I deliberately chose a provocative title to discuss a theory that surprises nearly everyone. Though full of many sincere and hard working people who are trying to make the world a cleaner and more human friendly place, I believe that most of the really big and well-funded non-profit organizations that claim to be working for the environment are really cleverly conceived profit centers for the establishment.
That is especially true for those groups that claim energy production as one of their main “issues”. There is a near unanimity of official positions among those groups – they are adamantly opposed to safe, emission-free nuclear energy and they vigorously advocate wind, solar and geothermal. Most admit that those sources are inherently less abundant, less reliable and cost more than traditional fuels. Their answer for overcoming those obstacles is to encourage people to do without certain popular products and services in an effort to use less energy to avoid the need to increase total energy supplies by building modern new facilities using “non-renewable” fuel sources. (Sarcastic Aside: Unless, of course, they are designed to burn ONLY “clean natural gas”. End sarcasm.)
Last weekend, I engaged in a fairly rapid fire email exchange on this very topic with a friend who shares some of my strong feelings against the use of industrial scale wind energy. He came at the shared issue from a different angle, blaming what he considers to be an illogical effort to support wind on the political strength of “clueless” Environmentalists. I thought it was an opportunity to share my theory one more time. My own situation during the exchange was appropriate – it was a gorgeous spring day here foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, so my wife and I were out for an exploratory drive in our new home region. We keep a “toy” in the garage for such occasions.
In other words, while writing brief comments about “Environmentalism” I was out thoroughly enjoying the beauties of an amazing slice of the environment (which, for me, includes the contributions of creative humans) with my best friend. I thought you might enjoy reading our conversation. At his request, I have decided to call my correspondent “J”; his comments are in blue while mine are in black. I made a few editorial changed to my part of the thread – after all, I was originally using my thumbs to type.
One of my key beliefs about the wind business is that it is being artificially propped up by the support of major environmental groups.
The fact is that none of these groups has any genuine scientific information to prove that wind is a good cost-benefit option.
Despite this profound deficiency, they are all holding the line, as none want to speak the truth as they will be targeted as being “anti-green”. Think the Emperor’s New Clothes http://deoxy.org/emperors.htm.
My hope is to eventually get one major environmental group to break ranks. That in turn may have a cascading effect and the whole house of cards might come down.
I’m writing today to tell you that there is now a distinct possibility that this might happen with a major environmental group.
(Name removed upon request.)
Rod: I’ll go you one better. In my opinion, major environmental groups are relatively powerless. I believe that the wind and solar industry would not exist with political pressure from the oil and gas business and without the financial support of those businesses to invest in them as a distraction.
Oil and gas interests KNOW that those technologies will never replace their products, so their strategy is to encourage other people to believe enough in the mirage that they waste time and money that could be spent developing a competitive nuclear energy industry.
Nuclear fission has proven already that it is fully capable of permanently taking market share away from petroleum pushers. The increase in energy supply introduced by fission power plants during the period from 1956-1986 is responsible for the 15 years worth of low energy prices that followed while the world’s demand caught up to the excess supply. The prices would have continued, but by 1986, the decades long effort to knee-cap their competition had started to pay off.
J: As usual I can’t disagree with your logic. Those companies do make substantial profits off of wind largesse.
As such there is very little chance that they are going to kick this gift horse in the mouth.
In my view there is a very strong political element going on here (as well as the economic one).
All major environmental groups are in lockstep supporting all things renewable. If that unison broke down there would be profoundly beneficial consequences, as many more legislators would be open to reassessing the situation.
Rod: My point is that the major environmental groups are merely pawns doing the bidding of their paymasters in the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel suppliers are not simply taking advantage of the situation; they are creating it.
J: That major environmental organizations are the lackeys of the fossil fuel industry — a key industry that they are publicly castigating — is an interesting perspective.
Sounds like material for one of your insightful op-eds. Go for it.
Rod: When OPEC wants to make the price of oil increase, they restrict production. Why is it surprising to consider that groups that call themselves “environmental”, but always seem focused on restricting production are working for the same goal – higher prices and profitability for established energy producers?
