“Renewables” – reality or illusion?

I haven’t posted here for about 6 months, because there are so many good food-growing blogs around and considerably better than this one. However, there are apparently people still reading the older posts and so it seemed silly not to capture that audience to spread more information about the three important concepts that are now the centre of my focus and interest:

  • financial collapse
  • net energy decline
  • climate change

There seems to be a general belief that “renewables will save us”. Not so. Increasing numbers of people ‘get’ that fact and why. But it seems from my reading and speaking to people that there are still those who don’t and are doing nothing to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the coming problems (and those crises already underway).

So I want to move the blog away from food-growing and concentrate on these important concepts. I won’t be doing much writing as there are so many people in Facebook Groups and in blogs that do it better than I. I’ll be linking to and copying what’s already out there.

The first is copied below. It’s from Erik Michaels. It’s an excellent summary of the problems with renewables. It’s long and there are lots of links but well worth the read.

“Renewables” – reality or illusion?



Originally posted in the Methane News Group (a considerable additional amount of information and discussion can only be seen by joining): https://www.facebook.com/groups/methanehydratesnews/

Lately I have fielded some rather interesting perspectives on “solutions” to climate change; not just here but in many other groups as well. I have pointed out that the ideas proposed as solutions are in fact just ideas; most of which require substantial amounts of energy not only to build, transport, erect, maintain, and replace at the end of their service life, but most of which serve no useful purpose to any other life form on this planet but us. Not only are these ideas unsustainable; if they don’t benefit other species, then they are ecologically extinct. Building a sustainable future means that we must incorporate ideas and things that interact with our biosphere in a manner that provides some sort of ecosystem service.

“Renewables” do not fit that description, so they are patently unsustainable.

Ladies and Gentlemen, “optimism must be based in reality. If hope becomes something that you express through illusion, then it isn’t hope; it’s fantasy.” — Chris Hedges

I have spent a great deal of time lately discussing the issue of “renewables” and since this has been so pervasive as of late, I decided to draft a new file specifically for this purpose of outlining the facts.

Before proceeding, please view this short video featuring Chris Hedges: https://vimeo.com/293802639

Recently, I discussed the fact that “renewables” are not a solution, and in fact, are actually making our existing predicaments worse. A considerable number of individuals are questioning these facts using all types of logical fallacies. I understand these questions; as I once thought that “renewable” energy and “green” energy and other ideas would save us as well – as little as 5 years ago. As I joined more climate change groups, I recognized the constantly repeating attack on these devices as non-solutions; so I decided to find out for myself once and for all, precisely whether they would work or not.Before going into further detail, I need to explain that IF these devices had been developed and installed back in the 1970s and 80s, along with serious efforts to quell population growth and tackling other unsustainable practices, they may have been beneficial.

However, the popular conclusion is not simply that they do not work (to serve their original intended purpose); but that they are actually causing more trouble than if they hadn’t been built at all. Many claim that these “solutions” are better than utilizing fossil energy; but this too, is an illusion. Having said that, please note that this article is in NO WAY promoting fossil energy; fossil energy use is every bit as bad, if not worse, than these devices; AND its use created the desire to build these devices in the first place.

Many people are utilizing a false dichotomy to justify continuing to build and use these devices. Using them creates no real desire to learn how to live without externally-produced energy, a loss we ALL face as time moves forward. Once the fossil fuel platform that these devices currently depend on disappears, so will the devices. Some individuals claim that we can continue to extract resources, manufacture, transport, and erect these devices after fossil energy is no longer available. This is true only on a MUCH smaller scale than the energy systems we have today, and only in small localities. On top of that, the systems of the future will continue to degrade over time and eventually, electricity will disappear altogether. Given this imminent fact, it makes little sense to continue building these devices, recognizing the environmental damage they are causing which only promotes the continued use of fossil energy as well.In order to comprehend why these devices are such a delusion, one must understand many different predicaments at once.

