The Only Green Solution to Over-Consumption and Environmental Degradation is Degrowth

One of the most important books about environmentalism is 'Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism' by researcher Ozzie Zehner of UC Berkeley. The book explains some of the 'shady' sides of the clean energy hype and in so doing, dampens the hype around it. This short interview with Ozzie is eye-opening. Another eye opener is the new paper by Dr. Richard York 'Do Alternative Energy Sources Displace Fossil Fuels?' which draws upon 50 years of energy data to reveal that solar and wind power have not offset a single fossil fuel plant. “The common assumption that the expansion of production of alternative energy will suppress fossil-fuel energy production in equal proportion is clearly wrong,” it concludes.

How can this be? Well Andrew Nikiforuk's latest article 'Solar Dreams, Spanish Realities' , explains how. It focuses on Pedro Prieto, a 62-year-old engineer and solar entrepreneur who has worked in Spain's photovoltaic indusrty since the 1970s as part of Spain's famous solar revolution. In it Prieto says, "Solar power in its current big industrial mindset is just another extension of fossil fuels." He Goes on to explain that, "The sun is renewable but photovoltaics are not. Just to make the silicon used to trap the sun's rays on manufactured wafers requires the melting of silica rock at 3,000 Fahrenheit (1,649 Celsius). And the electricity of coal-fired plants or ultrapurified hydrogen obtained from fossil sources provide the heat to do that. It also takes a fantastic amount of oil to make concrete, glass and steel for solar modules." In the end Prieto offers this advice, "We need to deurbanize and localize as much as it is possible, and to return to the countryside, as much as it is possible, and to use more animal draft force."

The closer you look the more you realize there are no 'Green' solutions to the environmental degradation being caused by human over-consumption. As soon as a person researches the science underlying every newly hyped solution they run into the same reality, the promoters and advertisers can easily fool us, but they can't fool physics, they can't hide all the energy embedded in their new gizmo. They can make money with slick slogans, but they can't fool the second law of thermodynamics. The only real solution to over-consumption is consuming less.

The growing De-growth Movement seeks to combat conspicuous consumption, the affluenza of our era, with anti-consumerism by arguing that over-consumption lies at the root of all environmental issues and social inequalities. The Romanian economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen is considered the creator of de-growth. He associated every economic activity with an increase in entropy, whose increase implied the loss of useful resources.

The Want-Less meme, often promoted here on The Mud Report, is very well explored on The Simplicity Institute website who's many excellent articles and info on living simply and happily through wanting less is called “a beacon of hope.” by Richard Heinberg, from the Post-Carbon Institute.

Finally [bet seeing that word cheers y'all up], as Jorge Majfud says, "Trying to reduce environmental pollution without reducing consumerism is like combating drug trafficking without reducing the drug addiction."