Planet of the humans: A reheated mess of lazy, old myths

This is the the first in a series on Planet of the Humans. The other posts are here:

Post 2 – on where we’re at in 2020, with climate and clean tech

Post 3 – on the ‘bigger picture’ of the film, and why the film is so harmful



The film ‘Planet of the Humans’ opens with the director, Jeff Gibbs, operating a fossil-fuelled combustion engine vehicle, on a road full of combustion engine vehicles, followed up with some footage taken from the International Space Station (fossil fuelled rockets put that in space).

This is not a documentary about the environmental damage that had to occur for Gibbs to go on his drive – it is not mentioned. Nor is it about the harm from fossil fuels.

somber dramatic music
somber dramatic music

It is about why renewable energy is bad. I used to work in the renewable energy industry – first, with wind farms and later in research, government agencies and advocacy groups. So it was hard to resist both watching and reviewing this one, considering it launched on ‘Earth Day’, and it has been widely promoted.

Not only is the documentary bad, it’s old bad. Please join me on this journey back in time. It won’t be fun, but I’m glad you’re here with me.


All of the stuff in this documentary is ancient

It is clear that Gibbs has been trying to make this documentary for a long, long time.

“He is currently working on a film about the state of the planet and the fate of humanity”, read his bio, in 2012. It is clear, digging into these early posts, that he very passionately loathes the burning of trees to generate energy – a wildly controversial and genuinely problematic thing, for sure.

But as early as 2010, Gibbs was posting HuffPost blogs extending that into wind and solar, too.

This one, for instance, repeats a bog-standard list of anti-wind and anti-solar memes that, back in 2010, were fashionable among climate deniers. The ‘wind and solar are too intermittent’ meme, for instance, is a great hallmark of that era. “How much variable energy can a grid accept? Around ten percent, twenty percent tops it appears”, he wrote back then. I’d include examples of grids with higher percentages operating without a hitch today, but it feels almost cruel.

The extreme oldness of this documentary stands out. In one instance, he tours a solar farm in Lansing, Michigan, in which a bemused official states that a large farm can only power ten homes in a year.

It is the Cedar Street Solar Array, a 150 kilowatt 824 (that’s small) panel farm in downtown Lansing. Guess when that bad boy was built? 2008. Twelve years ago – an absolute eternity, in solar development years.

As PV Magazine writes, “The film reports on a solar installation in Michigan with PV panels rated at “just under 8 percent” conversion efficiency. It’s difficult to identify the brand of panel in the film (Abound?) — but that efficiency is from another solar era”. Efficiency gains in solar have been so rapid that by leaving the dates off his footage he is very actively deceiving the audience. The site generates 64-64 MWh a year, according to the owner – a more recent installation in the same area generates around 436. The footage really is from another era. It’s like doing a documentary on the uselessness of mobile phones but only examining the Motorola Ultrasleek.

Later, they visit the Solar Energy Generating System (SEGS) solar farm, only to feign sadness and shock when they discover it’s been removed, leaving a dusty field of sand. In the desert. “Then Ozzie and I discovered that the giant solar arrays had been razed to the ground”, he moans. “It suddenly dawned on me what we were looking at. A solar dead zone”.

Which is a weird one, because the site they were visiting, SEGS-1 and SEGS-2 site in Daggett, was midway through being replaced with upgraded solar PV, which generates significantly more electricity, is cheaper, has no site emissions and has no water usage, compared to the 1984 technology.

The old SEGs (image – 2014)
The new SEGs (aka Sunray 2 and 3)

Sunray 2 and 3 are now generating electricity – significantly more than the old site.  97,631 megawatt hours in 2018. You could run a toaster for 9,288 years, by my calculations. There is a 650 megawatt expansion planned – to be built over existing human-impacted land.

In a red flag for any veteran of the wind farm debate, Gibbs then uses footage of a collection of old wind turbines – rusted, gross and horrible – to illustrate the short life and lasting damage of these huge spiky bastards.

somber music
somber music

If you’re familiar with the network of anti-wind farm groups, you’ll recognise that they’re old machines from South Point on Big Island, Hawaii. They were removed in 2012, by the owner of the facility. All that is left now are small hexagonal pads on farmland used by the cattle that roam it:

farmland hawaii
The farm’s owner kept the old bits of turbine around, for whatever reason….

