Life in fossil-fuel-free utopia


“Life without oil, natural gas and coal would most likely be nasty, brutish and short.” – Paul Driessen

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“The drumbeat for a fossil-fuel-free energy utopia continues,” says Paul Driessen. “But few have pondered how we will supposedly generate 25 billion megawatts of total current global electricity demand using just renewable energy: wind turbines, for instance. For starters, we’re talking about some 830 million gigantic 500-foot-tall turbines – requiring a land area of some 12.5 billion acres. That’s more than twice the size of North America, all the way through Central America.”

“But where it really gets interesting is what life would actually be like in a totally renewable electricity world. Think back to Colonial Williamsburg – the good old days. The way they really were. Not the make-believe, idyllic version of history they teach in school these days. Read on, to take a journey to the nirvana of the “stabilized climate” future.”

 

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Life in fossil-fuel-free utopia

Life without oil, natural gas and coal would most likely be nasty, brutish and short.

By Paul Driessen

Al Gore’s new movie, a New York Times article on the final Obama Era “manmade climate disaster” report, and a piece saying wrathful people twelve years from now will hang hundreds of “climate deniers” are a tiny sample of Climate Hysteria and Anti-Trump Resistance rising to a crescendo. If we don’t end our evil fossil-fuel-burning lifestyles and go 100% renewable Right Now, we are doomed, they rail.

A pitiful grasp of reality

Maybe it’s our educational system, our cargo cult’s easy access to food and technology far from farms, mines and factories, or the end-of-days propaganda constantly pounded into our heads. Whatever the reason, far too many people have a pitiful grasp of reality: natural climate fluctuations throughout Earth history; the intricate, often fragile sources of things we take for granted; and what life would really be like in the utopian fossil-fuel-free future they dream of. Let’s take a short journey into that idyllic realm.

Suppose we generate just the 25 billion megawatt-hours of today’s total global electricity consumption using wind turbines. (That’s not total energy consumption, and it doesn’t include what we’d need to charge a billion electric vehicles.) We’d need more than 830 million gigantic 3-megawatt turbines!

Spacing them at just 15 acres per turbine would require 12.5 billion acres! That’s twice the land area of North America! All those whirling blades would virtually exterminate raptors, other birds and bats. Rodent and insect populations would soar. Add in transmission lines, solar panels and biofuel plantations to meet the rest of the world’s energy demands – and the mostly illegal tree cutting for firewood to heat poor families’ homes – and huge swaths of our remaining forest and grassland habitats would disappear.

The renewable future assumes these “eco-friendly alternatives” would provide reliable, affordable energy 24/7/365, even during windless, sunless weeks and cold, dry growing seasons. They never will, of course. That means we will have electricity and fuels when nature cooperates, instead of when we need it.

Refrigerators would conk out for hours or days at a time

With backup power plants gone, constantly on-and-off electricity will make it impossible to operate assembly lines, use the internet, do an MRI or surgery, enjoy favorite TV shows or even cook dinner. Refrigerators and freezers would conk out for hours or days at a time. Medicines and foods would spoil.

Petrochemical feed stocks would be gone – so we wouldn’t have paints, plastics, synthetic fibers or pharmaceuticals, except what can be obtained at great expense from weather-dependent biodiesel. Kiss your cotton-polyester-lycra leggings and yoga pants good-bye.

But of course all that is really not likely to happen. It would actually be far worse.

Impossible to manufacture machinery

First of all, there wouldn’t even be any wind turbines or solar panels. Without fossil fuels – or far more nuclear and hydroelectric plants, which rabid environmentalists also despise – we couldn’t mine the needed ores, process and smelt them, build and operate foundries, factories, refineries or cement kilns, manufacture and assemble turbines and panels. We couldn’t even make machinery to put in factories.

Wind turbines, solar panels and solar thermal installations cannot produce consistently high enough heat to smelt ores and forge metals. They cannot generate power on a reliable enough basis to operate facilities that make modern technologies possible. They cannot provide the power required to manufacture turbines, panels, batteries or transmission lines – much less power civilization.

My grandmother used to tell me, “The only good thing about the good old days is that they’re gone.” Well, they’d be back, as the USA is de-carbonized, de-industrialized and de-developed.

