December 30, 2007

Wind farm contaminates well

On July 4, 2007, a transformer in one of the substations at the 195-turbine "Maple Ridge" wind energy facility on Tug Hill in western New York exploded.* The wind company -- Iberdrola-owned Scottish Energy-owned PPM Atlantic -- reported the spill of 491 gallons of mineral oil to the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and cleaned it up.

The DEC apparently never inspected the clean-up or even suggested to the company possible contamination they should look out for. They didn't even check, it seems, the amount of recovered oil.

In late November, a nearby resident noticed oil in his water and confirmed that there was oil in his well. Thus, 3 months after the event, the DEC finally got involved. At of Dec. 29, when it was reported in the Watertown Daily News, of "about 15" wells tested, only one was found to be contaminated. (Does that mean "within tolerable levels as defined by the law" or truly "no trace of oil"?)

One also wonders if this is the end of the story. Will the DEC continue testing the nearby wells as the oil continues to seep through the area? Will they examine the wind company's clean-up and try to determine exactly how much was spilled and unrecovered? Or will it all be brushed under the tarmac?

*This is a normal problem with transformers, because over time they generate combustible gases. Normal maintenance requires the oil to be periodically filtered to remove the combustible gases before they build up to dangerous levels. As with so many other things, the wind company seems to have thought this danger didn't apply to them. Now, they check and remedy all the substation transformers and the transformer at the base of each turbine on a regular schedule.

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

December 29, 2007

Happy, Healthy Animals Killed at Hollister Hill Farm

An article in the Dec. 20 Montpelier (Vt.) Bridge describes a source for "happy, healthy" meat in nearby Plainfield.

It's obvious that the concern is not so much for the animals but rather for the eaters of the animals,who want to feel happier and healthier about a problematic dietary choice. Since they are driven to gorge on animal flesh, it is indeed healthier if it is the remains of a grass-fed "beefalo" free of antibiotics and artificial hormones instead of a feedlot-fattened chemical-sustained cow. And they will be happier with the taste of a free-range naturally fed turkey compared with a "butterball" factory product.

And, during their cruelly shortened lives, the animals themselves are no doubt healthier and even "happy".

Thus, the people who raise them to be killed, their carcasses to be sold and eaten, and the people who buy and eat those pieces are able to feel less guilt and shame.

But the result for the "happy, healthy" animal is the same as for the industrial-raised animal: premature death at the hand of humans.

In times of famine, this might be justified for survival -- after all, cannibalism has been resorted to in such situations. But this "happy, healthy" meat market is a response to surfeit. It feeds the same desire for flesh that sustains the factory lots and drives the clearing of rainforests. Paying more for pieces of "happy, healthy", locally killed animals is an effort to separate one's appetite from that of the common horde.

But it remains, however, (literally, in our very long intestines -- quite unlike those of the carnivorous animals) quite as unhealthy, and the animals meet the same quite unhappy end.

animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont

December 24, 2007

Pythagoras the Vegetarian

[Pythagoras] was the first to ban the serving of animal food at our tables, first to express himself in such words as these ...

'O my fellow-men, do not defile your bodies with sinful foods. We have corn, we have apples, bending down the branches with their weight, and grapes swelling on the vines. There are sweet-flavoured herbs, and vegetables which can be cooked and softened over the fire, nor are you denied milk, or thyme-scented honey. The earth affords a lavish supply of riches, of innocent foods, and offers you banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter; only beasts satisfy their hunger with flesh, and no even all of those, for horses, cattle, and sheep live on grass. ... Alas, what wickedness to swallow flesh into our own flesh, to fatten our greedy bodies by cramming in other bodies to have one living creature fed by te death of another! In the midst of such wealth as earth, the best of mothers, provides, nothing forsooth satisfies you, but to behave like the Cyclopes, inflicting sorry wounds with cruel teeth! You cannot appease the hungry cravings of your wicked gluttonous stomachs, except by destroying some other life!

'Not content with committing such crimes, men have enrolled the very gods as their partners in wickedness, and suppose that the divinities in heaven take pleasure in the slaying of patient bullocks! ...