“Why for most of my life, have I fallen for the illusion that green energy would save us?” It sounds like he’s saying this in 2020, but he is saying it well in the past. Gibbs was posting anti-wind memes roughly 23 full epidemics ago.

Nothing in this is new. With regards to its wind and solar parts, it smacks of 2010s era climate change denial, in which renewables were seen by detractors as expensive, wasteful, low-capacity, heavily corporatised and destined to fail. Things are different in 2020, but the director isn’t. He doesn’t need to be.


Even the ideas are old

Putting aside the sites they visit and the footage they use, there are some ideas in this documentary that are well worn and highly recognisable memes from the 2009 – 2013 climate denial wonder years.

You can tell when someone’s knowledge of this has formed solely from doing a Google search for “solar panels bad don’t like”, and it really shows in this film.

Early on in the documentary, Gibbs has an exchange with an anti-wind farm protester about coal-fired power:

Protester: You need to have a fossil fuel power plant backing it up and idling 100% of the time, because if you cycle up or cycle down as the demand on the wind comes through, you actually generate a bigger carbon footprint if you ran it straight”

Gibbs: Do you ever go to things where they just go “Oh, that’s not true, it doesn’t matter we’re going to have a smart grid”?

Protester: Doesn’t make any difference, they still gotta– they’re using it. You gotta have it idling. Because, let’s just say the wind stopped right now. Just stopped for an hour. You’ve got to have that power

This extremely silly concept – that coal-fired power stations run at 100% capacity all the time regardless of how much power they output – is so old it hurts my brain. In fact, it was big in 2012, when I came across it in Australian media. It’s wrong. If the power plant generates less electricity, it uses less coal. Gibbs is putting this eight-year-old meme in the microwave and serving it up in for his audience.

Later, he presents the work of a researcher named Richard York, who claims that the addition of renewable energy has no impact on fossil fuel output. I can’t access the paper, which is from – you guessed it – 2012, but the premise is mind-numbingly silly.

Electric grids match supply and demand at all times. Energy generated from one new source has to replace energy generated from an existing source – the grid would collapse, if it didn’t. That is why South Australia’s grid looks like this:

Via OpenNEM

And Denmark looks like this:

2020_04_09 - Chart3 - Denmark
I made this chart for this

Things start to get into proper, outright, anti-vax / climate denier grade misinformation when producer Ozzie Zehner comes in.

“One of the most dangerous things right now is the illusion that alternative technologies like solar and wind are somehow different from fossil fuels”, he tells Gibbs. “You use more fossil fuels to do this than you’re getting benefit from it. You would have been better off just burning fossil fuels in the first place, instead of playing pretend” .

It is, in fact, possible to scientifically examine the emissions associated with making, transporting and erecting renewable energy, and compare it to the emissions saved by using it. There are just so many studies on this, but here’s the Breakthrough Institute’s Zeke Hausfather:

It’s important to be really clear about this: Zehner’s remarks in this film are toxic misinformation, on par with the worst climate change deniers. No matter which way you look at it, there is no chance that these projects lead to a net increase in emissions.

Gibbs attends a solar conference – again in some non-specific year – and is told by a bunch of obviously well-meaning and slightly baffled young renewable energy experts (literally the only young, diverse people in the film) that battery storage is a way of managing intermittency.

“When I looked up how much battery storage there is, it was less than one-tenth of one percent of what’s needed”, he says, presenting a pie chart (augh) of IEA data with a minuscule slice from batteries. But grid scale of batteries doesn’t need massive capacities to be functionally useful for managing the integration of renewables – so it’s a deeply misleading chart.


In checking the information, I can’t find International Energy Agency data for “51 giga BTU” of battery capacity anywhere on their site. 546,000,000 “Giga BTUs” is 546,000,000,000,000 BTUs. which is 160,032,600,000,000 watt hours, or around 160,000 terawatt hours.

