Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Green Illusions" - Ozzie Zehner

Are we suffering from illusions about alternative energy? Have solar panels become a pointless fetish that could make climate change worse? What about electric cars? Is the whole "green energy" game just an extention of the fossil fuel industry, dressed up in green clothing?

Those are the claims made by a California engineer, and student of alternative energy. Ozzie Zehner published all this in his 2012 book " Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism". The book has won awards and caused a stir.

For this radio program, I'm going to run you a talk given by Ozzie on September 19th, 2012. It's part of the "Authors at Google" series - and there were green energy techies from Google in the audience. We'll get some questions from them.

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Before we start, let me say categorically that I agree and disagree with Ozzie Zehner. He gives us fundamental truths about the need to stop wasting so much energy. Reducing energy cuts our impact on the planet and cuts the risks of climate change like no other strategy. Of course, we haven't cut back at all, and global greenhouse gas emissions are increasing every year.

But then Ozzie tries to tell us solar and wind power can't work. In fact, if applied in a wide-spread way, Zehner claims that would destroy civilization as we know it in one generation. So here's the deal. This week I'm going to run Ozzie Zehner's Google talk. Next week, I've got a green tech expert to give us a different view. And I'll present my own research into all this. Before you give up on green energy, be sure and listen to next week's Radio Ecoshock show as well.

Ozzie is introduced by a Google software engineer, Valera Zakarov.

Ozzie talks about the problems with electric vehicles, based on his article "Unclean at Any Speed" found here.

You will also find a reference to studies by the National Academies on the hidden costs of renewables here.

The collection of papers is: "Hidden Costs of Energy, Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use" authored by the Committee on Health, Environmental, and Other External Costs and Benefits of Energy Production and Consumption, of the National Research Council.

There is a newer paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on electric vehicles here. They still criticize them, but find EV's are beneficial when the electricity comes from wind or solar power. Find that paper here.

This week you heard Ozzie Zehner, author of "Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism". This talk was lightly edited for radio, and due to time limitation, questions about health care and population control had trimmed. You can view the full talk on You tube. Find more on Ozzie Zehner at his web site here.

We are out of time this week. But don't give up all your green hopes just yet. Next week I'll be back with green tech investment guru Dan Miller. He thinks Ozzie is just plain wrong. I'll add my own research into this; some very different conclusions reached by other scientists and Radio Ecoshock guests; plus ideas on where we go from here. Don't miss next week's Radio Ecoshock show.

As we wrap up the year 2014, likely the hottest ever recorded, there are a couple of bits of good news. First, the Catholic Pope is starting a campaign to raise awareness of climate change in his flock, and to get action in the Paris climate negotiations in 2015.

Second, one of the most dangerous reactors in America began the shutdown process this week. Vermont Yankee went off line. It is one of those dangerous GE Mark I reactors. Like Fukushima, the fuel rods in this flawed design rise from the bottom, meaning any melt-down leaks out of containment. One down, a dozen more like it in the U.S. to go.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and thank you for caring about our world.

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