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But the film does make some silly mistakes. Gibbs claims that a solar panel will generate less energy than it took to build the panel. That’s a misleading claim. Many teams of researchers have addressed the question of energy return on energy invested for solar power, and even the most pessimistic results (with which I mostly agree) say that the technology can yield a marginal energy gain. Much of that gain goes away if we have to “pay” for the energy investment entailed in providing batteries or redundant capacity. Wind power generally has a better energy payback than solar, but the location of turbines matters a great deal and ideal sites are limited in number. Assessing solar and wind power calls for complicated energy accounting, but the film reduces that complexity to a blanket, binary dismissal.
Let me be clear. Gibb’s critique of renewables is just wrong, and its proportions are absurd. You would never know that the “gas as a bridge fuel” people are no longer held in esteem. You would never know that the intermittency problem is being solved, and the storage problem too. You would never know that the problem of decarbonizing the grid has been front and center on the renewables agenda for decades, and that the electric car people know it all too well. You would never know that the technology revolution is well and widely understood to be necessary but not sufficient to the green transition. All of which is to say that this would have maybe been a good movie 20 years ago. Maybe.
A surge in natural gas has helped drive down coal burning across the United States and Europe, but it isn't displacing other fossil fuels on a global scale. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are also failing to cut emissions fast enough, the report says, as much of their growth has provided new energy supplies instead of displacing fossil fuels.
What Is Energy Denial?
by Don Fitz
The fiftieth anniversary of the first Earth Day of 1970 will be in 2020. As environmentalism has gone mainstream during that half a century, it has forgotten its early focus and shifted toward green capitalism. Nowhere is this more apparent than abandonment of the slogan popular during the early Earth Days: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
The closure of the last shipyard in Belfast would end centuries of ship building in the city. A group of workers are demanding the U.K. nationalize the yards.
Josh Schlossberg is an investigative journalist, horror author and former environmental organizer who lives in Denver, Colorado. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Biomass Monitor, a subscription-supported publication that bills itself as “the nation’s leading publication investigating the whole story on bioenergy, biomass, and biofuels.” In early September 2018, I was visiting Colorado and met up with Josh. We talked biomass, “renewable” energy, wildfires, politics and activism. What follows is a partial transcript, edited for clarity.
The nation’s entrenched fossil-nuclear corporate elites are more focused on propping up the industries of the past than embracing the technologies of the future.
How Donald Trump Plans to Enlist Fossil Fuels in the Struggle for Global Dominance
The new U.S. energy policy of the Trump era is, in some ways, the oldest energy policy on Earth. Every great power has sought to mobilize the energy resources at its command, whether those be slaves, wind-power, coal, or oil, to further its hegemonic ambitions. What makes the Trumpian variant -- the unfettered exploitationof America’s fossil-fuel reserves -- unique lies only in the moment it’s being applied and the likely devastation that will result, thanks not only to the 1950s-style polluting of America’s air, waters, and urban environment, but to the devastating hand it will lend to a globally warming world.
Carla Skandier points out that public ownership of the fossil fuel industry is necessary to combat global warming.