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