Elections, as everyone now says, have consequences. But they can’t change the laws of physics.
That matters, even in this hypertrophied political season, because one of the policy choices in play this election is whether or not to embrace a Green New Deal or one of its variants. But the Green New Deal has at its core an impossibility in physics: the idea of “free” and “renewable” energy.
The monetary, environmental and geopolitical costs of energy technologies all derive from nature’s constraints. And the physics of all energy sources, whether wind and sun or oil and gas, share the same core features. All exist in nature, for free. But that’s irrelevant. One has to pay landowners (private or governmental) to access locations where useful resources are located. Then one purchases machines, built from materials extracted from the earth, in order to convert any resource into a form that can be delivered to people. Since all machines wear out, there is nothing truly “renewable” about any of them.
Thus, the invisible elephant in the room with a Green New Deal, whether implemented by federal or state governments, is the staggering quantity of stuff that needs to be mined in order to build all the green machines, and where that mining and processing happens.
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; a partner in Cottonwood Venture Partners, an energy-tech venture fund; and the author of the recent report “Mines, Minerals and ‘Green’ Energy: A Reality Check.”
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