Why renewables can’t save the planet | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxDanubia

Why renewables can’t save the planet | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxDanubia


Thank you very much. When I was a boy, my parents would sometimes
take me camping in California. We would camp in the beaches,
in the forests, in the deserts. Some people think the deserts
are empty of life, but my parents taught me
to see the wildlife all around us, the hawks, the eagles, the tortoises. One time when we were setting up camp, we found a baby scorpion
with its stinger out, and I remember thinking how cool it was that something could be
both so cute and also so dangerous. After college, I moved to California, and I started working
on a number of environmental campaigns. I got involved in helping to save
the state’s last ancient redwood forest and blocking a proposed
radioactive waste repository set for the desert. Shortly after I turned 30, I decided I wanted to dedicate
a significant amount of my life to solving climate change. I was worried that global warming
would end up destroying many of the natural environments
that people had worked so hard to protect. I thought the technical solutions
were pretty straightforward – solar panels on every roof,
electric car in the driveway – that the main obstacles were political. And so I helped to organize a coalition of the country’s biggest labor unions
and biggest environmental groups. Our proposal was for a 300-billion-dollar
investment in renewables. And the idea was not only
would we prevent climate change, but we would also create
millions of new jobs in a very fast-growing high-tech sector. Our efforts really paid off in 2007, when then-presidential candidate
Barack Obama embraced our vision. And between 2009 and 2015,
the US invested 150 billion dollars in renewables and other
kinds of clean tech. But right away, we started
to encounter some problems. So first of all, the electricity
from solar rooftops ends up costing about twice as much
as the electricity from solar farms. And both solar farms and wind farms require covering a pretty
significant amount of land with solar panels and wind turbines and also building
very big transmission lines to bring all that electricity
from the countryside into the city. Both of those things were often very
strongly resisted by local communities, as well as by conservation biologists who were concerned about the impacts
on wild-bird species and other animals. Now, there was a lot of other people working on technical
solutions at the time. One of the big challenges, of course,
is the intermittency of solar and wind. They only generate electricity
about 10 to 30 percent of the time during most of year. But some of the solutions being proposed were to convert hydroelectric dams
into gigantic batteries. The idea was that when the sun
was shining and the wind was blowing, you would pump the water uphill,
store it for later, and then when you needed electricity,
run it over the turbines. In terms of wildlife,
some of these problems just didn’t seem like
a significant concern. So when I learned that house cats
kill billions of birds every year, it put into perspective the hundreds
of thousands of birds that are killed by wind turbines. It basically seemed to me at the time that most, if not all, of the problems
of scaling up solar and wind could be solved through more
technological innovation. But as the years went by, these problems persisted
and, in many cases, grew worse. So California is a state that’s really
committed to renewable energy, but we still haven’t converted
many of our hydroelectric dams into big batteries. Some of the problems are just geographic; it’s just you have to have
a very particular kind of formation to be able to do that, and even in those cases, it’s quite expensive
to make those conversions. Other challenges are just
that there’s other uses for water, like irrigation, and maybe the most significant problem is just that in California
the water in our rivers and reservoirs is growing increasingly
scarce and unreliable due to climate change. In terms of this issue of reliability,
as a consequence of it, we’ve actually had to stop the electricity coming from the solar
farms into the cities because there’s just been
too much of it at times. Or we’ve been starting to pay
our neighboring states, like Arizona, to take that solar electricity. The alternative is to suffer
from blowouts of the grid. And it turns out that
when it comes to birds and cats – cats don’t kill eagles; eagles kill cats. What cats kill are the small common
sparrows and jays and robins, birds that are not endangered
and not at risk of going extinct. What do kill eagles and other big birds, like this kite as well as owls and condors and other threatened
and endangered species, are wind turbines; in fact, they’re one
of the most significant threats to those big bird species that we have. We just haven’t been introducing
the airspace with many other objects like we have wind turbines
over the last several years. And in terms of solar, you know, building a solar farm is a lot
like building any other kind of farm: you have to clear
the whole area of wildlife. So this is a picture of one third of one
of the biggest solar farms in California, called Ivanpah. In order to build this, they had to clear
the whole area of desert tortoises, literally pulling desert tortoises
and their babies out of burrows, putting them on the back of pickup trucks,
and transporting them to captivity, where many of them ended up dying. And the current estimates are that
about 6,000 birds are killed every year, actually catching on fire
above the solar farm and plunging to their deaths. Over time, it gradually struck me that there was really no amount
of technological innovation that was going to make