First, an understanding of energy and resource decline is critical. Secondly, a thorough understanding of pollution loading is essential, especially of the electronics, rare earths, mining, metals, plastics, and transportation industries. Understanding climate change and how our energy “addiction” has propelled it and continues to fuel it is absolutely necessary. Comprehension of biology along with the ecological and environmental degradation of habitat destruction and fragmentation is also necessary.

New information is constantly being made available as well, highlighting yet more reasons to stop building these devices. They are little more than energy “traps” that chain us to the same paradigm that is already killing life on this planet. The secret to resolving these issues isn’t a “new or different” energy source. It is eliminating the energy addiction altogether.The reason that eliminating energy addiction altogether is the only real strategy towards living a sustainable lifestyle is because of one seriously inconvenient fact: the diminishing returns on increasing complexity along with the fact that continuing to build these devices requires the continuation of mining, energy use, and industrial civilization – the very things killing all life on this planet.

As a system increases its complexity, the returns on that increasing complexity decrease. As we find more new ways to reduce the harm caused by energy use, misuse, and abuse, we continue to increase the complexity of producing said energy. Resistance and friction cause losses in motors, and inefficiency and sheer transmission losses produce yet further losses in all electrical systems. All these losses produce waste heat, no differently than traditional mechanical systems.

There is NO system that can be made 100% efficient, so there will ALWAYS be losses. This waste heat does nothing but add to the existing predicaments we already face; considering that in order to produce the energy to begin with, one must also pollute our atmosphere, water, and soil with toxins and byproducts of the processes themselves. Watch these three videos to understand why building each of these devices is a disaster in and of itself to wildlife around it. Focus on the devastation of the land that each unit sits on, as well as the habitat fragmentation caused by each road:

Here is a handy reference guide about “renewables” with frequently asked questions:


Here are some links to more information that will help you understand WHY “renewable” energy is NOT a solution to climate change in any way, shape, or form:


On a particular thread which featured the story link above, I wrote this detailed observation: “Ecocide is continuing BAU, which is precisely what “renewables” will allow for. They are nothing but a distraction for three reasons:

1. Building “renewables” does nothing to solve the predicament of energy use and energy growth. Replacing one type of energy with another is doing nothing but choosing a slightly less evil bad choice.

2. “Renewable” energy will never be able to replace the concentrated energy available in fossil fuels, and this fact is missed by both the MSM and most people in society. This is a recipe for disaster as the amount of fossil energy available inevitably dwindles and countries begin to fight for survival.

3. “Renewables” can not replace fossil energy in another way besides concentration of energy – each popular device such as solar panels and wind turbines only last around 20 years. This is if they survive that long – many have met an early demise due to extreme weather events. So not only do they represent a never-ending merry-go-round of maintain and replace, rinse and repeat; but due to continued energy growth, more are constantly needed as well. That is precisely what makes them every bit as unsustainable as fossil fuels.

4. Now, for a fourth issue that hasn’t been mentioned in the first three – building “renewables” doesn’t serve any truly needed service. Human beings and all other life forms on this planet don’t actually require external electricity in order to survive. So the ONLY species that benefits from building these devices is us. Sadly, building these devices kills off species through habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation along with pollution loading and other causes.

So in effect, these not only don’t solve the issue they were designed for, they continue the same ecological destruction that we are accomplishing through utilizing fossil energy. As we continue pulling the Jenga blocks out of the tree of life, how long will it be before we unwittingly become functionally extinct through using these to continue BAU? As one can clearly see, if humans want to continue living, they have no choice but to reduce fossil and all other energy use and bring it down to zero very quickly.

Sadly, I have little doubt that this will not be accomplished in any kind of reasonable time frame, IF AT ALL (we are currently going the wrong direction and have been for the last two decades DESPITE these devices having been built and installed), given what has transpired over the previous five decades even though we’ve known about these predicaments since then.” Here are several links to files that contain yet more links to more info:


6 Responses to ““Renewables” – reality or illusion?”

  1. notsomethingelse Says:

    Great post Bev. Here’s a little snippet of information that I picked up a few nights ago from the ABC 7-30 program which is doing a series on energy, available on iView for a while.

