I have been concerned about the environment for as long as I can remember (to the extent that I once almost voted for the Green Party, before they became obsessed with climate change). I have been perplexed for some time by the state of environmentalism, where concern about “carbon” (as they insist on calling CO2) seems to trump any real concern for the environment. Any environmental degradation is acceptable, even welcome, it seems, if it’s “renewable”. The end justifies the means.  

In August 2017 Paul Kingsnorth published “Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist”, and there are aspects of Paul’s book that resonate with me. This passage says it all for me, and sums up the current state of environmentalism nicely:

This reductive approach to the human-environmental challenge leads to an obvious conclusion: if carbon is the problem, then ‘zero carbon’ is the solution…

To do this will require the large-scale harvesting of the planet’s ambient energy: sunlight, wind, water power. This means that vast new conglomerations of human industry are going to appear in places where the energy is most abundant. Unfortunately, these places coincide with some of the world’s wildest, most beautiful and most untouched landscapes. The sort of places that environmentalism came into being to protect.

And so the deserts, perhaps the landscape always most resistant to permanent human conquest, are to be colonised by vast ‘solar arrays’, glass and steel and aluminium, the size of small countries. The mountains and moors, the wild uplands, are to be staked out like vampires in the sun, their chests pierced with rows of 500′ wind turbines and associated access roads, masts, pylons and wires.”

He continues with a catalogue of environments, each doomed to destruction through the introduction of large scale industrialisation, all in the pursuit of ‘net zero’: open oceans, coastlines, estuaries, rivers, croplands, and even the rainforest. All are to be sacrificed for a ‘greater good’. He finishes with:

“So here I was again: a Luddite, a nimby, a reactionary, a romantic; standing in the way of progress. I realised that I was dealing with environmentalists with no attachment to any actual environment. Their talk was of parts per million of carbon, peer-reviewed papers, sustainable technologies, renewable supergrids, green growth and the fifteenth conference of the parties. There were campaigns about ‘ the planet’ and ‘the Earth’, but there was no specificity: no sign of any real, felt attachment to any small part of that Earth.”

It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one scratching my head over the willingness, even apparent desire, to destroy the environment, on the part of people who call themselves environmentalists.

One tenth of the contiguous US states to be blanketed in turbines and solar panels

Paul Kingsnorth’s words turned out to be remarkably prescient. On 15th March 2021, the Guardian published an article headed “The race to zero: can America reach net-zero emissions by 2050?” and sub-headed “Joe Biden wants zero emissions by 2050, but time is ticking. So how will the country have to change over the next 30 years?

It commences:

“If America finally weans itself off planet-heating emissions, the country will look and feel very different.

Landscapes from coast to coast would be transformed, carpeted in wind turbines and solar panels, with enough new transmission lines to wrap around Earth 19 times. The populace would whiz past in their electric cars, to and from homes equipped with induction stoves and heat pumps. Hundreds of thousands of people who would have prematurely died from the toxic fossil-fuel age would still be alive.

It’s an appealing vision, according to Eric Larson, senior research engineer at Princeton University…”

An appealing vision? Well, an absence of premature deaths would be good news, but there must be other ways to achieve that. As for the rest of it…really?  

Further on, the article tells us that as the use of coal, oil and gas is scaled back,

“A gargantuan effort [will be required] to erect solar panels and wind turbines – first an extra 300GW of wind and 300GW of solar by 2030, before supply soars further to five times today’s transmission capacity by 2050.

This endeavor [sic] will require around 590,000 sq km (or 227,800 sq miles) of America to be blanketed in turbines and panels, around a tenth of all the land in the contiguous US. If you took a stroll along an Atlantic-facing beach there would be a good chance you’d see renewable energy in all directions, with an expanse of ocean the size of Belgium dotted with towering offshore wind turbines.

… As solar and wind are intermittent, moving clean energy to all corners of the country will require the current electricity transmission system to triple in size, an extraordinary roll-out of new poles, wires and substations.”

To my mind, this is a Dantean vision of hell, a sign of the world going mad. Yet to some people, this is “an appealing vision“. It ought to be an environmentalist’s worst nightmare.

“A very significant pollution event”

The environmental damage caused by the new breed of environmentalists is increasing all over the world. And it’s all too evident in the British Isles. An incident that has received little publicity, but which was reported on the BBC website in November 2020 was described as “peat slide devastation” at Meenbog Wind Farm, under construction in Donegal. It caused damage on both sides of the Donegal/Tyrone border, as thousands of tonnes of peat were washed into an internationally protected salmon spawning river, the Derg. An Ulster Angling Federation spokesman said:

 “…this is a very significant pollution event, one of the largest in the history of Northern Ireland and Ireland and involving large acreages of bogland. It is one that will be difficult to reinstate.”

Interestingly, the report also suggests that there had been opposition to the wind farm development with anglers and others claiming it could lead to instability in the bog where the 19 turbines are going in, but planners had decided it was not a risk.

Ironically, a 2014 report for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency noted that siting wind turbines on peatland could release considerable carbon dioxide from the peat, and also damage the peatland contributions to flood control and water quality:

The potential knock-on effects of using the peatland resource for wind turbines are considerable and it is arguable that the impacts on this facet of biodiversity will have the most noticeable and greatest financial implications for Northern Ireland.”

This wind farm, though, was built just over the border.

Even more ironically, Northern Irish politicians are currently falling over themselves to introduce a Climate Change Act, to the extent that two bills to this end are currently before the Stormont Assembly. Given that Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions are utterly insignificant in the global scheme of things, perhaps they would do better to concentrate on looking after the environment?

120,000 square metre artificial island

On 4th February 2021 the Guardian reported on plans by Denmark to build a “clean energy hub” by building a new artificial island 50 miles offshore in the North Sea. The island is to be the size of 18 football pitches. Despite that, we are warned that:

“…the North Sea island might be difficult to complete before 2033, meaning it might not help Denmark reach its ambitious 2030 target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 1990 levels.

The tone of the whole article is rather breathless and very enthusiastic, and we are told:

“’This is truly a great moment for Denmark and for the global green transition,’ Denmark’s climate minister, Dan Jørgensen, said in a statement. ‘The energy hub in the North Sea will be the largest construction project in Danish history’.

Apparently this sort of thing is “green”. Nowhere does the article discuss the possible environmental problems that might be associated with this plan. The article contains only the briefest reference, near the end, to the need to carry out environmental impact assessments on the sea bed.

Double standards

It seems that we are back in Paul Kingsnorth’s world, where he wryly observes, “Container port wiping out estuary mudflats: bad. Renewable hydro-power barrage wiping out estuary mudflats: good.” 

For example, in 2009, the greenprophet website complained that Dubai’s artificial islands project was causing environmental damage. As recently as March 2019, the Guardian reported in critical terms on the Hong Kong government’s plans to build one of the world’s largest artificial islands, discussing claims that the island could damage the environment and marine life. In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, as well as rejecting China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, ruled that China’s building of artificial islands there had caused environmental damage.

But you’ll look in vain for environmental criticism of any artificial islands constructed for the purposes of supplying “renewable” energy. The BBC’s article on the subject of Denmark’s “energy island”, published on its website on 4th February 2021 made no mention of possible environmental issues, and (like the Guardian) is gushing in its general tone. The Euronews online article (which invited me to sign up for its green newsletter) was similar in tone and content. The same is true of Forbes, DW (Deutsche Welle), the Independent, and pretty much any news website that has reported on the story.

Minimising, but not avoiding, bird deaths is a victory

On 1st March 2021 a report appeared in the Guardian with this heading:

Wind power company vows to help save critically endangered California condor

and this sub-heading:

The condor, a vulture threatened by giant wind turbines, may be helped by energy company’s breeding project

The report advises that:

The threat to wildlife from renewable energy turbines has been a growing concern for environmentalists. In 2013, a study by the Wildlife Society into bird and bat fatalities at California’s Altamont Pass wind resource area projected 573,000 bird deaths a year nationally, including 83,000 raptors, and 888,000 bat fatalities.

With no apparent sense of irony, the turbine company’s operations wildlife compliance manager said:

Our goal is to minimize the risk of mortalities. We see this as a win for condors”.

In fairness, the company in question is trying to do something positive, but it’s a strange world when minimising condor deaths (i.e. killing condors, just not so many of them) is regarded as “a win” – especially for the condors in question.

Solar power – more bird deaths

What of solar power? On 1st January 2017, an article appeared on the Black & Veatch website with the heading:

Impact of Solar Energy on Wildlife Is an Emerging Environmental Issue”

It reported on how large concentrating solar plants use “power towers” that consist of hundreds of thousands of computer-controlled mirrors to track the sun throughout the day, reflecting the sunlight to boilers at the tops of towers several hundred feet high. The concentrated sunlight heats the water in the boiler pipes to create superheated steam, which is then piped to a turbine to generate power.