'The heavens and everything that lies below them change their shape, as does the earth and all that it contains. We too, who are part of creation, since we are not merely bodies, but winded souls as well, can find a home in the forms of wild beasts, and be lodged in the beasts of cattle. Therefore, let us leave unmolested those bodies, which may contain the souls of our parents or of our brothers, or those of other relatives, or at least the souls of men. Let us not dishonour our kind, or cram our stomachs with feasts like that of Thyestes. What evil habits a man learns, how wickedly does he prepare himself to shed human blood, when he cuts open a calf's throat with his knife, and listens unmoved to its mournful lowing, which he himself has fed! How little short of full-fledged crimes are acts like these! And to what do they lead?

'Let the ox proceed with his ploughing, or blame his death on advancing years: let the sheep supply us with a defence against the biting North wind, and well-fed goats present their udders to be milked. Away with nets and snares, traps and cunning ruses. Cease to trick birds with limed twigs, to make a sport of hunting stags with feather-decked cords, or hiding barbed hooks beneath your treacherous bait. Destroy creatures that harm you, but even in their case, be content to destroy. Do not let their flesh pass your lips; live on some less barbarous diets.'

--Ovid, Metamorphoses, translated by Mary Innes

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, anarchism, ecoanarchism

December 22, 2007

No puppets, no peace

To the editor, The Hardwick (Vt.) Gazette:

Bruce Shields (Letters, Dec. 12) reveals the official Israeli/U.S. disdain for peace by repeating the complaint that it's the Palestinians who don't want peace. And what is the evidence for that complaint? It is the Palestinian desire for an end to Israeli occupation, for an independent state, and for some small measure of justice for the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and farms when Israel was established as an exclusively Jewish homeland -- outcomes Israel openly scorns.

Shields notes that other countries use the Palestinian refugees as pawns against Israel, but that does not erase the fact that Israel made them refugees in the first place and considers their return to be an impossibility. Their rage and frustration are not surprising, as the world -- especially Israel's sponsor, the U.S. -- has ignored their plight for 60 years.

Shields answers antisemitism and antizionism with an even more virulent antiarabism. The Israelis may want a solution to "the problem", but the Palestinians have learned that such plans do not mean freedom from Israeli control, let alone justice.

When Jordan ceded the West Bank for a future Palestinian state, Israel only expanded their occupation, rushing "settlers" in to establish outposts throughout, which require ever-expanding "security" buffers, taking more and more land -- olive trees, pastures, farm fields -- from the Palestinians. The roads to these outposts also need "protection" from the people through whose land they cut. Thus Israel has systematically divided and laid claim to much of the West Bank -- violating international law with de facto encouragement from the U.S.

As for Hamas, the Israeli government initially aided their rise to undermine Yasser Arafat -- because Arafat was becoming a credible "partner for peace". Similarly, Ariel Sharon sparked the latest intifada by an essentially military invasion of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and rode the ensuing wave of violence to power. It was an Israeli Jew who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin for making sincere moves toward peace with Syria. Arafat's associate Mahmoud Abbas long argued against the use of violence as counterproductive. Now that he is leader of the Palestinian Authority and has tried to control Hamas, Shields only emphasizes the worst aspects of another organization -- Hamas -- to dismiss an entire people.

Many Palestinians, along with their Arab neighbors, can indeed be blamed for perpetuating violence and sabotaging their own people's hopes. So can Israel.

The Jewish experience of persecution should make the Israeli government more sensitive to the abuses of power, but instead it seems the Palestinians have been made to pay for all history's violence against Jews.

In criticizing Peter Schumann for sharing his art with the besieged people of Ramallah and David Rodgers for reporting Schumann's account of his visit (which Shields did not attend), Shields relies on the same prejudiced intolerance he lays at the door of the "Arabs". It explains a lot of why peace is so elusive in that region.

human rights, Vermont

December 19, 2007

Ralph Nader -- the last American

Last night's Independent Lens on PBS showed An Unreasonable Man, a film about Ralph Nader. We were probably not the only ones who found it inspiring, for the same reasons we voted for him all three times he ran for President. But it may have reawakened in others the misplaced anger they felt toward Nader for daring to make Al Gore's tepid candidacy appear even worse by expecting more from the allegedly "liberal" party.

