Electric Cars and African Plunder: WWF’s Idea of “Green” Future

Mainstream environmentalism is very often as bad as the disease it thinks it’s busy curing.  Unwilling to risk their funding by attacking capitalism, the big green groups ignore as many hard facts and propose as many impossible solutions as worshipers of “markets” and technology.

Take the case of Opportunity Cost of the Tar Sands, the latest report from the British branch of the World Wildlife Fund, and apparently a basis for the forthcoming companion movie, Dirty Oil.

One of the major notions being peddled by the WWF and (one assumes) this movie:

The money that oil companies want to pump into tar sands [in Alberta, Canada] would cover the cost of the proposed Desertec Industrial Initiative, linking North African solar plants into a supergrid supplying 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050. Or it could fund a Europe-wide shift to electric vehicles.

“A Europe-wide shift to electric vehicles”?  You mean the ones that, to the extent they aren’t vaporware, cost $50,000, have a range of 40 miles, fry out existing electrical circuits, and promise to burn rapidly through the planet’s remaining supplies of key minerals and non-renewable energy sources?  The ones that would continue to facilitate the bat-shit crazy practice of using a 2,000-pound assemblage to accomplish virtually all daily commutes?  Electric or not, if that’s a sustainable  arrangement, I’ll eat this desk.  But, of course, to mention the massive unsustainability of cars-first transportation would be financial suicide for the WWF, wouldn’t it?

Meanwhile, using the North African desert to send electricity to Europe?  One might think a group devoted to ecology might be familiar with the severe limitations that the laws of physics impose on the transmission and storage of electricity, not to mention the substantial, unsolved EROEI questions involved in solar electricity generation.

But more disgusting, to me at least, than the sight of the WWF suppressing such issues is the mindless neo-imperialism of its advocacy of the unconscionable Desertec land-grab.  As Noam Chomsky recently remarked, given the history between Europe and Africa, one might imagine future resource flows running in the opposite direction to the familiar one breezily suggested by Desertec and the WWF.

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