Monday, November 27, 2006

Peace on earth called anti-christian

Yes, a christmas wreath formed with a peace symbol to honor the annual birth of the prince of peace has offended some very twisted souls in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Oy!

[update]

Thursday, November 23, 2006

President performs annual mockery of christian mercy

The president has "pardoned" a turkey, reversing the death sentence that it and billions of others have been given and certainly did nothing to deserve. The charade allows him to cling to the illusion that he has compassion. He believes that this one spared life will absolve, or at least distract from, the slaughter of billions.

The christian story, which the president claims as a guide for his life and thought, tells exactly the opposite. Such slaughter was ended by a single sacrifice, not absolved by a single pardon.

That's the problem with religious principles. They are at war with base appetites and self-serving ignorance, with greed and power, and they are twisted to serve those ends. Good words are made meaningless, package copy. The slaughter of billions is marked by mercy to one. And mercy to the billions is an act of terrorism.

anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism, animal rights, vegetarianism

Animal Rights Party wins seats in Dutch parliament

The Party for Animals won 2 (out of 150) parliament seats in Wednesday's election in The Netherlands.

Their aim is a constitutional recognition of (non-human) animals' rights to freedom from pain, fear, and stress caused by humans.

animal rights

Low Benefit -- Huge Negative Impact (part 2)

[From a National Wind Watch flyer of the same name;  click here for part 1]

Why do utilities support them?

Given a choice, most utilities choose to avoid such an unreliable nondispatchable source. In many states, they are required to get a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. In other states, they anticipate being required to do so in the near future. These requirements do not require utilities to show any benefit (e.g., in terms of emissions) from using renewables<\m>they just need to have them on line.

In Japan, many utilities limit the amount of wind power that they will accept. In Germany, the grid managers frequently shut down the wind turbines to keep the system stable. In Denmark, most of the energy from wind turbines has to be shunted to pumped hydro facilities in Norway and Sweden.

Yet wind energy is profitable. Taxpayers cover two-thirds to three-fourths of the cost of erecting giant wind turbines. Governments require utilities to buy the energy, even though it does not effectively displace other sources.

In addition, wind companies can sell "renewable energy credits," or "green tags," an invention of Enron. They are thus able to sell the same energy twice.

The companies generally cut the local utilities in on some of the easy profits.

Why do communities support them?

Developers typically target poor communities and make deals with individual landowners and the town boards (which are very often the same people) long before anything is made public.

With the prospect of adding substantially to the tax rolls and/or hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs each year, it is understandable that a lot of people are reluctant to consider the negative impacts. They are willing to ignore the effects of such large machines on themselves and their neighbors. Excited by the financial promises of the wind companies, they forget that their giant machines will destroy precisely what makes their community livable.

As people find out more, support for the harmful boondoggle evaporates.

wind power, wind energy

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Low Benefit -- Huge Negative Impact (part 1)

[From a National Wind Watch flyer of the same name;  click here for part 2]

Industrial wind promoters claim their machines produce on average 30-40% of their rated capacity. For example, a 400-ft-high 2-megawatt (2,000-kilowatt) turbine assembly would produce an average of 600-800 kilowatts over a year.

The actual experience of industrial wind power in the U.S., however, as reported to the federal Energy Information Agency, is that it produces only about 25% of its capacity, or 500 kilowatts.

It will produce at or above that average rate only a third of the time. It will generate nothing at all (yet draw power from the grid) another third of the time.

Because the output is highly variable and rarely correlates with demand, other sources of energy cannot be taken off line. With the extra burden of balancing the wind energy, those sources may even use more fuel (just as cars use more gas in stop-and-go city driving than in more steady highway driving).

The industry is unable to show any evidence that wind power on the grid reduces the use of other fuels.

Denmark, despite claims that wind turbines produce 20% of its electricity, has not reduced its use of other fuels because of them.

Large-scale wind power does not reduce our dependence on other fuels, does not stabilize prices, does not reduce emissions or pollution, and does not mitigate global warming.

