Rapidly Evolving Energy Innovation Makes Eco-Extremists’ Apocalyptic Predictions Suspect

Commentary, Energy, Ian Madsen

A recent Globe and Mail story about a firm developing garbage-to-biodiesel technology shows how continuing progress makes the global warming extremists’ most hysterically apocalyptic predictions, and their extreme absolutist ‘solutions’, not only grossly wrong but already likely to be obsolete.

In the particular case of the company profiled, Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. is able to transform not just organic waste from households, but seven different types of plastics. The company intends to build plants in or near all major Canadian cities, and then expand into the United States.  

In passing, the article also mentions another proposed project in Quebec that will turn forestry waste into fuel, backed by the large Finnish multinational Neste Oyj. In 2019, the venerable news program Sixty Minutes showcased a US firm, Xyleco, which takes cellulosic waste (e.g., paper, cardboard, food waste, yard and agricultural waste, sawmill waste, packaging) and turns it into biofuel and also xylose, a sugar, usable as a low-calorie sweetener. Many other waste conversion plants are found globally

The point is not just ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’, but that the climate change alarmists’ propaganda claiming that nothing is being done and CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions are escalating and that the planet is going to fry in a decade or less is not just ridiculous on its face, but belied by actual developments on the ground; and ones that are forthcoming.  

Also, by ones that they are trying to stop. For example, small modular (nuclear) reactors are a technology that is efficient, versatile, self-contained, very safe, easy to transport, install and expand and relatively inexpensive. Waste remains within the generator, which is self-contained and has a finite life. There are several different manufacturers, and the exact technology varies from firm to firm.  

These reactors, which can be used to provide ‘peak’ or ‘levelling’ power are part of the solution to make intermittent and unreliable energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal and wave power actually practical and viable, as they have proven to not be in major markets such as California and Texas.

There could be some other major developments that will make today’s energy and global warming arguments entirely moot and obsolete. For example, there are now signs that hydrogen fusion energy reactors, possibly of more than one type, will start to actually contribute to the energy grid within a few years. 

Soaring electric vehicle demand and supply were unforeseen, nor were the steep declines in battery, solar and wind technology costs. Similarly unpredicted: the Shale Revolution which massively disrupted the petro-world. Hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, 3D seismic, multi-well drill rigs and advanced reservoir modelling analytics made the US a net energy exporter; natural gas displaced dirty coal globally. Frackers’ target is actually liquids: light oil; gas is a welcome byproduct. Trucks, planes and heavy machinery will use diesel for many years to come, so oil and gas will still dominate. The energy sector, and the economy generally, are morphing into what is not yet fully discernable.  

Other advances and relatively small changes, such as more regional grid interconnections, and more long-distance high-voltage direct current power lines will help make energy reliability come about. 

Things are changing faster, and for the better, than the absolutists recognize or acknowledge. We are unlikely to fry, but these anticapitalists will try their best to stop anything that does not conform to their doom-loving vision. Instead, be of good cheer: welcome energy advances and help foster prosperity that is cleaner and more sustainable, but not by government edict and compulsion.


Ian Madsen is a senior policy analyst with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. 

Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash.