos require what are called Rare Earth Minerals. They are necessary to create magnets and other components without which the nifty Green Energy Widgets just won't work. In many applications, literally tons of the Rare Earth is required to produce the components needed. For instance, the motor in the popular Prius Hybrid requires a kilogram of neodymium while each battery requires more than 10 kilos of lanthanum, both of which are Rare Earth elements. The big magnets in wind turbines can require up to a ton of Rare Earth Elements for each magnet.
2. Contrary to the name, Rare Earth Minerals aren't all that rare. China has an assload, but there are also deposits in Canada, the US, and Australia.
3. Currently, China produces over 95% of the world's supply of Rare Earth Minerals.
Wait a minute.
If the Green Technology Magic is only workable with Rare Earth Minerals, and if we have Rare Earth Minerals right here at home... then why are we buying them from China?
Because processing Rare Earth Minerals into a usable form is truly a bitch:
1. The environmental problems include air emissions with harmful elements, such as fluorine and sulfur, waste water that contains excessive acid, and radioactive materials, too.
2. Before it was closed down, the Mountain Pass Rare Earth mine in California produced 850 gallons of waste salt water containing radioactive thorium and uranium - every hour of every single day.
3. The process for converting Rare Earth Minerals into magnets and other finished components suitable for use in Green Energy is so poisonous and wretched that China is the only country currently doing it. And they are paying the price. Large areas near processing facilities are no longer suitable for food production, drinking water, and human habitation.
And to top all this off, recently China has announced that it is reducing the amount of Rare Earth Minerals that it will sell to the west by 10%-11% next year. They've already restricted sales to almost ziltch to Japan - due to disputes not even related to Rare Earth. The reduction is due to the Chinese wish to protect the resource and maximize the potential profit from its sale. They are flexing their economic muscles, and its just the beginning.
Should the nutjobs in North Korea step up hostilities and fully attack South Korea, the US would need to step in. Think China won't retaliate by cutting off our supply of Rare Earth Minerals, at the very least? Bye-Bye Green Energy...
So... we are being dragged out of the Frying Pan of dependence on Expensive Foreign Oil and environmental risks associated with Fossil Fuels, and being dumped into the fire of dependence on China for the means to produce Green Technology and the enormous environmental toll those elements require to be refined. All at a price tag that will run into the Trillions of Dollars before its all done.
I think its clear that a more reasoned, measured progress toward alternative energy is called for. We should continue to develop alternative energy technology as well as safe ways to produce the materials required, while still maintaining our current level of economic activity and standard of living by utilizing the Oil resources currently available to us in our own country. In doing so, we could safely make progress toward an eventual (and inevitable) shift away from fossil fuels while simultaneously reducing our reliance on Oil from overseas.
We can't do that, though.
The Left demands its Green Energy NOW. They want it yesterday, if not sooner. Having failed to pass Cap and Trade, the EPA and other governmental agencies are doing by bureaucratic fiat what they couldn't do with legislation alone. New Deep Water drilling has been banned recently by President Obama. He made pretense to re-open drilling in shallower areas of the Gulf of Mexico - but the Department of the Interior has issued almost no permits to drill in the ensuing months. Recent reports forecast gasoline prices over $4 a gallon before the end of this summer.
So there it is. You've seen behind the curtain now and the Green Nirvana is actually kinda stinky inside. Maybe if more people knew the actual facts behind the hard sell of Green Technology, they'd tap the brakes a bit and slow things down. Or maybe not. Maybe they'll continue to stare lovingly at their Prius in the driveway with its really hip "Coexist" bumper sticker, secure in the knowledge that they are saving the planet.
I've intentionally omitted discussion of Man Made Global Warming, as that's a subject that requires and deserves it own separate treatment. In fact, if you are interested in climate change debate I encourage you to visit my buddy Borepatch - who posts quite frequently on the topic. A good spot to start is here, although browsing his posts tagged "junk science" will produce about two hundred wonderfully written essays on that and similar matters - complete with documentation and links.
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