J: Because mainstream environmental groups are adamantly anti-fossil fuels — due to their AGW position.
Rod: They say they are against fossil fuels, but they work hard to sell natural gas – which is the primary growth opportunity for the multinational petroleum companies. They also work hard to promote wind and solar energy, which REQUIRE fast responding diesel or natural gas power plants. They fight hard against nuclear energy – the only alternative to fossil fuels that can provide reliable power.
The only fossil fuel that they actually seem to be against is coal – though some accept coal as long as it includes carbon capture and storage (CCS). That technology, if it worked, would require buying 30-40% more coal to produce the same amount of electricity.
They may SAY they are against fossil fuel, but they sure seem to take ACTIONS that are very profitable for fossil fuel producers. I judge people and organizations by what they do, not by what they say.
J: That was my point: to write an article spelling out the hypocrisy.
Rod: I will be writing that article – again. I have been making the point for a number of years on Atomic Insights, but I will keep working to expose the logic to as many people as possible. My exchange with you is aimed at helping someone who is already communicating about energy to put on a new set of lenses when viewing actions and trying to understand why there is such seeming strength behind a push to wind and solar.
From an objective, practical perspective, neither of those sources makes sense. Support for them confused me for a long time, especially when it came from groups that were initially founded to preserve vistas and wild areas.
Then I figured out the money angle and it started to make more sense – in a sad sort of way.
J: I have had extensive dealings with environmental organizations for some thirty years now.
Although there is certainly merit in looking at the money, my belief is that these people are absolutely clueless about the actual technical and economic ramifications of wind (and solar) energy. Clueless.
Mainstream environmental organizations are primarily supporting all things “renewable” as:
—> it promotes their green agenda,
—> which is supposedly about “solving” AGW,
—> but is really about promoting a secular religion,
—> which is really about a redistribution of wealth and power,
—> which is really about bringing down the US.
That’s a brief summary of what I have learned in the last 30± years,
I am writing an article about this myself…
Rod: By the way – groups that seem to be acting on a socialist ideology based desire to destroy the US economy actually fits pretty well with my theory. The only product other than military equipment that the Soviets were ever able to sell in the West for real cash was fossil fuel. It is always more profitable to sell at a higher price in a supply constrained market.
It is quite common for our enemies to use profits from feeding our addictions in their fight against us.
J: In my view they are carefully sowing the seeds for us to self-destruct (e.g. by bankrupting ourselves). One way to do that is to get us to spend a trillion dollars (all borrowed and all going to China) to invest in a worthless 15th century technology (wind energy).
Rod: I know some turbine pushers from GE. They are pretty cynical, and quite interested in making lots of money, but I would never call them self destructive or clueless.
J: What I said was that mainstream environmental organizations are clueless about energy technology.
I was an employee of GE, so understand it quite well. GE is not clueless here and is simply taking maximum advantage of a lobbyists (their lobbyists) driven energy policy.
Rod: Chicken or egg? I maintain that the groups work for the companies, even if some of the rank and file are clueless. My wife worked for a major environmental group for a number of years. I attended many social gatherings with the leaders. They were quite prosperous and not clueless.
J: You certainly could be right.
Their energy positions are without merit, so the choice is:
1 – they are clueless regarding energy technology
2 – they are dishonest about energy realities.
I can’t speak for every key person, but 95% of the senior environmentalists I have interfaced with over the last 30± years are clueless regarding energy realities.
This isn’t really a big surprise, as energy matters are so highly complex that 99.9% of the general population is clueless.
I’m sure that there are some leading environmentalists who have more than a cursory understanding, and the are just being disingenuous when they support such fluff as wind energy.
Rod: Thanks for the interesting dialog. Do you have any objection to me using a nameless version of our back and forth as the basis for the requested essay explaining my theory that large non-profit organizations claiming the “environmental” label may be working to increase the profits of their claimed targets?
J: I’m sure that you’ll be charitable in your recounting, so no problem.
Our conversation continued after that for a few more messages, but this post is already longer than usual, so I will save the second part for a day when I am at a loss for what to write. I look forward to reading your comments.