Birds, insects, and bats that fly through the highly concentrated, high-temperature solar beams they are ignited in mid-air. The report says that they may be killed by the heat, by the force of falling to the ground, or by a waiting predator…

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) law enforcement personnel at a large concentrated solar project in California observed this happening every couple of minutes.

The article claims that it’s also possible that the brightness and intensity of the light from large solar fields could be attracting insects even during the daytime, which in turn attracts their predators, birds and bats. Night lighting of these facilities consists of security lighting, which also attracts insects and their predators from the surrounding darker desert. The USFWS Office of Law Enforcement in a report released in April 2014 refers to the types of large-scale solar projects that cause these impacts as “mega-traps.”

Pollution at end of useful life

On 14th December 2020, Conor Prendergast wrote an article for the website of Discover Magazine, which summarised the problems that we face when solar panels reach the end of their useful life (after maybe 20-30 years). He pointed out that to improve the efficiency of solar panels, cadmium and lead are often added. These are difficult to extract when it’s time to dispose of defunct solar panels, to the extent that if done properly, it can cost more to recycle a solar panel than to manufacture it in the first place. It’s not uncommon for solar recycling plants to extract valuable silver and copper, and then simply burn what’s left, dumping the residue in landfill, whence there is a danger of leaching into groundwater. Cadmium is a carcinogen. China and the USA are the largest users of solar power, and neither country has required solar companies to collect and recycle properly. Maybe the USA will follow the EU’s lead here, but what of China and poor developing countries? It’s not a small problem – the International Renewable Energy Agency has suggested that by 2050 up to 78 million metric tons of solar panels will have reached the end of their life, and that the world will be generating about 6 million metric tons of new solar e-waste annually.

And the problem isn’t just with solar panels. On 7th February 2020, the BBC website published an article under the heading “What happens to all the old wind turbines?”. The opening paragraphs make for stark reading:

Welcome to the wind turbine graveyard. It stretches a hundred metres from a bend in the North Platte River in Casper, Wyoming.

Between last September and this March, it will become the final resting place for 1,000 fibreglass turbine blades.

These blades, which have reached the end of their 25-year working lives, come from three wind farms in the north-western US state. Each will be cut into three, then the pieces will be stacked and buried.

It pointed out that the first wave of wind turbines from the 1990s are now reaching the end of their useful lives, and that disposing of them in an environmentally-friendly way is not easy. The materials that they are made from – glass fibre in the case of older blades, carbon fibre in the newer ones – are very difficult to recycle. Pyrolysis is – in theory – one option, involving breaking up the composite fibres in ovens at temperatures of up to 700C. This can recover the materials for alternative uses, but vast amounts of energy are required. 

Turbines, of course, are popping up everywhere, and are only getting bigger. And so is the size of the headache of what to do with them at the end of their useful lives. Liu and Barlow’s paper, “Wind turbine blade waste in 2050” estimates that there will be 43 million tonnes of blade waste worldwide by 2050, with China possessing 40% of the waste, Europe 25%, the United States 16% and the rest of the world 19%. Not so renewable after all, then.

Rare earth minerals

Rare earth minerals are vital for many aspects of modern life, including smartphones and flat screen TVs. They are also essential for magnets in wind turbines, and are used in the batteries required for electric cars. They are therefore, as technology currently stands, vital to the “net zero” agenda. However, there is a problem, a problem that the BBC brought to our notice in April 2015 when Tim Maughan wrote an article for the BBC website headed “The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust“. China has a substantial proportion of the planet’s rare earth minerals and so, apart from the danger to the developed world’s plans, if China decided not to co-operate in this area, there is a serious environmental problem associated with this issue too.  

The industry associated with China’s extraction and use of rare earth minerals is centred on Baotou in Inner Mongolia, about which the article tells us:

“Even before getting to the toxic lake, the environmental impact the rare earth industry has had on the city is painfully clear. At times it’s impossible to tell where the vast structure of the Baogang refineries complex ends and the city begins. Massive pipes erupt from the ground and run along roadways and sidewalks, arching into the air to cross roads like bridges. The streets here are wide, built to accommodate the constant stream of huge diesel-belching coal trucks that dwarf all other traffic.”

“Diesel-belching coal trucks”, eh? There’s an irony.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that the western world is exporting its CO2 emissions (and jobs) to countries with poorer environmental standards, such as China. It seems that it’s more than just CO2 that we’re exporting to China – we’re exporting environmental degradation too, thanks to the apparent lack of concern of China’s authorities with regard to such matters:

“For example, cerium is extracted by crushing mineral mixtures and dissolving them in sulphuric and nitric acid, and this has to be done on a huge industrial scale, resulting in a vast amount of poisonous waste as a by-product. It could be argued that China’s dominance of the rare earth market is less about geology and far more about the country’s willingness to take an environmental hit that other nations shy away from.

And there’s no better place to understand China’s true sacrifice than the shores of Baotou toxic lake. Apparently created by damming a river and flooding what was once farm land, the lake is a “tailings pond”: a dumping ground for waste by products.”

And here’s the final irony:

“It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying. The thought that it is man-made depressed and terrified me, as did the realisation that this was the by-product not just of the consumer electronics in my pocket, but also green technologies like wind turbines and electric cars that we get so smugly excited about in the West.”



  1. Hot on the heels of my thoughts in this piece comes this:

    “Deep sea mining to help make electric vehicles”


    “As the world begins to move away from petrol and diesel-power cars, there are questions over how the metals needed for batteries in electric vehicles will be sourced.

    One possibility is to mine the deep ocean floor. A number of companies are lining up to exploit the minerals found there, but campaigners warn it could have a disastrous impact on the marine environment.”


  2. And on the same subject, there’s this too:

    “New deep-sea mining operation of rare earth minerals will be catastrophic for our oceans”


    Maybe the powers-that-be at COP 26 should worry a little less about climate and a lot more about this sort of thing:

    “The next great frontier in resource extraction is located deep beneath the waters of our world’s great oceans. But experts warn that the reckless dredging of our delicate, underwater ecosystems could be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back, environmentally speaking.

    In an in-depth piece he wrote for The Atlantic, Wil S. Hylton warns about the impending launch of “history’s largest mining operation,” which threatens to deliver what could potentially amount to a type of final death blow for the health of our saltwater terrain.

    While it’s been known since at least 1868 that our underwater sea beds are loaded with many of the same precious metals, gems, and minerals as what exists here on land, the technology to dig it all up is only just now making its debut.

    According to Hylton’s research, oceanographers have identified copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold and even gemstones hiding within the vast networks of rock and dirt that comprise the varied ocean floor terrain. And very soon, massive mining enterprises will begin to hoover it up all without prejudice, and with minimal government oversight.

    That’s because most of these mining operations will take place in international waters where there are few restrictions on methods of extraction”


  3. I love the Guardian quote: “Joe Biden wants zero emissions by 2050, but time is ticking.” Mistaking a clock for “time” is like mistaking a thermometer for heat.

    Good to see Paul Kingsnorth is on our side. Do you have his book in a copy-and-pastable form? In which case perhaps we could serialise it for him.

    Back in 2009 Paul and George Monbiot had a memorable conversation at the Guardian reproduced here:
    in which each tried to out-doom the other.

    Dear Paul,
    Like you I have become ever gloomier about our chances of avoiding the crash you

    Dear George,
    You say that you detect in my writing a yearning for apocalypse. I detect in
    yours a paralysing fear…

    The odd thing is that they are the ones worrying, when they have every government and the whole of the capitalist world they hate on their side, while we continue to always look on the bright side.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Untamed cultures are blind to the consequences of their expansion, whether in iconic infra-structure, the victims of missionary zeal or merely the burden in millions of minds. They make those millions of minds blind to the consequences too. The deployment of renewables (solar + wind turbines) across 35 nations with major amounts of both, correlates to a cultural attitude (r=0.73). And because of the interaction of old and new culture, anti-correlates with national religiosities (any Faith) too (r=0.65). So deployment cannot be a matter of the the climate or climate exposure of nations, nor climate-science nor any rational policy (religion is a purely cultural phenomenon). But this suggests limits to penetration. The vast majority of all publics are not believers, they are merely accommodating the culture because a) their elites typically are, and b) outside of some nimbyism they’re not aware of the massive downsides. In principle, should they become familiar with said downsides, their permission, ‘stolen’ in their name as it is, would nevertheless still be withdrawn. That’s why Planet of the Humans faced so much heavy censorship. It’s unfortunate that carpeting countries with renewables is so much more damaging than carpeting them with cathedrals and churches (or mosques, whatever). It’s a pity they didn’t stick with tree-hugging. I could cope with vast stands of giant redwoods outside of every town where the populace goes to be in awe of tree-ness and share in the spirit of their slow but mighty growth. We’d still have to sacrifice something of course, on principle. But as long as it isn’t maiden’s blood to fertilize the roots and just a 5% redwood maintenance tax, it’d still be a good deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Geoff

    Don’t assume that Paul Kingsnorth is “on our side” – he is very concerned about climate change, for instance. However, he is IMO a deeper thinker than the average climate-concerned person. He at least recognises the damage caused to the planet by those who would “save it”, and he objects to that. Wikipedia summarises the book here:


    Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Guardian wasn’t much impressed!


    “Hope finds very little room in this enjoyable, sometimes annoying and mystical collection of essays. Kingsnorth despises the word’s false promise; it comforts us with a lie, when the truth is that we have created an “all-consuming global industrial system” which is “effectively unstoppable; it will run on until it runs out”. To imagine otherwise – to believe that our actions can make the future less dire, even ever so slightly – means that we probably belong to the group of “highly politicised people, whose values and self-image are predicated on being activists”.

    According to Kingsnorth, such people find it hard to be honest with themselves. He was once one of them.”

    The book is worth a read, IMO, for a different perspective. Regrettably, I have never seen it for sale, and when I read it I did so by borrowing it from my local library.


  6. With due apologies for the epic comment…

    The UK’s next great offshore windfarm, Hornsea 3, was mentioned a while back on Cliscep re: the killing of kittiwakes. This rather cute gull is red-listed in Birds of Conservation Concern 4 because of an estimated breeding population decline of 74% over 25 years. Sounds pretty serious. And individuals have a habit of flying into wind turbines (well, you can’t really call it a habit, since they only do it once each). It does not take a great toll on the long-lived adults, where breeding success is hit or miss, to easily erode the population.

    So bearing in mind it is acknowledged that Hornsea 3 is going to take an annual toll on kittiwakes, and quoting my earlier survey of the Environmental Statement, “about 60 different numbers for potentially slain kittiwakes are given, from 13 to 395 per year,” saying no to it might be what we walking dead call a “no brainer.”

    But the Secretary of State said Yes to the windfarm and No to the hapless kittiwakes. I quote his “reasoning” below.

    KEY to acronyms:
    AEoI = Adverse Effect on Integrity
    IROPI = Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest
    SPA = Special Protection Area (formerly European level site designation for birds)
    SAC = Special Area for Conservation (formerly European level site designation for things other than birds)

    A development, having an AEoI on a Natura 2000 site may proceed (subject to a positive conclusion on alternatives and provision of any necessary compensation) if the project must be carried out for IROPI. The Secretary of State has therefore considered whether the Development is required for IROPI.

    The Secretary of State is satisfied that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest for the Development to proceed subject to adequate compensatory measures being implemented.

    In arriving at his conclusion, the Secretary of State has reviewed how the Development provides a public benefit which is essential and urgent despite the harm to the integrity of the kittiwake feature of the Flamborough and Filey Coast SPA and the feature ‘sandbanks slightly covered by sea water all the time, of the North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef SAC and the Wash and North Norfolk Coast SAC that will result from the Development in combination with other operational, consented and planned developments.

    The conclusion is predicated by the principal and essential benefit of the Development as a significant contribution to limiting the extent of climate change in accordance with the objectives of the Climate Change Act 2008. The consequences of not achieving those objectives would be severely deleterious to societies across the globe, including the UK, to human health, to social and economic interests and to the environment.

    No doubt the following paragraphs provide data to support the conclusion that there is an acceptable trade-off here between the climate change damages abated by the windfarm and the acknowledged ongoing killing of a red-listed bird? Nope. Reducing everything in conservation onto a single axis (carbon dioxide) means that as long as we’re rowing in what seems to be the right direction in carbon dioxide emissions (I’m not convinced of that for wind farms), we can just kind of shrug about the collateral damage.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JIT, the final paragraph in the “justification” you quote demonstrated just how crazy these people are. Perhaps a future article might look at the CO2 emissions associated with producing, installing and finally scrapping wind turbines, including the associated ongoing maintenance (NB lots of concrete in those foundations, and we know that concrete manufacture is a process that produces lots of CO2).

    It is also rather ludicrous to suggest that a single wind farm (however big) makes “a significant contribution to limiting the extent of climate change”. We are here dealing with religious fervour, where logic has no part to play.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. And now we have this:

    “Cumulative effects of offshore wind farms: loss of habitat for seabirds”


    “This report updates ‘A first approach to deal with cumulative effects on birds and bats of offshore wind farms and other human activities in the Southern North Sea’ (Leopold et al. 2014) in response to the ‘2030 Roadmap for Offshore Wind Energy’1. In addition to assessing the wind farms that will be built in the period leading up to 2023, it also describes the construction schedule and locations for the offshore wind farms due for construction in the period leading up to 2030.

    The assignment includes the updating of seabird density maps for a total of ten seabird species (Table 2) using the approach from the Leopold et al. (2014) report, supplemented with survey data that have become available for the years 2013-2017. There are concerns for the selected species about the risks of collision (with offshore wind turbines) or habitat loss, which can affect the population (possibly significantly). Five of the ten selected seabird species are considered to be at particular risk of habitat loss; these five species are discussed in this report against the background of the planned roll-out of offshore wind until 2030.

    The knowledge question to be addressed relates to the habitat loss that may occur for five seabird species (divers, i.e. Red-throated and Black-throated Divers (studied in conjunction), Northern Gannet, Sandwich Tern, Common Guillemot and Razorbill) as a result of the ongoing development of offshore wind farms in the southern and central North Sea, both in a national context (the Dutch EEZ or DCS: national scenario) and an international context (international scenario). Using the Relative Displacement Score from the extended Bradbury method as elaborated in Leopold et al. (2014), the step is made from affected seabirds to expected additional mortality as a result of habitat loss. These modelled mortalities are compared with the reference measure Potential Biological Removal (PBR).”


  9. And now this:

    “Portugal to scrap lithium mining project
    Locals spent years fighting to halt the project, a cornerstone of Lisbon’s raw materials policy.”


    “Lisbon is set to cancel a contentious lithium mining project in the northern Montalegre region, Portugal’s environment minister told POLITICO.

    “At this moment I see the possibility of having a lithium mine in Montalegre as very unlikely,” João Pedro Matos Fernandes said Tuesday.

    The EU is trying to set up an independent stream of crucial raw materials to ensure it’s not dependent on third countries. It imports almost all of its lithium — a key ingredient in the batteries used to power electric vehicles. The European Commission estimates that demand for lithium will grow 18 times by 2030 and 60 times by 2050. That’s set off a race to open mines in Europe, with projects being eyed in Finland, Spain, Serbia, the Czech Republic and Austria, as well as Portugal.

    The Montalegre project’s concession license will be “rejected due to a lack of professionalism” on the part of LusoRecursos, the company awarded a government exploration contract in 2019, Matos Fernandes said. He said the company submitted a “clearly insufficient” environmental impact study, and added that it won’t be long before “that license is completely canceled.”

    Informed about the scheme’s impending cancellation, an incredulous LusoRecursos CEO Ricardo Pinheiro said his company would bring a “nice lawsuit in the courts.”

    The minister’s comments signal the end of one of Lisbon’s signature raw material schemes, just one week before the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU hosts a conference on green mining.

    The €500 million project aimed to build a massive mining and industrial processing complex in a bucolic corner of northern Portugal bordering the Gerês-Xurés biosphere reserve. It had been strongly opposed by locals for environmental concerns.

    The scheme involved leveling a mountainous, 825-hectare site, with parts of the new project located just meters from residents’ properties.

    LusoRecursos claimed that up to 30 million tons of lithium petalite could be extracted from the site and potentially used to make everything from e-vehicle batteries to storage infrastructure for renewable energy. The company’s bid to survey the area was greenlit over a decade ago, but the idea only started to move in 2019, when the government signed a contract giving LusoRecursos exploration rights.

    “The mining project would have destroyed the landscape and made farming here impossible,” said Armando Pinto, coordinator of Montalegre com Vida, the community group that spearheaded opposition to the project.

    The region’s traditional farming economy has earned it recognition as a United Nations Globally Important Agricultural Heritage site. Locals like farmer Justino Dias credit this mode of farming — along with a burgeoning rural tourism sector — with stemming the exodus of young people from the area, a serious problem in much of Portugal’s interior.