This is ‘primary energy supply’ – how much energy was generated, but includes the quantity of energy wasted through inefficiency. If you only look at global annual electricity – the field in which batteries play – it’s around 20,000 TWh (they use a similar deception for Germany’s biomass share). So it’s an extra dodgy comparison.

Gibbs has created a self-sustaining argument here. If someone builds a battery storage installation, he can visit the site and monotone sadly about its presence. If someone decides to not build that battery, he can look up the statistics and monotone sadly about the lack of battery capacity.

In an earlier scene, at the launch of the General Motors Chevy Volt (2010, of course), he complains that the cars are being charged by the coal-sodden electric grid of that state – another great example of the infinite loop Gibbs has created for himself, considering his reaction if more wind and solar were built to make that electricity cleaner.

There’s gas, too. They repeatedly claim that shutting down coal plants results in replacement with gas. And in the US, gas has indeed expanded to fill a decent proportion of the gap left by coal:

US Gas

The UK has a similar thing too, where both renewables and gas are squeezing out coal. But scroll back up to Denmark, above, where a combination of interconnection with other countries, massive wind build-out and coal and gas shutdown has cleaned up the grid. Or Germany, where gas output remains unchanged as coal plants shut down.

There is nothing inherent to renewable energy that makes gas compulsory. All that matter is how the transition is managed. For a long time, gas was sold as a transition fuel, including by organisations like the Breakthrough Institute. But it is becoming increasingly clear that while it might ease change, it isn’t compulsory, and the urgency of decarbonisation has increased.


This film is a long, slow painful monument to laziness

It feels so weird writing about these things again. I feel like I’ve been transported back in time ten years, back to my early days in the renewable energy industry. We’d combat these viral memes every single day.

The industry looks different now. Many wind companies have learnt that insensitive, clumsy development leads to backlash that is harmful for everyone, so they’ve started to clean up their act. Solar developers are figuring out more sustainable pathways than the boom and bust of government subsidies. The human rights issues around mining and materials are becoming more prominent. Renewable companies are taking waste removal seriously.

And then this documentary comes along – a dumb old bull in the china shop that is 2020’s hard-earned climate action environment. There’s a lot of fragile, hard-fought stuff to wreck in there, and Gibbs goes absolutely wild. He’s bulldozing a lot of hard work.

mellowly dramatic music

Gibbs obviously has a long-running gripe with biomass, which has a whole range of serious issues associated with it. Though I don’t know the industry well, I suspect many of his gripes there are valid.

But the outright lies about wind and solar are serious and extremely harmful. Wind and solar aren’t just technological tools with enormous potential for decarbonisation. They also have massive potential to be owned by communities, deployed at small scales with minimal environmental harm, and removed with far less impact on where they were than large power stations like coal and gas. They do incredible things to electricity bills, they decentralise power (literally and figuratively), and with more work they can be scaled up to properly replace fossil fuels.

Gibbs isn’t interested in this stuff. No one in 2012 was. He’s armed with a list of dot points from climate denier blog Watts Up With That, and he’s ready to go. The key harm of this documentary is that it does what so many communicators struggle, but fail to do – it presents ideas from one ideological cluster into the world of another. It is very actively and successfully escaping the ‘bubble’, and selling far-right, climate-denier myths from nearly a decade ago to left-wing environmentalists in the 2020s, and going by much of the comments, it seems to be doing well. Gibbs is transcending both time and ideological space, held aloft by a system that provides prominence to mediocrity.

It’s tough to look past how popular this has been. The film’s been boosted because many interviews feature the popular and well-known producer Michael Moore, including on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. Ludicrously, it received four stars (four. fucking. stars.) in the Guardian, a media outlet normally careful to not boost climate-denier grade misinformation.

All this prominence despite the fact that the film failed to find a distributor, and was dumped onto Youtube instead. “We’ve talked to sales agents. We believe that there will be a tremendous amount of interest in this film… This is going to get distributed. It will be seen”, Moore insisted last year.

It is clear that Gibbs’ starting point was a loathing of biomass, which then turned into a loathing of every single decarbonisation technology (except nuclear power, which isn’t mentioned in the film).

