Marques Brownlee, Elegant Spokesman for Wealthy, Tech-Bro, Climate-Killing Energy Hoarders

Max Can't Help It!
6 min readAug 3, 2023

Have not paid for electricity in a year

That’s not true. He spent $120,000 dollars for his electricity last year. He bought solar panels as roof tiles, paid to have them installed and hooked up to large batteries.

He can capture up to 30 kilowatts of energy from the sun which he uses to power his house and Tesla Model S.

We’ll get to it later, but someone mined and burned copious amounts of coal, gas and oil (releasing greenhouse gases) to manufacture his system. Put aside the argument that solar panels will generate clean energy in the future. What we know, for sure — today — is that Marques burnt truck-loads worth of fossil fuels to feel energy secure.

He accelerated the warming of the planet. Again, let’s leave aside the question of will his system save lives in the future (to be fair, he never talks about saving the planet in his video).

Marques paid $10,000 a month for his electricity last year. Yes, each year he can amortize his investment, but after 30 years (much sooner for batteries), he’ll have to come up with another big wad of cash — burn more truck-loads of fossil fuels.

I won’t torture you, dear reader, by calculating the $500 a month you could earn on that money (for life), to pay your electric bill and probably others in your family too. Or point out that Marques is really paying $500 a month for electricity, when interest-lost is factored in.

Anyway, what he meant is that he didn’t pay a New Jersey utility company for electricity.

Can we all do what Marques did? Only if we’re wealthy.

In passing, Marques pointed out that the received a Federal and State tax credit to offset his costs. He was a bit upset that when he bought his system he didn’t get as much of a tax credit as he would today. I guess he hates the idea of his tax dollars going to school lunches for disadvantaged children.

But he’s on the right track. Shouldn’t the government give us whatever money we need to install solar? Let’s do the math.

There are 82 million single family homes in the United States. We need around $10 trillion dollars.

I don’t want anyone to accuse me of trying to tip the scale so let’s say we only need $5 trillion for the physical panels and we’ll do all the labor ourselves.

We’ll have to buy the panels from China because the U.S. barely manufacturers 1% of what we use. Why is that? The politicians point to the Uyghurs, to forced labor in China. They say China undercuts us on labor costs. That’s the least of it.

Manufacturing solar panels requires huge furnaces, fabrication machinery and 365/24/7 colossal amounts of heat to melt glass, aluminum and silicon. What’s the cheapest source of extreme heat needed for furnaces? Coal. Who will burn unregulated coal? China.

Cheap coal = cheap solar panels.

It’s politically incorrect to burn coal in the U.S. We complain about China burning too much coal but in the end, consumers like Marques can buy what they want.

Marques doesn’t mention that Xinjiang, in China, manufactures most of the world’s solar panels. Although Xinjiang’s population is less than California’s, it would rank as the 36th largest country in CO2 emissions. Yearly, its factories spew over 112 million tons of it!

If Marques’s solar panels were made with a more friendly CO2 fuel like gas, they would have been too expensive even for wealthy Mr. Brownlee to buy them. Yes, even the rich have their limits. Don’t believe the other political nonsense about the U.S. not having the technology needed to build solar panels.

The dirty secret behind the solar business is burning dirty coal — a lot of it.

You might say “You’re missing the big picture. Okay, it took fossil fuels to build that solar roof, but now that it’s built, he isn’t paying for coal to be burned.”

And I say…for now. Because his batteries will begin to go out within 10 years and the panels a decade or two later. So he must save money every year to replace them as they stop working.

And that money, as of today, would go into burning more dirty coal!

Forget the “clean” electricity in the future! If Marques produces more but uses more there is NO NET decrease in greenhouse emissions. Who keeps an eye on this?

Put wishful thinking aside. Solar panels and batteries are consumable, just like fossil fuels. They are not truly renewable like the sun (in a practical sense). They get used up. Again, they can’t be manufactured using themselves, no more than we can use our bicycle (legs) to power air travel.

If solar panels were easy to manufacture with electricity alone our nation would be dotted with solar panel factories (which aren’t to be confused with Tesla’s factories that can only assemble them).

Marques can’t setup a solar glass panel factory using the energy from his, or his whole neighborhood’s solar network. Technical problems aside, if they can’t make it economically possible with gas (which the U.S. has plenty of), how can they possibly do it with solar power?

What Marques has really done is changed the place and timing of his CO2 emissions.

In other words, in his first year, Marques didn’t reduce carbon emissions. He had China emit a year or two’s worth of coal burning CO2 to manufacture his panels. That is, what he was about to burn in the next few years he had China burn in a few days.

That CO2 is now going to kill us sooner rather than later. Clean electricity tomorrow will NOT remove that CO2.

If Marques’ house had burned down a day after his panels were installed, it would have been like his running a coal burning power plant for one to two years after that while throwing away the electricity.

Every time we build a piece of equipment for electric power generation or storage we front-load CO2 into the atmosphere.

Despite all the wind farms and solar panels you may see, the world has not meaningfully slowed down CO2 emissions. Sure, the pandemic slowed the burning of fossil fuels, but that was only temporary.

And that is PROOF THAT RENEWABLE IS NOT WORKING. Greenhouse gasses are NOT decreasing. “An Inconvenient Truth” is 17 years old. Shouldn’t we see some reduction? We don’t because we don’t focus on reduction today but reduction tomorrow which never materializes because we just find other ways to burn fossil fuels to do whatever.

Marques takes much of his YouTube earnings and funnels them into coal burning factories in China that create the components for his Tesla lifestyle. I’m not here to judge him, one way or the other. Most of us do the same, to some degree. Marque can just afford to do more of it.

That’s the rub. Marques’ consumption of energy is off-the-charts high, even to his fellow tech-bros. The comment section is full of amazed-envy at how much he consumes.

Marques is an energy hoarder in that he can acquire more electricity from the future by burning fossil fuels today. If tomorrow, electricity prices go through the roof (because of higher gas prices) Marques will be sitting pretty while you might die of heat or cold because you can’t afford to run your A/C or heater.

So next time you see someone putting up solar, recognize that they have no proof that they’re saving the planet. What I believe they’re really saving is themselves. They’re using fossil fuels to secure their energy before you can. Once they lock in their energy security they’re free to burn more and more fossil fuel flying around the world looking good and being cool.

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For better reading on climate change, I suggest: Richard Crim, “B” The Honest Sorcerer, and Alan Urban. Here is the link Marques video.

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