    The mining complex “would threaten all of that,” said Dias. The project’s impact on the agricultural sector would also jeopardize local access to the EU farming subsidies that are key to the area’s survival, he added.”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. A final takeaway quote from that Politico article:

    “Green mining doesn’t exist,” he said. “Politicians need to stop trying to get rid of pollution in cities by polluting our villages instead.”


  11. Tomo, a commenter at Bishop Hill, has drawn attention to a website that looks like some sort of parody/spoof, but it does usefully contain this:



    “A shocking expose on the truth behind green technology is being released this Earth Day.
    Bright Green Lies will “peek behind the green curtain” to show the true cost of many environmental solutions such as electric cars, solar panels and wind turbines.

    Julia Barnes’ film sets out to dispel the myth that climate change and environmental destruction can be offset by buying green.

    Hoping to redirect the contemporary eco movement from sustaining run away consumption to protecting the natural world, the film intends to lift the lid on the real extent of greenwashing….

    …Bright Green Lies shows that over the last three decades the environmental movement has been co-opted by lobbyists for the renewable industry, which it is claimed will be the number one cause of habitat destruction by the middle of the century.

    Award winning director, Julia Barnes says words like “clean”, “free”, “safe”, and “sustainable” are often thrown around by “bright green” environmentalists.

    “They act as if solar panels and wind turbines grow on trees,” she says. “There are a lot of us who are there for the right reasons and I think we can turn it back to the good side again.”

    …Barnes claims there is fear among eco warriors over lifting the lid on renewables when they have been promoting them for so long.

    “To me it seemed like the most important thing I could make another film about.”

    The mass production of materials for renewables requires increased mining, industrial manufacturing, habitat destruction, greenhouse gas emissions, and the creation of toxic waste, according to research in the film.

    “I was amazed and there’s this whole side of these technologies that we don’t hear about in the mainstream environmental movement and it’s so important.

    “We have this huge movement but no matter how impassioned a movement it is, if it’s pushing for the wrong solutions it’s not going to work,” she adds….”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Mark, about the lithium project, was there any accounting for the opportunity costs? Would the potential value of the lithium project be greater or lesser than the value of traditional farming? Could some of the value of the “move” be held for the local community by taxes! Would it create more jobs for the community? Would there be a scheme to clean up the damage afterwards? Just shutting down the scheme is a recipe for disaster, especially if, in a few years, the government is going to insist on battery powered vehicles. In Spain, the former Río Tinto copper mines eventually got reopened about 10 years ago, after a colossal amount of bargaining around environmental controls and clean up. At current prices, production is profitable but the reopening costs were enormous and….. Largely funded by Chinese interests


  13. MiaB, I honestly don’t know the answer to your question. My point really is that “green” initiatives are often, in reality, the exact opposite of “green”.

    There’s loads on the internet about Portuguese lithium. Just type “Portugal” and “lithium” into a search engine, and you’ll be spoilt for choice. My quick search just now produced this as a top story:

    “Matos Fernandes says Portugal will not exploit lithium “at all costs””


    “Environment Minister Matos Fernandes has said that Portugal would not exploit lithium “at all costs,” but that it was “absolutely fundamental” for decarbonisation, which is why the government will proceed with a strategic assessment.
    “Lithium is absolutely fundamental for decarbonisation. Europe has so few resources of its own, and the [Covid-19] pandemic has shown that. With Portugal having lithium, we must exploit it,” said João Pedro Matos Fernandes, who was speaking to journalists in Porto on the sidelines of a conference on strategic challenges in climate action.

    The environment minister said that “there are people who are committed not to exploit lithium in Portugal at all costs,” guaranteeing that Portugal will not make unbridled exploitation without rules.

    “We do not have the prospect of exploiting lithium in Portugal at all costs, but we want to do it. Once lithium gained such a strategic dimension, the state stopped granting licenses and we wanted to design a competition for a number of sites where there is great potential for lithium exploration,” he said.

    That study, he said, is being prepared by the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering (LNEC).

    “There are several sites, we feel that we should make a strategic assessment. We are in a hurry to explore the lithium, but everything will be done according to the characteristics of the territories and always taking into account the environmental values”, he stressed.

    Jornal de Notícias reports that the government will proceed with a strategic environmental assessment before opening a tender for mining and lithium exploration in Portugal.”

    That article is 6 months old, but still fairly topical.


  14. “UK plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey, says Greenpeace”


    “UK plastic waste is being exported to Turkey and then illegally dumped and burned, according to a new report.

    Greenpeace said about 40% – or 210,000 tonnes – of the UK’s plastic waste exports were sent to Turkey last year.

    But rather than being recycled, investigators saw some of it dumped by roads, in fields and in waterways.

    The UK is a “global leader in tackling plastic pollution”, the government said – after Greenpeace called for it to “take control” of the problem.

    Greenpeace’s report warned Turkey was becoming Europe’s “largest plastic waste dump”.

    The charity said it had investigated 10 sites across southern Turkey and found plastic bags and packaging from UK supermarkets and retailers at all of them.

    Packaging for a coronavirus antigen test was also found, indicating the waste was less than a year old, the report said….

    …The UK generates more plastic waste per person than any other country apart from the US, the report added.

    Turkey, Malaysia and Poland received the largest amounts of plastic waste exports from the UK in 2020…

    …Turkey received nearly 40% of the UK’s plastic waste exports in 2020 – an increase by a factor of 18 since 2016, when 12,000 tonnes were sent.

    European Union member states also sent 20 times more plastic waste to Turkey last year compared to 2016….”

    Yet another example of “green” ideology leading to damaging unintended consequences. If only they’d let us burn it. Then it wouldn’t become an ecological problem, and it generate some reliable energy too.


  15. Mark, the video report at that page dates to a couple of years ago if I remember correctly. The sequences with the schoolchildren are particularly interesting.

    Let me be PM and I will ban exports of plastic waste with the first stroke of my pen. Where are your green credentials Boris? Come on. Do something useful.

    Yes, we could burn it, but not many would want to be downwind from the plant. There are EFW plants now – I think the difficulty comes in defining “non-recyclable” waste.


  16. “Move to net-zero ‘inevitably means more mining'”


    “The public will need to accept greater mining activity if the world is to meet the challenge of going green.

    Resource experts say the current supply of various metals and minerals cannot support a global economy producing net-zero carbon emissions.

    Extraction rates have to be raised, the scientists argue, if only in the short term.

    Eventually, large-scale recycling should be able to satisfy the demand for key commodities such as lithium.

    New mining initiatives are often met with resistance because of the negative impacts they can have on the wider environment and on health. And some activities have drawn particular ire because they’ve become associated with labour abuses.

    But Prof Richard Herrington and colleagues believe an urgent conversation needs to get going on where and how the inevitable new extraction is practised.

    “The public are not in this space at the moment; I don’t think they understand yet the full implications of the green revolution,” the head of Earth sciences at London’s Natural History Museum told BBC News.”

    Oh dear, oh dear.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. “How to protect birds and bats from wind turbines”


    “South Africa’s Verreaux’s eagles have a problem. The very landscapes they favour, where the air currents along vast ridges carry them as they soar, are prime locations for wind farm developers – who want to make use of exactly the same resource.

    “At least 24 carcasses have been picked up under wind turbines,” says Dr Megan Murgatroyd, from Hawkwatch International. “For this species in particular, it seems to be quite a conflict.”

    Sometimes the birds die when they collide with the swiftly spinning blades of the turbines, which are difficult for them to see. Or, they get electrocuted by power lines at the wind farms.

    Dr Murgatroyd is on a mission to stop this happening and she’s decided to work with wind energy companies in order to find ways of reducing fatalities.

    Around the world, wind energy on and offshore is gathering momentum. In May, the International Energy Agency announced that the amount of wind energy capacity added worldwide in 2020, 114 GW, was nearly double the additions made in 2019.

    But many worry that not enough is being done to prevent the deaths of thousands of animals, even though the rise of renewables is generally seen as good news in the fight against climate change.

    That was underlined just days ago when a bearded vulture, released into the wild last year in southern France, was killed by a wind turbine after it ranged north into the Netherlands.


  18. “Denmark parliament approves giant artificial island off Copenhagen”


    “Plans for an artificial island to house 35,000 people and protect the port of Copenhagen from rising sea levels have been approved by Danish MPs.

    The giant island, named Lynetteholm, would be connected to the mainland via a ring road, tunnels and a metro line.

    The approval by Denmark’s parliament paves the way for the 1 sq mile (2.6 sq km) project to begin later this year.

    But it faces opposition from environmentalists who have concerns over the impact of its construction….

    …A case against the development of Lynetteholm has been brought before the European Court of Justice by environmental groups.

