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Woke Companies Must Wake Up To the Dangers of ESG

By Paul Driessen

Growing numbers of companies, banks, universities, and investment houses are adopting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards and disclosure rules.

They’re pressured to do so by activists, legislators, and regulators. Many expect to get rich via taxpayer-subsidized “renewable” energy projects.

Nearly all hope to “greenwash” their reputations, by claiming they’ll “make the world a better place,” by reducing fossil fuel emissions, and thus planetary temperatures and extreme weather events.

They recently got a boost from the US House of Representatives. It voted 215-214 party-line to pass a bill supporting Securities and Exchange Commission plans to impose new ESG rules requiring publicly traded companies to disclose “climate risks” caused by oil, gas, and coal production and use.

‘Need to Wake Up’

Woke organizations need to wake up to climate, ESG, and renewable energy realities.

The ever-more-hysterical climate and weather claims have been roundly debunked by Dr. Roy SpencerGregory WrightstoneMarc MoranoSteven Koonin, and others. But what’s truly outrageous about ESG is the way it studiously ignores the massive, widespread damage inflicted by pseudo-renewable energy.

Wind and sunlight certainly are clean, renewable, and sustainable. But harnessing their highly dispersed, unpredictable, weather-dependent energy to meet humanity’s huge and growing energy needs absolutely is not. It requires lands and raw materials that are anything but renewable– using fuels and processes that are absolutely not clean, green, ecological, or sustainable. Because they fail to recognize this, ESG programs are dishonest, even fraudulent – and must be reformed or scrapped.

‘Material Requirements are Astronomical’

Wind, solar and battery land and raw material requirements are astronomical. Onshore wind turbines require nine times more metals and minerals per megawatt than a modern combined-cycle gas power plant.

One onshore 3-MW (megawatt) turbine foundation needs 600 cubic yards (1,500 tons) of concrete, plus rebar.

Offshore wind requires 14 times more materials per MW. Just the 2,100 850-foot-tall offshore turbines (30,000 megawatts) that President Biden wants to install by 2030 would require 110,000 tons of copper, plus millions of tons of steel, aluminum, fiberglass, cobalt, rare earth metals, and other materials.

At an average of 0.44 percent copper in ore deposits worldwide, the copper alone would require mining and processing25 million tons of ore, after removing 40 million tons of overburden to reach the ore bodies!

Add in materials for solar panels, more onshore and offshore wind turbines, backup battery systems, electric vehicles, transmission lines, and all-electric home heating and cooking systems – to run the entire USA, Europe, and world – and the “green energy transformation” would require hundreds of billions of tons of metals, minerals and plastics, trillions of tons of ores, trillions of tons of overburden, and thousands of mines, processing plants and factories.

Nearly all these operations employ fossil fuels. 

Where Mining Occurs Matters

America’s laws and attitudes make mining in the United States nearly impossible, even to support ESG-certified “green” energy facilities. That means most mining and processing will be done in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, increasingly by Chinese companies.

Manufacturing is done increasingly in China, which is why that country is building more coal-fired power plants every month.

Pseudo-clean-energy activities utilize hazardous chemicals and release toxic pollutants. They require vast volumes of water, often in the world’s most water-deprived regions.

They cause acid mine drainage, create mountains of waste rock, and often result in vast “lakes” of toxic chemicals from refining the ores.

Most are conducted under almost nonexistent pollution control, mined-land reclamation, endangered species, workplace safety, child and slave labor, and fair wage rules.

Cobalt mining already involves 40,000 African children, as young as four! Many Chinese solar panels are made with Uighur forced labor. ESG’s “green” aspirations would multiply this slavery many times over.

Costs Hidden Overseas

These travesties occur overseas – out of sight and out of mind – letting ESG activists and profiteers make incessant false claims that fossil fuel replacement energy is clean and virtuous.

But when wind, solar, and battery facilities are installed, adverse consequences will reverberate across the United States.

Hundreds of millions of acres of scenic, wildlife habitat, and coastal areas would be impacted; millions of birds, bats, tortoises, and other wildlife displaced, maimed, and killed.

And when their short productive lives are finished, billions of turbine blades, solar panels and batteries will be sent to gigantic landfills, because they cannot be recycled; their toxic metals and chemicals could leach out into soils, streams, and groundwater. The same will happen in Europe, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere.

Offshore, Onshore Devastation

Even on windy days, Mr. Biden’s 2,100 monstrous offshore turbines won’t meet New York State peak summertime electricity needs. Meeting just US coastal city needs would require tens of thousands of turbines.

Dredge-and-fill operations associated with installing offshore turbines would smother mollusks and other benthic species. Vibration noises would harm whale and porpoise navigation and communication. Their mere presence would create major safety issues for aircraft and fishing, naval and commercial vessels.

A single industrial solar facility near Fredericksburg, Virginia required clear-cutting thousands of acres of forest habitat. Solar installations proposed for the American Southwest would blanket millions of acres of desert habitats.

Dominion Energy is planning solar facilities on Virginia acreage totaling one-fourth of Delaware. Wind and solar operations would threaten or eradicate dozens of birds and other species that environmentalists have utilized for decades to stop drilling, fracking, and pipeline projects.

Other Environmental Costs

Connecting far-flung wind, solar and battery installations to industrial centers and urban areas would require thousands of miles of new transmission lines – and still more steel, copper, and concrete.

Battery fires have already destroyed electric vehicles and homes. Imagine huge warehouses filled with thousands of battery modules erupting into enormous, uncontrollable conflagrations.

Biodiesel projects have already destroyed important orangutan habitats, and thousands of acres of US hardwood forests have been turned into wood pellets for Britain’s Drax Power Plant.

Threatened, endangered, migratory and marine species must be protected –wherever mining, processing, and manufacturing take place, and wherever “renewable” energy installations are contemplated.

Human health impacts from infrasound and light flicker must guide decisions on how close to homes and businesses wind turbines may be installed.

Comprehensive ESG Analysis

Reformed ESG rules – call them Environment and Human Rights (EHR) principles – must require that all these issues are addressed for every wind, solar, battery, transmission, and biofuel proposal.

People must know in advance how many turbines, panels, batteries, and power lines are contemplated; how many tons of metals, minerals, concrete, and plastics they will require; where those materials will come from; under what environmental, pollution, safety, wage, and child labor standards.

Companies and government agencies must certify that supply chains are free from child or slave labor.

Project-specific, comprehensive and cumulative US and global environmental studies must be conducted before any projects are approved, and must include regular, independent reviews of bird, bat, reptile, whale, porpoise, and other wildlife displacements, injuries, and deaths.

Project studies must fully assess all environmental, human health, human rights, and other impacts worldwide, and must not be fast-tracked.

Ethical, Ecological Principles

These reality-based EHR principles will help ensure that any “green future” is founded on ethical standards that address all human and ecological consequences, and actually do make the world a better place.

They can also help guide SEC investigations and prosecutions for ESG misconduct and fraud – and help spur much-needed mining in the United States, to reduce our reliance on China, Russia, Taliban Afghanistan, and other adversarial countries for critical and strategic minerals.

Paul Driessen is a senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black Death, and other books and articles on energy, environment, climate, and human rights issues.

This article was originally published by CFACT and is republished with permission.

Paul Driessen
Paul Driessen
Paul Driessen is a senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black Death, and other books and articles on energy, environment, climate, and human rights issues.



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