Just Released! Order “Waking Up to Climate Change” by George Ropes, and receive 25% Discount. Learn More

HOME          CATEGORIES          OUR TAKE

Getting to Zero Has Consequences by ClimateYou Senior Editor George Ropes

This article by JASON HICKEL , “The Limits of Clean Energy” written for Foreign Policy discusses the requirements for various metals that the Green New Deal will need to be implemented. It’s a revelation. The transition from fossil fuels to renewables has benefits we’re all aware of, or should be. It will have costs too, that few people have considered, and that have received little media attention. More supplies of various metals — among them copper, lead, zinc, iron, gold, silver, lithium, and several even rarer metals you’ve probably never heard of — will be needed to build out the solar farms, wind turbines, and batteries for electric vehicles and upgraded power grids that are essential components of a carbon-free future. Mines will have to be expanded and multiplied, with grave environmental consequences. Supplies of some minerals lie mostly in poor, unstable, and often despotic countries, all of which may affect the constancy of needed quantities of the metals in question. While we probably won’t run out of any essential resource, prices are sure to climb more than they already have, and timely delivery becomes a concern.

We must move ahead with all deliberate speed to implement the Green New Deal. However, we must also curb our ever-growing energy consumption. We can’t go on overconsuming the Earth’s natural resources. We’re going to have to change our lifestyles, never an easy task. Technology can and will help to some degree — autonomous vehicles will preclude the need for all of us to own a car or two. Electric airplanes will let us keep jetting off to wherever. Improved telecommunications will reduce the need for the daily commute to and from work. On-line commerce is already cutting into shopping trips. We can eschew fast fashion, and scale back wasteful items like SUVs, McMansions, and industries like the arms trade. Getting to a lifestyle that is saner, less wasteful, less harmful to the environment, more sustainable, more just, won’t be easy, but it’s both necessary and doable

Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

2 Responses

  1. For the sun-drenched (top CO2-absorbing) 3rd World tropics, giant wind turbines, solar farms and such other technologies are hardly affordable. There are however ‘old yet green’ technologies that can be highly effective and even yield high profit, if First World corporate joint venture partners are involved to provide technologies and credit name. Here’s the vision for the Philippines: First World companies partner with local employee co-ops to build the following: Ethanol distilleries fed by sweet sorghum farms (yields 50% profit). Agroforests with multiple-product factories for export markets. Mini-dam hydropower nets. Geothermal plants. Agroforest methane digesters & ethanol-fueled power generators for on-site electricity supply. Forest resorts. E85 vehicles. Electric (lead-acid) bikes & trikes with charged battery replacement stations. All-electric metal works and light industries, etc. Current billion-dollar Green Funds should willingly finance 75% or so of project costs due to sure repayment + interest income resulting from the projects’ high profitability. Locations throughout the tropics, such projects will sequester atmospheric CO2 at billion-ton levels yearly for all time while employing millions of poor, addressing local wealth gaps thru co-ops, and creating massive markets for involved companies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


More Posts Like This


Art Inspired by Climate Change Data

Last week about 20 students stood next to small, blank canvases placed on tables. They were about to pour paint of various colors onto the canvases as part of a unique approach to understanding climate change. The students were in their weekly Natural Disasters class taught by Professor


When Art & Science Collide

What happens when artistic creative energies are inspired by raw, scientific data? Experimenting with this very idea in 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic, the Climate Impacts Groups at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies started the “Science & Art Initiative,” seeking to challenge scientists


My Take on Climate Change

Imagine it’s Christmas time and there’s no snow outside. In fact, it’s late December and the weather has mostly been warm for a long while since Halloween. The temperature for the most part has been remaining in the 30’s and sometimes early 40’s. Outside, it still looks like