    Concerns include the transportation of materials by road involving large numbers of vehicles. One environmental assessment suggested that up to 350 lorry journeys a day through Copenhagen would be required to deliver the raw materials once construction had begun.

    Building the artificial island, the size of about 400 football pitches, would require some 80 million tonnes of soil to be delivered to the area to create the peninsula alone, local media report.

    There are also concerns among environmentalists about the movement of sediment at sea and the possible impact on ecosystems and water quality….”

    And yet, as I said in the article:

    “But you’ll look in vain for environmental criticism of any artificial islands constructed for the purposes of supplying “renewable” energy. The BBC’s article on the subject of Denmark’s “energy island”, published on its website on 4th February 2021 made no mention of possible environmental issues, and (like the Guardian) is gushing in its general tone. ”

    I haven’t seen Danish environmental groups bringing any cases or expressing concern about the “renewable” energy islands, either.


  19. Mark: how to protect birds from wind turbines? Easy answer. Pull them all down. There is no viable alternative that I can see. Placing a tariff on birds killed relies on finding their carcasses, which would be impossible at sea, and would likely lead to shenanigans on land (e.g. employing people to go out with dogs to collect the corpses and dispose of them secretly).

    Sooner or later public opinion is going to swing against these things. Rather than building more, we should be spending money burying power lines and investing in electricity generators that score on reliability and low wildlife impact. I have no doubt that we will reach population-level effects on quite a few species of birds pretty soon if things go on as they are.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Next up:

    “Where mining meets rainforest: the battle for Tasmania’s Tarkine
    Campaigners say plans for a new tailings dam threatens wilderness that should be declared a heritage area”


    This sounds pretty horrendous:

    “Four days before the Morrison government was due to decide the future of a mining development in the takayna/Tarkine, 77-year-old Frits Harmsen planted a camping chair in front of trucks on an unsealed road snaking through Australia’s largest temperate rainforest.

    Harmsen, a former French horn player with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, was part of a small band of Bob Brown-endorsed protesters who on Friday began a 19th day attempting to block work by MMG, a majority Chinese-owned minerals company, in Tasmania’s remote north-west.

    Up the road, the mining giant was attempting to carry out drilling and other testing for what it hopes will become a much larger project – a new pipeline and waste storage facility near the town of Rosebery.

    MMG says a new tailings dam is needed to extend the life of an 85-year-old zinc, copper and lead mine that employs about 500 staff and contractors. If the dam is approved, the company expects to clear up to 285 hectares – roughly equivalent to 350 football pitches – of rainforest and other terrain for both the South Marionoak dam and a 3.5km pipe that would carry toxic waste from the mine across the Pieman River.”

    Among the products mentioned is copper. What is copper used for?

    “Because copper is a highly efficient conductor of electricity and heat, it is used in renewable energy systems to generate power from solar, hydro, thermal and wind energy across the world. Copper helps reduce CO2 emissions and lowers the amount energy needed to produce electricity. In many renewable energy systems, there is 12-times more copper being used than in traditional systems to ensure efficiency.”


    And by the way, who owns MMG?

    “MMG’s major shareholder is China Minmetals Corporation (CMC). Founded in 1950, CMC is one of China’s major multinational state-owned enterprises. It is a major international conglomerate that involved in the development, production, trading and integration services of metals and minerals, in addition to its finance, real estate and logistics divisions/businesses.

    CMC’s subsidiary China Minmetals Non-ferrous Metals Co. Ltd. (CMN) was formed in 2001 and currently owns approximately 74% of the total shares of MMG, with the remaining 26% owned by public shareholders including global resources and investment funds.”



  21. UN priorities?

    “We are running out of time to reach deal to save natural world, says UN talks chair
    Warning comes amid fears of further delays to Kunming summit, which aims to agree on curbing destruction of ecosystems”


    “The world is running out of time to reach an ambitious deal to stem the destruction of the natural world, the co-chair of negotiations for a crucial UN wildlife summit has warned, amid fears of a third delay to the talks.

    Negotiators are scheduled to meet in Kunming, China, in October for Cop15, the biggest biodiversity summit in a decade, to reach a hoped-for Paris-style agreement on preventing wildlife extinctions and the human-driven destruction of the planet’s ecosystems.

    The summit was meant to take place in October last year but has been delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Basile van Havre, a co-chair for the UN convention on biological diversity (CBD) negotiations, has raised the prospect of a third delay to the Kunming summit, which he fears would threaten the ambition of the biodiversity targets for this decade.

    Van Havre said countries must meet in person for preparatory talks for at least two weeks if the biodiversity summit is to go ahead in China. He warned the talks were unlikely without a major push on vaccinations for delegates in developing countries and, given China’s restrictive travel policy, also called for another country to step up and host preparatory talks to help the process stick to the current schedule.

    “In my view, the time has come to roll up our sleeves and put a practical plan on the table or face another delay. We need a proper plan,” Van Havre said. “If we need to delay by a few months, fine – everyone can understand that. But let’s give ourselves a full plan that enables us to meet the deadline and not wait for things to magically happen.

    “If we’re not going to get together in the short term, we cannot have an ambitious agreement.””

    How much lower priority this all seems to be, even though the destruction of the natural world (fuelled in part by all the net-zero targets) goes on apace, than the fanfare surrounding COP 26 and climate change.


  22. Speaking of China:

    “Chinese banks urged to divest from firms linked to deforestation
    China funnelling billions into harmful production of beef, soy and palm oil, says campaign group”


    “Campaigners have called on Chinese banks to stop funding overseas agribusinesses that accelerate deforestation and biodiversity loss and have a negative impact on regional water cycles and climate.

    In a new report, the campaign group Global Witness said Chinese banks were funnelling billions into global agribusinesses, becoming some of the biggest global financiers of deforestation.

    The report found that, between January 2013 and April 2020, Chinese financial institutions provided more than $22.5bn to major companies that produce and trade commodities at high risk of driving deforestation. They include beef, soy, palm oil, paper, pulp, rubber and timber.

    Five of China’s biggest commercial banks have provided $10.25bn, according to the report. The research shows they constitute 45% of all the financing provided by China’s financial institutions. Global Witness has urged Chinese financiers to undertake more rigorous checks on companies they engage with overseas.

    The analysis is based on publicly available data produced by Forests & Finance, a coalition of non-governmental organisations. In April, the consortium wrote in a separate report that since the Paris Agreement, from January 2016 to April 2020, Chinese banks have become the second largest financier of commodities related to tropical rainforest deforestation.”

    The (IMO) naivety shown in writing the above, then saying this at the end of the article, is a big part of the ongoing problem in coming to terms with the problems caused worldwide by China. Whatever the western world does, China’s actions (whether ecological or climate-related) will, IMO, ensure they are futile, yet still people can write things like this:

    “Recent reports highlighting the role of Chinese banks came amid president Xi Jinping’s push to show China’s leadership in tackling climate change. Beijing has pledged for its emission to peak by 2030, and to be carbon neutral by 2060. Campaigners urge Beijing to match its rhetoric with action.

    “With President Xi’s bold commitment on climate, China needs to put its money where its mouth is by ensuring that Chinese banks are not financing agribusiness that fuels deforestation, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss,” said Yin.”


  23. Perhaps there’s a sign of waking up to the damage caused by climate worriers and their short-term and ignorant fixes, but there’s no sign yet of humility or reducing the shrillness of net zero demands:

    “‘Quick fixes’ to the climate crisis risk harming nature”


    “Climate change and nature loss are interlinked and must be tackled together.

    That’s the finding of a key report by 50 leading scientists searching for combined solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises.

    “Quick fixes” for climate change risk harming nature, say the experts.

    Potential “climate and biodiversity fails” include misguided tree planting and large-scale bioenergy crops.

    The report is the first collaboration between two groups of influential scientists advising international governments on tackling climate change and extinction.

    Prof Camille Parmesan of Plymouth University, a co-author of the report, said smarter tree planting strategies are needed.

    For example, plantations of a single species of non-native tree “are a disaster”, she said, as these forests will be vulnerable to extreme weather or outbreaks of plant pests.

    …The authors highlighted areas where efforts to tackle climate change could be harmful to nature, including:

    Planting bioenergy crops in monoculture over a very large share of land
    Planting trees in ecosystems that have not historically been forested or reforestation with a single tree species, particularly exotic trees
    Renewable energy technology, such as electric car batteries, that causes a surge in mining activity
    Building dams and sea walls that pose a barrier to wildlife.
    Commenting on the report, Dr Will Pearse of Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, said only by treating climate, biodiversity, and human society as coupled systems can we address “the current catastrophes”.

