Obviously, we need to be wary of multinational alternative energy companies tied to the old neoliberal globalization model of resource extraction. We need to radically overhaul the energy infrastructure and construct vast systems of solar panels and wind turbines. However, we need a shit ton of minerals to do this.
Under the current model, solar panel production piggybacks off the mining and trading infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry. Basically, solar panel production is only possible through the continued production of oil and gas and involves other forms of heavy resource extraction. But we don’t have to rely on this pipeline to create the solar panel infrastructure we need. Sustainably, it doesn’t even make sense to mine for Coltan and rare earth minerals to create solar panels. A critical component for solar panel construction is quartz, the most abundant mineral on the planet. And due to natural erosion processes, sand itself could be used to construct them.
Let’s go back to the Law of Conservation of Matter. All of the minerals, fuels, and resources that have been extracted over the centuries have been used to create everything from Iphones and laptops to cars and skyscrapers. All of the matter we need is already within our reach.
In America’s sacrifice zones, some of the poorest cities have resorted to selling off scrap metal to make up deficits. In Camden, New Jersey the scrap metal business is the second most profitable industry behind the open air drug markets. Cargo ships from all over the world come to Camden’s port to be loaded with copper, concrete, and other metals that have been harvested from the guts of the city. While this process tragically shows what poverty has done to our cities, we can flip this to reflect a positive implementation of the same idea. If we construct a similar process with other cities we will have enough materials at our disposal to create solar panels.
We can de-urbanize the environment while simultaneously building alternative energy structures. But instead of scrapping the dilapidated and impoverished parts of cities, we should primarily focus on the edifices of bourgeois power. The City of New York is currently constructing the largest apartment complex in the city on 42nd street and Eleventh Avenue. The absurdly named Sky building will house 1,175 housing units complete with two large pools, a putting green and a cafe. Upon its completion, Sky will join One57 and 432 Park Avenue as the largest and most expensive residential buildings in the city.
Our method to create so-called sustainable cities should focus on dismantling and breaking down the material structure of these skyscrapers, luxury condos, and bureaucratic office buildings for the creation of a new green energy infrastructure focused on reviving blighted communities. Eric Sanderson argued that ideally cities should incorporate 80% green space consisting of parks, plazas, community gardens, and forested paths with all man-made structures built around these central features. We can switch up our values, where anthropocentric modes of living become second to ecological systems. We should prioritize greenery over the gray corporate landscape of human structures.
In essence, breaking store windows on 5th Avenue and setting fire to Time Square has a purpose. The anger expressed during rioting demonstrates a deep psychological rejection of the dominant patriarchal worldview. The entire Earth has been enclosed by this violent mentality that sees ecosystems, flora, fauna, and traditional human communities as subjects to be conquered and controlled. We need to reorient our values to an ecological-working class perspective that puts environmental systems and blue collar culture above that mainstream paradigm that places man over nature. Imagine the new structures we could create, which would essentially cause a total restructuring of our economy as well as the very ways we relate to each other as a species. Granted, this seems pretty radical but not as radical as decimating indigenous communities on far away continents to rape the land of resources we don’t even need.