But he ends up at population control – a cruel, evil and racist ideology that you can see coming right from the start of the film. I wish I had the emotional energy to go into it, but I have spent it all. Earther’s Brian Kahn writes:

“There’s a reason that Breitbart and other conservative voices aligned with climate denial and fossil fuel companies have taken a shine to the film. It’s because it ignores the solution of holding power to account and sounds like a racist dog whistle”

The film features a parade of – solely – white Americans, mostly male, insisting the planet has to reduce its population. There is no information provided on which people in the world need to stop fucking, but we can take a guess, based on the demographics of the people doing the asking.

This documentary – particularly the parts on energy, renewables and industry- is extremely bad. It is Jeff Gibb’s 2010 Huffington Post blog drawn out in one hour and forty minutes, which feels like like a decade. I knew it would be lazy, but the magnitude of laziness here is incredible. It it mostly old. It is obviously re-hashing some specific gripes, like its attacks on the nicest guy in the whole of climate activism, Bill McKibben. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m like 2,000 words in. I don’t have the energy to glue together every single fragile thing that this bulldozer has destroyed.

It is the ultimate expression of lazy privilege to make something so void of effort, but so widely viewed and promoted. Criticism will be rebuffed as Not Being Able To Handle The Truth, or the classic We Just Wanted To Start A Discussion. It is still a package of old, dead ideas reheated by someone who knew that he did not need to put any effort into updating his thinking. There was no chance he would be talking to climate activists, talking to young people, talking to experts, talking to community advocates, talking to people from other countries, or really talking to anyone who wasn’t already mostly in his vicinity.

It should have faded off into the pit of Youtube’s unwatched terabytes, but it didn’t, because mediocrity is celebrated, boosted and broadcast if it comes from someone who looks and sounds the right way. That is a serious vulnerability. The hard work of climate and energy advocates, as they grapple with challenges like corporate malfeasance, the impacts of mining and bad development can be shattered by the monotone arrogance of a single person inflicted with the Dunning Kruger effect.

Somber music.



Edit note #1 – 28/04/2020 – A kind commenter pointed out I’d snapped the wrong sub-section of SEGS in the satellite imagery (which explains why I couldn’t find the entrance gate on street view!

Turns out they visited SEGS 1, which stopped generating in ~2015, and was replaced by a facility know as Sunray 2. It is a newer, single-axis tracking PV module system, built in 2015-2016, and has generated 74 gigawatt hours since energisation. They must have visited in the short time between this replacement process. The upgrade meant no emissions on site, lower land use, no water for cooling and a lower environmental impact.

Edit note #2 – 29/04/2020 – I didn’t have time to dig into it, but the site Gibbs visit at the start of the doc is the ‘Kingdom Community Wind Farm’ in Vermont. Gibbs compares the construction of the wind farm to ‘mountain top coal’.

Here’s the completed wind farm (Gibbs’ footage is shot in fog, so there’s no perspective or scale):



And here’s what mountaintop mining looks like:

“Below the densely forested slopes of southern West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains is a layer cake of thin coal seams. To uncover this coal profitably, mining companies engineer large—sometimes very large—surface mines using strip mining methods.
This image of a surface mine in Boone County, West Virginia from 2009.
Based on data from NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite, this natural-color (photo-like) image document the Hobet mine in 2009″ source

They are still paying the local community on a yearly basis. “As part of the Good Neighbor Fund, payments will be made to the following towns: Eden will receive $77,420, Albany $69,885, Craftsbury $33,851, and Westfield and Irasburg each will receive $10,000. The Good Neighbor Fund provides benefits to the five towns within five miles of the project not including the host town, Lowell, which receives significant tax revenue from the project. The payments are determined based on generation”, GMP said in 2016. As of 2019, they’re running regular tours of the site for locals.

“While some are critical of the turbines, Couture, who runs Couture’s Maple Shop and Bed and Breakfast in Westfield, told GMP that he can see the turbines outside his kitchen window, “and I love it. “I love that they are generating local power. My guests at the B&B love watching the turbines – I’ve never heard a negative comment””, wrote a local paper, in 2014. So much for mountaintop mining.

Edit note #3 – 01/05/2020 – Correcting my own edit! A kind reader pointed out Green Mountain Power was sold a few years back, so have removed a sentence that stated it was still owned locally.