the sun shine more regularly or wind blow more reliably; in fact, you could make
solar panels cheaper, and you could make
wind turbines bigger, but sunlight and wind
are just really dilute fuels, and in order to produce
significant amounts of electricity, you just have to cover
a very large land mass with them. In other words, all of the major problems
with renewables aren’t technical, they’re natural. Well, dealing with
all of this unreliability and the big environmental impacts obviously comes at a
pretty high economic cost. We’ve been hearing a lot about how solar panels and wind turbines
have come down in cost in recent years, but that cost has been
significantly outweighed by just the challenges of integrating all
of that unreliable power onto the grid. Just take, for instance,
what’s happened in California. At the period in which solar panels
have come down in price very significantly, same with wind, we’ve seen our electricity prices go up five times more
than the rest of the country. And it’s not unique to us. You can see the same phenomenon
happened in Germany, which is really the world’s leader in solar, wind and other
renewable technologies. Their prices increased 50 percent
during their big renewable-energy push. Now you might think, well,
dealing with climate change is just going to require
that we all pay more for energy. That’s what I used to think. But consider the case of France. France actually gets
twice as much of its electricity from clean zero-emission sources
than does Germany, and yet France pays almost half
as much for its electricity. How can that be? You might have already
anticipated the answer. France gets most of its electricity
from nuclear power, about 75% in total. And nuclear just ends up
being a lot more reliable, generating power 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, for about 90% of the year. We see this phenomenon
show up at a global level. So, for example, there’s been
a natural experiment over the last 40 years, even more than that, in terms of the deployment of nuclear
and the deployment of solar. You can see that
at a little bit higher cost, we got about half as much electricity
from solar and wind than we did from nuclear. Well, what does all this mean
for going forward? I think one of the most significant
findings to date is this one. Had Germany spent 580 billion dollars
on nuclear instead of renewables, it would already be getting
a hundred percent of its electricity from clean energy sources,
and all of its transportation energy. Now I think you might be wondering,
and it’s quite reasonable to ask: Is nuclear power safe?
And what do you do with the waste? Well, those are very reasonable questions. Turns out that there’s been
scientific studies on this going over 40 years. This is just the most recent study, that was done by the prestigious
British medical journal Lancet, finds that nuclear power is the safest. It’s easy to understand why. According to the WHO, about 7 million people die
annually from air pollution. And nuclear plants don’t emit that. As a result, the climate scientist
James Hansen looked at it. He calculated that nuclear power
has already saved almost two million lives to date. It turns out that even wind energy
is more deadly than nuclear. This is a photograph taken
of two maintenance workers in the Netherlands, shortly before one of them
fell to his death to avoid the fire, and the other one was engulfed in flames. Now, what about environmental impact? I think a really easy way
to think about it is that uranium fuel, which is
what we used to power nuclear plants, is just really energy dense. About the same amount
of uranium as this Rubik’s Cube can power all of the energy
you need in your entire life. As a consequence, you just don’t need that much land in order to produce
a significant amount of electricity. Here you can compare the solar farm
I just described, Ivanpah, to California’s last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon. It takes 450 times more land
to generate the same amount of electricity as it does from nuclear. You would need 17
more solar farms like Ivanpah in order to generate
the same output as Diablo Canyon, and of course,
it would then be unreliable. Well, what about the mining and the waste
and the material throughput. This has been studied
pretty closely as well, and it just turns out that solar panels require 17 times
more materials than nuclear plants do, in the form of cement,
glass, concrete, steel – and that includes all the fuel
used for those nuclear plants. The consequence is that what comes out
at the end, since its material throughput, is just not a lot of waste from nuclear. All of the waste from the Swiss
nuclear program fits into this room. Nuclear waste is actually the only waste
from electricity production that’s safely contained and internalized. Every other way of making electricity emits that waste
into the natural environment, either as pollution or as material waste. We tend to think of solar panels as clean, but the truth is that there is no plan to deal with solar panels
at the end of their 20 or 25-year life. A lot of experts are actually
very concerned that solar panels are just going to be shipped
to poor countries in Africa or Asia, with the rest of our
electronic-waste stream, to be disassembled, often exposing people
to really high level of toxic elements, including lead, cadmium and chromium, elements that because they’re elements,
their toxicity never declines over time. I think we have an intuitive sense that nuclear is a really powerful
strong energy source and that sunlight is really dilute
and diffuse and weak, which is why you have to spread
solar collectors or wind collectors over such a large amount of land. Maybe that’s why nobody was surprised when in the recent science-fiction
remake of Blade Runner, the film opens with a very
