Presidential Hocus-Pocus Saves Planet. Reality Check Begs to Differ.

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Once upon a time, the intercom buzzed in the Oval Office.

“Mark P. Mills is here, sir,” said America’s most powerful secretary. “He’s a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.”

Mills stepped into the Oval Office and approached the Resolute Desk. “Good morning, sir.”

The president of the United States, gently tanned after a soothing fortnight at the beach, said: “Be seated.”

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“I just dissected the Inflation Reduction Act,” Mills said. “Frankly, IRA’s ‘clean energy’ provisions will make you spoil the Earth to save it.” 

“I’m listening,” POTUS grumbled.

“I brought you my paper, “Mines, Minerals, and ‘Green’ Energy: A Reality Check.” 

“Intriguing,” POTUS mumbled, as he thumbed through its 19 pages and 127 footnotes. 

Mills told POTUS that the solar panels, windmills, and electric vehicles that he and congressional Democrats crave would mean mining, refining, shipping, and dumping that would scar the planet but barely nick expected global warming.

“Compared with hydrocarbons, green machines entail, on average, a tenfold increase in the quantities of materials extracted and processed to produce the same amount of energy,” Mills said.

“Continue,” POTUS replied. 

  • “A lithium EV battery weighs about 1,000 pounds,” Mills explained. “Such a battery typically contains about 25 pounds of lithium, 30 pounds of cobalt, 60 pounds of nickel, 110 pounds of graphite, 90 pounds of copper, about 400 pounds of steel,” plus aluminum and plastic.
  • These substances must be clawed from the earth, Mills noted. This battery’s components would be purified from 12.5 tons of lithium brines and ores of cobalt (15 tons), nickel (3 tons), graphite (a half ton), and copper (12.5 tons). Isolating those commodities involves excavating 250 more tons of dirt and rock.
  • Dig, baby, dig: “The mining of cobalt for batteries will need to grow 300% [to] 800%,” Mills said. “Lithium production … will need to rise more than 2,000%,” he added. “The mining of indium … will need to increase as much as 8,000%.”
  • That requires power. “The energy equivalent of 100 barrels of oil is used in the processes to fabricate a single battery that can store the equivalent of one barrel of oil,” Mills said. POTUS’ eyes widened.
  • Energy-efficient pipelines carry 75% of oil and 100% of natural gas. For green machines, Mills observed, “Using trucks instead of pipelines entails a 1,000% increase per ton-mile in the embodied transportation of energy materials.”
  • When green machines die, “[n]early all of them will eventually show up in waste dumps,” Mills noted. A decommissioned 100-megawatt wind farm’s 20 turbines will pollute “fourfold more nonrecyclable plastic trash than all the world’s [recyclable] plastic straws combined. There are 1,000 times more wind turbines than that in the world today.”

Too bad these efforts barely tame global warming.

Copenhagen Consensus Center founder Bjorn Lomborg calculates that the Inflation Reduction Act would decrease expected global temperatures by 0.0009 degrees Fahrenheit to 0.028 degrees Fahrenheit in 2100. Imagine lowering a thermostat from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 71.9991 degrees Fahrenheit or (best-case scenario) 71.972 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Come on, man!” POTUS snapped. “We have this under control.”

Mills tilted his head in curiosity. From the bottom desk drawer, POTUS pulled a footlong rod. 

“This was carved from a chair leg at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, America’s birthplace,” POTUS whispered. “Watch this.”

POTUS stood at his desk and waved the stick over his head. “Presto!”

A 78-year supply of strategic minerals floated from the heavens onto the Mojave Desert floor.

POTUS spun the stick and said, “Abracadabra!” 

These materials swiftly reached thousands of U.S. work sites. Millions of truck deliveries were avoided.

Another twirl of the stick. “Shazam!”

Henceforth, solar panels will evaporate upon obsolescence. Likewise, useless turbine blades will be gone with the wind. 

POTUS shook the stick once more. “Malarkey!” he shouted. 

Average-temperature forecasts suddenly plunged 3 degrees Fahrenheit through 2100. Instantly, global warming was canceled.

“Ta-da!” POTUS proclaimed through his toothy grin. 

“Wow, Mr. President,” Mills exclaimed. “Obama had a pen and a phone. But you have a magic wand. You can do anything!” 

And the American people lived happily ever after.

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