Ponder America and Europe before coal fueled the modern industrial age. Recall what were we able to do back then, what lives were like, how long people lived. Visit Colonial Williamsburg and Claude Moore Colonial Farm in Virginia, or similar places in your state. Explore rural Africa and India.

When the sun goes down, your life will shut down

Imagine living that way, every day: pulling water from wells, working the fields with your hoe and ox-pulled plow, spinning cotton thread and weaving on looms, relying on whatever metal tools your local blacksmith shop can produce. When the sun goes down, your lives will largely shut down.

Think back to amazing construction projects of ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome – or even 18th Century London, Paris, New York. Ponder how they were built, how many people it took, how they obtained and moved the raw materials. Imagine being part of those wondrous enterprises, from sunup to sundown.

The good news is that there will be millions of new jobs. The bad news is that they’d involve mostly backbreaking labor with picks and shovels, for a buck an hour. Low-skill, low-productivity jobs just don’t pay all that well. Maybe to create even more jobs, the government will issue spoons, instead of shovels.

No TVs or cell phones

That will be your life, not reading, watching TV and YouTube or playing video games. Heck, there won’t even be any televisions or cell phones. Drugs and alcohol will be much harder to come by, too. (No more opioids crisis.) Water wheels and wind mills will be back in fashion. All-natural power, not all the time.

More good news: Polluting, gas-guzzling, climate-changing cars and light trucks will be a thing of the past. Instead, you’ll have horses, oxen, donkeys, buggies and wagons again … grow millions of acres of hay to feed them – and have to dispose of millions or billions of tons of manure and urine every year.

There’ll be no paved streets – unless armies of low-skill workers pound rocks into gravel, mine and grind limestone, shale, bauxite and sand for cement, and make charcoal for lime kilns. Homes will revert to what can be built with pre-industrial technologies, with no central heat and definitely no AC.

Ah, but you folks promoting the idyllic renewable energy future will still be the ruling elites. You’ll get to live better than the rest of us, enjoy lives of reading and leisure, telling us commoners how we must live. Don’t bet on it. Don’t even bet on having the stamina to read after a long day with your shovel or spoon.

Urban areas collapse into chaos

As society and especially big urban areas collapse into chaos, it will be survival of the fittest. And that group likely won’t include too many Handgun Control and Gun Free Zone devotees.

But at least your climate will be stable and serene – or so you suppose. You won’t have any more extreme weather events. Sea levels will stay right where they are today: 400 feet higher than when a warming planet melted the last mile-thick glaciers that covered half the Northern Hemisphere 12,000 years ago.

At least it will be stable and serene until those solar, cosmic ray, ocean currents and other pesky, powerful natural forces decide to mess around with Planet Earth again.

Of course, many countries won’t be as stupid as the self-righteous utopian nations. They will still use fossil fuels, plus nuclear and hydroelectric, and watch while you roll backward toward the “good old days.” Those that don’t swoop in to conquer and plunder may even send us food, clothing and monetary aid (most of which will end up with ruling elites and their families, friends, cronies and private armies).

So how about this as a better option?

Stop obsessing over “dangerous manmade climate change.” Focus on what really threatens our planet and its people: North Korea, Iran, Islamist terrorism – and rampant poverty, disease, malnutrition and early death among the billions who still do not have access to electricity and the living standards it brings.

Worry less about manmade climate cataclysms – and more about cataclysms caused by policies promoted in the name of controlling Earth’s climate.

Don’t force-feed us with today’s substandard, subsidized, pseudo-sustainable, pseudo-renewable energy systems. When better, more efficient, more practical energy technologies are developed, they will replace fossil fuels. Until then, we would be crazy to go down the primrose path to renewable energy utopia.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. (August 2017)

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15 thoughts on “Life in fossil-fuel-free utopia

  1. I know several people who totally subscribe to the insanity that we can increase the generation capacity of solar and wind from the latest international figures which state they generated less than 1% of global electricity to 100% by 2030 or 2050.

    When I tell them that electricity generation is only about 1/3 rd of total emissions with the majority emitted by international trade, transport including air, food production, mining and mineral processing and many others I’m certain exist but I can’t name them right now and all of which, except processing aluminium, have no electricity replacement for hydrocarbon energy they simply glaze over.

    If anyone thinks our modern society can exist by replacing hydrocarbon energy with the electricity generated by “renewables” they are simply believing in magic.

    In several hundred years we have not been able to replace the fundamental method of transforming heat into work that Stephenson built in 1829 – outside of nuclear power – boiling water. Internal combustion is still the same principle after all.

    And the fundamental method of utilising work hasn’t changed in centuries either – using a natural, or artificially induced, moving fluid to produce work that we use to do stuff including generating electricity.

    With recent assessments revealing the useful life of renewables may be as short as 20 years they will never replace hydrocarbon energy because they only produce a tiny amount of the 1/3 rd of the total energy demand that is electricity.

    We need urgent funding of new nuclear – probably thorium – instead of wasting money on the useless renewables installations. Spend research money on solar sure but give wind the flick as the world did a couple of hundred years ago.

    • Transporting wind turbines to their installation sites requires an enormous amount of energy, too, not to mention manufacturing and maintaining them. I think most people don’t really realize how BIG those things really are, and I’m certain most people haven’t the even the most tenuous grasp of the laws of thermodynamics.

    • That world is what the Progressive Party globalists in general desire. They thought that they could get there with Environmental Extremists .

      Unfortunately, the wrong U.S. president was elected (for them). The Paris agreement that would have eventually sealed the deal is going down the tubes as fossil fuel use increases. Ironically, U.S. exports of coal since Trump was elected have increased by around 25% to several EU countries. Those countries are having to re-open and build new coal-fired generating plants to meet demand.

  2. Unfortunately the math in this article seems wrong. In round numbers the US has 1,000 gigawatts of generating capacity (1000 power plants, 20 per state on average, each 1 gw). If a wind turbine is rated 3 megawatts is is probably on average only generating 1 megawatt. so It takes 1000 wind turbines to replace 1 average power plant. Since there are 1,000 plants, it would take a million wind turbines to replace them all. If each one takes 15 acres, that’s 15 million acres. There are 640 acres in a square mile, so 15 million acres is about 20,000 square miles. New York State is 54,000 square miles. The US land area is 3 million square miles. Germany has a much greater population density than the US and gets 30% or so of its electricity from wind. I hate wind turbines. The numbers are bad but you have overstated how bad by a factor of about 10.

    • Every day I drive by places where businesses are installing solar on their rooftops and solar panels in the parking lots that shade the cars. A majority of our energy will come from solar, a minority from wind.

      Sierra College in Roseville, California, now gets most of its energy from solar that shades the parking lots. The county government center in Oroville, Califorina, went solar twenty years ago.

      The Budweiser brewery – Anhauser-Busch – in Fairfield, California, installed two big wind turbines a few years ago that supply most of the power for brewing your Bud.

      For some strange and inexplicable reason lots of Conservatives have this very weird idea that technology is political, that there is something politically wrong with using the sun and wind as energy sources,

      Why is that?

      It makes no political sense, no philosophical sense, no scientific sense, no technological sense, none.

      Energy is energy, no matter where you get it. Energy isn’t Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican.

      Why are Conservatives so infatuated with the energy sources of the past?

  3. My guess is one of the ugliest of all human tendencies would return – a desire to enslave others to do your work for you… and people with enough power will bring back slavery.

  4. “Life without oil, natural gas and coal would most likely be nasty, brutish and short.”

    Be a lot fewer liberals and city folk, so there’s that bright spot…

    • Abount 97% of the liberals and metropolitian folk would end up in the meat grinder, with no power, no water, no sewage, no medical care and very little food except handouts, travel restricted to how far they could walk in day light.
      But then again would Green eccomomic units be allowed to up sticks and leave their refugee camps while they had energy to work for the 3% Green master race.

      • Huh? Are you saying that solar, wind, and nuclear power don’t work?

        Oil and gas are finite resources. Solar and wind are infinite resources. At least until the sun goes supernova and turns us all into crispy critters.

  5. Life with abundant energy from solar, wind, nuclear, and an infinite supply of hydrogen fuel, would be just fine.

    Even during a long ice age there is lots of sunshine and lots of wind and nuclear wells never go dry and there is an infinite supply of recyclable energy in water (and snow, and ice) which is 2 parts hydrogen, 1 part oxygen.

    The idea that coal, oil, and gas, are indispensable energy sources that cannot be replaced is just stupid.

    Paul Dreissen has stuck his brain in reverse.

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