By: Admin – Climate DepotJanuary 11, 2022 12:55 PM
Feeling like you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you are. For years, I felt like I was protecting the environment. I was wrong! But I couldn’t admit it. My sense of identity was tied to false beliefs about energy–myths that blinded me to what *does* help the planet:
2/ MYTH: Solar & wind power are the best ways to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Fact: The biggest emissions reductions over the last 15 yrs have been due to shifts from coal to natural gas.
Natural gas produces only 10% of the air pollutants & 50% the CO2 that coal does.
3/ MYTH: The world is transitioning to solar, wind & batteries.
Fact A: Solar & wind produce only <3% of global energy, after $2.7 TRILLION invested over the last decade. Fact B: Solar, wind & batteries over-consume minerals & land, & are too unreliable & expensive at scale. 4/ MYTH: Solar farms reduce household utility bills. Fact: Households pay more for electricity where governments mandate solar power: In the US: 11% more in the 29 states with solar mandates. In CA: 80% more than the US avg. In Germany: electric bills have doubled. 5/ MYTH: Nuclear power is dangerous. Fact: Nuclear is the safest, most powerful & reliable way to generate low-emission electricity. Only ~200 people have died as a result of nuclear energy in 60+ yrs. This number includes the Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island and Fukushima accidents. 6/Fact: EVEN IF you count the cancer diagnoses among people exposed to radiation, the harm from nuclear plant accidents remains minuscule, in contrast with the *millions* who die every year from the effects of air pollution from coal. 7/ MYTH: Nuclear waste is a big problem. Fact: Nuclear is the only energy source that prevents waste from going into the environment. All the nuclear fuel ever generated in the US is safely contained & can fit on a single football field stacked less than 10 yards high. 8/ Fact: Used nuclear fuel is not strictly “waste” because it can be recycled to make new fuel and byproducts in the future. More than 90% of its potential energy still remains in the fuel, even after five years of operating in a reactor. 9/ MYTH: Electric vehicles (EV) reduce CO2 emissions. Fact: EVs shift emissions from the tailpipe to the power plant. If the power source is dirty, so is the EV. 50%+ of new EV sales are expected in China where plants are mostly fueled by coal. 10/ MYTH: Climate risk is the biggest threat to developing countries. Fact: Energy poverty is a bigger threat & causes 10M premature deaths per year. 2B ppl worldwide only get enough electricity to power a refrigerator. 1B have none & use wood or dung for cooking & heating. 11/ Fact: Reducing energy poverty & fueling economic growth have reduced deaths from natural disasters 95% in the past 100 years while promoting better healthcare, education & economic opportunity. 12/ MYTH: Countries honor their climate pledges. Fact: Energy security takes precedence over environmental pledges. Example: Japan plans to increase reliance on oil and gas from 34.7% in 2019 to more than 60% in 2040. bloomberg.com/news/articles/… 13/ MYTH: Fossil fuels are running out. Fact: Oil & natural gas reserves keep growing. eia.gov/naturalgas/cru… 14/ Another fact: We’ll likely stop burning fossil fuels before we ever run out. Oceanic methane hydrates could potentially supply the world with more than 1 million exajoules of energy, equivalent to 1,000s of years of current global energy demand. 15/ MYTH: More energy consumption is bad. Fact: More energy consumption improves human flourishing & the environment. Energy improves: LifespanHealth & nutritionLiteracyClimate riskWater quality & sanitationHabitat preservationPollutionGender inequality 16/ These myths distorted my view of the facts. I believed I was acting morally & protecting the well-being of people & the planet, but I was really harming both. My ignorance prevented me from making a real difference, and I see other people making the same mistakes today. 17/ These myths are now driving bad investments & policy decisions. Days & dollars spent on them cause harm & suffering to the poorest among us–a high cost for false moral comfort. Let’s build an energy system that maximizes human flourishing & minimizes environmental harm. 18/ What We Need To Do: End subsidies and incentives for solar & wind Retire the dirtiest coal power plants Build new efficient natural gas power plants (and hydro and geothermal where possible) Reform regulations & build nuclear power plants Invest in energy R&D