Instead, each turbine assembly requires dozens of acres of clearance and dominates the typically rural or wild landscape where it is sited. Its extreme height, turning rotor blades, unavoidable noise and vibration, and strobe lighting night and day ensure an intrusiveness far out of proportion to its elusive contribution.

Each facility requires new transmission infrastructure and new or upgraded (strengthened, widened, and straightened) roads, further degrading the environment and fragmenting habitats.

wind power, wind energy

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Save the salmon, so we can kill them!

This comment is really about wind energy, but the admirable call from environmentalists (click the title of this post for the news story) to remove four dams from the Lower Snake River in Idaho on behalf of the salmon becomes quite a bit less noble when it is justified by the economic and recreational boons of killing their restored numbers.

Now about the groups' desire to replace that 3,000 MW of hydropower with wind. Just in nameplate capacity, that would require giant wind turbines covering at least 150,000 acres. Since they would generally go up in otherwise undeveloped areas, that "solution" is simply trading one major ecological impact with another.

Like large-scale hydropower, big wind is green in theory but far from it in practice. Unlike hydro, however, wind isn't able to provide reliable energy that can replace other sources. Hydropower varies seasonally, but the wind varies from minute to minute, with huge fluctuations through the day.

So you're trading one negative impact for another to get less in return. Brilliant.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

Eighth richest Indian

According to Forbes, The eighth richest person in India is Tulsi Tanti, "worth" $5.9 billion. His business? Wind energy. He's the founder of turbine manufacturer Suzlon.

wind power, wind energy, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Class war

But you can't call it class war, because they think they've won. They think it is a war of the "lower" classes -- on whose shoulders the "upper" classes stand -- against their privilege, which it is. But beyond that, it is a war against class. Remember the idea of equality? Justice?

From 1990 to 2004, the average income for 90% of American households increased just 2% (adjusted for inflation). For the top 1%, however, it went up 57%. It went up 85% among the top 0.1% and 112% among the top 0.01%.

In 2004, the average income for the "lower" 90% of households was $28,355. It was $940,441 for the top 1% and $4,506,291 for the top 0.1%.

This information was provided in today's New York Times under the headline "A New Class War: The Haves Vs. The Have Mores," about most of the top 1% feeling left behind by that 0.1%. A serious issue indeed. Just consider: if you take the top 0.1% out of the calculation, the average income of the rest of the top 1% will be well below that $940,000!

At least they -- and their newspapers -- don't have to worry about the 90% of households who are too busy struggling to keep bodies and soul together, the car running, the house heated to rise up from their knees. And just in case, if any of them did actually dare to stand up to such obvious economic injustice they would obviously be terrorists, a threat to national security. Get back to work, you!

anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

Friday, November 17, 2006

Milton Friedman's economic fascism, i.e., the world we live in

On Counterpunch (click the title of this post), Greg Grandin has an excellent history of Milton Friedman's (and other patriotic Americans') efforts to help Augusto Pinochet shape his country. The essay ends:
Today, Pinochet is under house arrest for his brand of "shock therapy," and Friedman is dead. But the world they helped usher in survives, in increasingly grotesque form. What was considered extreme in Chile in 1975 has now become the norm in the US today: a society where the market defines the totality of human fulfillment, and a government that tortures in the name of freedom.
anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reply to letter from UPC Vermont Wind

To the Editor:

Around Halloween, Leila LaRosa, the local face for UPC Vermont Wind, sent a letter to Sheffield and Sutton residents. UPC wants to erect 16 420-feet-high wind turbines, their blades each sweeping a vertical area of 1.9 acres, on ridges between Sutton and Sheffield and overlooking Crystal Lake in Barton. The letter was an attempt to refute worries about such industrialization of otherwise protected ridges and to assert that the project's value is worth the sacrifice.

"They ... ARE effective and they DO reduce our dependence on oil, gas and fossil fuels."

