The following article elaborates an extensive argument against 'greens,' who are accused of (maliciously) wanting to raise the cost of energy by shifting to renewables:
More energy overall is indeed bad, but that doens't mean that certain efficient uses of energy are too problematic. The main problem with energy-use overall is that it generates greenhouse gases, including raising levels of atmospheric water-vapor to artificially-high levels, which causes warming and then prevents the warming from allowing trees, plants, and animals from growing faster to absorb the CO2 and function as a natural thermostat for the planet.
Nuclear power, praised in the article, is actually a non-renewable fuel whose waste products have extremely long half-life so that they build up over millennia. What's more, if humans would continue to dig up radioactive fuel over the course of millennia, the natural geothermal energy that maintains the Earth's magnetic field and protects the biosphere and atmosphere from harmful radiation would be gradually eroded.
Sustainability means finding ways to live that can be maintained permanently without resulting in future problems at any point in the future. It is difficult to foresee all such problems, but it is not hard to see that nature has evolved organic systems that are as sustainable as we can currently imagine. I.e. it is difficult to imagine humans bioengineering or genetically manipulating anything to be more sustainable than what nature has been testing through trial and error for billions of years of evolutionary 'R&D.'
So part of our challenge is protecting natural species and ecosystems by building around them and incorporating them into our architecture and infrastructure; i.e. so that they will be able to continue to flourish and perform their natural functions despite our activities.
The article makes a valid point that solar panel arrays are not sustainable when they are built on land cleared of trees and/or crops. She makes the valid point that intensive power and agriculture allow more natural land to be spared from clearing and development. That is true, but it is also the reason why smarter solar panel arrays should be designed and built, smarter agricultural methods developed, and so forth. This can be as simple as situating solar panels on above-ground platforms so that trees and/or crops can grow in the soil underneath.
We also should start understanding that intensive industrial power has made us more lazy and dependent, even while we patted ourselves on the back for achieving the ultimate work ethic by industrial means. If it is more expensive to repair and/or re-furbish/recycle solar panels locally than sending them away to lower-wage offshore sites for processing, that is because we have priced our own labor out of the options.
Ultimately, we may need to do more of our own labor while sufficing with less energy per capita. That may sound like a step backward, but if so that is because adapting to rely on unsustainable industrial technologies and their power sources was never more than a fake step forward.
Like Mickey's experiment with the sorcerer's magic in Fantasia, we were immature in how extensively we pursued industrialization and automation of anything and everything we could innovate. What we should have done, and still can do, is rethink our approach to energy and industrialism so that we apply it more selectively, judiciously, and conservatively. Think energy-efficient washing machines and line-drying, to use a simple domestic example. It still uses energy, but not as much as a less-efficient washing machine combined with a dryer.
Many other smarter energy-application innovations are possible as well. Think about insulation. Better coolers now exist that can keep ice frozen for a week just by keeping the door shut. Insulation technology can also improve indoor temperature control, but we should also become more flexible about what temperatures we can tolerate. It's simply unnecessary and wasteful to fill up entire buildings with hot air in the winter and cold air in the summer. Natural shade, air-flows, warm clothing, etc. vastly expand the types of conditions that humans can comfortably inhabit. There is no reason to waste energy avoiding those other methods because we are too lazy to wear sweaters inside or open windows to let a cool breeze blow in from the tree shade outside.
Cheap energy serves no other purpose than to encourage more energy use. If people would conserve energy regardless of price, we could make the energy as cheap as we wanted and it wouldn't make that much difference anyway because the bill was already low from conserving usage.
No fantasy of abundant energy use is wise, because all energy dissipates as heat and all heat increases atmospheric water-vapor levels. Water vapor has to condense and precipitate in order to not act as a greenhouse gas, so if we don't want the planet to grow increasingly foggy and muggy at night, slushy with more violent weather in cold winter areas, and drought-plagued in regions prone to lower precipitation; then we should be reducing overall energy usage by making less energy do more at the per-capita level.
Abundance has a double meaning. It can be used to refer to the idea that we can have as many inefficient energy-wasting machines as we want because we assume we can just always generate more energy, through fusion or other sources. The better meaning, however, is that the more efficient and conservative uses for energy we develop, the more utility we can milk out of smaller quantities of energy.
This second meaning of abundance is how we've ended up with bright LED light bulbs, smart phones, flat-screen TVs and monitors, warmer and more comfortable winter clothing, cooler summer clothing, more efficient electric vehicles, smaller vehicles that reduce the amount of paved land so that more trees and other live growth can be restored to naturally cool us with shade and breezes.
We also should realize that living organisms and ecosystems themselves are functional machines. Cells are nano-machinery that absorb latent heat from their surroundings and recycle that (waste) heat into new growth. Trees and plants produce shade, clean air and water, produce food, and feed animals that serve as pest-control by eating insects, and then fertilize the soil with their droppings. Humans have traditionally feared nature because of the health problems they couldn't control, but modern medicine and non-medicinal understanding of nature, microbiology, etc. allows us to live with nature in ways that don't harm us yet allow us to reap all the benefits it provides.
Far from being a step backward, energy conservation and innovation that do more with lower levels of per-capita energy use are the way forward. Progress isn't the elimination and replacement of nature with artificial systems; it is the advancing ability to integrate human activities with nature to make both more sustainable in the longest term.
Whereas the biblical phrase, "take dominion of the Earth and subdue it," was once interpreted to mean dominating nature and eliminating everything we feared because we couldn't understand it; it can now be understood to refer to making the Earth our home by understanding and coming to terms with nature as the life-support system that was created/evolved as our life-support system, together with every other living species.