“Green” Energy?

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Michael Moore has been the darling of progressive activists for three decades. But when he had the audacity to executive produce Jeff Gibbs’ Planet of the Humans, a documentary exposing the corruption, deception, and failure of the green energy movement, he was summarily dismissed from their circle. The film has been called “dangerous,” “absurd,” and “shockingly misleading.” Trotsky himself didn’t experience a more decisive fall from grace.

Undaunted, Moore released the film publicly on YouTube on April 21, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and it has already been viewed 4 million times. It will be available at no cost for 30 days. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/Zk11vI-7czE . You’ll need this link, because if you search for it in the normal way, by googling “YouTube Planet of the Humans,” you’ll likely end up watching a World Science Festival documentary instead. That’s what will appear at the top of your search. These crafty internet capitalists have so much control over what we see!

The film begins, “Have you ever wondered what would happen if a single species took over an entire planet? . . . How would they know when it is their time to go?” His conclusion is that “less is more. Carbon dioxide isn’t destroying the planet; it is us.”

The film has been called “dangerous,” “absurd,” and “shockingly misleading.” Trotsky himself didn’t experience a more decisive fall from grace.

I don’t agree with director Jeff Gibbs’ conclusions; I don’t think capitalism is to blame, though crony capitalism certainly is, and I don’t buy the old Malthusian overpopulation argument that was repackaged in the 1960s by Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb and reappears here as sort of a self-evident given that Gibbs doesn’t question. But more about that later. First, the good stuff.

Jeff Gibbs sees himself as a legitimate environmentalist. He lives in a cabin he built himself, and it’s powered by solar energy and wood fire. He lives simply and tries not to pollute. We could argue about what would happen to the environment if we all cut down dozens of trees to make logs for a cabin, and continued cutting down trees to heat our homes, with smoke pouring out of each chimney. But that’s not the point here — there’s a bigger story afoot.

Let’s start with electric cars. They’re quiet, they produce no exhaust, and you can plug them in anywhere you go — or so the advertising would have you believe. Elon Musk arranged with the government to provide subsidies to buyers of his electric cars, and to provide electricity in parking lots along major thoroughfares. Because drivers of electric cars are so virtuous, they get to park right next to the handicapped spots and plug into outlets powered by the local municipality. Free fuel!

We could argue about what would happen to the environment if we all cut down dozens of trees to make logs for a cabin. But that's not the point.

At a car show in Lansing spotlighting the then-new Chevy Volt, Gibbs asks where the power comes from. “The plug,” responds the Chevy rep. When pressed, she acknowledges that the power comes from the Lansing power grid, whose electricity comes from — you guessed it — coal. Or at least it did. When “coal free” became the battle cry, many municipalities quietly turned to natural gas. The point is, you can put the gas into your car, or you can put it into the electricity grid, and then into your car. One way or another, fossil fuels are getting you to the office.

In the documentary, Gibbs attends an Earth Day celebration where Earth Day founder Denis Hayes announces proudly that the event is “powered 100% by solar energy.” Gibbs takes his camera to the back of the venue and has a little talk with the engineers. Pointing to the array of solar panels, the engineer scoffs, “That could maybe power a toaster.” Another backstage installer admits that the concert is being run on a diesel generator.

In the long run, that’s probably a good thing. As Gibbs discovers, solar power is one of the blackest forms of energy. According to Ozzie Zehner, those solar panels are made not from beach sand but from quartz mined in mountains. The quartz is heated by coal to 1,800 degrees and combined with more coal to produce silicon metal — and carbon dioxide. Moreover, those solar panels only last ten to twenty years, and when they break down, the toxic metals produce even more pollution. And they aren’t even efficient. How many solar panels would be required to provide electricity for a small town? A field approximately 15 square miles, according to one engineer in the film.

What about wind power? Vast expanses of Joshua trees have been uprooted to make room in the desert for these wind farms, and mountain tops in the eastern states have been flattened and denuded. Like the solar panels, these gigantic, sprawling monstrosities break down after a couple of decades, and also contain toxic materials. Where do you dispose of a wind turbine that weighs more than 100,000 pounds? You just leave it there, I guess.

How many solar panels would be required to provide electricity for a small town? A field approximately 15 square miles

And then there is the “intermittency” problem. Both solar and wind power have the disadvantage of not working when it is either dark or calm, requiring buildings to be connected to fossil fuel grids as a backup. Sure, some excess energy from these so-called renewable sources can be stored in batteries, but those batteries also break down after just a couple of years and the materials inside them are pollutants. Neither of these highly touted energy sources is truly “green.”

And what about biomass? Recently, in order to say that we’re “coal free,” coal burning plants have been converted to wood burning plants, and we’re right back to where we started in the pre-industrial age, burning trees (euphemistically called “wood chips”) and trash for fuel. But it’s renewable, right? Trees grow back. No more fossil fuels for Americans! According to the film, American plants bring wood from as far away as Indonesia, just to burn it up for fuel. And how much fossil fuel is used to transport those “wood chips” from Indonesia? One scene shows Richard Branson boasting of a new jet powered entirely by coconut oil. “There’s no downside!” he exclaims. Gibbs cuts to a coconut forest being bulldozed into the earth — by diesel-guzzling Caterpillars, of course.

As one person says, “You would be better off just using fossil fuels.”

Gibbs follows the money to demonstrate that these are not errors of judgment or ignorance but carefully calculated compliance to take advantage of government subsidies. Billionaires, bankers, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and politicians have all profited from the green revolution — a revolution that, as Gibbs reveals, is anything but green. Even the Sierra Club was in on the take — or at least on the investments that produced good profits.

These gigantic, sprawling monstrosities break down after a couple of decades, and also contain toxic materials.

Is there a solution to maintaining a cleaner environment without creating greater pollution down the road? Absolutely. Private entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses are busily discovering solutions right now. In the western world, the air is much cleaner now than it was 50 years ago, and studies of currents have shown that most of the ocean’s pollution originates in the eastern hemisphere, not the western. While 16-year-old Greta Thunberg was scolding grownups for messing up the planet, 16-year-old Fionn Ferreira was designing a machine that can clean plastic from the ocean — even those tiny little pellets. At the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival in Las Vegas this year we will be highlighting the documentary They Say It Can’t Be Done, which showcases several great new innovations in medicine and environmentalism, including a machine that can absorb CO2 from the air and inject it into the earth, where it belongs, without creating vast ugly windmill farms.

Planet of the Humans is a provocative film that exposes the corruption and deception of the green movement by a voice from the green movement. It might not get everything right, but it gets enough right to start changing minds and thus changing the entire conversation about climate change, energy sources, and how to move forward successfully. Watch it while it’s still on YouTube.

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