    Solar panels are supposed to have a life expectancy of around 25 years, but as with anything where unscrupulous operators can make a quick buck from government subsidies, Australia has led the world in installation of rooftop solar panels. Many of these were inferior products and after only 8-9 years are needing to be replaced because their performance has deteriorated beyond being useful. It is expected that around one million tonnes of solar waste will need to be recycled or dumped over the next few years in this country. And there is only one company, situated in South Australia, equipped to deal with that. I can imagine the aluminium frames being recycled but what possible use could be made of all those PV cells, and the wiring and connectors.

    So much for the term ‘renewables’. Both you and I know of the impossibility of mining for the rare metals used in these products, in order to make more of them, or in fact mining for anything on an industrial scale, once the fossil fuel resource crunch has hit us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris Says:

    It’s a heavy issue. I actually don’t see anything wrong with the concept of renewable energy – the problem is people being removed from the natural world for so many generations, they have no concept of consequences. So no matter what flavour of promises were going to be made (over whatever product being sold) they were never going to see their way to “understanding” the cut and thrust of the natural world, anyway.

    People don’t want to understand, that for something to live, something else must die. This was understood before supermarkets, when people had to harvest their own food. Taking the life of something, was practiced every day, so that something else could live. It was sacred. Now it’s cheap. You can buy the life-force of something, in order to live, or power your appliances, while being spared the consequences of what you’ve actually taken – or what you must contribute back, so the cycle won’t be broken.

    Sustainable anything, will only become a reality, when people align their life-force to cycles of abundance and DECLINE, again. Only then, will they understand the consequences of flippancy and ignorance, towards the actions which actually sustains life.

    Glad to see you sharing what you feel so passionate about. It’s a conversation worth having. I don’t disagree, renewable energy is like a Trojan horse, being led into the city. But I think anything can be that Trojan horse. It’s the people pulling it inside the gates, that need to stop and think, what exactly they’re doing a little more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for the comment. Yes, there’s no problem with renewable energy; we’ve been using it for thousands of years, via plants which capture the sun’s energy and can renew themselves by producing seeds. What people don’t seem to understand is that while the energy itself is renewable (as long as the sun shines) the devices we use to capture that energy aren’t. They depend on fossil fuels for their manufacture, installation and maintenance and will disappear when fossil fuels disappear. I get angry when I see forests and other valuable ecosystems destroyed for huge solar farms which have no long-term future and will only end up as landfill. We seem incapable, as a species, of taking the long-term view. Short-term thinking was adaptable in the environment in which it evolved but it isn’t so in the one we live in now. We’re energy ‘junkies’ and we’re simply going to have to do with less in the future and return to a largely agrarian society with minimal technology.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Says:

        Absolutely, and energy use is something I ponder regularly too. When we initially set-up our property, it was a tree-change thing. Then I got into permaculture design, and kicked myself, for allowing the builders to determine the house site, etc.

        With all our slopes, gravity fed water would have been optimal. So no need for an electric pump any more. I’ve contemplated installing a tank on the slope now, however, I’d need to get special planning permission and an engineers report, to have a water tank up that high – given it could compromise the road on the street, if it ever gave way.

        I’ve considered starting again with another property, but then I ponder the “waste” we’d be leaving behind. It’s the same philosophy of the disposal of high embodied-energy, for the “concept” of something better. Rather than modifying the existing infrastructure.

        Anyway, just an example of how it’s being processed here. 🙂


        • foodnstuff Says:

          I did the same thing. Buying the property came first and then I discovered permaculture. I’m too old to change now, so I’m just going with the flow. You are younger and have children; it’s different for you. I can’t and wouldn’t, advise anyone what to do. The future is too uncertain. You’re obviously intelligent and a thinker. I’m sure you’ll put that to good advantage.


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