Read the next post here

  1. Hello..all earth firsters.
    I myself have opted not to watch this documentary, but only read reviews of it and talk to people that have watched and get their views of it.
    And here is what I think so far of I’ve read and heard.
    First it’s mostly old news.
    But ok it’s getting people attention because its Michael More and people watch his stuff,so the news is a bit dated but in the end apparently we can not techno fix our way out of our trashing and abusing the earth.
    But at the end of the day its overpopulation witch I totally agree on,and bashing certain ethnic groups as privileged and racist is certainly politically correct but bottom line is 3rd word countries are were overpopulation is a more pressing issue,so white men talking heads condemning overpopulation needs to be said,and maybe these people were the most articulate or maybe educated on this topic.
    Bottom line as someone pointed out in an earlier post how will all this look when their are 10 billion people on the Planet of the Humans.
    Truly. J

    Liked by 1 person

    1. re: “First it’s mostly old news.”

      Yeah, that changes everything – right? I mean, facts have a limited lifetime, after which they expire … true or false?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t you get it Bliad ? There won’t be 10.0m ‘humans’ ….. ever !!!!
        DOPE..Obachano !!!


      2. You’re right facts don’t change but technology does and portraying today’s green movement as useless because it had to evolve is disingenuous. Fake news .
        It’s like saying cars aren’t very good for transportation by looking at a model T Ford


      3. Since change is a thing in the real world, an claim of fact — about, say, the efficiency of photovoltaic panels — that is true in 2010 may indeed be false in 2020. Information can become obsolete. Truth is not a permanent feature of all statements of fact. Hope this clears up your philosophical difficulties.


      4. Larry Gilman writes: “Since change is a thing in the real world, an claim of fact — about, say, the efficiency of photovoltaic panels — that is true in 2010 may indeed be false in 2020.”

        GOOD LUCK overturning the laws of physics so cavalierly there chief. Solar panel efficiency is up, a LITTLE but NOT dramatically and facts are still FACTS. The are factors that will always limit solar panel efficiency. AND solar cells working at night? That STILL isn’t going to change.

        I take it that most of you ppl posting here aren’t involved in the hard sciences, so, most of these arguments I make regarding ‘facts’ don’t take root in your minds, such is the ethereal world of the non-STEM educated individual …


      5. Since reality can change, a statement of fact — about, say, the efficiency of photovoltaic panels — that is true in 2010 may indeed be false in 2020. Information can become obsolete. Hope this clears up your philosophical difficulty.


      6. theunmanspeaks, you made the EXACT same post at that Gilman guy!

        And, you know, no matter HOW badly you wish that solar cells/panels met their “rated” nameplate output values the actual output will vary over the course of the daylight hours according to the height of the sun above the horizon and the incident angle that sunlight strikes those panels … right? So the actual output is a modified sinusoidal function of time … right? Do you understand this? A BETTER solution to mankind’s energy needs is the SunCell that I’ve mentioned once or twice so far in this thread, so I don’t need to labor that point and I won’t in this post.


  2. Please point me to an area of significant size, say 250sq.mi. and 20 million people that solely uses windpower.
    For several years now South Australia has been the poster child for how NOT to implement any sort of “climate friendly” power. They had one huge blackout in 2017. They continue to suffer from sporadic rolling blackouts, despite a 96million AUS Tesla power battery. The company running it is making a healthy profit load leveling. Meanwhile SA hat some of the costliest unreliable power in a “developed” country.

    Who pays whom for the lost wildlife, birds, bats, raptors.?
    Who pays damages for the infra sound damages to people if the turbines are not safely sited?
    Who pays for the loss of wildlife, muddy runoff, and pollution from factory farming trees and shipping the ground up logs to the UK Drax power plant, which mostly runs on coal anyway.?

    Someone cited costs of nuclear waste storage and handling. Modern reactor designs which are mechanically failsafe for the most part don’t generate radioactive wastes because they can be operated to use all the radioactive elements used in them. Plus they can use recovered “spent” fuel from the previous generations of boiling water reactors.