    He said “simple ‘quick fixes'”, such as tree planting or technological innovations, are shown to be ineffective (and sometimes actively harmful) when implemented without a holistic approach.

    “Taking examples from the report, large-scale tree-planting can be harmful to biodiversity or food production, while reliance on rare-earth metals in technological solutions need safe disposal at the end of their lifecycle. ”

    The report has been released in the run up to two key global summits later this year….”

    I am delighted to read this, because it echoes what some of us (dismissed as deniers) have been saying for years. I’m delighted to see that the Guardian has a report (though rather low-key, it seems to me) too:


    The BBC report didn’t provide any links, so far as I can see, but the Guardian offers this:


    I need to read the report in full before commenting further, but recognition of the problem is a start, I suppose, and I should be grateful for that. Now if only they’d stop dismissing those of us who have been pointing this out for long before they worked it out for themselves….


  24. “The rush to ‘go electric’ comes with a hidden cost: destructive lithium mining
    Thea Riofrancos
    As the world moves towards electric cars and renewable grids, demand for lithium is wreaking havoc in northern Chile”


    “I had come to the salt flat to research an emerging environmental dilemma. In order to stave off the worst of the accelerating climate crisis, we need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. To do so, energy systems around the world must transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Lithium batteries play a key role in this transition: they power electric vehicles and store energy on renewable grids, helping to cut emissions from transportation and energy sectors. Underneath the Atacama salt flat lies most of the world’s lithium reserves; Chile currently supplies almost a quarter of the global market. But extracting lithium from this unique landscape comes at a grave environmental and social cost.

    In the mining installations, which occupy more than 78 sq km (30 sq miles) and are operated by multinationals SQM and Albemarle, brine is pumped to the surface and arrayed in evaporation ponds resulting in a lithium-rich concentrate; viewed from above, the pools are shades of chartreuse. The entire process uses enormous quantities of water in an already parched environment. As a result, freshwater is less accessible to the 18 indigenous Atacameño communities that live on the flat’s perimeter, and the habitats of species such as Andean flamingoes have been disrupted. This situation is exacerbated by climate breakdown-induced drought and the effects of extracting and processing copper, of which Chile is the world’s top producer. Compounding these environmental harms, the Chilean state has not always enforced indigenous people’s right to prior consent.”

    Liked by 1 person

  25. “Mining’s new frontier: Pacific nations caught in the rush for deep-sea riches”


    “Miners are pushing hard to extract metals from the ocean floor, but there is mounting concern about what it might do to the marine environment”

    “…companies have their eyes on polymetallic nodules – bundles of ore that resemble potatoes, which litter the surface of the deep sea and are rich in manganese, nickel, cobalt and rare earth metals. The nodules are up to 10cm in diameter and are thought to form at the staggeringly slow rate of just a few centimetres every one million years.

    “A battery in a rock,” is how DeepGreen, one of the big players in the nascent industry describes the polymetallic nodules. It touts deep-sea mining as a less environmentally and socially damaging alternative to terrestrial mining, and says it is crucial for affecting a transition to a greener economy, with the nodules containing the minerals needed for the batteries used in electric vehicles.

    “Society has an urgent, growing need for battery metals to enable a full transition to clean energy and electric vehicles. We believe that polymetallic nodules are the cleanest source of these metals, with by far the lightest planetary touch,” says the company on its website.

    Its proposal is to dispatch ships to the CCZ and suck up the nodules through long pipes that stretch to the seabed. The nodules would be processed on the ship, with excess sediment pumped back into the sea….”.


    “There are concerns about the environmental impact deep sea mining could have on marine ecosystems, particularly given how little is known about them and the very slow pace of reproduction and growth at those depths.”

    ““You are talking about the destruction of the habitat on the seafloor. Any area you are mining will be destroyed,” says Duncan Currie, an international lawyer who has worked in oceans law for 30 years. He represents the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition which is calling for a moratorium on deep sea mining.

    Amon was part of a project that conducted baseline surveys in the area of the CCZ that the UK has a licence to explore for potential mining.

    “As part of the work we were doing out there, we found that of the megafauna, the larger animals, more than half of them were completely new to science, and more than half of them relied on the nodules as a surface to attach to. Things like corals, sponges, anemones – they actually need the nodules. So potentially mining in that area could have quite a drastic impact.”

    “It’s also our largest ecosystem so it provides about 96% of all habitable space on earth,” says Amon. “I think most people still assume that that space is just sort of empty or there’s not a lot happening. But actually, it couldn’t be further from the truth, the deep ocean is a vast reservoir of biodiversity.””

    Liked by 1 person

  26. “A billion new trees might not turn Ukraine green”


    “It was an ambitious signal of green intent when Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky declared this month that a billion extra trees would be planted within three years, and a million hectares would be reforested in a decade.

    The EU’s 27 member states have set a much more modest goal of at least three billion new trees by 2030.

    But green experts fear that, far from improving Ukraine’s environment, the pledge could have a detrimental impact on biodiversity and natural ecosystems.”

    Now, “green experts” are not top of my list of people to turn to. However, it’s another example of the unthinking “green” religion potentially causing more harm than good to the environment.


  27. “Farmers swap crops for energy as east of England solar farm proposals double
    Applications on sites in Herts, Cambridgeshire and Essex climb to 840 megawatts in last five months”


    “The number of new solar farms planned for the east of England has more than doubled in recent months as farmers decide to swap crops for clean energy.

    New solar farm applications for sites across Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex in the last five months have climbed to 840 megawatts, or the same as 2m household solar panels.

    The solar boom is expected to yield more than double the solar energy capacity that came forward for the east of England in the same months last year, and would be enough to power the equivalent of 400,000 homes with clean energy.

    Dr Nina Skorupska, the chief executive of the Association for Renewable Energy, said it was “crucial that this momentum is maintained” to help meet the UK’s climate targets and “also help stimulate much-needed new investment in the region”.

    Most of these new solar farms will be built on former agricultural land as landowners begin to swap growing crops for generating clean electricity, according to UK Power Networks, which manages the local electricity grid.”

    But it’s not really very “green”, is it?



    East of England solar farm proposals double. Applications on sites in Herts, Cambridgeshire and Essex climb to 840 megawatts in last five months

    I once read a novel about solar panels while staying in rural Cambridgeshire, which is flat, pretty, and ideal country for replacing uneconomic orchards and fruit fields with acres of heavy metal-heavy silicon. It’s called “Solar,” it’s by Ian McEwan and I recommend it as an introduction to everything that’s wrong with climate hysteria and English literature.

    There’s this washed up Nobel prize-winning scientist who’s financed by the government to invent a new improved solar panel which will save the planet. While screwing his friend’s wife he has an altercation with someone (possibly the husband, or a rival, I can’t remember) who slips up on a polar bearskin rug, bumps his head and dies. To escape a manslaughter charge he frames the plumber, who gets fifteen years.

    There’s not a lot about climate or “the science” – in fact so bored is McEwan by his subject that the other scientists in the story are anonymous, being referred to collectively as “the pony tails.” (See Jonathan Jones’s Josh-drawn avatar.) 200 pages and several philanders later he’s demonstrating his planet-saving panels in the Nevada desert when the newly released plumber turns up and smashes his panels, dooming the planet to extinction.

    Well, at least it does make you think about radical solutions, which was McEwan’s aim, I think.


  29. East of England solar farm proposals double. Applications on sites in Herts, Cambridgeshire and Essex climb to 840 megawatts in last five months

    So… the Barley Barons are all losing their EU subsidies, and looking for something to take their place?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. “Deep sea mining may be step closer to reality”


    “Are the first mines on the ocean floor getting closer to being a reality?

    The tiny Pacific nation of Nauru has created shockwaves by demanding that the rules for deep sea mining are agreed in the next two years.

    Environmental groups warn that this will lead to a destructive rush on the mineral-rich seabed “nodules” that are sought by the mining companies.

    But United Nations officials overseeing deep sea mining say no venture underwater can start for years.

    It’s all about a letter that refers to the small print of an international treaty which has far-reaching implications.

    Nauru, an island state in the Pacific Ocean, has called on the International Seabed Authority – a UN body that oversees the ocean floor – to speed up the regulations that will govern deep sea mining.

    It’s activated a seemingly obscure sub-clause in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that allows countries to pull a ‘two-year trigger’ if they feel negotiations are going too slowly.

    Nauru, which is partnered with a mining company, DeepGreen, argues that it has “a duty to the international community” to make this move to help achieve “regulatory certainty”.

    It says that it stands to lose most from climate change so it wants to encourage access to the small rocks known as nodules that lie on the sea bed.