dark dystopian scene where California’s deserts have been
entirely paved with solar farms. All of which, I think, raises
a really uncomfortable question: In the effort to try to save the climate,
are we destroying the environment? The interesting thing is
that over the last several hundred years, human beings have actually
been trying to move away from what you would consider
matter-dense fuels towards energy-dense ones. That means, really, from wood and dung
towards coal, oil, natural gas, uranium. This is a phenomenon
that’s been going on for a long time. Poor countries around the world
are in the process still of moving away from wood
and dung as primary energies. And for the most part,
this is a positive thing. As you stop using wood
as your major source of fuel, it allows the forests to grow back
and the wildlife to return. As you stop burning wood in your home, you no longer need to breath
that toxic smoke. And as you go from coal
to natural gas and uranium as your main sources of energy, it holds out the possibility of basically
eliminating air pollution altogether. There’s just this problem with nuclear – While it’s been pretty popular to move
from dirtier to cleaner energy sources, from energy-diffuse
to energy-dense sources, nuclear is just really unpopular
for a bunch of historical reasons. And as a consequence, in the past, I and I think a lot of others
have sort of said, “In order to deal with climate change, we’re just going to need all the different
kinds of clean energy that we have.” The problem is that it just
turns out not to be true. You remember, I discussed
France a little bit ago. France gets most of its
electricity from nuclear. If France were to try to significantly
scale up solar and wind, it would also have to significantly reduce
how much electricity it gets from nuclear. That’s because in order to handle the huge
variability of solar and wind on the grid, they would need to burn more natural gas. Think of it this way, it’s just really hard to ramp
up and down a nuclear plant whereas I think we’re all pretty
familiar with turning natural gas up and down on our stove. A similar process works
in managing the grid. Of course, it goes without saying that oil and gas companies
understand this pretty well, which is why we’ve seen them invest
millions of dollars in recent years in promoting solar and wind. This just raises, I think,
another challenging question, which is that in places
that are using a lot of nuclear – half of their grids that are
mostly nuclear and hydro – going towards solar and wind
and other renewables would actually increase carbon emissions. I think a better alternative
is just to tell the truth. That’s what a number
of scientists have been doing. I mentioned earlier that hundreds of thousands of birds
are killed every year by wind turbines; what I didn’t mention
is that a million bats, at a minimum, are killed every year by wind. The consequence has been that bat scientists
have been speaking out about this. This particular bat species,
the hoary bat, which is a migratory bat species, is literally at risk
of going extinct right now because of the significant
expansion of wind. It’s not just wind, it’s also on solar. The scientists who were involved
in creating the Ivanpah solar farm, who were involved in clearing
that land, have been speaking out. One of them wrote, “Everybody knows that translocation
of desert tortoises doesn’t work. When you’re walking
in front of a bulldozer, crying and moving animals
and cacti out of the way, it’s hard to think
that the project is a good idea.” And now we can see these phenomena
at work at an international level. In my home state of California, we’ve been stuffing a lot of natural gas
into the side of a mountain in order to handle all that
intermittent solar and wind. It’s sprung a leak. It was equivalent to putting
500,000 cars on the road. And currently in Germany, there’s protesters trying to block
a new coal mining project that would involve destroying
the ancient Hambacher Forest in order to get to the coal underneath, all in an effort to phase out nuclear
and expand solar and wind. The good news is that I think that people still care about nature enough
for these facts to matter. We saw last year in South Korea a citizen’s jury deliberated
for several months weighing these different issues. They had to decide whether they were
going to phase out nuclear or keep it and expand it. They started out 40%
in favor of expanding nuclear, but after several months
and considering these issues, they ended up voting 60%
to expand nuclear. A similar phenomenon
just happened last week in Arizona. The voters had a ballot initiative to vote on whether or not
to continue with nuclear or to phase it out and try to replace it
with natural gas and solar. They ended up rejecting at 70 to 30. And even here in Europe, we saw the Netherlands is one of the first
countries in recent memory to actually announce,
as they did last week, that they’re going to start to increase
their reliance on nuclear power in recognition that there’s just no way they could generate significant amounts
of energy enough from solar and wind to meet their climate targets. I think it’s natural that those of us that became
very concerned about climate change, such a big environmental issue, would gravitate towards
really romantic solutions like harmonizing human civilization
with the natural world using renewable energies. But I think it’s also understandable
that as the facts have come in, many of us have started to question
our prior beliefs and change our minds. For me the question now is, Now that we know that renewables
can’t save the planet, are we going to keep
letting them destroy it? Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Why renewables can’t save the planet | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxDanubia

  1. This is why being dependent on companies for energy is bad. This is why it is important to regain our own energy sovereignty. OFF GRID. the problem with humans is we are trying to fix a problem by applying the very same tactics that brought us here.

  2. Large solar farms seem a bit overkill to me. Has anyone seen the smaller scale arrangements where they co-exists with cattle and agriculture by positioning them in a certain way. I think this also kills much less birds. I've seen countless examples of roof top solar in different areas giving people the opportunity to be self-sufficient based on their own logistics and individual needs. This also eliminates the need for delivery through power lines. It also makes it irrelevant how much a power company is charging for on-grid electricity. I get that the talk leans towards nuclear energy towards the end (which I know nothing about) but these are just my thoughts.

  3. i'm buying what this man said on renewable. the real point is most energy is used for non essential goods. we need to stop producing said goods. that could be 50-80% of the economy. to that end i've publically advocated for a depression since at least 74.

  4. Yes, our dear climate scientists. it's about tine to rediscover this pesky 2nd law of thermodynamics. Jeremy Rifkin's "Entropy" (1980) shall be a mandatory read in every high school to get the point across early. And Ms. HowDareYou could go bark on the Moon.

  5. Sorry stopped at 1:48
    I am sure you go on to say how damaging these techs are rather than a help. As far ar global warming is concerned, this is just more human arrogance at controlling the world around us. Only this time it's the Sun we can now control. So I apologise to you for not watching any more of this obviously well thought out commentary. You will of course embrace Thorium some day I think Michael.

  6. I think that overcoming the problems with nuclear energy is the way to go, by per example using thorium instead of uranium in the energy creation process . As well we should invest a lot in a creation of a fusion reactor because we would have even more energy efficient because there is more energy density when you use fusion instead of fission like he have in current nuclear reactors today.

  7. Propaganda is sometimes a better business model than what works, especially when you play off peoples good intentions.

  8. In South Korea, contrary to the decisions of citizen jury, President and his party are enforcing the policy of phasing out nuclear energy.

