Bright Green Lies
Bright Green Lies by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and Max Wilbert (Fair Use)

Bright Green Lies Torpedoes Green

By Robert Hunziker

Bright Green Lies (Monkfish Book Publishing, 2021) grumbles and growls like a rambunctious thunderstorm on an early spring day opening up darkened clouds of acid rain across the world of environmentalism, including celebrated personalities.

According to Bright Green Lies authors Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert: “We are writing this book because we want our environmental movement back.” As such, they charge ahead with daggers drawn, similar to Planet of the Humans (2019-20), nobody spared.

As explained therein, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) brought on the environmental movement as well as establishment of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. She did not call for “saving civilization,” which is the common rallying cry today (“Civilizations Last Chance” by Bill McKibben or Lester Brown, “The Race to Save Civilization”). Rachel Carson called for “saving nature.”

“Today’s environmental movement stands upon the shoulders of giants, but something has gone terribly wrong… Mainstream environmentalists now overwhelmingly prioritize saving industrial civilization over saving life on the planet.” (pgs 26-27)

Bright Green Lies
Bright Green Lies by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith & Max Wilbert (Fair Use)

Losing the essence of environmentalism is part of the true grit of Bright Green Lies, a smart book that fascinates and teases the mind with solid usage of the “laws of physics” as it drills down into the depths of the nuts and bolts of green energy, renewable devices, and how this dream of Green has gone off track.

Bright Green Lies is a very controversial book within the environmental community because it is “deep green” in the sense that their argument leaves almost no room for modern-day civilization, and it is overly critical of today’s brand of environmentalists.

For example: “It should be noted that Deep Greens like JK&W are a tiny fraction of the environmental movement and a micro-sliver of the population. They are completely outnumbered by the activists fighting industrialism to defend our future on this precious planet… Bright Green Lies debunks the notion that modern civilization can be ‘greened. It obliges readers to face two vexing truths: industrialism is unsustainable and ecocidal—even if it embraces “renewable” energy.”

(Bright Green Lies and Deep Green Deceptions, Craig Collins Ph.D. California State University East Bay)

In spite of JK&W’s penchant for reducing industrial civilization to a dust heap, their criticisms of “going green” inclusive of the public misconception of its structural viability, the actual build-out, is crucial for a proper public understanding of the challenges in combating global warming and loss of biodiversity, which is why this article was written.

Unfortunately, some of the big names in climate activism are roasted in JK&W’s analysis to make the point that industrial civilization is wrong-headed.

Environmentalists of the highest order, in the limelight, probably dislike the book because it tears apart statements and theses by the likes of Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben of how solar will heal the planet with the miracle of Germany as evidence to the world that the planet is so worth saving, just go green!

But according to Bright Green Lies, no, it is not a miracle, not at all. The public has been deceived by believing the books, articles, speeches, TV appearances boldly praising the quintessential green… a big drumroll please: It’s Germany!

For example, regarding “Naomi Klein’s quote from an interview with Democracy Now: ‘Twenty-five percent of Germany’s energy now comes from renewable energy’… She’s just plain wrong.” (pg. 50) For the full breakdown see pgs 59-64.

“Recall Bill McKibben’s claim that ‘there were days this month when they (Munich) got half their energy from solar panels’… “He was referencing a two-hour period on a single day (not days) in the previous May. Munich did not get half its energy from solar panels. First, it got half its electricity from ‘renewables,’ which means, if Munich follows the German pattern of electricity accounting for 20 percent of total energy, then ‘renewables’ provided about 10 percent of Munich’s energy (for about two hours, on a Saturday).” Oops! (pgs. 64-65)

Klein at 25% and McKibben at 50%, but it just isn’t true. According to Bright Green Lies, “Even with huge subsidies to renewables, wind and solar combine for a whopping 3.3 percent of all German energy consumption.” (pg. 41)

But wait one moment, Greens claim German renewables account for 25% or maybe 30% or maybe 74%, maybe a lot more soon to come. No, no, according to Bright Green Lies: Greens inaccurately conflate “energy” and “power” in ways that serve their political ends and thus unintentionally or intentionally deceive the public. Most likely, they accept numbers at face value and do not drill down to see where and how the numbers are really derived. Jensen and co-authors do just that; they drill down.

