Few topics generate more commentary on our page than critiques of alternative energy. For many, solar, wind, and other non-fossil energy sources and technologies represent a pragmatic hope for saving the biosphere. Our position on these technologies is that they represent a false hope for a couple of reasons. One: their manufacturing processes are fossil-fuel intensive and involve other nonrenewable resources like metals and plastics. Once built, solar panels and wind turbines have a limited life-span, after which they must be replaced. Two: even if they’re recycled, that process is itself toxic and energy-intensive, and must take place at specialized facilities, which means transportation, which means more fuels and infrastructure. Three: while in operation, both solar and wind facilities kill wildlife by displacement, collisions with turbines, burning in solar mirrors, and so on.
We’re not opposed to solutions to problems, as we’re often accused; only to solutions that have so many hidden costs they’re ultimately ineffective. Rather than prolong a system–industrialism–that cannot exist for long on a finite planet, our focus should instead be on a future that it actually sustainable, which by definition means one that eventually will not have artificial electricity in it. This future is coming one way or another; the only real question is how much of the living world will be left when it does.