    That’s because they’re rich in cobalt and other valuable metals that could be useful for batteries and renewable energy systems in the transition away from fossil fuels.”


  31. “Wokingham farmer forced to make way for solar farm”


    “A tenant cattle farmer fears he will have to sell his herd after he was told to leave to make way for a solar farm.

    Andrew Lake, 58, has been given notice by Wokingham Borough Council to leave High Barn Farm in Berkshire where he has worked for nearly 15 years.

    He has so far been unable to find another farm and says agricultural land should not be used for solar farms.

    The council said “tough decisions” had to be made to achieve its climate emergency action plan.

    Mr Lake keeps more than 360 cows on the farm in Barkham that he rents from the council.

    But permission has already been granted to install 72,000 panels on the pasture, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.”


  32. “Construction of offshore wind farms could have ‘severe impact’ on marine life”


    “The construction of new offshore wind farms in EU seas could have “severe negative impact on marine life and fisheries”, MEPs have alerted in a report.

    The text stresses that fishers and stakeholders must have a “fair participation” in the decision process related to the construction of offshore wind farms in European waters….

    …According to the European Commission’s estimate, 30% of the EU’s electricity demand in 2050 will be met by offshore wind, corresponding to an increase from the current 12GW offshore wind capacity in the EU-27 to a target of 300GW in 2050.

    The European marine space already counts 110 offshore wind farms with more than 5,000 wind turbines….”


  33. “‘Enough with the burning’: EU executive accused of sacrificing forests
    Campaigners criticise European Commission strategy that allows continued burning of trees for fuel”


    “The EU executive has been accused of “sacrificing forests” after it published proposals that would allow trees to continue to be burned for fuel.

    The charges of “accelerating climate breakdown” through wood-burning were made on Friday as the European Commission unveiled its forest strategy, which includes a goal to plant 3bn trees across the EU by 2030.

    The forest strategy is part of a broader plan to confront the climate and nature emergencies and put the EU on track to cut emissions by 55% by the end of the decade, a mammoth bundle of legal proposals known as “Fit for 55”.

    Campaigners said the commission had not gone far enough to tighten the rules on wood that can be burned for fuel. A draft update to the EU’s renewable energy directive proposes banning the biomass industry from taking wood from “primary forests” – virtually untouched ancient woodlands, which account for just 3% of all EU forests.

    In the next tier of “highly biodiverse forests”, wood for biomass would be limited “to ensure no interference with nature protection purposes”, the commission said. Overall “the use of whole trees for energy production, whether from the EU or imported, should be minimised”, while subsidies for biomass from tree stumps and roots will be phased out.

    Lina Burnelius, project leader at Protect the Forest Sweden, said the commission had failed to address one of the key drivers of forest degradation – counting forest biomass as renewable energy. “Fit for 55 is harmful to forests and insufficient to tackle climate change. We are in desperate need of honest policies that include all our emissions in the statistics.”

    The European Commission had chosen “to sacrifice forests rather than admit that current EU bioenergy policy is making the climate crisis worse”, she said. “Enough with the burning. We cannot just switch from burning one climate disastrous fuel to another”.”

    Liked by 1 person

  34. “Bryn wind farm: Calls to withdraw 250m-high turbines plan”


    “Opponents to a proposed wind farm in south Wales have urged the Welsh government to dismiss the plans.

    If approved, Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm in Neath Port Talbot would be the largest onshore wind farm in the UK.

    Residents are opposed to the planned size of the 26 turbines – 250m high – and the potential risks they pose to wildlife, property values, as well as people’s physical health and mental wellbeing.

    The company behind the proposal, Coriolis, said the wind farm would provide energy to 125,000 homes, and that technical surveys and studies were under way.”


  35. “Millions of electric car batteries will retire in the next decade. What happens to them?
    The quest to prevent batteries – rich in raw materials such as cobalt, lithium and nickel – ending up as a mountain of waste”


    “A tsunami of electric vehicles is expected in rich countries, as car companies and governments pledge to ramp up their numbers – there are predicted be 145m on the roads by 2030. But while electric vehicles can play an important role in reducing emissions, they also contain a potential environmental timebomb: their batteries.

    By one estimate, more than 12m tons of lithium-ion batteries are expected to retire between now and 2030.

    Not only do these batteries require large amounts of raw materials, including lithium, nickel and cobalt – mining for which has climate, environmental and human rights impacts – they also threaten to leave a mountain of electronic waste as they reach the end of their lives….

    …Only about 60% of lead-acid batteries are used in cars, said Richard Fuller, who leads the non-profit Pure Earth, another 20% are used for storing excess solar power, particularly in African countries.

    Lead-acid batteries typically last only about two years in warmer climates, said Fuller, as heat causes them to degrade more quickly, meaning they need to be recycled frequently. However, there are few facilities that can safely do this in Africa.

    Instead, these batteries are often cracked open and melted down in back yards. The process exposes the recyclers and their surroundings to lead, a potent neurotoxin that has no known safe level and can damage brain development in children….

    …Yet, as recycling becomes more mainstream, big technical challenges remain.

    One of which is the complex designs that recyclers must navigate to get to the valuable components. Lithium-ion batteries are rarely designed with recyclability in mind, said Carlton Cummins, co-founder of Aceleron, a UK battery manufacturing startup. “This is why the recycler struggles. They want to do the job, but they only get introduced to the product when it reaches their door.”

    Cummins and co-founder Amrit Chandan have targeted one design flaw: the way components are connected. Most components are welded together, which is good for electrical connection, but bad for recycling, Cummins said….”

    Liked by 1 person

  36. “Is deep-sea mining a cure for the climate crisis or a curse?
    Trillions of metallic nodules on the sea floor could help stop global heating, but mining them may damage ocean ecology”


    “…The nugget is a polymetallic nodule and oceanographers have discovered trillions of them litter Earth’s ocean floors. Each is rich in manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper, some of the most important ingredients for making the electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels that we need to replace the carbon-emitting lorries, power plants and factories now wrecking our climate.

    These metallic morsels could therefore help humanity save itself from the ravages of global warming, argue mining companies who say their extraction should be rated an international priority. By dredging up nodules from the deep we can slow the scorching of our planet’s ravaged surface.

    “We desperately need substantial amounts of manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper to build electric cars and power plants,” says Hans Smit, chief executive of Florida’s Oceans Minerals, which has announced plans to mine for nodules. “We cannot increase land supplies of these metals without having a significant environmental impact. The only alternative lies in the ocean.”

    Other researchers disagree – vehemently. They say mining deep-sea nodules would be catastrophic for our already stressed, plastic-ridden, overheated oceans. Delicate, long-living denizens of the deep – polychaete worms, sea cucumbers, corals and squid – would be obliterated by dredging. At the same time, plumes of sediments, laced with toxic metals, would be sent spiralling upwards to poison marine food-chains.

    “It is hard to imagine how seabed mines could feasibly operate without devastating species and ecosystems,” says UK marine biologist Helen Scales – a view shared by David Attenborough, who has called for a moratorium on all deep-sea mining plans. “Mining means destruction and in this case it means the destruction of an ecosystem about which we know pathetically little,” he says.

    It is a highly polarised dispute. On one side, proponents of nodule extraction claim it could save the world, while opponents warn it could unleash fresh ecological mayhem. For better or worse, these mineral spheres are going to play a critical role in determining our future – either by extricating us from our current ecological woes or by triggering even more calamitous outcomes….”.

    The whole article is well worth a read, IMO.


  37. …we can slow the scorching of our planet’s ravaged surface

    Mark, I admire your fortitude, but reading more of this is likely to make me sick. In fact, an effective torture for me would be to strap me in a chair, sit me in front of a screen, and show me a slideshow of Guardian environment articles.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I hope this is good news, but it does shine a light on the inherent conflict between those international bodies which actually care about ecology and those who obsess only about reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

    “Conservationists call for urgent ban on deep-sea mining
    Motion at Marseille summit wins global support for warning of permanent biodiversity loss and unknown effect on ecosystem”


    “A motion calling for a ban on deep-sea mining has been adopted in Marseille at the world’s biggest biodiversity summit since the pandemic, after an overwhelmingly supportive vote by governments and civil society groups.

    The world congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recognised scientists’ concerns that biodiversity loss will be inevitable, is likely to be permanent and the consequences for the ocean’s ecosystem unknown if deep-sea mining is permitted.

    Conservationists say the motion sends a strong message to governments about the global opposition to the mining of the seabed at vast depths for valuable minerals and metals.”

    It’s just a pity that nowhere in the article does the Guardian even mention that the pressure for precisely this sort of deep-sea mining is coming from those who promote the “renewables” that rely on the “valuable minerals and metals” that are in short supply.