  9. If you have to put so many emotional arguments (poor bird, poor turtles, look a happy whale in front on the nuclear plant, hey a distopic movie had a solar plant in it…) , maybe the real arguments are not that great.

  10. You need to take into account the security, not just the potential of danger when things may go wrong, Fukishima, but the potential of people targeting things maliciously posing direct danger as well as a bigger impact from power loss due to being so centralised.
    A decentralised renewable grid ticks that box far greater than nuclear.

  11. Is there a safe, efficient way to recycle used solar panels, the lithium batteries of electric automobiles and all the electronic equipment to operate these methods of power?

  12. People have been advocating for nuclear for years. Its unfortunate that environmentalist activists often care more about their political career than for the environment.

  13. You know what is better than Nuclear power? Fusion Power, the problem is the funding for the technology is too little. The elites want us to believe that the renewable is the answer, they are trying to brainwash u to think that renewable is the answer for Global Warming. It's time to wake up!

  14. Michael Shellenberger is not an 'energy expert'. His degree is in cultural anthropology.

    French electricity is cheap not because of nuclear, but because it is state owned as Electricite de France SA, while German electricity is privatized as RWE.

    He mentions the deaths of bird and tortoises and wind power workers, but does not mention the 1,368 deaths from Fukushima Nucear disaster and the 16,000+ deaths from Chernobyl.

    Michael Shellenberger is a sophist — he cites factual information but associates it with other ideas that can further his agenda, even if the correlation is very weak or absurd — like the lives of tortoises and birds being more important than humans. Weak-minded people will be easily swayed by his arguments and that's why he goes to preach his message to the public who have no knowledge about energy policy, instead of presenting it to experts who can easily shoot down his absurd arguments.

  15. This is a great talk and more people especially those who passionately believe that solar and wind power is the future and will “save” our planet. Solar power sucks, and wind power sucks too! Nuclear power is something that the US might FINALLY take seriously. And think of all the subsidies that renewable energy programs get, much of it, if not all wasted money because it’s a pipe dream.

  16. I worked as a solar system installer for a few years and know that residential solar systems are basically a scam. They aren’t that efficient at producing power as people think, and they get worse with time. The systems we, and pretty much all the companies install only work to reduce your electric bill, they don’t work to store excess power with a battery backup. Not to mention that the power companies don’t give the customer a decent discount anymore, not for years now. And after 10 years when the warranty expires they’re your problem to maintain and fix. The only way that it would be worth it would be to put a huge solar array on your property with a battery storage system but who has that much land they can turn into a solar farm? It’s a shame that most people have no idea what a scam the whole residential solar market is.

  17. You could power a small city with all the triggered liberals getting pissed by hearing the truth being force fed to them.

  18. stop procreating. that is the only solution that works for the environment. and, if we are going towards more and more automation, our future will has less jobs for human too. whatever left are cleaning toilet, fixing sewage… and they will pay pittance due to the fact that there are more human that jobs.

  19. science energy solutions regarding solar, wind, nuclear , etc, can only be expanded upon by scientists, not humanities majors and star trek wannabees

  20. Another wolf in sheep’s clothing. Self attributed ex-environmentalist is actually Lobbyist of the nuclear power industry aiming to sell non-sustainable and expensive energy

  21. Fukushima is about to dump huge amounts of waste water containing isotopes, into the sea. Cost of the Fukushima disaster is now estimated as £650M dollars, or the cost of building 65 new nuclear plants. Currently, nuclear proponents are extolling the benefits of Thorium reactors, which run at 900C and take a week to cool down and stop generating more heat. Goodness knows what the carbon footprint was of partially solving Fukushima. You have to count the cost of your losses, as well as benefiting from your successes.

  22. California never had an adequate water supply. Desalination is the only way to get enough water for that many people that have no water.