Effective? The only measure of success the industry presents is that they are built. They have never been able to show that wind energy on the grid actually reduces the use of other fuels. This is not surprising, because the variable, intermittent, and unpredictable wind energy only makes the rest of the grid work harder to balance it.

The letter insists that UPC will not limit access to the project area. They need to publicize the leases if anyone is to believe them. All the leases I've seen are indeed restrictive and make the landowner a caretaker to the wind company's control of the land.

The letter takes issue with the charge that miles of new roads will have to be built by saying that, yes, miles, of new roads will have to be built: 5.5 miles of them. These won't be logging tracks but heavy-duty roads that can bear 50- or 60-ton loads and accomodate 160-ft trailers. What will be the effect on the watershed? Flooding and erosion are likely. "Revegetation" is far from restoration, and in fact the roads would have to be kept usable for delivering new rotor blades and gearboxes, which fail quite frequently.

On taxpayer subsidies, The letter cites (very incorrectly) only one subsidy, the 1.9-cent per kWh production tax credit. There are also 5-year double declining accelerated depreciation and the ratepayer-supported market for renewable energy credits. In all, federal subsidies generally cover two-thirds of the developer's cost, and state subsidies may cover another 10%. Crucially, the subsidies do not require evidence of a reduction of other fuels, that is, an actual benefit to justify moving so much public money into private bank accounts.

As for the humble UPC company, who are its investors? What is their connection to the UPC Group of Italy?

On problems from low-frequency noise generated by giant wind turbines, the letter is exactly backwards. It is the denial of problems that is being challenged by the scientific community. The U.K. Noise Association and the French Academy of Medicine recommend that large wind turbines be no closer than one mile from any residence.

In addition, the audible noise will be at an unacceptable level for a rural environment. And the noise won't stop at night, when it will be carried farther.

At the same time that the letter tries to deny such negative impacts, it tries to divert attention to worse problems with other sources of energy, such as coal and nuclear. Nobody denies those serious problems. But it is a wind facility being proposed for Sheffield and Sutton. And wind energy does not reduce the use of other sources. It is not a choice between wind and something worse. Wind's negatives simply add to the negatives we already live with, and none are reduced.

UPC admonishes the people protecting their communities from a massive building project of doubtful value and obvious costs for "spreading misinformation." Again, they have it backwards. Misinformation is UPC's game.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, Vermont

Monday, November 13, 2006

Questions about wind energy

National Audubon Society President John Flicker supports carefully sited wind power facilities, because
When you look at a wind turbine, you can find the bird carcasses and count them. With a coal-fired power plant, you can't count the carcasses, but it's going to kill a lot more birds. (Wind Energy Weekly, Nov. 10, 2006)
The question is not which is less evil -- that is a straw man argument. The question is whether one obviates the other. That is, if your concern is the negative effect of coal burning on the lives of birds, does the erection of wind turbines reduce that negative effect enough to justify the negative effects of their own giant blades and roads and clearcutting?

And is the negative effect on birds from wind energy really less? Would 2,000 2-megawatt wind turbines covering 150 square miles kill fewer birds than one equivalent-output 1,000-megawatt coal plant, particularly if that plant has scrubbers to clean up its emissions? I don't defend the use of coal here, because mining and waste are also serious problems, but presumably it is primarily emissions, and their effect on climate and the environment, that concern the Audubon Society.

Even recognizing the problems of mining and waste, the question remains whether wind energy has a significant effect on the use of coal or any other fuel. In other words, does it reduce the problem? Or does it only add its own problems without reducing any other?

All claims that wind industry reduces emissions by reducing fossil fuel use are based on a false assumption that every time the wind is up, other plants can shut down. But most can't. They have to be ready for the wind's dying at any moment, so they simply turn down their electricity production but keep burning fuel.

