Wind and solar power require clearing and developing huge amounts of land to produce just a small amount of power. Nevertheless, Google News and the Climate Left continue to promote a ridiculous article by Pro Publica arguing that climate change, rather than wind and solar power, is responsible for deforestation that makes the spread of infectious diseases like coronavirus more likely. Here is a short summary of how illogical the Pro Publica article is.

According to Pro Publica, “Roughly 60% of new pathogens come from animals – including those pressured by diversity loss – and roughly one-third of those can be directly attributed to changes in human land use, meaning deforestation, the introduction of farming, development or resource extraction in otherwise natural settings.”

Pro Publica, however, gets the whole issue backward. Replacing the electricity produced by a single conventional power plant requires developing 50 square miles of land with solar panels or 300 square miles of land with wind turbines. That is much more land than is required by conventional power plants, and a heck of a lot of deforestation.

How much land does it require to power our economy with wind and solar power? As Harvard University scientists reported in 2018, we would have to cover one-third of the United States with wind turbines to generate the nation’s power with electricity. Electrifying automobiles, as the Climate Left desires, would likely push that number to close to half the United States. Again, that is a heck of a lot of deforestation.

Similarly, as shown in Climate at a Glance: Crop Production, global crop yields set new records nearly every year as more atmospheric carbon dioxide, longer growing seasons, fewer frost events, and more soil moisture create more ideal crop conditions. Higher yields mean less land is required to grow food, which reduces the need for deforestation to create more farms.

If deforestation indeed causes an uptick in diseases and the spread of viruses like coronavirus, the Climate Left is making the spread of viruses like coronavirus worse.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is managing editor of Environment & Climate News and a research fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute. Burnett worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis for 18 years, most recently as a senior fellow in charge of NCPA’s environmental policy program. He has held various positions in professional and public policy organizations, including serving as a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Task Force in the Texas Comptroller’s e-Texas commission.


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