For those people who blame Nader instead of Gore or Bush for the outcome of the 2000 election, here is an analysis of the voting. It should help return them to reality. The most notable finding is that where Nader did well, so did Gore.

December 12, 2007

"Best Renewable Energy Project": Clipper wind turbines failed after couple months

PennWell announces 2007 Projects of the Year winners

11 December 2007 -- PennWell Corp's Power Engineering magazine announced the 2007 Projects of the Year Award winners at an awards gala held December 10, 2007 at the New Orleans Sheraton Hotel. Each year, the magazine recognizes some of the world's best power projects from four major categories: gas-fired projects, coal-fired projects, nuclear projects and renewables projects. Winners and honorable mention recipients in each category are selected by the Power Engineering editorial committee. ...

The 2007 Best Renewables Project of the Year Award Winner was the Steel Winds Wind Farm, co-owned by BQ energy and UPC Wind. The wind farm, a 20 MW facility consisting of eight Clipper WindPower 2.5 MW liberty series wind turbines, is located on the site of the old Bethlehem Steel Mill, located along the shores of Lake Erie in Lackawanna, N.Y. It is the first commercial deployment of Clipper WindPower's Liberty turbines.

[thanks to Cohocton Wind Watch]

Why are the Lackawanna windmills being taken apart?

(Lackawanna, NY, December 11, 2007) -- ... They all started turning for the first time in June, this Steelwinds Project was the first to use the newest clipper wind turbines touted as the new standard for reliable performance, but by late summer, engineers discovered damage inside one of the gear boxes, and then shut down 5 others, because the timing was off in those gear boxes too.

A Clipper Vice President tells [News 4's George Richert] the plan now is for a crane to arrive next week to take all of the gear boxes down send them back to the factory in Iowa, and then replace them one by one throughout the winter. The towers will still stand but the blades will have to come off of all eight wind mills. It could be March or April before the job is finished.

[thanks to National Wind Watch]

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines

December 10, 2007

Immoral Rearmament

That's the title of a review of The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy by Adam Tooze. The review was written by historian Richard Evans in the Dec. 20 New York Review of Books. Here's an interesting quote:
So extensive was Hitler's drive to rearm that it was absorbing over a fifth of German state expenditure by the eve of the war.
That skewed priority ensured the destruction of Germany, leaving few resources to, for example feed, clothe, and shelter its people, let alone maintain a modern economy.

According to official U.S. government accounting, the U.S. similarly allocates over a fifth (21% in 2007) of its budget to "national defense". According to the War Resisters League, however, adding the military portions from departments other than Defense and the debt and obligations of past military actions and readiness brings the figure to over half: 51% in 2008. Even subtracting past obligations, the figure is 31%, almost one-third of the budget.

The only outcome of that kind of misspending is disaster. Its logic requires ever more build-up which only comes at the expense of a functioning society.

December 8, 2007

Reduce emissions by reducing energy use (duh!)

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its study of the economic impact of a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which is being debated in the U.S. Congress as part of new energy legislation. The ACEEE found that the RES would lower electricity prices, primarily by reducing demand rather than by adding renewable energy plants.

The RES, which is allegedly meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but instead simply calls for 15% of electricity sales by 2020 to be from renewable sources, allows 27% (why not all, as in Canada?) of the requirement to be met by efficiency improvement, i.e., actually reducing use. The ACEEE assumes the 4% efficiency will be used, and that's where the savings are -- in both prices and emissions.

The ACEEE underscores this by analyzing another scenario that would combine a 15% RES with a 15% efficiency requirement, finding very much greater savings.

That is not surprising. Requiring purchases of renewable energy does nothing towards the goal of reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions or of reducing the use of dwindling or sociopolitically problematic energy sources. It is like a diet regimen that says every time you eat a dish of ice cream you have to eat a carrot (or pay someone else to eat a carrot).

