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Renewable Energy Leads to Disaster

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Message Christopher Calder

Renewable energy schemes, other than hydroelectric power, take up too much land area and produce far too little energy to be of significant value.  Biofuels are the worst disaster of the 21st century, causing the starvation deaths of millions of people worldwide by displacing food production.  Biofuel farming erodes topsoil, causes water pollution and water shortages, and has accelerated global warming by increasing the release of greenhouse gases.  Indonesia is now the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, because burning forests to grow biofuels releases the carbon content of native vegetation into the atmosphere.

Wind power sounds like a good idea until you discover that to produce the energy output of just one automobile engine, you need a Godzilla sized windmill that costs a small fortune and kills birds and bats by the thousands. Wind and sunlight are highly diffuse phenomena, so collecting their energy will always require monster sized artificial structures covering an impossibly large amount of land area to replace the concentrated energy content of fossil fuels.  Wind power is a useful way to pump irrigation water, and solar panels are a responsible way to power a few light bulbs in a remote vacation cabin, but they are both terribly inefficient ways to power an entire nation.  Humans need affordable, reliable power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, not just when the wind blows and the sun shines.

Advanced civilization demands the use of highly concentrated, nonrenewable forms of energy.  It is currently politically correct to condemn fossil fuels as evil--but if humans never used fossil fuels there would be no modern medicine, no efficient transportation system, no electronics or modern conveniences, and no large scale human food supply. In a fossil fuel free world we would be stuck in a primitive society based on subsistence farming, domestic animal grazing, hunting and fishing.  That may sound like wholesome bucolic fun until you realize that the average human lifespan would be somewhere between 20 to 35 years, and the total world population would be a billion people at most.

As it takes large amounts of energy to produce food, the higher we pump up energy costs with needlessly expensive renewable energy schemes, the higher the price we pay for food.  Food price inflation has caused climbing death rates around the world, and it is currently estimated that approximately 20,000 children die of malnutrition and related illness every day.  The humane way to curb world population growth is to provide universal family planning education and financial incentives for people to have fewer children, not through the intentional starvation of the poor.

It is a mathematically provable fact that the only practical energy source that can possibly replace fossil fuels is nuclear power, and carbon free nuclear energy is our only hope for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.  The United States Congress is planning to legislate high taxes on CO2 emissions, but if we do not have sufficient nuclear energy capacity to provide us with carbon free energy, such draconian tax schemes will collapse our economy.  Instead of taxing already expensive energy and food, our leaders should reduce the red tape required to build nuclear power plants and limit lawsuits against power plant construction.

France relies heavily on nuclear power and has the cleanest air and lowest electricity rates in Europe.  Denmark built over 6,000 expensive wind turbines as a minor supplement to its energy grid, and now has the highest electric rates in Europe, about double what the average American pays. Denmark has been unable to shut down a single fossil fuel power plant as a result of embracing wind power, as they need inherently dirty coal burning power plants as back-up when the wind stops blowing.  The Chair of Energy Policy in Denmark has branded wind power "a terribly expensive disaster."  Solar power is even more expensive than wind power, and you get absolutely no solar power at night.

You often hear unjustified scare stories about nuclear power, but it has a far better safety record than any fossil fuel and will not produce the kind of massive ecological and food supply destruction caused by biofuels, wind, and solar power schemes.  Nuclear power is flexible and can be used to produce superior quality synthetic gasoline and jet fuel using carbon dioxide sucked right out of the atmosphere.  Nuclear power can even be used to produce synthetic fertilizers, which currently require large amounts of natural gas to create. 

Nuclear power is safe, reliable, carbon free, takes up very little space, and does not displace food production.  There are no problem free energy sources, but all of the well known negatives of nuclear power can be addressed and corrected by responsible design and policies. With the use of nuclear fuel reprocessing and breeder reactors, we have enough nuclear fuel to last for thousands of years.

Renewable energy schemes other than naturally concentrated hydroelectric power are inherently inadequate.  Geothermal energy is a valuable asset that may some day satisfy as much as 10% of our nation's energy needs, but strictly speaking geothermal is not a renewable energy source because hot geothermal wells eventually run cold.  The United States Government subsidizes wind power over 14 times as much as nuclear power, and over 93 times as much as the cleanest fossil fuel, natural gas.  Environmentalists are blocking natural gas production, geothermal power plants, nuclear reactor construction-- and even some wind power projects because of the visual pollution created by legions of monster sized wind turbines despoiling the landscape.  Obviously, the United States needs massive amounts of new energy to survive, so unless we adopt responsible energy polices that face facts honestly, the USA has no positive economic future.  Trying to replace the highly concentrated energy of fossil fuels with the inherently weak energy of wind, solar, and biofuels will cripple our economy and cause massive starvation on a global scale.


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Christopher Calder is an advocate for world food supply security with no financial interest in any energy related business.
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