August 25, 2012

Is "Alternative Energy" Sustainable?

Alternative technologies cannot replace easily transportable, liquid fossil fuels, nor are they sustainable; they require mining, smelting, refining. Most of the rare earth minerals required for wind, solar, and battery technologies are mined in Mongolia and western China by near-slaves. Lakes of toxic waste mark the production sites.

These technologies do nothing to address global power imbalances. The US military is spending a great deal of time and money researching alternative energy technologies for the armed forces; tactically, it’s a smart move. But as always, the technology ends up benefiting the powerful while further abusing the natural world and the poor.

Before we can move forward as a movement for natural justice, we must recognize that global power structures are not going to change willingly. These systems are not driven by truth or ethics, but by profit. The exploitation is not an accident; it’s a deliberate system to maintain and expand power.

No amount of education will stop sociopathological behavior; only some sort of force will do so. This is a fact that many social movements have come to understand. The words of the famous Frederick Douglass immortalize the lesson: “Power concedes nothing without a demand — It never has, and it never will.”

Electricity is not sustainable. Alternative energy is not sustainable. It is another dead end, another false solution, another greenwashing project to divert legitimate grievances into political quagmire.

The lake of toxic waste at Baotou, China,
dumped by the rare earth processing plants in the background


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