It was one of those WTF moments. Over the holidays my partner and I had copped a cheap flight to Southern California and were plotting a road trip from Palm Springs to Vegas to ring in the New Year. I was scanning the route through the Mojave Desert on Google Maps and happened to notice an oddly configured — and unmarked — geometric pattern along either side of the highway that passes through what is admittedly a nondescript landscape. From a distance, it looks like a lake.Except that there are few, if any, standing water bodies in the arid desert. Upon zooming in, I realized it was a solar farm practically in the middle of nowhere, near an unincorporated town called Desert Center. It’s essentially a ghost town..As it turns out, it’s not just any electrical installation. Not by any measure. In fact, it’s the home of the Athos Solar + Storage Project, one of the largest of its kind in the world, covering an area the size of Midtown Manhattan. It’s been called the Net-Zero Generation’s answer to the Hoover Dam.I did some Googling and sure enough it came on stream in 2023 thanks to some $16 billion in climate grants from the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. It’s one of 15 proposed projects under the Bureau of Land Management’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan that aims to make the desert bloom, figuratively speaking, with 25 gigawatts of so-called ‘renewable’ energy.“The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan covers 10.8 million acres (4.4 hectares) of public lands spanning the desert regions of seven California counties and is a landscape-level plan streamlining renewable energy development, while conserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and providing outdoor recreation opportunities,” BLM said in a news release last January.When fully compete, Athos — also known as Oberon — will generate almost 1,000 megawatts of solar power or about half as much as the Hoover Dam. That’s enough to power more than 200,000 homes — notwithstanding the fact that barely 280 people live there. The closest gas station or grocery store is more than 100 kilometres away, in Coachella..Solar presently accounts for about 3% of US electricity supply; the Biden administration is targeting 45% by 2050. .The scale is indeed, enormous. And quite frankly, appalling. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is quite literally, an ocean of black metallic silicon stretching as far as the eye can see, strung together with massive high tension power lines in the middle of a wildlife preserve to protect the Desert Lilly as well as the Desert Tortoise and Hare. Except that the area is fenced off — ostensibly to keep out the very wildlife it was meant to protect.I was questioning out loud how anyone in their right mind could call this progress?Almost as if to read my mind, it was then that we passed a single, lone sign on the side of the road: ‘Athos are liars.’ And ‘Solar destroy life.’.As it turns out, residents have a severe case of buyers’ remorse over what was promised as an economic miracle. The area has become a dead zone, killing thousands of birds and insects, and stripping the area of what little vegetation it had in the first place. The electric operator has been forced to deplete scarce groundwater to keep down billowing clouds of silica dust generated by truck traffic and the lack of plant life.In the summer, the massive concentration of solar panels has generated a heat island of its own when temperatures regularly exceed 50 degrees Celsius.In other words, it’s Hell on Earth.But that doesn’t stop the notoriously woke — and rich — drivers in Palm Springs from showing off their flashy Teslas and electrified Porsches, BMWs and even Bentleys under the guise of ‘saving the planet’ while frequenting exclusive boutiques and trendy handbag stores. And they haven’t even got started..It also struck me that this is the vision — intended or not — of Canadian policy makers who insist on turning Southern Alberta into a vast silicon and graphite desert under some false pretense of ‘progress’ and a brave new net-zero world.The problem is, that it isn’t. Let’s all watch what we wish for and hope it never happens here.