Ozzie Zehner: Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales

Published on May 22, 2012

This event was held at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The seductive tales of wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels foster the impression that with a few technical upgrades, we might just sustain our current energy trajectories without consequence. Media and political coverage lull us into dreams of a clean energy future juxtaposed against a tumultuous past characterized by evil oil companies and the associated energy woes they propagated. Like most fairy tales, this productivist parable contains a tiny bit of truth. And a whole lot of fantasy.

This talk does not expose a scandal or cover-up in the traditional sense, but rather explores a particular alignment of interests and priorities that presents equally provocative questions to the environmental community. Solar cells shine brightly within the idealism of textbooks and the glossy pages of environmental magazines, but real-world experiences reveal a scattered collection of side effects and limitations that rarely mature into attractive realities.”



  • Steve Ongerth on Sep 04, 2014

    Not if the author is merely trying to sell old wine in new bottles, which is essentially what Zehner is doing. (And it’s particularly bad wine at that).

  • Zek on Aug 28, 2014

    This one has the audio in sync with the video:

  • Zek on Aug 28, 2014

    From the link in Steve’s comment: “These arguments are hardly fresh or groundbreaking. They are, in fact, essentially the same that were made by Richard Heinberg in The Party’s Over: Oil, Water, and the Fate of Industrial Society, in 2003, by William R Catton Jr. in Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, in 1973, and by Paul Erlich in The Population Bomb, in 1968, and Zehner expressly considers Heinberg and Erlich his compatriots (though he doesn’t mention Catton).”

    This article appears to debunk what is written here, but in truth all it does is say that what is said here is “the same as” what someone else said, and then goes on to debunk what someone else said.

    Critics should at least have the honesty to criticize what was actually said, which has a lot of merit, and is not addressed in the supposed criticism you link to.

  • Steve Ongerth on Aug 28, 2014

    Not you guys too! *groan* –

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