Wind turbines look deceptively “clean” with their white gleaming blades smoothly spinning in the wind, effortlessly producing green power for an energy-hungry world. However, the construction of these behemoths is not environmentally friendly at all.
For example, thirty-three turbine generators destined for Scotland were made in the most un-environmentally friendly country in the world—China. For these clean machines to be made, Chinese farmers in the Baotou region in Inner Mongolia had their wheat and cornfields destroyed. Their lands were turned into immense tailing lakes of bubbling toxic muck created by the careless mining practices of the companies as they dig for metals needed for these environmentally “green” turbines.
Environmental Impact of Mining of Neodymium
Neodymium has been used for decades in many devices such as hi-fi speakers, hard drives and lasers. However with the frenetic demand for wind turbines pushed by liberal environmentalists, the demand has skyrocketed. Baotou has one of the largest reserves of rare earths metals known to man, including neodymium. It had always been mined in the region but only became important with the rise of two green efforts—wind turbines and hybrid electric cars.
Sadly, with this increased mining of neodymium, 7,000,000 tons of toxic waste (some even radioactive) is dumped every year into a six-mile-wide, man-made lake in Baotou.1 This lake has become so large and toxic that it is now jeopardizing one of China’s most important waterways.
When companies began mining for rare earths in the sixties, the lake in Baotou was just a small toxic tailing pond. But, over the years it was enlarged, spreading its toxic stench, increasingly poisoning the water table and even causing death. The chemicals and heavy metals have leaked into surface water and now have penetrated the aquifer, endangering the irrigation systems farmers rely upon to water their land and livestock. In predictably communist fashion, the problem was simply ignored. Communist Chinese officials pay lip service to environmental concerns to assuage leftist concerns, then carry on with business as usual. Soon, anything planted by the villagers died from the toxins emanating from the lake, then their animals.
Environmentalists Admit the Irony
Jamie Choi, an expert for Greenpeace China admits the irony. “There’s not one step of the rare earth mining process that is not disastrous for the environment. Ores are being extracted by pumping acid into the ground and then they are processed using more acids and chemicals.”2 So while leftist environmentalists campaign against nuclear, oil and coal power because of their negative impact on the environment, they turn a blind eye to the massive environmental damage cause by the construction of wind turbines. Where are the heart-wrenching pleas to help the poor, marginalized people being exploited in communist China?
Far away in the UK, the installation of wind turbines continues to cause damage to the enviro
nment. There are currently over 3,000 turbines in Great Britain alone, all of which required destroying environmentally beautiful landscapes in order to install service roads that, among other things, delivered 3,000,000 pounds of concrete for each turbine foundation. However, when confronted with the glaring contradiction of damaging nature, environmentalists such as Craig Bennett simply brush it off by saying “no way of generating energy is 100 percent clean and problem-free.” While this is true, coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power generation cause fewer problems, are more abundant as resources and immensely more stable in the production of power. It becomes painfully clear that environmentalism has little to do with saving the environment. They are all too willing to sacrifice the environment for their ideology.
Clearly, wind turbines do little to improve the environment. They are not only environmentally unfriendly, but are incredibly ugly, destroy beautiful landscapes, are extremely unreliable in producing electricity and do not last long. Wind turbines have a duty cycle of 120,000 hours of use, which is the equivalent of 13.7 years of actual power production before they are replaced. Add to this the manufacturing of components and the actual on-site construction that contribute to horrific environmental damage, and this becomes a lose-lose proposition. When it comes to wind turbines, environmentalists are completely hypocritical regarding China, a country with deplorable human rights and environmental care standards. It’s time to face reality and put wind turbines into the dustbin of failed leftist experiments.