PLANET OF THE HUMANS is a new movie linked below for all to see, that at last pulls the curtain away from the scandalous manner in which solar, wind and biofuel energy has been sold to an unsuspecting public. It is directed and narrated by former self described “tree hugger” Jeff Gibbs and financed and produced by the well known documentarist Michael Moore. This 100 minute “tour de force” could deservingly win an academy award. With the exception of a few interviews of verbose folks and the sad ending plight of baboons left without a forest, it should be among the most educational and enlightening films anyone will ever see.
Director Gibbs meticulously tears down every misconception about wind and solar energy through onsite interviews with the people managing the systems.
At a Michigan corporation with a solar array we were told that its 64,000 kilowatt hours per year capacity would actually only power 10 homes in the community. At General Motors near Lansing the promotion of the Volt electric car was said to get its energy from the buildings wall outlet. When asked where the building got its power we were told from the Lansing Power company which they assumed used coal or natural gas but were not sure.
In Vermont where a mountain was being denuded to build wind turbines, supporters of the project said if they could take down mountains in West Virginia to mine coal why not take them down in Vermont to build wind turbines.
Every where Jeff Gibbs took his camera, what was said to be “green was not”. A zoo he visited was called the Elephant Poo Zoo because it was said to be run on burning poo. The elephant’s caretaker said the elephants did not make enough poo to light more than their confinement area.
Ozzie Zehner, visiting scholar at both UC Berkeley and NorthWestern University and author of Green Illusions accompanied Gibbs on many visits to green energy sites. At one of the largest arrays of solar collectors Zehner explained that the idea that photvoltaic cells are made from inexpensive abundant sand was entirely untrue. The impurities in sand make it unusable. Pure quartz must be mined and heated with coal to 1800 degrees to create the useful silica sheets for PVC to obtain energy from the sun. The sheets we were told capture only 8% of the available solar energy. It is possible to collect nearly all that energy as NASA does it on the MARS rovers but at a cost of a $million per share inch.
Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a video appearance from his days as Governor of California speaking at the opening of the Ivanpah $2 billion solar energy farm. He announced how “we are now farming the desert for energy “. Gibbs and Zehner showed that the entire system did not work without using natural gas to power everything up where they use mirrors to heat oil in a container high off the ground. The system was producing a small fraction of its design capacity and mirrors were broken all over the grounds.
A variety of companies such as Apple announced they were now operating entirely on renewable energy. Behind the curtain the movie exposed the lies every time. One of the funniest was an outdoor concert celebrating Earth Day. It was advertised to be powered by wind and solar energy. Gibbs talked the sound crew into exposing the diesel generators actually sitting behind a curtain. The workers said they could not afford to have the amplifiers stop in the middle of one of the band’s songs.
Perhaps the most outstanding parts of the movie was a fast forward moving picture of every aspect of the mining of materials and construction of every aspect of what is called renewable energy. In two minutes you see the mining of silver, cobalt, graphite, coal, tin, steel, concrete, sulfurhexafluoride, copper, lithium, tin, galium arsenide, the operation of smelters, the movement of ships and trucks and the construction sites where solar arrays and wind turbines rise from the ground. It is nothing short of amazing to see that so called green energy requires advanced industry and gigantic quantities of materials from the earth. Some of the mining was done by hand by children in Africa.
Among the sadder if not most despicable portions of the movie was the denuding of vast forests to feed an electric generating plant operating on timber and wood chips, burning thousands of cords of wood each day. The radical environmentalists have brought this on by supporting government funding for the use of any fuel considered renewable. In fact the burning of any biomass should top the list of the filthiest way to make electricity. What were once well meaning if misguided environmentalists promoting renewable energy, are now driven by the greenest aspect in their movement which is now money.
Jeff Gibbs and his camera crew made every effort to tell all sides of the renewable energy story as he traveled across the nation. He was able to obtain interviews and or news clips of many of the biggest names in what must now be called the renewable energy industry. A sample of these include Dennis Hayes, the founder of Earth Day, Robert Kennedy Jr., Bill McKibben of 350.org (who humorously could not think of any groups that fund him), Michael Brune, President of The Sierra Club. All speaking their own apparent sincere beliefs explaining that it is now necessary to wean our selves off of fossil fuels and to fulfill all our needs for energy in a sustainable renewable manner. While they may be delusional they all seemed sincere, even the money moguls like Michael Bloomberg.
Recently this author combined with scientist/engineer Terigi Ciccone to create a light hearted book for parents, grandparents and the young published in March of this year titled The Hitchhikers Journey Through Climate Change. In the book we discovered that we can sum up the renewable energy debate with a simple Rule of Thumb which states “in every community electric grid an amount of fossil fuel or nuclear power must be available at the ready to go on line in seconds, that is equal to the potential output of all intermittent wind, solar and biomass energy considered a portion of the grids electric capacity”
When the viewer digests this simple rule of thumb, he or she will wonder that the pro/con arguments over renewables has stumbled along for decades without facing the only reality that can ever allow wind and solar energy to be an important part of our energy portfolio. Sadly. however, you may recognize that the least costly manner to have wind turbines and solar collectors in your energy arsenal is to build them but not use them. Then you do not need to build extra fossil fuel capacity standing by at nearly full throttle but creating no electricity.