The “drill down” covers several pages, which readers of the book can easily access. Meantime, and most importantly: “Bright greens consistently fail to mention that electricity is only 20 percent of Germany’s energy usage.” A fact that is confirmed by scientist Robert Wilson, University of Strathelyde (est. 1796), a public research university: “Germany gets only 3.3 percent of its energy from wind and solar. Ignore the headlines.” (pg. 66)

Read the book, it’s easy to confirm only 3.3%. The authors lay it out in graphs and facts. It’s 3.3%. Bright Green Lies is therefore aptly named, and thus it’s a sad day for contemporary Greens, even though their hearts are in the right place. Sorry to say, if one accepts Bright Green Lies’ arguments, then renewables stink for a whole bunch of reasons, throughout 471 pages of detailed information.

Moreover: “The German Physical Society (the world’s second-largest organization of physicists) concluded: ‘Essentially, solar energy cannot replace any additional power plants.” (pg. 71)

Hopefully, Bright Greens are not counting on dirty woody biomass as a renewable energy, which the EU has fallen in love with. It emits more CO2 than burning coal, as discussed in Bright Green Lies, and additionally, search: “The Woody Biomass Blunder” d/d November 2021 to find opinions about woody biomass by climate scientists.

According to Bright Green Lies there are no easy answers to the inherently destructive forces of industrialization, especially when heartfelt Greens emphasize “saving civilization.” That’s the wrong target.

Accordingly, on page 54: “We’re going to suggest what is for this culture a radical redefinition of what it means for an action to be ‘green’ or ‘environmental,’ which is that the action must tangibly benefit the natural world on the natural world’s own terms. Not that the action helps fuel the industrial economy.”

That very important distinction is the essence behind chapter after chapter exposing lies that fuel the raison d être for the Green movement. Publicizing incorrect figures, hyped numbers about the success of renewables, creates false comfort “everything will be just fine” in the mindset of industrialists, politicians, and the general pubic, not to worry, this is working just fine, just look at Germany, we’re saved!

No, you are not!

All of which prompts serious consideration of the real world, inter alia, with the avalanche of renewable installations the past couple of decades, why do CO2 emissions keep on going up every year?

Mauna Loa Observatory (est. 1965)

November 2021 – 415.01 ppm

November 2020 – 413.12 ppm

November 2019 – 410.48 ppm

December 2012 – first crossover above 400 ppm

Ever since Mauna Loa recorded CO2, the number has gone up every year. Even worse yet, since the start of the new 21st century, annual CO2 has doubled over the 20th century.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, more than half of all industrial carbon dioxide emissions, since 1750, have been released over only the past 30 years. That’s a lot for the atmosphere to absorb in such a short time span. The repercussions have not really hit, yet.

As for wind energy, Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, whom mainstream environmentalists carry in highest regard because of his detailed plans to go 100% renewable by 2030 plans for wind power to fulfill ½ of global industrial energy needs by 2030. Among environmentalists he’s nearly a folk hero.

However, according to the authors, the scale of steel, copper, cement and assorted materials needed for Jacobson’s wind turbines is beyond enormous, to wit: “The scale of this project, then, is the equivalent of building perhaps 60,000 Hoover Dams in 12 years, more than 13 Hoover Dams per day.” (pg 115)

Yes, per day. And, the earth-moving equipment, mining, heavy transport, processing, tailing ponds, fossil fuels, toxic chemicals, composite fiber, steel rebars, and assorted materials in motion throughout the world supply network consumes herculean amounts of energy and raw material from Earth. It’s overwhelming.

Ever been to the Hoover Dam? Yeah, it’s a monster. The Hoover Dam elevator ride is 54 stories. Just imagine 13 dams per day? Hmm.

Wind turbines don’t function without massive amounts of earthmoving. It needs to be stated that the mining centers and smelters for copper and production of steel and cement are environmental nightmares, as fully explained in the book, namely: “Green energy is made from: the dust of shattered mountains, lakes of acid, and the agony of our winged and scaled kin.” (pg. 128)

Bright Green Lies is a thick book filled with facts that dissect the renewable energy platform and environmentalists to the nth degree. It should be required reading for anybody who really cares about the planet.