    Just a few thoughts that it is necessary to look a little deeper into engineering truly low impact, economical energy if CO2 really is a climate problem.


    1. “Please point me to an area of significant size, say 250sq.mi. and 20 million people that solely uses windpower.”

      Why? Would it prove something? You do realize that every major grid in the industrialized world is fed by multiple sources of electrical power — that no large population anywhere relies “solely” on any single source?

      The advanced reactor designs you cite can’t yet be purchased on any market, and even industry claims about what they will cost per unit of energy produced (e.g., are much higher than the present-day costs of power from solar and wind systems — which are constantly declining. Economically, wind and solar have already won; they now dominate newbuild power generation globally precisely because of their low cost, with which nukes of whatever design have no prospect whatever of catching up. Nukes are a dead technology walking.


      1. re: “Nukes are a dead technology walking.”

        HWGA (Here we go again)

        REACHING back in history for an answer to use tomorrow. When are you guys going to move into the 21st century? I’m speaking now of NEW developments in the energy like the SunCell and its eventual use in MHD (Magneto Hydro Dynamic) power generation. Utilizing the energy realized from taking the electron in a Hydrogen atom to a _lower_ energy state results in 100x to 200X gain over that of simple combustion of the same Hydrogen … I recommend we ALL become familiar with this tech.


    1. re: ” I pointed out that Ozzie Zehner is a quack seven years ago”

      Debunking on the merits (or lack thereof) is one thing; It is quite another to simply have a differing opinion and label the opposing argument “quackery”.

      It seems to me that mankind is headed down the road (on many fronts) where the practicality of an idea is ignored, where the engineering analysis (overall cost-benefit analysis) considering the cost of materials, the construction, required access (roads to the mountain top) the buildings, the transmission lines and facility maintenance costs are ignored, because, (perceived) green!

      No more logos (logic) or rationality can be had on this subject, its ‘hard against the peg’ saturation with no middle ground, and that’s __not__ rational!


  3. Thanks for this deconstruction. I knew the film was deeply damaging and you’ve done the work of showing very clearly why.


  4. Thank you for your voice. I agree with many of your points. Unfortunately, most of your arguments are buried in a repetitive avalanche of bitter, caustic adjectives. Why?

    Nine times, yes, NINE times in this essay, you try to associate Jeff Gibbs with the “climate denier” label. Anybody who has watched the film or has followed Jeff Gibbs knows this is preposterous. Again, why?
    The only thing your attacks accomplish is to a) turn away those curious in your message and b) garner pat-on-the-back chuckles from those already in your corner.

    You note the irony of Gibbs driving around in his combustion engine vehicle, yet seem to completely fail to recognize the irony of an essay dedicated to calling a film “lazy” that is written with more “lazy” mudslinging in place of actually wrestling with the thesis of the film – “For advocates of ecologic justice, Are reductive equations of carbon dioxide really the hill we want to die on?”

    Your arguments are important. But you seem to ignore the larger question of the film. And in your anger, you risk turning your readers away from your arguments more than bringing them in.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “most of your arguments are buried in a repetitive avalanche of bitter, caustic adjectives. Why?”

      1) The arguments aren’t “buried” by the adjectives — they’re perfectly clear. At least, I found them so.

      2) The bitterness is there because it’s appropriate: the filmmakers have behaved in a way which provokes outrage. They have made an intellectually dishonest film that does real-world harm. Anger is an appropriate response and has been manifested not only by Joshi but by almost all other scientists and other respondents to the film. It’s an outrageous mess produced by people who should have known better and could have if they’d made the slightest effort to reach out. )If you find Joshi’s pissed-off tone offputting, then you do — there’s no arguing with that. But I find his emotional honesty refreshing. He cares; it shows: fine by me.

      3) If this movie’s thesis was indeed merely to ask whether we want to die on a “hill of reductive equations of carbon dioxide,” it’s almost too vapid to discuss, because none of the individuals or organizations prominently criticized in the film are so simplistic. There may be single-issue CO2 zealots out there, but Bill McKibben isn’t one of them. Nor is he a corporate shill.