  23. Ocean farming is one project that could provide an alternative source of fuel. Farming plankton by spraying the surface with iron ores and then filtering the plankton that is generated in the surface layers a few hours later. Plankton is fish food and so long as the phytoplankton is not allowed to remain too long, there is little risk of dead zones. The problem with this planet is that it's 7/10ths water, so the amount of land available for energy farming competes with that needed for food. Farming the oceans opens up a huge area of 'real estate' that is not utilised. Farming microorganisms on land is possible, but the amount of space is limited and subject to the prevailing weather. Farming the oceans can be carried out where the weather is optimum in HNLC zones. Microorganisms can be converted by methanogenesis into all the organic compounds we need.

  24. So how much money do we need to waste on renewables before we convince the rest of the climate alarmists of what we've been telling you for years.

  25. I would like to ask if this gentleman has any ties to the nuclear industry at all? Why only nuclear? He downplayed the nuclear waste and what you can do with it after it has been exhausted also. He raises valid points about the downsides of solar and wind and the life span of solar panels but perhaps we need to be looking at how solar panels can be made more efficient with greater longevity. How about research in to other inventions and technology that may create free electricity (Tesla works?). This smells funny to me and I am sorry if that offends anyone. Why limit the solution to only nuclear? Surely the minds of 7.5 billion people can create something more extraordinary that this option. Aren’t we told that the reactors in japan are still leaking radiation in the ocean after the earthquake?

  26. The issue hear seems to be about animals safety rather then the planet. I dont give too shits if some animals need to die if it means our planet will be healthier. Oil rigs take tons of space as well.

    Also the ideal solar is that we no longer have any grid. That every building can sustain their own energy needs with solar. The issue you have is basically solved when everyone adobts solar and solar becomes a requirement

    And while nuclear is 'clean' it also produces a lot of waste.

  27. Wondering whether the mining, purification and enrichment of uranium is sustainable and performed with zero-emission-powersources?

  28. i agree on most of this, however, there is a significant problem, there is not enough uranium.
    currently, there is enough known uranium ore to fuel current nuclear reactors for about 150 to 200 years. unfortunately, only 10 percent of our current energy comes from nuclear.
    so if the entire world would go nuclear, we last 15 to 20 years before we run out.

    yes, there are developments in thorium reactors, extracting uranium from sea water etc. but there these things are really hard to develop and have plenty of issue.

    i am not saying that nuclear is a bad option, but there is a big chance it cant do it alone. i would personally say, triple the production from nuclear and make sure we have at least 60 years worth of uranium left. this way we have 60 years to develop other technologies like using other reaction fuels and perhaps finally manage to use fusion.

    this means that in those 60 years we are going to need other energy sources as well, not just nuclear but also solar and wind.
    and they will need to produce the majority of the energy.

  29. The Scientology of climate change:
    If  u want irrefutable proof of Correlation being proof of Causation, consider this example. Shark attacks show exactly the same binomial distribution in summer as ice cream consumption. If we could only discourage people from eating ice cream and going to the beach, we could save lives. On the other hand if we could half CO2 to 150ppm, all plant life would die, then humans would follow not long after. Alas sharks would then  have nothing to eat, Damn!
    Conclusion: a virtual computer model designed with parameters including shark attacks, ice cream and atmospheric CO2, could accurate make predictions about future population growth. Right? This is the stark reality and sad state of climagate and the failed, flawed and fudged evidence base for predicting how man is adversely controlling climate change.

  30. When Society lets political whores make decision regarding OUR environment, NOTHING positive will happen, in fact most environmental
    decisions are actually causing more negative environmental impacts then just leaving things alone. The taxpaying public gets continuously screwed!

  31. Always strange to hear that Germany is considered renewable champion… does not feel like it at all living here. Actually we are building so few new solar on roofs… and I do not understand why solar on roofs is just turned down in this talk as "more expensive". The rooftops are all dead space, the energy does not need to be transported,… win win

  32. When will the world realise that the only solution to the deteriorating environment and perhaps the salvation of the human race is for everyone to live a sustainable zero carbon life by living off the land. We can't all have three cars, three TVs, etc. and expect to live with a decent environment. It's a square peg in a round hole.

