Graphic Reminder: Clean Energy Means Less Mining

April 7, 2023

This animation of Michael Thomas’ graph comparing current mining for fossil fuels vs mining needed for the clean transition is spot on, and can’t be shared often enough.

Clean energy means less mining.


8 Responses to “Graphic Reminder: Clean Energy Means Less Mining”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    For those of you having trouble with the animated scale, here’s the original article from Distilled:

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I can see from the Twitter replies that “But the tailings!” is the ongoing anti-renewable talking point with respect to mining.

    Mountaintop removal, oil spills (whether the open sea or inland waterways), and CH4 going straight to the atmosphere from wells and coal mines are conveniently ignored.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Dr. Kane’s team’s analysis included things like steel for the wind turbines.

      Has anyone made a comparable calculation for the steel used by the oil&gas industry? Forget, for a moment, the refineries, the oil tankers, the massive oil rigs and the tank farms (for storage, analogous to grid batteries), and just look at the thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines crawling all over the US.

      • Mark Mev Says:

        I look at those maps with all those pipelines and it makes me wonder. If it is so hard to get high voltage lines done, how could all these pipelines have been done?

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          Pipelines are largely hidden (some do run above ground), while traditional high voltage structures are very visible and take up a lot of space. And establishing new pipeline rights of way gets a lot of pushback from property owners.

          “Many ROWs range from 25-150 feet wide, but may be wider or narrower depending on specific locations.”

  3. One of the biggest users of fossil fuels (mostly diesel) is the mining industry. There’s plenty of copper to be mined, but there’s not plenty of copper mines. All the proposed EVs, wind farms and such will require a vast increase in mining. It takes a lot of time to start a new mine, plus it’s very expensive to do it cleanly:

  4. indy222 Says:

    This Lithium Yale CC video is only talking about the tonnage of lithium vs the tonnage of FF’s, which is not the relevant comparison. It’s the tonnage vs the known reserves, and the cost of extraction. Thanks Mike for posting the copper video. Copper has no real substitutability (as Neoclassical econ’s like to assume). I’ve read that to meet the promises made for EV deployment will required that we mine as much copper in the next 20 years as all the copper that’s ever been mined in the history of humanity. Costs rise rapidly as the quality of the ore drops.

  5. indy222 Says:

    I still see the earnest hope that we can “have it all”. Eternal growth everlasting. On a finite planet. No, it doesn’t work, and the farther we go in eating through our seed corn, the harsher will be the payback by Nature when it comes due. Sure, all we need is “Green Growth” and problem solved! No. As long as money is being made, entropy of the civilized portion of reality is being lowered, and that imposes a 2nd Law energy cost on maintaining that. How much of the Earth do we want to destroy before we’re satisfied and say “enough is enough”? When 8 billion people all live like well-off Europeans? And what will those well-off new Europeans then want? More wealth, of course. Pedal to metal until we hit the wall. The enemy isn’t so much FF’s as it is the notion of eternal growth itself. That fact has not penetrated “Climate Crocks” yet, so it seems.

    Click to access EFI-2-thermociv.pdf

    I like Nate Hagens’ idea of taxing not income, but instead taxing all non-renewables. That includes metals mining. And oil of course.

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