      5) Joshi’s repeated comparisons to climate denialism — not _accusations_ of climate denialism — are appropriate. Renewables denialism, the counterfactual insistence that wind turbines and PV panels don’t actually produce net energy, is a flourishing species of denialism that is fully present and accounted for in this film; and it is precisely as intellectually bankrupt as climate denialism, and for all the same reasons. The comparison is therefore fair. Moreover, the movie’s renewables denialism threatens harm that complements that of climate denialism, since one of the things — _one_ of the things — we need to do to avoid the worst degrees of climate catastrophe is to switch with extreme rapidity to virtually all-renewable energy generation in all sectors (per, e.g., the Green New Deal). This film diminishes the hope that we will move as quickly as we need to do in order to survive.




  5. So you’re a baby who drinks out of sippy cups and poops in a diaper? I mean that was true once, right?


  6. I watched the expert in the film with the lump of coal in his hand saying each PV panel required burning said lump and how terrible that was. I thought shouldn’t we compare the power value of that lump vs the total power the panel will eventually produce. The expert isn’t an expert if he couldn’t figure that out.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The cost to the environment loss birds and destruction of the planet to mine rare earth metals… is not mentioned in your commentary…you use up more concrete rare earth metals then you generate power.. plus the wasted land setting up solar panels… what about the cost to recycle the said turbines and solar panels…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 1.state of the art solar panels are already more efficient than plants/biomass.
      photosynthesis might be very efficient (far less than 100%you claim… remember plants shut down when over illuminated – solar cells continue to work even up to 100 suns)
      But solar panels do not waste water, do nor move, do not shed cellulosis biowaste, etc.
      Biomass sun to plug efficiency is below 3%. Far cry from even 8% solar panels movie mentions… And it is biomass wchich uses Land. Fertile land, land you need plough and land wchich will erode to desert with use by biomass.

      Solar panels csn go on all UNUSED land – deserts, rooftops, rooftops of parkings, even above road side acoustic bareers and some ppl even suggest roads themselves.
      Earth has plenty of unused land. Use google maps and You will find out how much there is in best illuminated areas.

      ad patriarchy i agree – it keeps coming back over and over.
      I would even agree that population control starts here – just abandon patriarchy as it’s main driver.

      Ad nuclear – NO.
      Nuclear has political costs.
      It strenghtens authoritarian power systems because all stages of it’s operation require power and military.
      It is also counter productive that way as military costs most of money, leaves worst waste, both social and physical and lasts generations.
      In a way all nuclear power goes to support system allowing to produce it… leaving poor people slaves of political system dependent on it.
      It truly generates Power – political. not thermal or electric.


      1. re: “In a way all nuclear power goes to support system allowing to produce it… leaving poor people slaves of political system dependent on it.”

        Example: France.

        ALL of France has turned into a system “leaving poor people slaves of political system dependent on it.

        True or false?


      2. true or false is not acceptable level of discussion.

        France is interesting example because it needs to decomission many plants but money for that somehow are not there – will they sell part of their territories to make it? to who? Or will they just push those costs on… someone?
        In this regard nuclear power clearly looks like long term, high risk and high intrest rate loan. What if workers will just form union or simply leave France, driving cost of the operation ?
        Perhaps some long term deal could be made to fix that but what will warrant it? is there any political will to do that?


  8. I bow to Michael Moor for his bravery and honesty.
    Most of the critiques of the film are made up of personal smears and nasty attacks on the artistic quality of the film, interspersed here and there with scant bits of info that is difficult to understand even if one is not suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. This particular review is pure demagoguery—like most of the other critiques by the deeply hurt environmentalists. It is as painful to read as the praises from the right-wing assholes.

