When Going Green Isn’t Really Green

Rawpixel.com / shutterstock.com
Rawpixel.com / shutterstock.com

According to a number of environmentalists and most of the political left, the entire world needs to go green and completely eradicate the use of fossil fuels. But what if to do that we create more of those toxic greenhouse gases they blame climate change and global warming on?

Well, as at least one study has finally admitted, that’s exactly what will happen.

The study, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to attempt to estimate the cost of the world going green in terms of actual greenhouse gases rather than dollars. Essentially, it gives a rough estimate of how much carbon dioxide will be created in the process of us building and transitioning to green energy sources such as solar and wind.

And as the study concludes, there are a number of problems.

The first and the most obvious is that the initial cost of going green will, in fact, be the creation of literally billions of tons of CO2.

As lead author of the study and Ph. D student at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Corey Lesk says, “The message is that it is going to take energy to rebuild the global energy system, and we need to account for that.”

And he’s most certainly right. I mean, when we talk about constructing whole fields full of solar panels and electrical wire that runs from each to generators and then going elsewhere, we are talking about using a massive amount of equipment and materials. The same is said when we discuss building fields of wind turbines or warehouses of electric cars.

And at present, nearly all of the machines to power that construction and ore the materials needed run on fossil fuels.

As Lesk says, there is simply no way around that. And that means that some estimated 185 billion tons of carbon dioxide will likely be created in the process, supposedly by 2100, when environmentalists and world leaders would like to have fully transitioned away from fossil fuels.

Now, of course, Lesk and his partners in the study also say that should all this construction and transition happen at a much quicker pace or in a shorter amount of time, the estimated amount of global emissions could be drastically cut.

According to his studies, Lesk says that the estimates initially made were based on the current slow pace of renewable infrastructure construction, which would supposedly add 2.7 degrees C to the global temperature by 2100. But if the world was able to knock that down to 2 degrees, assuming the work was finished faster, he says only 95 billion tons, or half of the original estimate, would be created.

And better yet, if we got truly ambitious and knocked overall warming to only 1.5 degrees, such a transition would likely only add about 20 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere by 2100.
However, that brings us to the second problem with the study.

These are only estimates, and as the researchers point out, these educated guesses likely lie at the very bottom of the possible scale.

As Lesk says, “We’re laying out the bottom bound. The upper bound (or reality) could be much higher.”

One reason for this is that the research doesn’t account for all of the materials or construction required to add new electrical lines, which of course, will be necessary. Similarly, the materials or construction of batteries and storage have not been accounted for. And if you know anything about creating batteries, you’ll know that a massive amount of effort goes into their production, including digging up nearly unfathomable amounts of material or ore from the earth and largely in places with already fragile ecosystems.

Nor does the study include anything about how much energy it will cost to replace all fossil fuel-powered vehicles with electric ones. For example, have you seen what it takes to create one $30,000 lithium-ion battery for an EV?

And if all that wasn’t enough to make this a study in how not to do ‘going green,’ it’s that it also only looks at the amount of predicted CO2 to be created. It says nothing of other and equally dangerous greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide or methane.

At the end of the day, the conclusion we should draw from this is that if we are to believe all of this global warming is created by cow farts and our car’s stuff, we also have to acknowledge that the very act of going green may be what causes our end.