  39. “Scotland’s fastest-flowing river ‘devastated’ by hydro schemes”


    “Hydro-electric schemes have had a “devastating impact” on a river dubbed the “fastest flowing in Scotland”, it has been claimed.

    The 109-mile (175km) Spey – Scotland’s second longest river after the Tay – flows through the Highlands and Moray.

    A Spey Fishery Board-commissioned study said too much water was being diverted away from the Spey for use in generating electricity.

    It said water flow and levels on the river had dropped as a result.

    Energy giant SSE Renewables, one of the UK’s leading developers of hydro-electricity, said it prided itself in being “a responsible operator”, and was working closely with regulators and fishery boards while generating “clean and flexible” hydro power.”

    Despite the fact that this is about the environmental damage caused by anti-climate change “environmental” energy schemes, they still have to work climate change in to it:

    “Spey Fishery Board (SFB), which manages the river’s wild salmon and sea trout fisheries, said hydro, along with other land uses and a lack of snow melt, had affected water levels.

    It said this had left the Spey, and its wildlife, at greater risk to the effects of climate change.”

    It’s pretty damning, nevertheless:

    “SFB said the new research showed the renewable energy projects could significantly reduce the natural flow in the Spey – by up to 24% at Boat o’ Brig, near Fochabers in Moray, and by up to a 61% at Kingussie in the Highlands.”

    “SFB director Roger Knight said: “It is now abundantly clear that the scale of water transferred out of the Spey valley to generate hydro-electricity is having a devastating impact on the river.

    “It has denuded the groundwater storage supplies and has drastically reduced the Spey’s ability to cope with hotter, drier summers which are predicted to occur more frequently under climate change.”

    He added: “It is crucial that licensed abstraction from our upper tributaries is reappraised and appropriately regulated to give this iconic river the sustainability it deserves as the reality of the climate emergency becomes apparent.”

    Sepa, the organisation responsible for issuing and reviewing licences to abstract water, said there were a number of projects ongoing to improve the availability of water.

    It said abstractions were also under review.”

    SEPA, the Scottish version of the EPA, seems to be about as much use as its counterpart south of the border.

    There’s quite a level of complacency on display between the hand-in-glove triumvirate of SEPA, SSE and the Scottish government:

    “The Scottish government said it would “carefully consider” the Spey Fishery Board’s report and would respond “in due course”.

    A spokeswoman said a wild salmon strategy was being developed and an updated River Basin Management Plan was due to be published at the end of this year.

    The plan will set out the government’s aims and objectives to improve rivers to “good ecological status” by 2027.

    The spokeswoman said: “This will include measures to improve water levels on the River Spey by reviewing abstractions for hydro power, and projects to improve fish passage through our Water Environment Fund.”

    An SSE Renewables spokesman said: “We work closely with our regulator, Sepa, and a range of stakeholders, including the district salmon fishery boards to ensure that we minimise our impact on the natural environment, while also maximising the generation of clean and flexible hydro power, which will be increasingly important in meeting Scotland’s net-zero targets.””


  40. “Land clearing for the Kaban wind farm in North Queensland, Australia.”

    Never, ever believe wind farm operators if they tell you they care about the environment.


  41. “Anglesey: Solar farms ‘no benefit’ to communities”


    “A number of solar projects are being planned on the island, including the-2,000 acre (809 hectare) Môn Solar Farm, on sites near Amlwch, Llannerch-y-medd and Llyn Alaw.

    It plans to have a capacity of 350 MW – enough to power more than 130,000 homes a year.

    Separate plans, also near Llyn Alaw, could see 750 acres (304 hectares) filled with solar panels.

    With the large projects classed as Developments of National Significance (DNS), the Welsh government is responsible for deciding whether they go ahead.

    Anglesey councillor Carwyn Jones said the plans would see a loss of “fruitful agricultural land” and have little benefit to local communities.

    Mr Jones said while the council was supportive of low-carbon and renewable energy schemes, there were “no economic benefits” for communities, or jobs being generated.

    “It’s a balancing measure [but] we don’t see much benefit from these projects as it stands,” he added.

    Campaigners against the 135-acre scheme at Bryngwran and Caergeiliog have said the “drowning” of fields in solar panels is similar to the flooding of a Snowdonia village to provide Liverpool with water.

    Seventy people were forced to leave their homes as Capel Celyn, with its school, chapel, post office and 12 houses, disappeared under the waters of the new Tryweryn reservoir in 1965.”


  42. “Sweden’s green dilemma: can cutting down ancient trees be good for the Earth?
    The country’s model for managing its trees is bad for biodiversity… and political unity”


    “…The supply of biofuels in Sweden has tripled over the past 40 years and now provides close to 30% of its total energy supply, helping to halve its consumption of petroleum products.

    For Le Moine, however, none of this is worth the loss of natural habitat. “They keep telling us we have more forests now than we had before,” she says. “My reply is we have never had this many trees, but never had such a little amount of forest ecosystem.”…”.


  43. “Race to the bottom: the disastrous blindfolded rush to mine the deep sea
    One of the largest mining operations ever seen on Earth aims to despoil an ocean we are only barely beginning to understand”


    “In late June, the island republic of Nauru informed the International Seabed Authority (ISA) based in Kingston, Jamaica of its intention to start mining the seabed in two years’ time via a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, The Metals Company (TMC, until recently known as DeepGreen). Innocuous as it sounds, this note was a starting gun for a resource race on the planet’s last vast frontier: the abyssal plains that stretch between continental shelves deep below the oceans.

    In the three months since it was fired, the sound of that shot has reverberated through government offices, conservation movements and scientific academies, and is now starting to reach a wider public, who are asking how the fate of the greatest of global commons can be decided by a sponsorship deal between a tiny island and a multinational mining corporation.

    The risks are enormous. Oversight is almost impossible. Regulators admit humanity knows more about deep space than the deep ocean. The technology is unproven. Scientists are not even sure what lives in those profound ecosystems. State governments have yet to agree on a rulebook on how deep oceans can be exploited. No national ballot has ever included a vote on excavating the seabed. Conservationists, including David Attenborough and Chris Packham, argue it is reckless to go ahead with so much uncertainty and such potential devastation ahead….

    …Mining companies also insist on urgency – to start exploration. They say the minerals – copper, cobalt, nickel and magnesium – are essential for a green transition. If the world wants to decarbonise and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, they say we must start extracting the resources for car batteries and wind turbines soon. They already have exploration permits for an expanse of international seabed as large as France and Germany combined, an area that is likely to expand rapidly. All they need now is a set of internationally agreed operating rules. The rulebook is being drawn up by the ISA, set up in 1994 by the United Nations to oversee sustainable seabed exploration for the benefit of all humanity. But progress is slower than mining companies and their investors would like.

    That is why Nauru’s action is pivotal. By triggering the “two-year rule”, the island nation has in effect given regulators 24 months to finish the rulebook. At that point, it says TMC’s subsidiary Nauru Ocean Resources Inc (NORI), intends to apply for approval to begin mining in the Clarion-Clipperton zone, an expanse of the North Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico….”


  44. “Biomass is promoted as a carbon neutral fuel. But is burning wood a step in the wrong direction?”


    “Many scientists and environmental campaigners question the industry’s claims to offer a clean, renewable energy source that the planet desperately needs

    Thick dust has been filling the air and settling on homes in Debra David’s neighborhood of Hamlet, North Carolina, ever since a wood pellet plant started operating nearby in 2019.

    The 64-year-old said the pollution is badly affecting the health of the population, which has already been hit hard by Covid.

    “More people are having breathing problems and asthma problems than ever before,” David said. She started suffering from asthma for the first time two years ago and other people in Hamlet have been getting nosebleeds, which she also puts down to the dust.

    “The older people have it the worst,” she added. “They stay inside most of the time and when they do come out they struggle to breathe. They can’t sit out in their yards like they used to.”

    The plant, owned by Maryland-headquartered Enviva, the world’s largest biomass producer, is one of four the company operates in North Carolina, turning trees into wood pellets, most of which are exported to the UK, Europe and Japan to burn for energy.

    Biomass has been promoted as a carbon-neutral energy source by industry, some countries and lawmakers on the basis that the emissions released by burning wood can be offset by the carbon dioxide taken up by trees grown to replace those burned.

    Yet there remain serious doubts among many scientists about its carbon-neutral credentials, especially when wood pellets are made by cutting down whole trees, rather than using waste wood products. It can take as much as a century for trees to grow enough to offset the carbon released.

    Burning wood for energy is also inefficient – biomass has been found to release more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than coal or gas, according to a 2018 study and an open letter to the EU signed by nearly 800 scientists.”


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