When the sun and the wind…
«If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change».
Tancredi, The Leopard (1958)
How do you make industrial society sustainable in the times to come? An old question that the rulers of the world are now being forced to ask themselves differently. Forced, given that certain models of exploitation risk spinning out of control if societies continue to follow the same pattern. Every summer the forests go up in flames in increasingly apocalyptic proportions, even as far as the arctic circle. The land is drying up. The sea levels are rising. The oceans are emptying of fish. Pollution is killing the flora and fauna irremediably, in spite of everything rendering the human being even more dependent on the pharmaceutical industry to face all this. The more the devastation advances, the more the artificialization of the living is seen as the one and only solution.
And in fact it really is the only solution. In order to continue along the same road at least. To regulate territories even more, genetically modify organisms, build dams, reorganize the forests, fertilize the soil with the help of industrial input…: these are the only possibilities to give a glimmer of life to what is already dead. In the name of safeguarding the planet, what was left of this planet is being destroyed in order to build a simulacrum of it. Something that looks like it, but is not really it. To be or to appear to be, that is the question, the famous English bard might have said. Our epoch is destined to be that of appearances and ghosts. This «derealization» is underway everywhere and is becoming palpable, including in human relations, right to the innermost parts of the individual subjugated to this onward rush that mutilates them, adapts them, renders them artificial, an impoverished copy of what, once, they might have been.
A few decades ago France proudly chose the all-nuclear. Now installed everywhere, nuclear power stations were the promise of a bright future as guarantors of the country’s famous «energy independence». In fact it turned out to be «easier» to keep an iron grip on a country like Niger, main supplier of French uranium as well as being one of the poorest countries in the world, than maintain strategic positions on the oil-producing chessboard in the Middle East. Today the «French cycle» of nuclear production is not yet over. Increasingly old plants remain standing – the dismantling of which will just be one great open-air experiment with no guarantee of success –, lasting irradiation of certain areas and above all the notorious waste, for which there currently exists no solution other than to ‘bury it and wait and see’.
The project of burying nuclear waste in Bure is therefore one of the cornerstones of the entire French nuclear project; and it is immediately evident why local resistance clashes with a repression that doesn’t intend to spare any blows. A particularly important struggle, as should have been that against another «jewel» of French nuclear power, launched in 2006: the ITER project in the Provencal countryside, probably one of the most ambitious projects in the energy field, supported by 35 countries, with the purpose of conducting nuclear fusion research with 2035 as the new practical horizon (an experimental technique that tries to imitate the sun by fusing small nuclear atoms in order to release gigantic quantities of energy, something different from the fission currently carried out in plants, and that which «breaks» big atoms in order to recover the energy). But without waiting for the realization of the nucleocrats’ long-term projects, other technological advances have so far allowed the massive exploration of «new» energy sources, of which the most emblematic are without doubt wind-power, photovoltaic and what is known with the deceitful name of «biomass», i.e. the good old procedure of burning organic material in order to produce heat (and eventually electricity). In the midst of the confinement established to manage the Codiv19 pandemic, the French State presented its «multi-year energy programming», a sort of roadmap for the development of the energy sector. Shown off as the demonstration of the State’s efforts to go towards an «ecological transition» (i.e. the reduction of CO2 emissions), this project is above all an indicator of what should, for the most part, be done in the years to come. In order to catch the scope of this «programming» (to which the State in its best bureaucratic tradition has bestowed a fine acronym that risks coming up often in speeches: PPE), it is unfortunately inevitable to take a look at the figures of the evolution projected between 2018 and 2028. When the project refers to energy, this includes both the production of heat as of electricity or the use of hydrocarbons (mainly petrol). So, quite happily, we are comparing lemons with pears, but let’s move on.
Concretely, the «PPE» foresees a 15.4% decrease in energy consumption by 2028. In order to reduce this consumption, it foresees producing more than ever: the industry will have to produce less energy-consuming cars, build better insulated buildings, install heat networks, replace diesel lorries and buses with gas vehicles, etc. All this 2.0 and 3.0 industrial production obviously involves a significant use of energy, and no one feels like calculating how much energy will, in the end, really be «economized» if the fabrication of these new less energy-consuming products are included. But if this problem is never discussed, it remains fundamental all the same and imposes but one conclusion: when we consider the industrial system as a whole, there is no soft way to reduce energy consumption. The only way would be to stop machines, abandon induced needs, renounce the industrial life model, and such a «future» is obviously not taken into consideration, either by the ministries or the vast majority of households.
Let’s continue with data, because they are of some interest and a little more «palpable» than the usual chatter on «de-carbonization» and «transition».
In 2018, with certain areas by now completely sacrificed, such as northern France, the wind farm industry produced 15 Gigawatt. The goal for 2028, i.e. in less than ten years, is to double this production aiming for 33 GW. To have an idea of this: today the French nuclear power station produces about 60 GW. From 8,000 wind turbines currently installed, there will be therefore 14,500 in 2028, i.e. almost double the amount, of which a small part (5 GW) installed in the sea, mainly on the Breton coast.
Let’s go on. In 2018 solar power production in France («solar farms» as well as solar panels installed on the roofs of companies and private homes) reached 10 GW; in 2028 it will have to increase to 44 GW, i.e. to quadruple. Finally, to remain within so-called «renewable energy», there is the production chain of biomasses (bio doesn’t refer to «biological» production, but to the fact that these are organic materials). Mainly dedicated to heat production, this production chain also produces electricity. Half of what is burned is household waste, followed by solid fuels (wood, corn, rapeseed) and finally by biogases (methanization of waste through fermentation). In 2018, with 42 plants in function, the biomass production chain produced less than1 GW and it will increase little from now to 2028, following the example of hydroelectricity (22 GW today, 26 GW in 2023 especially thanks to the optimization of dams existing along the Rhone).
Conclusion of the «PPE»: the State is aiming at wind power and solar power, with the purpose of being able «to close down» four or six nuclear reactors by 2028. Nevertheless the State is aware that «consensus around wind power is weakening». In the wake of the propaganda campaign launched to promote 5G, PPE envisages therefore a big campaign of «awareness» to make people accept the construction of wind turbines a bit everywhere. Knowing that three projects out of four are currently the object of diverse and varied protests (which involve some delay, even if 90% of judicial proceedings against [wind power] parks never reach conclusion – this is for the maniacs of legalism), it is easy to foresee that the future installation of more and more wind turbines could lead to new resistance. Collectives and committees already exist almost everywhere, often having an annoying citizenist tendency, which protest against these projects, the new and the already existing ones.
Even more interesting is that sabotage is also carried out just about everywhere against the wind-measuring pylons (indispensable for installing future wind farms), against wind turbines themselves and against construction yards underway. However, considering the avalanche of anti-wind turbine «critiques» that support nuclear power at the same time, it seems important to introduce a net refusal of these structures into this resistance… as well as of the world that would ensue. To oppose wind turbines without criticizing industrialism and the way of life it has generated, can only lead to the search for other structures, perhaps less horrible to see, less noisy and less exterminator of birds and vegetation but which will always have the aim of guaranteeing a future for techno-industrial society. It is the same trap in which a good number of ferociously anti-nuclear environmentalists fell, preconizing the exploitation of the wind and the sun rather than the atom: now they can reap what they sowed.
Do we still need to insist on how fundamental and «critical» energy production is for the State and capital? All over the world, the States are running behind sources, waging wars, colonizing territories with the aim of securing them. Now, however, the race has started to find «alternatives» (or rather additions) so as to respond to an ever-growing demand for energy: shale gases, bituminous sands, genetically modified rapeseed and corn oils, sea and wind plants, solar PV systems, nano-structuring of conductor materials… research is unrestrained and competition ferocious. On the other side, States that can afford it are simultaneously developing projects to increase the resilience of their energy networks, warning about the vulnerability of the economy and of state domination, very dependent on a network which is after all too fragile considering the interests it represents.
Without making absurd claims, what can an individual, a bunch of individuals, do against the industrial monster? Alone, nothing decisive perhaps, and in any case not destroy it. But disturb it, yes. Delay projects, yes. Disturb it a great deal, yes. All this they can do. With simple means, a lot of imagination and a pinch of courage. When sun and wind are put at the service of dominion, it is the darkness of the night and the calm of the starry skies that call us. Now more than ever it is a question of staying free and alive in a deadly world, of living resolutely in a world in complete decomposition…
From French: Avis de Tempêtes 31/32, 15th August 2020 PDF
Translated to English by act for freedom now!