The plants that can instantaneously switch on and off will more likely be used more not less. Normally, they are used only during a few peak periods in each day, while slower-starting plants vary with the broad curve of each day's use and large inflexible coal and nuclear plants maintain the base supply that is always needed. So when the wind rises and falls during non-peak times, only the quick-responding generators can balance it, so they must replace some of the intermediate supply. Not only must the peak generators be used all day and night instead of just an hour or two, the intermediate generators must operate more often at levels that are not efficient, with the result of increasing their emissions.

In short, large coal and nuclear plants are unaffected, and the rest of the grid has to work harder -- which means burning more fuel less efficiently -- to balance the fluctuations of wind energy production that have so little correspondence with customer demand.

That is why actual reduction of other fuels or emissions because of giant wind turbines on the grid has not been shown.

That is why industrial wind does not represent a "lesser" evil but only an additional evil. It's business as usual for big energy.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, animal rights

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Canada's elusive woodland caribou threatened by development

From The Toronto Star:

The woodland [caribou] -- which generally grow to no more than 200 kilograms for males, 115 for females, and lives a dozen or so years -- is thinly spread throughout the boreal forest, which stretches from Yukon to Newfoundland and Labrador, and it's under pressure everywhere.

Its main survival strategy, particularly for females in the calving season, is to disperse. The difficulty in locating these widely scattered animals keeps the main predator, wolves, in check.

But clear cuts and roads open territories to deer and moose, which attract wolves that then go after caribou in larger numbers.

The deeply imbedded desire for solitude means caribou simply don't like disturbance of any kind. Create a clear cut, for example, and they'll shy away at least 10 kilometres.

Each female occupies a home range that's about 6 1/2 times the size of Toronto, Schaeffer says. Individuals' territories overlap, so a herd of 500 requires 21 "Torontos," or about 13,000 square kilometres.

Because their lichens take 50 to 150 years to establish, caribou can only live in forests at least half a century old. The dependence on large, mature forests is what puts them at risk.

About 125 years ago in Ontario, caribou ranged as far south as Georgian Bay and the Ottawa Valley. Over the years, the boundary of their range has retreated northward — at about 34 kilometres each decade — as highways, settlements, logging, mines, hydro corridors and other intrusions destroyed much of the forest and chopped what remained into small bits. Now, with 60 per cent of their original base gone, they're found only north of Lake Superior. ...

The province is also considering a $4 billion plan for a hydro corridor across the top of the province that would carry what its proponents call green power — from hydroelectric projects in Manitoba and, possibly, Northern Ontario, and from wind turbines that could be built along the breezy west coast of Hudson Bay.

The line of towers and high-voltage wires is viewed as a potential alternative to nuclear generating stations. Native leaders say it might create jobs and provide cleaner, more reliable power than their communities now get from diesel generators.

Environmentalists, though, suggest the benefits are being oversold and technical problems downplayed.

On top of that, all the projects would also bring permanent roads into the far north, further fragmenting the wilderness.

[Bill Thornton, assistant deputy for forestry in the Ministry of Natural Resources,] suggests the animals' demise might be inevitable.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, ecoanarchism, animal rights, vegetarianism

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wind energy videos on line

National Wind Watch has converted two popular DVDs about industrial wind power for viewing on line with Windows Media and Quicktime: the 21-minute "Voices of Tug Hill" (Lewis County, N.Y.) and the 26-minute "Life Under a Windplant" (Meyersdale, Pa.).

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines

Vermont endorsements -- II

Governor:  Jim Hogue, Vermont Green and Second Vermont Republic
2nd choice: Ben Clarke, Vermont Localist

Lt. Governor:  Mary Alice Herbert, Liberty Union and Socialist Party USA
2nd choice: Marvin Malek, Vermont Progressive

U.S. Senator:  Peter Diamondstone, Liberty Union and Socialist Party USA
2nd choice: Peter Moss

Vermont

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The 'green' energy credits that aren't

Bill Virgin wrote in the October 5 Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Wells Fargo & Co. announced this week that it is buying renewable energy certificates for 550 million kilowatt-hours of wind energy a year for three years. ...

