Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXVIII

Steve Bull (
5 min readNov 20, 2022
Chitchen Itza, Mexico. (1986) Photo by author.

Personal Experience With ‘Renewables’

Let me begin this contemplation by stating that I do not hate ‘renewables’ nor am I a fossil fuel industry shill (the two common accusations lobbed at me whenever I criticise the notion of a ‘green/clean’ energy future). I have constructed my family’s 3.35 kW solar photovoltaic system from the ground up.

It consists of a variety of 100 and 150 watt panels placed upon our deck gazebo and two-car garage, lots of copper connectors, numerous charge controllers and deep cycle batteries (whose efficiency suffers in our Canadian winters due to their storage in our garage that despite being insulated is not heated and can get quite cold), and several inverters. What I am, I like to believe, is a realist that recognises this system’s limitations and implications for our world but especially for those colder-climate regions.

Here are a couple of recent pictures of part of our system, taken this past summer followed by one during the previous winter (those are 100 watt panels in the photo; there are 15 more panels on the garage directly behind the gazebo — 11 x 100 watt and 5 x 150 watt — and another 5 x 100 watt panels on the gazebo roof’s other side to capture late evening rays during our summers):

Here are my pre-gazebo versions that allowed me to periodically alter the angle of numerous smaller panels (40 watt) to better capture direct light:

Let me be frank, I truly believe that ‘clean/green’ energy is a misnomer; in fact, it’s a significant distortion of language that has been employed as a marketing scheme to sell products and a virtue-signalling myth to keep these products flowing to consumers. Not only does no such animal exist, but the complex narratives we’ve weaved about it are rife with the cognitive distortions of denial and bargaining, and heavily influenced by Big Money propaganda.

These stories we are told about a ‘clean/green’ energy future completely overlook a number of inconvenient facts.

First, the dominant narrative rarely if ever discusses all the fossil fuels that would be required to build out the non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies’ infrastructure and its products. Yes, there are arguments that ‘renewables’ can supply the energy required to replace these fossil fuel inputs. But this bargaining strategy ignores that almost all evidence/data supporting this perspective is dependent upon small-scale pilot projects that have not been and very likely will never be scaled up due to both technological and economic impediments. The tale is merely one of theoretical ‘possibilities’, predicated upon many as-yet-to-be-hatched chickens.

It’s also likely no coincidence that much (most?) of the capital funding going into ‘renewables’ and its widespread marketing campaign is being supplied by the corporate energy interests of Big Oil[1] and Wall Street Banks (who also fund Big Oil)[2].

The more damning issue, at least from a non-economic perspective (but has gargantuan economic implications if we were ever to deal with it properly — which we don’t), is the significant ecological systems destruction that would result from such a massive undertaking — to say little of the sociological/cultural implications for many of the regions home to the mineral extraction sites. Not only is there ample bargaining in this story as well — we can develop ‘cleaner’ means of doing business and ones that will benefit impacted peoples — but A LOT of denial regarding the significant environmental impacts (that mostly happen in faraway places that are out of sight — and therefore out of mind — and that can sometimes take years to manifest themselves).

The ‘green/clean’ energy-based, utopian future appears increasingly to have become a grand and extremely attractive narrative which its adherents have argued is the ONLY means of ‘solving’ our fossil fuel addiction. It reduces significantly the anxiety-provoking thoughts that accompany a realisation that humanity have severely overshot the natural carrying capacity of the planet, destroying it and untold numbers of other species, and faces a less than utopian future — to say the least. And it avoids, through the use of a tight Overton Window, the much more difficult option of a gargantuan ‘powering down’ our so-called ‘advanced’ economies and mitigating our overshoot in ways that most people (particularly in these ‘advanced’ economies) would not readily accept.”

But it also happens to bring with it a system of industrial production that sustains the status quo power and wealth structures. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the ruling caste of our planet is increasingly throwing its support behind this ‘solution’ to our energy ‘problem’. And, unfortunately, it seems a lot of very well-intentioned people and groups are being swayed by the widespread propaganda because after all who doesn’t want to avoid huge sacrifices and disruptions to the energy slaves and technological conveniences that provide our ‘advanced’ status.

As I argued in a previous contemplation:

“Keeping at the forefront of one’s thinking the fact that the future is unknowable, unpredictable, and full of unknown unknowns, anything is possible. But I would argue we do ourselves no favours in participating in and believing without full skepticism our various narratives about endless growth and technological ingenuity as the saviours that will make our utopian dreams/wishes of a ‘clean/green’ future come true.

Such magical thinking keeps us on a trajectory that increasingly is looking to be suicidal in nature, or, at the most promising, deeply ‘disappointing’ and broadly chaotic/catastrophic.”


The solar photovoltaic system I have constructed for many thousands of dollars (Canadian) supplies very little in the way of sustained power for our household. I mainly rely upon it as a marginal emergency backup system during our periodic power grid losses. It was capable of running a refrigerator/freezer in our garage for about 3 days during a blackout we experienced due to a devastating derecho that hit most of Ontario, Canada this past spring, before the battery system was drained and required several days to recharge. We have come to rely far more on the gas/propane generators we have. With no other source of home heating as this time, I hate to think of what we would do if our natural gas heating system was down during one of our long, Canadian winters. I know that our solar-based system would not be of much use in that situation.

Please visit my website where you can find links to related sites and news/articles; as well as an introduction to my ‘fictional’ collapse trilogy.

[1] See this, this, this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[2] See this, this, this, and/or this.



Steve Bull (

A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...