Greentech…Another Broken Promise?

Greentech has made so many promises to solve so many of the issues we face yet, if we approach Green Technology with the same set of transparent questions that we apply to dirty fuel sources or unsustainable processes, we may be in for a rude surprise. Much of greentech comes from the same technology industrial complex which is responsible for our resource depletion and pollution problem. Unless we do a complete Life Cycle Analysis and truly apply Cradle-to-Cradle design methodology to the complete manufacturing process, all we may be doing is hiding the CO2 under the carpet, sweeping it into some obscure corner and playing a shell game in which we can’t find the missing carbon sources.

For example, we are often told the high technology solutions will come to the environments rescue. Have we ever stopped to ask where high tech products come from? …they don’t simply appear out of thin air. Greentech relies on electronic components and to manufacture these actually require enormous amounts of energy. In fact, due to their incredible levels of detail, the embodied energy of semiconductors can be up to 6 orders of magnitude higher than conventional products! See here. Semiconductor process can require up to an incredible 400 separate steps in the manufacturing process and use some of the most toxic chemicals known in the process.

Ozzie Zehner, author of the book Green Illusions: Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy speaking on another example, electric cars, writes in the Christian Science Monitor:

“Electric vehicles don’t eliminate the negative side effects of vehicular travel. They simply move the problems elsewhere – often to contexts where they become more opaque and difficult to address. When we start to exchange one set of side effects for another, the exchange rates become confusing. This opens a space for public relations firms, news pundits, environmentalists, and others to step in and define the terms of exchange to their liking.. The Union of Concerned Scientists report also doesn’t account for the methane released during natural gas fracking, the side effects of hydroelectric dams, and other externalities from energy production.”

and he further says on his website:

When the full environmental costs of electric car batteries and hardware are figured in, their green charm begins to appear suspect. Perhaps environmentalists should take a step back and reconsider whether they’d like to become spokespeople for the next round of ecological disaster machines.

For an analysis of the real cost of a Solar PV system, go here.