Scott: Green ain’t clean, sadly

Andrew Scott
For The Aspen Times
Andrew Scott
Andrew Scott

The Ute City Investigation Agency is on another case. This time, we are sniffing around the “clean” energy scene and the billions of tax dollars that are being poured into “greening” the economy.

I’ve been sitting on the board of directors of The American Renewable Energy Institute for the past five or six years, and I’ve been paying close attention. I wish I could say I was more optimistic about the possibilities of cutting global carbon emissions by pumping novel technologies into the marketplace, but it appears that what is actually occurring is a net increase in carbon emissions happening alongside the rapid implementation of “alternative” energy production. 

Unfortunately, it is impossible to make a solar panel without burning fossil fuels. From the mining, crushing, and melting of the silicon to make the panels, to the massive amounts of carbon and water expended mining and transporting the rare earth metals, cobalt, and lithium that go into the battery arrays to store the energy, it’s all very carbon-intensive.

The U.S. government is subsidizing the burning of more fossil fuels than it ever has, and selling us a seeming con that we are getting clean energy for the exponentially amassing national debt funding this giveaway and carbon explosion cloaked as a quit-smoking plan. 

As far as I’ve seen, none of these new technologies is actually clean. There is a book, “Bright Green Lies” (2021), that I would recommend if it wasn’t so poorly written. It does thoroughly explain the massive emissions associated with industrial wind, solar, and hydrogen power production.

Even the recycling business has a massive negative environmental effect, including wasting a great deal of fresh water, but nothing near as bad as lithium and rare-earth mining, without which there would be no electric cars.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that covering huge swaths of the Earth with dark-colored, reflective, heat and power-generating panels is going to create a heating effect on the surface temperature of the Earth, which must contribute to the heating of the atmosphere. The scientific discoveries on the greenhouse effect were demonstrated more than 100 years ago.

We also should not find ourselves surprised when we discover that harvesting energy from the jet stream with thousands of wind turbines off the coasts of northern Europe is going to alter the climate and precipitation patterns in southern and eastern Europe.

I remember learning about the butterfly effect when I was in middle school, that when a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it can create a downstream effect a thousand miles away. Trying to generate enough power for our modern industrial hive by harvesting the energy from the global weather patterns that nourish the Earth that gave us life in the first place? Jeez, why do I have a sneaking suspicion that we are going to have to learn the same lesson we should probably have learned from the greenhouse-effect class of the Industrial Revolution? Innovations have unintended and unknowable consequences. 

The new electrical grid that needs to be installed for the conversion to this “clean energy” revolution being sold to us is going to demand the manufacture of an unbelievable amount of new plastic, tubing, wiring, mining, and then that doesn’t even get us started on how the power will end up being produced. Here’s a hint: Electric company profits will go up, but don’t expect a corresponding drop in carbon emissions.

Perhaps if we want to cut emissions, we should try slowing down, get in the habit of turning the lights off when it gets dark, learn to meditate, balance the budget instead of pumping billions of dollars into transforming an economy when we really don’t understand or have proven technologies to replace the high-density combustible materials we’ve been using the past few hundred years to expand global population while expanding profits, development, industrial farming, and marketplace that consists of human beings.

Since 1900, when the global population was less than 2 billion humans, we’ve added more than 6 billion humans. Six billion potential consumers, employee, or exploitive billionaires or CEOs in 123 year — well, I probably don’t need to tell you about all the “wealth” that was created in those years. The Google boys are flying around the world on their own private 747 jet with them, while Jeffrey Bezos sails around the world on his new $500 million yacht while U.S. taxpayers hire his corporation to store top-secret documents for our government and pay another of his corporations to blast rockets through the only atmosphere keeping us alive.

Even if we weren’t calling loudly for more taxes and controls on the explosive monopolization happening around the world, perhaps we could all agree to not subsidize billionaires with taxpayer dollars, which only increases their power to purchase our government away from their elected purpose to represent the citizens who elected them. 

If you hear green, don’t think clean. 

Andrew Scott, of Snowmass, is the manager of KSNO radio and director of operations of the Open Mind Project. He can be reached at