On page 151 the authors state their case in a couple of paragraphs: “Shiny fantasies of a clean, green future are being built on numbers that aren’t real. Most of us don’t have the time or the training to investigate past an article or two. We know there’s an emergency; we believe the educated, earnest leaders; we read headlines that ease our fears, and isn’t Germany doing it already? Someone has a plan- an engineer, a senator, an environmental group- and even if the details are difficult, surely the idea is basically sound? What we are asking you to consider is that the idea of ‘green energy’ is not sound- neither in the broad strokes (continuing to fuel the destruction of the planet is in fact a bad idea) nor in the particulars (that nondestructive sources of industrial scale energy exist).”

As a follow up to that address to readers of the book, they, the three authors, then go on to explain the results of two Harvard University researchers, David Keith and Lee Miller, who studied wind energy. The numbers do not add up. They took data from 57,000 wind turbines. The estimates of efficiency used by the US Department of Energy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and green energy proponents do not match reality.

Since the wind energy reference is only one of many others mentioned in the book, it is important to state the evidence clearly so readers understand the depth of research, to wit: “For wind, ‘the average power density- was up to 100 times lower’ than common estimates. The power density for solar energy was also much lower than in widely used estimates.” (pg. 151)

Also, any meaningful transition to renewables would require 5-to-20 times more land than the plans on the table. Here’s the big downer: “To provide for the U.S.A.’s total energy consumption, fully 72 percent of the continent would have to be devoted to wind farms. At the scale required, wind farms would be an active player in the climate system. They would change the climate. Please read that again.” (pg 152)

Bright Green Lies has 15 chapters of devastating facts and figures that take the entire Green edifice down onto its knees. It leaves a sense of hopelessness mixed with downright anger, wondering if this fact-filled tome is really as seriously damaging to the Green movement as it reads. That’s a very scary thought. It is very scary indeed. Whose voice can you depend upon?

Chapter 14 is titled Real Solutions. By and large, the only real solution is to stop industrial civilization. OMG! Does that mean no more hot showers, no more texting? What it does mean is: “Industrial civilization is incompatible with life on the planet.” And, as for a solution, it means: “Changing our lifestyle dramatically.” (pg 433)

In other words, instead of reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, change the direction of the ship.

Roughly speaking, the options in chapter 14 are quite clear, change lifestyles or lose the planet. Take your choice. The chapter discusses the rebirth of nature with actual cases actually happening today. There is a way out of the morass. Read the book.

Meanwhile, here’s one example of human fortitude healing the planet, no technology involved: Location- India, “the Kuttemperoor River was used for illegal sand mining, sewage dumping, and worse. As more and more of the watershed became concrete, the river shrunk from 120 feet to barely 20. But then a group of 700 locals, mostly women, began cleaning up the river- primarily by physically wading into it, removing trash and plastic, and dredging out toxic silt. One of the participants, P. Viswambhara Panicker, wrote, ‘Initially many discouraged us saying it was a mere waste of money and energy. But we proved them all wrong.’ Within 70 days of the effort starting, the river had been restored to full flow. Local wells began to fill, and the stench of sewage was gone.” (pgs 441-442)

And, this statement: “The first step is to stop believing in bright green fairy tales that technology will save the planet. Instead, put your belief in soils, grasses, forests, seaweeds, and the billions of living beings who every moment are working to regenerate the conditions that support life and beauty on this planet. That is why we’ve written this book” (pg. 441)

Pages 441-445 contain nine specific goals necessary for re-establishing a truly green world, starting with carbon reduction of current emissions of 20% per year for the next 5 years.

Bright Green Lies does have a conclusion. Here’s part of that conclusion: “We can debunk each and every piece of bright green technology, and ultimately it won’t make a bit of difference to bright greens or anyone else whose loyalty is not to the earth but to the economic and social system that is dismantling the earth.” (pg. 467)

This article you are reading about Bright Green Lies only deals with a portion of a voluminous amount of research covering 471 pages of challenging facts. This has been written for the express purpose of bringing it to people’s attention because Bright Green Lies appears to be a well-researched gem.

Gems are rarely found!


Based in Los Angeles, Robert Hunziker is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and published in over 50 journals, magazines and sites worldwide.

Robert Hunziker can be reached at [email protected].

This article was originally published on December 31, 2021 © Counterpunch

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