CO2 Catch-22

Some environmentalists want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar energy generation. But building wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries requires tons of raw materials acquired mostly via mining.

In a recent article in an Australian newspaper, a survey of mining company CEOs revealed that in addition to reducing their own carbon emissions, they expect to, “begin taking responsibility for the greenhouse emissions produced by their customers including steelmakers and power stations that burn the resources they extract.”

Generating carbon emissions to mine for materials to build devices that reduce those emissions seems a classic Catch-22 conundrum. It echoes a recent German auto study that found that electric cars produce more CO2 emissions than diesel powered vehicles when you take into account the emissions of the power plant that produced the electricity to charge the car’s battery .

These problems have no simple solution.