Call Me a NIMBY
When climate change activist Bill McKibben spoke last month in Santa Fe about climate change and the green building boom, he said that instead of a not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) mentality, people should welcome solar panels and wind turbines. “Don’t be the person who hires a lawyer,” McKibben said, “and gets in the way of the future.”
Call me a NIMBY: I don’t want to take from the Earth faster than it can replenish or waste faster than it can absorb. I can’t ignore that manufacturing, operating and discarding solar PVs, industrial wind facilities, batteries and e-vehicles require fossil fuels, water, extractions and chemicals and generate toxic waste. Well-funded plans to slow climate changes by “renewables” inflict serious damage to ecosystems and communities—just like fossil fuels and gas-guzzling vehicles.
Call me a NIMBY: I’d welcome more people questioning and discussing the hazards of “green” technologies:
When you calculate the footprint of solar PVs and EVs, do you include the coal and trees that go into making their silicon?
If a solar facility uses batteries to store energy, have professional engineers certified that the batteries will not catch fire? (They do catch fire—which then prohibits nearby residents from leaving home, running ventilation systems or opening windows until toxins clear.)
If the solar or wind facility does not have batteries, then what kind of fuel powers the electricity at night or on cloudy or non-windy days?
When panels crack and chemicals—including PFAs—leach into groundwater, what’s the developer’s cleanup plan?
Solar panels are hazardous waste, and turbine blades do not biodegrade. When a facility shuts down, who pays to remove its hazardous waste?
As energy analyst Mark P. Mills articulates, unless we change the laws of physics, solar and wind systems cannot power our society; and they cannot reduce our harms to the Earth. Why invest in solar, wind, batteries and EVs when they cannot meet our society’s extraordinary (and increasing) power demands or our targets to reduce carbon emissions?
Call me a NIMBY. I can’t quit these questions.
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
While their EV inventory grows, Toyota, General Motors and Honda question their viability. Apparently, consumers don’t buy EVs: they cost too much, have inadequate infrastructure and require lifestyle adjustments (a gas guzzler takes only four minutes to refill). While I’d welcome this list including ways that EVs ravage ecosystems, I won’t complain about these CEOs’ questions.
Does the Biden Administration know what these CEOs report? The Administration has started working with Lithium Americas Corporation to secure a $1 billion loan to mine yet more wild land for lithium (in addition to Thacker Pass) at the Oregon/Nevada border. (EV batteries depend on lithium.)
Do policymakers who enact laws that will require 43% of new cars and light-duty trucks to be electric models by 2026 and 82% by 2032 know about EVs’ severe fire hazards? Have they read IEEE’s “The EV Transition Explained”—which reports that charging EVs overheats transformers and shortens their 30-40-year lifespan to three years?
To stop ravaging the Earth
To stop ravaging the Earth, we’ve got to stop ravaging the Earth.
Let’s have forums about reducing production, reducing consumption and reducing toxic waste.
Let’s build topsoil, grow more food, make cities walkable, increase public transportation, build conflict resolution skills, raise children without an electronic interface and celebrate people who live on less.
Let’s turn empty houses into homes—where questions are welcome.
Here’s a provocative essay (first posted in 2019) from Max Wilbert: “When the Lights Go Out: Dreaming of a power outage that lasts forever.”
After posting my map of the conflict in Gaza, a reader corrected me: I should have reported that the 1948 creation of Israel left 750,000 Palestinians without a home—and a large proportion of them were Christian.
Several readers wrote appreciatively of the link to Gabor Maté’s video. So, I send another one, this October 28 interview with his daughter, Hannah.
Last, Mapping Our Technosphere, my book about the extractions, energy use, water use, toxic waste and fire hazards involved in manufacturing, operating and discarding the Internet’s computers and infrastructure, is nearly finished. Can you help this book get to the printer? It still needs $5,000 to purchase copyright permits for rare images of mining and refining the Internet’s rare earth elements; for editing, design, website expenses…and to keep its author fed and sheltered. Ecological Options Network, my fiscal sponsor, can take donations of $250 or more. Address your check to Ecological Options Network with “Katie Singer Mapping Project” in the memo area. Please mail to:
Mary Beth Brangan, EON Co-Director
P.O. Box 1047
Bolinas, CA 94924
Smaller (still much appreciated!) donations can go through PayPal or directly to me, at PO Box 6574 Santa Fe, NM 87502 USA.
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