  33. this guy is a lobbyist for the nuclear energy industry – he's bought and paid for. One BIG question this dude doesn't seem to want to confront – what do we do when the uranium is all gone? yes, all energy resources on earth are finite and will go the way of the Dodo bird down the track. So …. we should be thinking about the long term – not the short term like this dude is doing. Renewables are gonna put the nuclear energy industry out of business – it will take decades but it will happen.

  34. I'm finding a lot of inteletual dishonesty problems in this presentation, to the point that i think i would have done it better. I'm all for this type of discussion but you need to be more honest than that. I mean, would you at least compare apples to apples.

  35. solar without batteries is quite a mistake. When you most need it, it's at its lowest… in winter, for example, so you need the batteries. The batteries by themselves, are a large chemical threat to nature: not only are they expensive and polluting to make, but once they break (and a lot do not get recycled) they become a chemical disaster of heavy metals, acids, plastic. Imagine switching to batteries for the amount of energy we're consuming at this moment, and what impact that would have. By comparison, burning coal will look like a harmless picnic. so.. no. In the current form, they are not a solution at all, just a problem to evolve into a gigantic problem. Germany's mistake is indeed the proof.

  36. Human lead climate change is a Hoax, our Sun is the most important factor. Plus CO2 is what plants Need, wake up please !!
    It was hotter in the 17th and 18th centuries before the industrial revolution. Read some stuff

  37. This was quite of an eye-opener: So people that are screaming about saving the planet do not care about the environmental implications of renewables:)

  38. The Safest and Cheapest means of producing Electricity – Liquid Thorium ion molten salt nuclear reactors – can get rid of existing “nuclear waste” made by exiting dangerous high pressure, light water nuclear reactors..
    Explain this to Green Peace – Club of Rome –
    The only way to get rid of polluting methane and coal burning. Don’t clear farm land and forests for inefficient solar panels- keep them on you roof & plant more trees to keep Co2 in check Wind farms are useless subsidized idols that are negative energy consumers when you take manufacturing and disposal into account.
    This is what the high growth third world needs too. Indonesia will be the first in the world with its 7 ThorCon 500MW molten liquid Thorium & Sodium Fluoride salt rectors in rotating 8yearly recycling Closed Battery like reactor “cans” for $500/kW capital and less than half a cent per kWh for fuel..Expected life 80years.

  39. You know why they build that near water? And you know where going waste of that? All the time somewhere in the world they relase radioactive waste from plants direct to rivers, seas, oceans. No clean energy mate

  40. The other elephant in the room is the exponential growth in human population.
    With the planet's human population increasing by 30% over the next 20 years or so, how can we ensure that a supply of energy will be available for everyone?

  41. zero point cold fusion and free energy has been here since the pyramids…..they had power in the desert and that was before oil….greed is the issue, freee energy is here, and being ignored

  42. People don't realize that you have to mine the materials for batteries with heavy equipment, destroying thousands of acres of land and doing more damage to the environment in the long run.

  43. this is the fallacy of this dudes argument. those huge areas necessary for solar to be productive is solved by placing small fixtures on top of each building. clown. we're still reeling from japans melt down.

  44. The elephant in the room: left does not want nuclear because they need to tax us with carbon tax , cap and trade. Wind and solar will newer become main source of energy and that guaranties more carbon tax

  45. How wonderfully refreshing to see an honest man from the side that I consider myself to be the opposite of. Mind you, that doesn't mean that I'm always right. We all make mistakes, and I've made some beauties. This is the kind of gentleman that I'd like to have a healthy and constructive discussion with, even though we may not agree on certain things. He's the kind of person that I could learn a lot from and may I say, even change my mind about a few things. God bless you Sir.

