The ”new energy” comes out of the proclamations by non-government, non-accountable, and totally irresponsible organizations like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, D. Suzuki Foundation, 350-org, Avaaz, and their THOUSANDS of offshoots, affiliates, sympathizers, hangers-on, and totally blind, deaf, and entirely misled cohorts.
Just look at Greenpeace’s latest demonstration at the hotel of the G7-Energy-Ministers in Germany, on May 12, 2015, at Hamburg, Germany, a prelude to this year’s COP-21 conference at Paris; see the picture below.
Let me translate their message on the yellow signs: “STOP COAL & NUCLEAR [power]!”
Charlatans, Idiots, and NGOs
To begin with, both coal and nuclear power are critical components of the energy infrastructure of many nations. Carbon dioxide (the product of burning coal, or wood or other carbon-based materials) has a minimal effect on atmospheric temperature, i.e., the “climate.” Anyone claiming different is a charlatan, idiot, or NGO affiliate.
The 400+ nuclear power plants in the world have had an exemplary safety record for well over half a century. Of the three major problems experienced over that time, the one in the Ukraine (Chernobyl, 1986) was due to un-authorized experiments with manual override of vital safety systems. The second one, at Fukushima (Japan, 2011) would have been entirely avoidable with proper planning and design for that tsunami-sensitive coast. The third event, a genuine accident, at the Three Mile Island plant (U.S., 1979) was well contained due to the existing safety systems; its consequences were negligible as there were no injuries or adverse health effects from it. Over all, a superb safety record of the nuclear power generation systems all around the globe.
Orders of Magnitude
The unfortunate truth is that the “non-governmental organisation” (NGO) zealots have no clue about the orders of (energy) magnitudes involved. For example, in the U.S., with an estimated total of 50,000 wind turbines in place, their combined contribution to the used energy is less than 1% — when the wind blows. The solar power panels deliver a similar amount — when the sun shines.
It is nothing but a myth to think that all that energy used for driving vehicles, trains, machinery, and industry and for lighting and heating (especially at night) can be supplied from such intermittent sources in the amounts required by industrialized nations in the latitudes where they are located. That kind of expectation or claim is simply irrational and idiotic.
Coal alone powers in the order of one half of the world’s need for heat and energy. In developed countries like the U.S., Canada, France and many others, that fraction is somewhat lower and compensated for by natural gas and oil (both also “fossil” fuels) and nuclear power. In the populous countries of China and India, comprising about 1/3 of the total world population, coal alone provides over 50% of the power need. World production and consumption of coal, oil, and natural gas have been rising and continue to do so. China alone produces and consumes almost one half of the whole world’s production of coal by itself.
There are large areas with coal deposits on every continent, even on Antarctica. In the U.S. alone, there is enough coal in the ground to last for many centuries. Also, coal is easy to transport and to store without concern. King Coal still reigns as the world’s most important power source.
Oil and Gas
Crude oil as extracted from underground and bitumen deposits is the source of another large portion of the world’s energy needs. Refined into gasoline for automotive use, kerosene for aviation use, heating oil for heating purposes, crude oil provides roughly one third of the world’s energy needs. It also is the base from which most “plastic” materials and the feed-stocks for a multitude of chemical materials are made.
Natural gas deposits are found on all continents and with new production methods the supplies have become extremely abundant. In fact, the world is awash in natural gas.
Most developed countries are providing base-load supplies of electric power to their grids with nuclear energy. In the U.S., it’s to the tune of about 20% of all electricity consumed. Other countries have a much higher nuclear power proportion like, for example, France with 80-90%. Other European countries are also expanding their production of nuclear power. Even small Switzerland that is blessed with much water (Hydro) energy resources has five nuclear power plants that produce approximately 40% of the country’s electricity. On a per capita basis that’s one nuclear power plant for each 1.5 million residents. Similarly, the Czech Rep., Hungary and other nations are building new and expanding their current nuclear power facilities.
Despite the abundant fossil oil and natural gas resources of the country, approximately 20% of Russia’s electricity need is generated by nuclear plants. Currently, the country intends to double the number of its operating nuclear power plants to 60.
Even Japan, which shut down nearly all nuclear facilities after the seaquake-caused tsunami that wiped out the power plant Fukushima (NOT designed to withstand that type of event previously known to occur in the area) is in the process of restarting many of them. The only holdup is some legal wrangling in the courts; it’s likely to be resolved soon.
Nuclear-China & India
Both China and India are in the process of designing and building new nuclear power facilities. Altogether in the order of 100 new plants, depending on the time frame you look at. For example, China has currently 21 plants in operation and an additional 28 plants under construction.
India has a similar number of plants in operation and is also planning to build more facilities. In addition, the country is undertaking research to use thorium as nuclear fuel.
What’s happening in Germany is just about the opposite of what’s happening anywhere else in the world. The government there has fallen lock, stock and barrel into believing the claims by the greenies and their cohorts. So far, it has not become a problem but if these crazy energy goals are pursued much longer it certainly will. Then, the country is going to become an energy pauper that must rely on “electricity handouts” from its neighbors all around.
Even with a multiple of the thousands of wind-turbines and photovoltaic cells covering the landscape in Germany at this time, there would be nowhere near enough energy to supply the need for a reliable energy supply. That’s even before the idea of converting gasoline or diesel-consuming cars and trucks to electric battery-driven engines ever gets much traction.
Moreover, the ideas of building large water reservoirs high up in the Alps to store intermittent wind and solar electric power is a pipedream. There simply wouldn’t be enough space, suitable geography and water to do so. Switzerland has some of such reservoirs high up in their mountains but their total energy storage capacities are more like a drop of water on a hot stone.
Stop the NGO Menace
Germany would be well advised to follow the leads of Canada, China, India, and Russia by curtailing the counter-societal activities of NGOs like Greenpeace by prohibiting their political interference, their misleading and false claims, their political activities, their participation in and influence on official committees and events. Unelected and un-accountable NGOs must be limited or prohibited to accept funding from sources outside the country, and ought to be required to complete regular and detailed accounts of their financial affairs and use of funds.
Irresponsible NGOs like Greenpeace are running roughshod over societies. It’s high time to stop that menace!
NGO means Non Governmental Organization and defines any organization that does not include any government or government appointed representatives in their membership. They are usually also not-for-profit and are very often involved in providing information about their cause to government bodies (similar to lobbyists). Some examples are Amnesty International and GreenPeace.
Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts