DANIEL VAUGHAN: The Green Revolution Myth

Let’s get the easy part out of the way: Keeping the environment clean, focusing on conservation efforts, and eliminating pollution are essential. These points are valid regardless of your point of view on the political spectrum. What isn’t good is playing into the mantra that the green movement is the only way.

It’s not. The green movement relies on myth over substance. The idea that we can eliminate “fossil fuels” and move towards a cleaner world reliant on batteries in cars is a myth. It’s also a myth to believe this is somehow cleaner and better for the earth or the environment.

But perhaps the worst part of all, the green movement has done more to empower tyrants like Vladimir Putin or the Islamic Radicals in Iran than any other group.

Russia needs high oil prices.

Petro-states like Russia rely on the price of oil to keep themselves afloat. When the price of oil rises, they profit. When the price of oil drops, those states suffer and weaken under the strain of easy supply. There’s a reason why Putin chose his moment to attack Ukraine when the oil price was rising.

The rising price of oil and gas gave him more leverage over the markets and European countries that depend on Russian oil. He made a similar calculation in 2008 when attacking Georgia when the oil prices shot up.

Conversely, if you want to reduce Putin’s power and give the West’s sanctions total dominance, you must reduce oil prices. It’s not just about energy independence; it’s about dropping the oil prices so that Putin has no leverage.

That’s why conservatives are clamoring so loudly for more drilling. If the U.S. government is going to approach the Russia-Ukraine conflict as an economic war, then we have to take war-like measures. It is vital to support America’s oil and gas industry and our energy-producing allies in Canada, Australia, and some parts of Europe.

But the Biden administration can’t do that because it makes the green lobby angry.

Biden listens to the wrong groups.

The green lobby wants us to rely on “renewables” to produce energy. The problem is that renewable energy sources like wind and solar pale when compared to oil and gas sources. And even worse: the energy required to mine the metals is exceptionally high, and reliance on those metals makes us even more reliant on countries like China.

Let’s take the first part on the much lower efficiency of green energy. Mark P. Mills notes that “Building wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity, as well as batteries to fuel electric vehicles, requires, on average, more than 10 times the quantity of materials, compared with building machines using hydrocarbons to deliver the same amount of energy to society.”

The green lobby’s insistence that we move to those renewables makes little sense. Mills also says, “This means that any significant expansion of today’s modest level of green energy—currently less than 4% of the country’s total consumption (versus 56% from oil and gas)—will create an unprecedented increase in global mining for needed minerals, radically exacerbate existing environmental and labor challenges in emerging markets (where many mines are located), and dramatically increase U.S. imports and the vulnerability of America’s energy supply chain.”

But the most concerning part is this: the U.S. does not produce the resources necessary to make this switch. “As recently as 1990, the U.S. was the world’s number-one producer of minerals. Today, it is in seventh place. Even though the nation has vast mineral reserves worth trillions of dollars, America is now 100% dependent on imports for some 17 key minerals, and, for another 29, over half of domestic needs are imported.”

China wants us to follow the green lobby.

China spent the better part of the last 20 years driving U.S. solar panel manufacturers out of business. Bloomberg estimates that “because of the strong Chinese market penetration, around 60 percent of the value of a U.S.-assembled solar panel is generated in China. That number is 70 percent for modules assembled in Southeast Asia.”

There’s a similar story in the windmill manufacturing industry. China overwhelmingly makes the majority of all windmill parts across the globe, undercutting U.S. manufacturers and driving them out of business. 

If the green movement had its way, we’d be more dependent on China than ever. China’s hold on us with energy parts would be stronger than the Arab oil states in the 1970s. Windmills and solar panels don’t last forever; they require maintenance. There’s nothing renewable about the components we have to build to capture that energy. 

The U.S. government is even investigating ways China sends components through other countries to evade sanctions we’ve placed on these parts. 

There’s simply no way around the reality that we have to use gas and oil for the United States to have energy independence. Renewables can play a role. But the future of America runs through petroleum and nuclear. Taking that path hits Putin right where it hurts: the bottom line. 

Shifting out of this mindset requires the Biden administration to stop believing in the myths of the green lobby. They cannot lead us to a strong position against Putin.