  46. Nuclear is still not safe, not cheap and not abundant. What happened in Chernobyl and Fukushima twice within 25 years would not happen during thousands of years…so we were told by the nuclear advocates. Uranium-based nuclear could never cater for more than 4% of the global energy needs anyway. If Shellenberger would travel to Niger or Namibia he could see the devastation fossil Uranium does during exploitation. Nuclear is not clean and not renewable. I find his examples in comparing human and animal damages – nuclear vs renewables – hilarious. One should look at China: why are they spending – since 4 years – more on solar and wind than on conventionals?

  47. So… wind turbines kill birds, therefore we have to COMPLETELY give up on the search for alternative, renewable energy?

    K. Got it.

  48. Interesting points that need to be looked at more seriously by those who favour renewables, but Shellenberger does not mention any solution as to where and how store nuclear waste safely and how to avoid desasters like Fukushima. These points need to be addressed to convince more people.

  49. What if we dont think of climate change because thinking of it just stress things out and just let it happen naturally. Earth lives billions of years already and we are predicting that it would end, guys come on YOLO.

  50. In years to come, Global Warming will prove to be the biggest Corporate scam the world has ever seen. Go and buy your Solar panels and Electric Vehicles and pay for all the associated technologies. The Agricultural industry spend Millions convincing us we should not eat meat, while getting the same warnings from the meat industry about dangers of pesticides on crops etc etc etc. The whole thing is a huge corporate game. I don't play it anymore.

  51. ya'll can wait another 25 yrs on clean nuclear. meanwhile – solar is available today. its awful when stuff like this degenerates into mac vs pc. etc. one of the greatest temptations is to succomb to dualistic thinking. God bless us everyone.

  52. The flaw in this argument is that with a well insulated small home and energy efficient appliances, a homeowner with a few solar panels and Lithium ion batteries can power their home indefinitely with no monthly payments or power outages. As for solar panels lasting 25 years…not true. The first ones that came online during the 1970's are still producing output, and working fine. As for wind…all you need is a wire screen in front like your home fans have. Turbines are only located in areas where where there is significant wind blowing much of the time. This can power locally very efficient. In fact micro-grids for local would be much more robust and as a nation, as it would be impossible to knock out our power, with 10’s of thousands of smaller grid systems. Major transmission lines for back up systems, or large cities only. Nuclear with newer designs that don't require large amounts of water and use spent fuel as an energy sources would certainly be acceptable. However, more of what we've had is just more disasters waiting to happen.

  53. The other thing nuclear power lowers, are the emissions of heavy machinery and industry that provide things like mining or transport. Even oil must be refined, gas must be cleaned and transported (by pumps and pipelines) which require space and disturbing soil. People need to drive in trucks and cranes to work on solar or wind farms etc.
    Nuclear also has mining, yes, but you get more bang for your buck, no pun intended. PLUS, gas and oil are adding dangers under ground.
    Nuclear power is contained in one site and they have a lot more backups and safeties in place than any other power production facility.

  54. The population control that we have in the first world countries needs to expand to the third world countries as well.

  55. Well, this is a puzzler. For sure, nuclear has probably gotten a bad rap, not unjustified — Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island — but possibly overblown? Even Hollywood gets in the act – remember "The China Syndrome"? What is frustrating is we've had 40 years of renewable energy evangelism, and now this? I hope that the environmental movement and scientist do a better job of coordinating their message soon, or we're all going stop listening. So, if nuclear technology has improved such that it can be safely used in earthquake zones, great. Let's start building. No point putting all our eggs in one basket/solution. But I suspect that climate change will continue to drive the renewables argument, because let's face it: we're not going to build 100s of nuclear power plants by 2030. So maybe that can be the phase 2 answer. But the short-term action still looks to be renewables. Sigh. My brain hurts.

  56. This is the EPITOME of a false dichotomy. We should be using both at the same time.
    There are problems with renewables. Also, battery and solar panels costs are freefalling, new nanotech materials are being made all the time, and the damage is less than if we don't invest in them. Of course thorium and further, nuclear fusion, should be subsidized heavily as well, but saying we should abandon one over the other is preposterous.

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