There is a good reason I was not a fan of Energy Secretary Steven Chu's nationalistic claim that we are in a 'race' to beat China in creating cheap solar panels.
It wasn't that we can't win for economic reasons, like that workers in America don't want to do jobs that Chinese people are happy to do - we live in a culture where we think every janitor should get a $50 an hour benefit package and university students get sex change operations included in their health care plans, whose $50,000 costs are then paid for by federal student loans and federal taxpayer grants and, soon, federal health care underwriting. We aren't going to race to the bottom in wages and an iPad would cost $3,000 each if we built them in America, which is why Steve Jobs laughed at President Obama when the president asked how we might get some of that Apple manufacturing in America. There is no way America is competing with anyone but France in labor costs.
No, my prime concern was that a lot of toxic environmental damage goes into building solar equipment (Science Left Behind, pp. 78-80) - the extraction of rare earth metals is damaging and the construction is all done using fossil fuels. Obviously everything incurs environmental damage, if we add up all of the activist claims about environmental damage due to coffee, meat and whatever else, it far exceeds all of the actual environmental damage everywhere. The only thing environmentalists don't seem worried about are Prius batteries, and those they really should be scared about.
But solar panels are more specific than made-up nonsense about how it takes a gallon of gas to make a pound of beef, the waste can be tracked easily. While poor people in California and all over America subsidize solar installations so that rich people in Malibu can feel good in their incredibly wasteful mansions - in the name of saving the environment - Associated Press findings show that 17 California solar panel companies dumped over 46,000,000 pounds of hazardous waste into landfills in the recent 5-year period. Great, but let's keep on protesting nuclear power, environmentalists.
Like we do with China and iPhones, environmentally conscious people are okay rationalizing solar panels; as long as the slave labor and environmental pollution is somewhere else it is okay. So California ships off some of its hazardous waste to third world countries like Nevada, where much safer nuclear waste is a denial of science no-no.
Credit and link: Associated Press
The Hazardous Waste Of Solar Panels