By Rusty Rogers, guest columnist
Worldwide the seemingly biggest concern on the minds of politicians is climate change. A very ambiguous term taking in a whole raft of climatic markers. Markers that have been turned into politically correct ammunition used to attack anyone who dares to disagree.
Now as I’ve said many times before, the climate is changing. In fact it has been changing for a little over 4 billion years and will continue to do so. It is the height of arrogance to think we can affect that in any significant way. If you have been paying attention you already know that the US output of pollution has been decreasing steadily for decades while other nations have increased. America is NOT the big bad wolf the left and their media want you to think it is.
The decrease is due to several things. Regulations, of course, forced operators to act more quickly than they would have if left to their own devices. I think they would have made the necessary changes in any case because society would have forced them.
I would not be surprised if a great many of you reading this are well aware of the need for conservation because of your life. A background in agriculture, very prominent in our state, whether it be farming, ranching, logging etc. means you understand the need for care of our planet. Additionally, most of us know God and his command for us to be good stewards of this planet, our home.
We also know that everything must be balanced in a way that provides care for the planet and care for the people who live on it. Today though, as is usual for humans, certain of our society have gone and are going, too far. We’ve learned new, more sustainable ways of farming and ranching and barring too much interference from the USDA, we are making progress in timber.
Now we’ve been forced into accepting the degradation of our prairies and scenery for wind power but is it helping? The top end limit to the efficiency of wind power is 60% for mainly obvious reasons. It doesn’t blow all the time and not always at the optimum speed. We are currently at about 45%, pretty near the top.
Solar power plants are cropping up all over the place these days to help save the day. The top end efficiency of solar is about 33% and we currently stand at around 26%. Again, pretty darn close to the limit.
If we want to be able to use either wind or solar when they are not producing we need storage, batteries. The biggest battery plant in the US is the Tesla plant in Nevada. It would take them 500 years to produce enough batteries to store one days use of electricity in America.
Modern electric car batteries weigh about 1000lbs but require 250 tons of mined materials to produce. Including but not limited to rare earth metals which are used in cell phones also. Those materials will have to be mined somewhere and it’s going to require an incredible amount of mining to fill the demand. Where will those mines be?
Right now, most rare earth metals come from China and I’m sure they would thoroughly enjoy continuing to control the flow of them. However, rare earths are not the end of the list.
A 100-megawatt wind farm uses 30,000 tons of iron ore, 50,000 tons of concrete, and 900 tons of nonrecyclable plastics. For solar the requirements are 150% greater including the rare earths. All of this will require an increase of between 200 and 2000 % in mining. Our only choice will be to disturb formerly protected areas. Wilderness areas. Some of those rare earth deposits are right here in Wyoming. So, they will stop us from pumping oil and ask us to mine rare earths.
The cost of one oil well is approximately the same as one wind turbine. That turbine produces the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil per hour, the well 10 barrels per hour and some have been pumping for over 100 years. The cost to store one barrel of oil is about 50cents, batteries for one hour of wind turbine, 200$.
Mining, refining and building those solar and wind farms requires vast amounts of conventional energy and very likely most of it will occur in areas with greatly reduced regulation. So, pollution goes up again in the same places as today. And what about waste?
Have you heard anyone speaking about the handling of what will obviously be enormous amounts of waste. In fact, studies have shown that by 2050 the waste from “renewable” power sources will exceed all other waste. Yikes!
Remember I mentioned the continuing decrease in pollution in the US? That is going to keep getting better as we learn how to more efficiently utilize those carbon based fuels we have in such abundance. Personally, I would rather see a tan painted gas well, barely noticeable, than a mine in the Savage Run Wilderness. I’m also pretty sure that a Jeep or Suburban powered by LNG is way more fun than one powered by batteries.
The preceding information is from Dr. Mark Wills, Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute of Prager University. Thank God there are still a few academics with common sense.