But the buyers of those credits aren't actually reducing their electrical consumption from the local utilities who serve their offices, power that could come from coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydro, or even wind -- not through these transactions, anyway.

So what exactly do these transactions contribute -- beyond burnishing a company's environmental reputation?

The answer, not surprisingly, is that they provide a nice subsidy.

"What renewable energy credits do is provide a second revenue stream for wind developers," a Wells Fargo spokeswoman says. "It encourages development of more wind power" since it "becomes more profitable for them to do so. It pushes the market." ...

But what about the supposed environmental benefits to the energy-credit program? Wells Fargo says its purchase of wind credits will offset 40 percent of its electrical consumption and prevent the emission of 380,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

But if Wells Fargo isn't actually cutting its consumption of power, and the credits represent power that someone else has already bought (and would have whether or not someone acquired the credits), it's an incredible stretch to argue that the purchase of credits represents a reduction in emissions. Not one less lump of coal or cubic foot of gas will be burned because of this. The only heat generated is the warm-and-fuzzy feeling the buyer of credits hopes everyone gets from the publicity. [emphasis added]

wind power, wind energy, green tags, environment, environmentalism

Friday, November 03, 2006

Leave the fish alone!

As the BBC reports the recent report in Science, 'There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study. ... Steve Palumbi, from Stanford University in California, one of the other scientists on the project, added: "Unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the ocean species together, as working ecosystems, then this century is the last century of wild seafood."'

Manage? How about leave alone? A lot of people don't have a problem here. They are vegetarian. It's a simple solution, scientist Steve.

animal rights, vegetarianism

Thursday, November 02, 2006

On the wind plant proposed off Long Island

A couple of good reports from Newsday:

Oppose wind power? You must support breast cancer

Pay (much) more for (much) less

wind power, wind energy, wind farms

Heating up

Peter Kurth ("Crank Call") writes in this week's Seven Days:

"I’m sure you, like all of us, are doing everything in your power, in your little bitty way, to prevent the looming calamity of climate change, such as switching your light bulbs and walking to work. But let’s face it: Until the whole screeching, screaming, over-producing, mass-consuming culture of predatory capitalism comes crashing down around us, this planet’s going to keep on heating up."

environment, environmentalism, Vermont

The military is not sacred

Sam Smith (Progressive Review) wrote an excellent piece yesterday about the worship of the military by Americans. It closes:
I sometimes fantasize that war will be the slavery of the 21st century, which is to say a concept once widely accepted is turned into the pariah practice it should always have been. For this to happen abolitionism will have to replace pacifism; it is not the good of the resister that is important but rather the evil of the practitioner. We need to demystify the military, pointing out not just its moral weaknesses but its logical fallacies. We should sensibly regard people who walk around with pins on their chests celebrating their life as, at best, somewhat unstable. And we need to remind the media that it can not call itself objective and repeatedly rebuff the voices of peace. [emphasis added]
A letter from a local progressive activist a while ago decried the Iraq escapade but also expressed pride in thanking returning soldiers for doing their best. But military service is voluntary, and this far into the occupation any soldier involved is a willing actor in the crime, a willing servant of the psychopaths in Washington.

The responsibility is not Bush's team's alone. The president cannot wage war without the approval of Congress, which has never hesitated to keep the money flowing and to buy into the legalization of torture, extrajudicial detention, and unwarranted spying. Responsible, too, are all of the nation's governors, not one of whom refused the deputization of their National Guard forces for an illegal war.

As Smith suggests, perhaps the peace "activists" are mostly interested in showing how good they are. They don't ask why a man abandons his family to be with his friends in Iraq, as if it's just a weekend hunting trip -- no, they thank him if he survives and mourn him as a victim if he is killed. When such an avatar of militaristic evil as John Negroponte comes to town, they cower, "sensitive" to the feelings of their neighbors. Not only is every soldier responsible for choosing to participate in Bush's madness, but so many pacifists and leftists also validate the fetishization of force.

It is like honoring George Bush for not being as much of a drunk as he once was. So he can drive the getaway car more safely. Slavery is wrong, no matter how "good" the slaveowner. There is no noble war, and there are no noble warriors.

Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Endorsements

Jim Hogue (Green Party and supporter of Second Vermont Republic) for Governor.

Pete Diamondstone (Liberty Union and Socialist Party USA) for U.S. Senate.

Vermont

Stretching and ignoring the facts about wind power

Glenn Schleede has written a new paper about industrial wind energy, mostly looking at the economics: "Stretching or Ignoring Facts and Making Unwarranted Assumptions When Attempting to Justify Wind Energy." It can be downloaded from the National Wind Watch Resource Library. Here is the outline of section D, which concisely lists the issues to be weighed.

D. Facts about wind energy that are often ignored by federal, state and local officials when considering wind energy policies or facilities
 1. Electricity produced by wind turbines is lower in quality and value than electricity produced from reliable generating units.
 2. Building wind turbines will not replace the need for building reliable, dispatchable generating capacity.
 3. Published information on the cost of electricity from wind per kWh generally is not valid or reliable.
 4. True costs of electricity from wind are much higher than often admitted because important elements of cost are ignored.
  a. Federal and state tax breaks for wind energy are part of the true cost of electricity from wind.
   1) Two very generous tax breaks are available from the federal government.
    • The wind production tax credit (PTC) of $0.019 per kWh for electricity produced during the first ten years of a wind facility's operation.
    • The ability to deduct the entire capital cost of a "wind farm" from taxable using 5-year double declining balance accelerated depreciation.
   2) "Wind farms" enjoy other tax breaks from the state.
   3) Other subsidies are also a part of the true cost but are hidden in either tax or monthly electric bills.
  b. The intermittent, volatile and unreliability of electricity from wind turbines also adds to the true cost of that electricity.
  c. Adding transmission capacity to serve "wind farms" adds to customer costs.
 5. Local economic benefits of "wind farms" are generally exaggerated.
 6. Environmental benefits of wind energy are typically overstated.
 7. Wind energy advocates try to ignore adverse environmental, ecological, scenic and property value impacts of "wind farms."

wind power, wind energy

Stop global fooling


wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

Whole Fools

Whole Foods has now extended their own folly of buying "wind energy credits" by offering them to their customers. To see the absurdity of the scheme, apply it to the food shelf cards that are similarlyly available at many grocery store checkouts.

Buying a $5 food card means that the grocer will give away $5 of food on your behalf. But if it worked like a wind power card, that $5 food shelf card would represent $6.25 of the wholesale price difference between a "gourmet" food item and its mundane counterpart which may cost the grocer, say, $13. The supplier will still sell the gourmet item to grocers for $19.25 but now will get an extra $5.00 because of your generosity (minus the cut for the broker who set this thing up).

It's nice to thus help your preferred suppliers stay in business, but you can not claim to have offset any part of your own good fortune to be able to buy food or -- alternatively -- to have replaced any conventional items on the shelves with the premium product. In fact, nothing is changed except the amount of money the producer makes.

And so it is with wind energy credits, a cynical invention of Enron that "green" hucksters have made their own.

Enron convinced California that the extra cost of wind energy could be sold separately as its "environmental attributes." Then they made sure that the state required the purchase of a certain percentage of renewable energy, to be represented by certificates for those environmental attributes -- green tags. That system is now the norm across the nation. A wind facility still sells its production to utilities at a premium price. In addition, it sells the certificates on a completely separate market. It can sell the electricity twice!

Whole Foods and other companies do not change their or anyone else's energy use by buying wind energy certificates, nor do their customers in buying wind power cards or stickers. They are simply donating a little money to wind companies (such as Electricité de France, Scottish Power, Iberdrola, Florida Power & Light, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc.) and mostly enriching the green tag brokers, the heirs of Enron.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism