Renewables are part of the problem

This was a comment to Facebook. I’ve reproduced it here, because I think it encapsulates everything about the problems we face (and have thoughtlessly brought down upon ourselves).

“Renewables are part of the problem unless combined with Degrowth.


1. The growth economy (with or without renewables) is a death sentence for the planet. Continuous growth on a finite planet is impossible.
2. The growth economy is fueled by three things; fossil fuel, our consumer culture, and extraction industries – timber, minerals, fish, topsoil (destroyed by industrial agriculture or paved over). Removing one alone is not enough.
3. Renewables offer false hope. They divert attention from the fact that we cannot continue the growth economy. Many well meaning people think that renewables, EVs and recycling is all we need to save the planet. People don’t realize renewables are being used to continue the growth economy.
4. There is insufficient time to tackle FFs first then tackle the growth economy sometime later.
5. There is insufficient time to scale up the use of renewables before collapse.
6. Fossil fuels are used in the mining for, and manufacture and construction of renewables.
7. Moving to 100% renewables would use a large chunk of our carbon budget to remain below 1.5ºC i.e. not enough left for transport, manufacturing, food production, etc.
8. Renewables require enormous areas of land, much of which comes at the expense of farms or natural areas.
9. Renewables will do nothing to reduce Deforestation, Water scarcity, Topsoil loss, Biodiversity loss, Species extinction, damaged Phosphorus and Nitrogen cycles, Plastic pollution, Mining pollution (some of which is for renewables), and other Pollution.
10. Renewables will do nothing to reduce child and slave labour, some of which is for mining minerals for renewables.
11. Renewables will do nothing to reduce mineral scarcity, eg some rare earth minerals needed to maintain a modern lifestyle. In fact renewables are depleting some minerals.
12. We tend to focus just on our lives and those like us in the developed world. Billions of others have every right to aspire to a better life, but the planet can’t support everyone living our lifestyle, with or without renewables.
13. Convergence is necessary as our consumption decreases while that of developing countries increases. If every house on the planet had enough renewable energy for one reading light per person, a battery charger, a small fridge and not much else then there would probably be more people moving up the lifestyle ladder than down.”

11 Responses to “Renewables are part of the problem”

  1. notsomethingelse Says:

    All very good points. Points which are talked about endlessly by those who have a clue. But these things never seem to make it through into a place within the human hive-mind. And even though there are stirrings within that hive-mind in recent times, with vague ideas that climate change may be something that perhaps needs some attention, it is generally considered to be under control somehow, so that we can all continue more or less as we have been doing now for so long without much inconvenience to ourselves.

    That’s renewables. As for the growth economy, it barely rates a passing disturbance within that hive-mind, other than thoughts of its absolute necessity to continue.

    All of which means that the ‘death sentence’ mentioned in point 1 is objectively what awaits humanity when renewables and growth are revealed to not actually be all that durable after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris Says:

    I use to be anti renewables, and it’s obvious the reasons why. It felt like a bandaide, put over an enormous wound that was infected. And maybe to some extent, it’s still being used as that.

    What changed my mind about renewables, isn’t that they weren’t being perceived as Jack’s magic beans, any more. Clearly, they still were. Rather, it was understanding our species will always be prone to experimentation with what’s possible. We cannot stop that process, any more than we can stop being human.

    So being blind to the full extent of the truth, is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On one-hand, we’re acting like lemmings. But if you’re a lemming (metaphorically speaking) what else are you supposed to do? So I’ve made peace with renewables. Because I can see why people do it. And it’s not becaus they want to be blind to the truth. They just want to hope there’s improvement, after more experimentation.

    It’s how we invented the wheel, harnessing renewable power (wind, hydro and steam, before oil was discovered) harnessing animal power too, improving hygenic practices, and basically improving our lot as a species. All through experimentation.

    Do I believe they will stumble across a new invention to save the future? I’m dubious on that, and won’t hold out hope. But I certainly understand why other’s pursue it, as the only solutuion forward.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Like everyone else (in the Western world anyway) I want this way of life to continue, so realising it can’t has been hard to come to terms with. For most people it’s about denial and hope, as though changing light bulbs and taking your own bag shopping will be enough and not wanting to accept it’s not. If you don’t delve too deeply or question too much, it will be OK and anyway, someone, somewhere, is ‘working on it’.

      I think I’m very lucky to have been born at the end of WW2 and into a world with increasing energy and the things that could be done with it. Now, the net energy available from that source is coming to an end (and so am I 🙂 ) I feel for all those younger than me, who’ve had some of the good times and are going to be growing old in not-so-good times. We had the intelligence to do better but apparently, not the wisdom.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Says:

        I was writing my PS reply, as you must have been typing yours. 😉

        I think you’ve described my demographic accurately. Resource depletion for the older generation (mine) will be one of continued denial of resources. I heard a talk on one of those ABC programs, where the younger economists are starting to berate the policies and allowances, given to retirees.

        They’re now using the rhetoric that even though they spent their lives, working to retire – why should they get so much (ie: their super should be taxed more, with less govt concession programs) when the young are being forced to work two jobs or more, just to keep a roof over their heads, with very few (if any) govt concessions.

        Honestly, it’s a fair point. I grew up in a generation, where if you couldn’t find work, you were given a govt allowance to help pay the bills. That has now gone! So parents are now being forced to house their children, longer, so they don’t go homeless. Those without parents, end up homeless, sleeping in their cars, subsisting on one or two meals a day, soup kitchens donate. All while still holding down a job.

        I actually know people like that. I put a food and santitary items, hamper together for one person, recently. I didn’t want to see them without the basics. Because how can you become desirable to employers, if you cannot afford shampoo to wash your hair?

        Yes, times are definitely changing. I don’t feel robbed of my priviledges, as I’m sure they will dwindle into the future. I grew up, living under the poverty line. So I’m not shocked by the prospect of having little. You can still be you. Just with less. 🙂


        • foodnstuff Says:

          Yes, good points. Some people have too much and some too little. That doesn’t mean the ‘too littles’ shouldn’t be helped. Caring has gone out the window now. I’ll put another FB comment for you in a new comment box below. It I keep adding to this one the comments are going to get narrower and narrower. It’s a WordPress problem I can’t get over.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Chris Says:

    PS: didn’t mean to come across as anti supportive, to your line of thinking. I should have started with, I agree with every point made. It’s the growth economy, coupled with an increasing population, which creates unsustainable levels of resource depletion.

    It was just a bit of a revelation for me, over the past few years, in accepting it’s part of our species evolution, to be experimental in advances. I don’t know if anything but resource extinction, will stop that drive to advance.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Oh, I didn’t think that, Chris. It’s been a revelation to me too, but it started way back in the late 70’s when I read Paul Ehrlich’s ‘The Population Explosion’, and it really hit me. It’s been ongoing since then. Up until a couple of years ago I still believed we could pull ourselves out of it somehow, but not anymore, especially since I joined Facebook and found so many people saying the same things. I thought I was the only oddball!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. foodnstuff Says:

    Another Facebook comment:

    “This is truly the crux…there are many people who have faith in “government”, faith in “renewables”, faith in “action”, faith in “protests”, and on and on, but conditions continue worsening all the same. Once one begins to realize that we don’t truly have agency because the system is self-organizing and has an imperative for growth, one can see for himself or herself that there is only one way to solve the predicament – the system itself must be done away with. How many people are willing to give up industrial civilization which provides all our modern conveniences knowing full well that doing so will actually INCREASE climate change effects through losing the aerosol masking effect AND at the same time make life miserable for all? I can’t imagine such a proposal getting any traction. We are biological beings, so we are like every other biological being; we are designed to utilize any source of energy we discover to our own benefit. This, in effect, means that we are no smarter than yeast. While an individual can make choices to forego using certain forms and/or amounts of energy, someone else WILL profit from that conservation by utilizing that portion; thereby making the COLLECTIVE effect from society a constantly growing mass until some external effect causes it to stop. We will continue growing until we cannot, and then we won’t.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chris Says:

      All very true. We are driven to population control, via external sources. Which are infinitely larger, than our collective destruction. I was just saying to David, recently, any Climate Change mankind has contributed to, just makes the immediate situation, more unbearable.

      Ultimately, it’s the stars and solar system, that dictates earth’s survival. When that system fails, as both science and biblical records predicts (at some point in the future) it’s the end for all life on earth.

      So as powerful and influential as mankind is, we’re still only a drop in the ocean. We can be influential as Gods, as basic as yeast, and it’s collective power outside our control, which ultimately determines our fate. A bizarre predicament for our species. Even if we did everything right, we’d be doomed.

      Maybe this is is why we invented philosophy? To search for wisdom, amongst these bizarre extremes of our actions, and far greater forces than our own. I’m an optimist though, and believe our species has a good purpose. Even though we constantly struggle with performing it.

      Liked by 1 person

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