Industrial-scale renewable energy does nothing to remake exploitative relationships with the earth, and instead represents the renewal and expansion of the present capitalist order. We have inherited the bad/good energy dichotomy of fossil fuels versus renewable energy, a holdover from the environmental movement of the 1970’s that is misleading, if not false.
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Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
By 2050, up to six million tons of solar panel waste will need recycling, and the United States is expected to have the second largest amount of waste after China, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. But few states have started processes for handling the waste even as they require more energy produced by renewable sources.
Heavy industry is responsible for around 22 percent of global CO2 emissions. Forty-two percent of that — about 10 percent of global emissions — comes from combustion to produce large amounts of high-temperature heat for industrial products like cement, steel, and petrochemicals.
To put that in perspective, industrial heat’s 10 percent is greater than the CO2 emissions of all the world’s cars (6 percent) and planes (2 percent) combined. Yet, consider how much you hear about electric vehicles. Consider how much you hear about flying shame. Now consider how much you hear about ... industrial heat.
Not much, I’m guessing. But the fact is, today, virtually all of that combustion is fossil-fueled, and there are very few viable low-carbon alternatives. For all kinds of reasons, industrial heat is going to be one of the toughest nuts to crack, carbon-wise. And we haven’t even gotten started.
The Department of Defense spews so much greenhouse gas every year that it would rank as the 55th worst polluter in the world if it were a country, beating out Sweden, Denmark, and Portugal, according to a new paper from Brown University’s Costs of War project.
The irony is that the military is concerned about what will happen as the world keeps heating up. Last year, the Department of Defense reported that half of its bases were threatened by the effects of global warming. Rising seas are regularly flooding Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, even on sunny days, and melting permafrost threatens the stability of military buildings in the Arctic.
Mongolia’s Action Plan for Implementation of the Green Development Policy ... The Green Development Policy also presents hydroelectric development as the next step for Mongolia to transition from fossil fuels. The Selenge River is considered a transboundary body of water under UN protocol. Originating in northern Mongolia, the Selenge River has Ramsar protected wetland status and is an integral tributary to the Lake Baikal in Russia, contributing to about half the lake’s volume of water. With a geologic history of over 25 million years, the Baikal is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known to contain about twenty percent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water.
The plateau encompassing Mongolia and Inner Mongolia (China) has in turn experienced a shrinking of lakes due to large-scale human intervention, from the demands of water-intensive coal-mining, to overgrazing and agricultural irrigation that disturbs groundwater and rivers.
Thus we come to the root of the problem for all too many activists responding to the Climate Crisis including Greta Thunberg, who has become a celebrity thus a vessel for projections, both slanderous and hagiographic. The Greta phenomenon, by its nature provokes, emotional responses from climate denialists (and rightwing soreheads in general) freaked out by a smart, passionate young woman and from those on the left driven by a compulsion to provide paternal protection to her due to her child-like appearance and aura of innocence.
What should be requested of her, to avoid the taint of, inadvertently, playing the role of marketing icon for greed-headed, Davos denizens, who, it is claimed, are deploying the kid, in her toxic naivety, in a high-end, greenwashing bait-and-switch advertising roll out for what the captains of faux green industry have branded, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” — a venture designed to co-opt vehemence for the fate of the earth into adherence to for-profit schemes contrived to circumscribe responses to the Climate Crisis within capitalist models.
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.”
Introduction to the new book by the prolific degrowth author Giorgos Kallis, just published by Stanford University Press.
What is the Green New Deal’s answer to this dilemma? It refuses to acknowledge the problem. Clearly, the Green New Deal is rhetorically very strong on highlighting the injustices and ecological problems of the current economic system, rightly arguing for the climate crisis to be understood as a social justice and a class issue and outlining some of the basic characteristics of an ecological society. It’s educational role here is valuable. But its rhetoric is not matched by a practical plan to transform the economic paradigms producing climate change.
The Green New Deal pivots on a central lie of continued growth, promising this growth and employment whilst pretending it can magic away the environmental and humanitarian consequences. The result of this is that on all three counts – infinite growth, reliance on fossil fuels, and colonial resource extraction – the Green New Deal is unable to challenge the prevailing order. Instead, it perpetuates the capitalist paradigm and economic relationships and maintains the system leading us towards total ecological collapse.