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Michael Moore’s new film skewers green energy

By Lorrie Goldstein


Planet of the Humans also accuses the environmental movement of selling out to corporate and Wall St. interests, by shilling for these so-called renewable technologies.

The film premiered at the Traverse City Film Festival in July, but Moore released it on YouTube for free for 30 days on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday.

It’s produced, directed and narrated by Jeff Gibbs, a long-time collaborator with Moore, who is the film’s executive producer.

“Everywhere I encountered green energy it wasn’t what it seemed, ” Gibbs says early in the film.

He explains why wind and solar power, electric vehicles, ethanol, biomass and biofuels cannot exist without fossil fuel energy and are environmentally destructive.

Wind turbines eat up arable land, level mountain top forests, require massive amounts of concrete, steel, fibreglass and balsam to construct, fall apart after 20 years and have to be backed up by fossil fuel energy because they only provide intermittent power to the electricity grid.

Ditto solar power, where panels are made by mining quartz and coal and fusing them, requiring the use of fossil fuel energy, which then has to be backed up by fossil fuel-powered electricity plants, making those plants operate less efficiently.

Electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels require the mining of rare earth metals, involving some of “the most toxic and industrial processes that we’ve ever created.”

The production of ethanol, promoted as a clean alternative to gasoline, relies on “a giant, fossil fuel-based industrial agricultural system to produce corn” and the massive harvesting of sugarcane in Brazil, destroying rainforests, wetlands and expelling indigenous populations.

Biomass and biofuels clear-cut forests to provide the raw material they need — trees, euphemistically described by environmentalists as “wood chips.”

Gibbs argues green technologies aren’t better than fossil fuels, they’re just another form of energy production that creates its own environmental problems.

As Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism, tells Gibbs, “one of the most dangerous things right now is the illusion that alternative technologies like wind and solar are somehow different from fossil fuels.”

Gibbs argues the corporate and financial interests promoting them — often with the blessings of environmentalists and environmental groups — are profiteers, not environmental saviours.

Worse, many in the environmental movement have become cheerleaders for these destructive technologies, profiting from them while happily accepting donations from the corporations that finance them.

“The takeover of the environmental movement by capitalism is now complete,” Gibbs says. “Environmentalists are no longer resisting those with the profit motive, but collaborating with them.

“The only reason we’ve been force fed the story climate change plus renewables equals ‘we’re saved’ is because billionaires, bankers and corporations profit from it.

“The reason we’re not talking about overpopulation, consumption and the suicide of economic growth, is that would be bad for business, especially the cancerous form of capitalism that rules the world, now hiding under a cover of green.”

While Gibbs’ skewering of environmental hypocrisy is devastating, the one weakness of his film is that he doesn’t offer a realistic alternative.

How, for example, would he address over-population, convince people living in the First World to lower their standard of living and people in the Third World to no longer aspire to join the First?