    1. We should not be making solar panels until we can get *at least* to 60–70% efficiency out of them. Anything else is embracing in the 21 century, no modern engineer would build an engine that is 20% efficient. A green leaf can achieve almost 100% efficiency in capturing light energy, so should we.
    2. Still waiting for the discussion about extracting silicon from quarts—hello?
    3. As a materials science engineer, I have always been sickened to the core seeing how flippant environmentalist are about all those metals and minerals that the electronics industry is greedily consuming. They are precious resources! And not ours! Their extraction is destroying Latin America and Africa. Shame on green Demagogues!
    4. I am as equally sickened by the environmentalists’ complete refusal to even consider properly managed *small* nuclear power plants. Mostly due to their utter lack of education and too much emotional involvement. It’s like a religion to them. This is why the environmentalist collective answer is as if their religion was attacked. What we do when we invest our very being into a system of beliefs—then, even the slightest critique is intolerable as if our ego was attacked.
    5. All this sickening uproar about the “population control” supposedly promoted in the film. The film is not about population control, this is a cheap propaganda trick and demagoguery by the people who refuse to engage in an honest dialogue. Why, in the world, is this discussion ‘racist’ and ‘anti-immigrant?’ Because this sounds like you are making a good argument? You are not! It is a feminist discussion. It’s sad that there is no exploration in the film of the reason for the population explosion. It is not a fucking fear of death, of course. It’s very simple: PATRIARCHY. No FREE woman would ever birth more children than she can sustain in her life span—which is 2-4 max. Poverty is another, but that, too, is the side effect of Patriarchy. Sorry to inform you, but there is plenty of poverty and overproduction of destitute children in America. By the white, poor, uneducated, abused, abandoned women. A side effect.
    6. Bill McKibben is not the ‘nicest guy,’ he is a fake guru and know-nothing. The moment I first heard him, years ago, it was clearly obvious. I have to turn DemocracyNow! off when he is visiting. Now, listening to him praising the burning wood chips, I realized he was quite possibly crazy too. It’s OK to cut Virginia’s trees—for the green purposes. But please, not the Amazon forests.
    7. Everyone keeps repeating the producers did not talk to ‘experts.’ But they were! And not all of them were white males. There were women there: an anthropologist, a few activists and local residents, at least one was a young electrical engineer. The latter was trying to explain the simplest fact—repeated a few times in the film, but no one seemed to get it. A *steady* operating system uses much less energy than a system that is either accelerating or decelerating. So the back up power systems must *always* be on, they cannot be turned off and on. Batteries supporting them? The batteries are a green thing? Lithium batteries? From Chile and Peru?
    8. There is still another kind of critical comparison I am waiting for. The people in the documentary have already been compared to the ‘climate-change deniers’ and to the ‘antivaxxers.’ To the white supremacist, immigrant haters, and conspiracy theorists. So, I am waiting for them to be compared to the ‘holocaust deniers’ too. That will only be logical. Or maybe to the ‘flat earth’ believers? Anyone?
    9. Why is it OK for Vandana Shiva to condemn the faux Green Agribusiness but not for Moore and Gibbs?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This film is a polemic against the corporate interests who have (in the USA and probably Australia too) subverted the environmental movements. There is no doubt in my mind that this is correct. Listen to Richard Aedy’s podcast on ABC Radio National, Hot Mess. @lunaticridge, I’m not agreeing with anything you say, other than to say that Bill McKibben came across as “shifty” to me, possibly because of who seems to be sponsoring him. And Ketan Joshi, another thread in the film shows the problems with continued “growth”. Is unlimited growth what we need? What happened to the replaced solar panels at Sunray? Recycled?
      Nothing is beyond examination. And the problem is within ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i bet on You being a troll – you paste emotional link to fake research on birds vs turbines – lived in east germany and if turbines killed birds there would be non-stop grill parties under windmills.
        I wonder who believes such crap – probably someone who never left home to see running windmill with his own eyes. It gets posted over and over internet.

        Now explain me how nuclear is harmless to animals – to set up military base protecting it, you think military is bunch of tree hugging hippies, and tanks and military vehicles have EPA caps and catalysts?

        Anyway this misses the point – power plants are set up because of overpopulation and widespread poverty. This is act of despair to save lives. If people were rich enough and sparse enough centralised power plants would make no point at all. It would be even safer as this would make power generation difficult to attack and destroy.


  9. What a truly horrifying article and sign of our times. This page is being spread as a serious response to the film, and it literally posts pictures of people from the film to make ridicule or discredit them based on the way they look. No serious adult would ever do something like that. All credibility of any of your arguments is lost once you show that you’re the type of person to do that sort of thing.

    Liked by 2 people

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