In Canada, Alberta requires a 12% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2014. A similar federal rule is expected to take effect in 2010.

The U.S., in contrast, only adds tax giveaways to the carrot industry to those for the ice cream companies. Cutting down is bad for business.

November 27, 2007

Colorado: 20% of electricity from wind and solar means 18% new nonrenewables, too

An analysis by the Colorado Energy Forum (CEF) notes that Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), requiring that 20% of the electricity from investor-owned utilities (and 10% from large municipal and rural cooperative utilities) be obtained from renewable sources, primarily wind, by 2020, will not represent a correspondingly expanded capacity to to reliably supply growing demand.

The CEF analysis estimated that more than 3,300 MW of wind generation and nearly 200 MW of solar generation must be deployed to meet Colorado's RES.

However, after taking into account the intermittent nature of many renewable energy resources, especially wind and solar, a gap in needed power supplies of between 3,700 and 4,500 megawatts will still exists.

"When taking into account the intermittent nature of wind and solar resources, we estimate that the reliable capacity credit for these renewable resources ranges between 330 MW and 1,122 MW," according to the study's authors. "This means that even after the requirements of Colorado's RES are met, significant amounts of new electric generating capacity still will be required to meet the state's needs. Based on the assumptions and data in this study, Colorado will need to address additional resource needs in the range of 3,700 MW to 4,500 MW by 2025." (press release, Nov. 9, 2007)
In other words, all those wind turbines won't keep the lights on. You have to use other sources to guarantee capacity, because the wind doesn't always blow when you need it.

In addition, there is a need of new capacity because of adding a significant amount of wind to the system. The grid requires excess capacity to be able to cope not only with times of exceptional demand but also with outages (inadvertent as well as for maintenance) of some of its plants. The wind is largely unpredictable, especially for the precise needs of the electrical supply, so more excess capacity is required to deal with that extra burden.

Giant wind turbines are not symbols of "green energy"; they are window dressing for a huge expansion of the conventional grid.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

November 16, 2007

Green technology just a new name for old pattern of exploitation

Wendell Berry, letter to the editor, New York Review of Books, Sept. 27, 2007:

... As for rural poverty, Mr. Dyson's thinking ["Our Biotech Future", July 19] is all too familiar to any rural American: "What the world needs is a technology that directly attacks the problem of rural poverty by creating wealth and jobs in the villages." This is called "bringing in industry," a practice dear to state politicians. To bring in industry, the state offers "economic incentives" (or "corporate welfare") and cheap labor to presumed benefactors, who often leave very soon for greater incentives and cheaper labor elsewhere.

Industrial technology, as brought-in industry and as applied by agribusiness, has been the cleverest means so far of siphoning the wealth of the countryside -- not to the cities, as Mr. Dyson appears to think, for urban poverty is inextricably related to rural poverty -- but to the corporations. Industries that are "brought in" convey the local wealth out; otherwise they would not come. And what makes it likely that "green technology" would be an exception? How can Mr. Dyson suppose that the rural poor will control the power of biotechnology so as to use it for their own advantage? Has he not heard of the patenting of varieties and genes? Has he not heard of the infamous lawsuit of Monsanto against the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser? I suppose that if, as Mr. Dyson predicts, biotechnology becomes available -- cheaply, I guess -- even to children, then it would be available to poor country people. But what would be the economic advantage of this? How, in short, would this work to relieve poverty? Mr. Dyson does not say.

His only example of a beneficent rural biotechnology is the cloning of Dolly the sheep. But he does not say how this feat has benefited sheep production, let alone the rural poor.

[These statements apply similarly to wind energy development. See also the comments by Garret Keizer (click here) specifically about wind energy and the rural poor.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, human rights, animal rights, , anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism

November 14, 2007

Struggle for land rights in India and Mexico

National Wind Watch has posted recent detailed updates about the struggle of the Zapotecas in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Adivasis in Gujarat, India, against abuses by giant wind companies (Spain's Iberdrola in Mexico and Suzlon in India), aided by the government and police, taking land for industrial wind energy facilities.

Grassroots Resistance: Contesting Wind Mill Construction in Oaxaca, by Sylvia Sanchez (originally published by Znet)

Unclean Intrigues Behind Clean Energy: Dhule Adivasis’ Glorious Struggle for Land Rights, by a fact-finding team led by Anand Teltumbde (originally published at

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism

November 13, 2007

It's killing season!

To balance the current deer-season adulation of killing for "sport", click the title of this post for the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting.

You can hunt all you want, but this group shows that most rationalizations of it are delusional and self-serving.

To start with, hunting isn't about keeping the deer (or moose or bear) population down. State Fish & Game agencies "manage" the population so there's plenty for the hunters, who then finance those agencies in a self-perpetuating circle.

And shouldn't we be recoiling in horror at pictures of children and "their" kills? What "tradition" are they being trained for, if not one of being comfortable with self-serving deadly violence? Is that healthy?

It is true that some land is kept from development owing to the interests of hunters. But that, too, is problematic, because the best forest for hunting is frequently logged, not left wild. And it's nothing but sad that the only way some people can enjoy (or justify) the outdoors is by killing something in it.

If you eat animal flesh, then you certainly might as well get out and kill it yourself, but it is rather a stretch to claim any honor or sport in it.

Most people mark the progress of human civilization by how much more we can do without having to kill, not by how much more sportingly or efficiently or rationally we can kill. So let's keep our shortcomings in perspective, not on a pedestal.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, ecoanarchism

November 12, 2007

Reality to Welch: You voted for war

Nobody is blaming Vermont's U.S. Representative Peter Welch for not ending the military occupation of Iraq, as he seems to think (in a strange chimera of egomaniacal humility). But neither is anybody buying his line that he is "doing everything possible" to end it, as he again asserted in the Aldrich Public Library in Barre last night.

Welch voted to continue funding the occupation. That is the simple fact that has angered his constituents, who voted for him because of his firm stand against that occupation.

By pleading that he alone can't stop the occupation, by pretending that Vermonters are scapegoating him out of impotence, frustration, or (as he implied) amusement, he refuses to admit his small part in the war's perpetuation.

To argue political "reality" is bullshit in this case. If Bush is going to veto any anti-war bill, that is not a reason to give him the funding he needs to keep his (our) killing machine going in Iraq. It is instead a reason to refuse to be a part of the crime.

This situation demands being "bad" not a "good German", Congressman Welch. It demands standing up to Nancy Pelosi and her committee assignment bribes. It demands remembering the principles you ran on.

Does anyone now believe that Martha Rainville's votes would have been any different than Welch's?

Keep up with this issue at Michael Colby's "Broadsides" blog.

Vermont, anarchism

November 10, 2007

Wind in Texas only 8.7% reliable

Press release, March 29, 2007 -- ERCOT Response to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton:
With regard to renewable energy, ERCOT is proud to have more wind generation in its region than any other state in the nation. Currently, almost 3,000 MW of new wind generation is either under construction or publicly announced, in addition to the 3,000 MW already existing in ERCOT. A significantly larger amount of future wind generation is also under study. Wind energy is good, clean energy and should be used to the fullest of its capability. At the same time, wind does not blow at a constant level, and in Texas is often at a low level at the time of the peak electrical demand during summer afternoons. ERCOT studies the availability of wind generation using its historical wind generation data. Using 2006 data, ERCOT has determined that 8.7% of the installed wind capability can be counted as dependable capacity during the peak demand period for the next year. Conventional generation must be available to provide the remaining capacity needed to meet forecast load and reserve requirements.
(ERCOT [The Electric Reliability Council of Texas] manages the flow of electric power to approximately 20 million Texas customers.)

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

November 9, 2007

France's president Sarkozy not impressed by wind turbines

Nikolas Sarkozy, President of France, at the concluding session of the "Grenelle de L'Environnement, Thursday, 25 October 2007 (click here for the full speech, in which he also announced that industrial wind turbine construction should be limited to existing brownfields):

Franchement, quand je survole certains pays européens cela ne donne pas envie.

Francamente, cuando sobrevuelo algunos países europeos, no dan muchas ganas de instalarlos.

Ganz ehrlich, wenn ich über manche europäischen Länder fliege, dann vergeht mir die Lust.

Frankly, when I fly over a number of European countries what I see does not recommend wind energy.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

Newsweek adds defamatory voice to wind development juggernaut

Not satisfied with the "NIMBY" pejorative, Roya Wolverson, writing in the Nov. 12, 2007, Newsweek, rolls out "citiot". Taking her cue from professional anti-environmentalist Frank Maisano, spokesman for a coalition of mid-Atlantic wind energy developers, she caricaturizes the battles over industrial wind turbine siting as between farmers and second-home owners ("citiots") -- as if installing an array 400′-high machines that generate noise and visual distraction night and day is no more offensive than spreading manure once or twice a year. Hosting giant wind turbines is no more farming than turning your fields into a NASCAR track.

The caricature, useful as it is to the developers and the landowners salivating for the developers' crumbs, ignores environmentalist opposition, turbines sited on mountain ridges, the fact that as taxpayers we are all paying for the boondoggle, and that, as one of the comments to the article notes, many leasers are absentee owners. As the saying goes, who's watching the farm? She also ignores the common subversion of local democracy, where the leasers are also the town officials that are supposed to listen to all of the people but instead act to self-servingly facilitate the developers.

Finally, she ignores the evidence that wind on the grid does not do what it is supposed to do, that is, reduce the use of other fuels. Small amounts of wind energy -- which is necessarily highly variable and intermittent -- require other sources to work harder to balance the extra fluctuation they add. Substantial wind capacity requires new "conventional" sources to be able to balance it and keep the grid stable. Since the only practical sites for large wind energy installations are far from people (though still impacting animals and plants), they also require new high-capacity transmission lines (not to mention heavy-duty roads) through those remote areas.

What is significant here, therefore, is that the developers (and their abettors) have apparently given up trying to argue that there are benefits from big wind that outweigh the negative impacts. Dare we say, they have lost that argument? They now have only their nasty contempt for opposition voices and appeals to shortsighted greed.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

NBC News drinks the Danish wind Koolaid

On Nov. 5, NBC Nightly News, 80% of which is owned by General Electric, the leading U.S. manufacturer of wind turbines, sang the praises of wind energy in Denmark, saying the Danes lead the way that we should follow.

This was part of the network's "green week", a fine idea but one that should not be seen as a license to abandon all veridicality.

The piece on wind included many errors of fact.

To start with, Denmark's wind turbines do not "supply 20% of Denmark's electricity needs".

Denmark's wind turbines produce electricity equivalent to 20% of what the country uses. But much (if not most) of that wind-generated energy is exported to larger grids that can absorb the fluctuations better.

Rather than leading the way to building even more wind turbines, Denmark has in fact essentially halted new onshore construction. Any development that is still talked about (to keep the market for Vestas turbines alive) is far off shore. But even that has stalled since 2004 because of the expense and technical challenges.

The island of Samso is presented as so successfully energy independent that it produces more than it needs. Actually, the island is able to "depend" on its highly variable and intermittent wind turbines precisely because it is still connected to the national grid and not independent at all. The island uses the national grid to balance its wind energy, just as Denmark as a whole uses the international grid.

While it is true that wind turbines emit "no pollution or carbon dioxide" (after their (and their infrastructure's) manufacture, transport, and construction, and not counting ongoing maintenance (including oil changes) or if they are built on and thus disturb peat or other important carbon sinks), the crucial fact is that neither do they reduce pollution or carbon dioxide emitted by other sources. There is no evidence that Denmark has reduced emissions or other fuel use because of wind on its grid.

That is the unfortunate fact that is getting harder every year to deny or ignore, even if one's only goal is to create a market for Vestas and GE.

wind power, wind energy,environment, environmentalism

Dreams of 20% penetration

Carl Levesque of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) writes in Renewable Energy Access (Nov. 7, 2007):
AWEA Policy Director Rob Gramlich provided a glimpse of the 20% vision technical report that is due to come out soon. The vision, which Gramlich emphasized assumes "stable and long-term policy," calls for a ramp-up in deployment of wind power capacity form the current 3,000-4,000 megawatts (MW) annually to 16,000 MW per year at peak. Gramlich also showed the conceptual map developed by American Electric Power of a grid that can efficiently accommodate 20% wind (as well as benefit all of the electric industry). The map calls for up to 15,000 miles of new transmission lines.
That's one new giant turbine every hour for the next 25 years (allowing 3 years to get up to that rate). In addition to the proposed 15,000 miles of new high-capacity transmission lines (mostly in rural and wild areas), 400,000 MW of new wind turbines would require 20,000,000 acres (31,250 square miles!) of newly industrialized land.

And since demand will also grow, all those wind turbines will have barely reached 10% "penetration" -- god save us from 20%! And, as well explained elsewhere, they will have done nothing to reduce the consumption of other fuels or their emissions.

Continuing this boondoggle is clearly madness. Enlarging it is sociopathic.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights,

November 6, 2007

Environmentalists starting to notice destructive wind energy development

The Collectif du 6 octobre notes that they are succeeding in turning environmentalists against industrial wind turbines in rural and wild areas, as evidenced by Nicolas Hulot writing in Le Figaro, October 20, 2007:
Recently, a collective of organizations met in Paris to demonstrate against wind turbines. They often have good reasons. The wind turbine lobby is often cloase to the nuclear lobby, working on mayors of small towns with proposals of new income. They have installed wind turbines in spite of good sense. Fields of wind turbines on industrial farms don't shock anyone. But when magnificent countrysides are sacrificed, I understand why there would be reactions.
wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

November 5, 2007

Exploding wind turbine transformer

In response to a Nov. 1 query from a concerned citizen for information concerning reports of an explosion in one of the transformers at the "Maple Ridge" wind energy facility on Tug Hill, N.Y., and a truck working in the middle of the night at the base of each turbine, wrote on Nov. 2:
We've checked out the situation and there appears to be no truth to the report.
But (Jack Nasca) wrote on Nov. 5:
We spoke to the operators at the Maple Ridge site and have learned:

On July 4, a single pad mounted grounding transformer located at the Rector Road substation exploded and was rendered inoperative. This was one of ten such transformers in the substation. No cause was determined, and the transformer has been sent back to the manufacturer for an analysis to identify the cause. Lightning was not a factor. None of the other nine grounding transformers at the substation had any problems, and there have been no incidents at turbine base transformers.

Unrelated to the above, a program of annual preventative maintenance of transformers at the base of the turbines was conducted over the summer. This included an analysis of the mineral oil used as a coolant. A gas analysis of the cooling oil was conducted, which indicated elevated levels of certain gases in about 30% of the transformers, one of which was hydrogen. A contractor specializing in purging gases from transformer cooling oil was hired to remove the gases identified in the analysis. Because the contractor was very busy (apparently this occurs with some regularity with transformers in any type of transmission facility), they worked 24/7 for a 2 ½ week period to complete the task. So at some point they were working at "midnight." The process involves withdrawal of the oil from the transformer, piping it to a truck with the purging equipment, capture and collection of the gas for disposal off-site, and returning the oil to the transformer. It was stated that there is no atmospheric release of gases from this process.
wind power, wind energy, wind turbines

November 2, 2007

A Forsaken Garden

by Algernon Charles Swinburne



In a coign of the cliff between lowland and highland,

At the sea-down’s edge between windward and lee,

Walled round with rocks as an inland island,

The ghost of a garden fronts the sea.

A girdle of brushwood and thorn encloses

The steep square slope of the blossomless bed

Where the weeds that grew green from the graves of its roses

Now lie dead.


The fields fall southward, abrupt and broken,

To the low last edge of the long lone land.

If a step should sound or a word be spoken,

Would a ghost not rise at the strange guest’s hand?

So long have the gray bare walks lain guestless,

Through branches and briers if a man make way,

He shall find no life but the sea-wind’s, restless

Night and day.


The dense hard passage is blind and stifled

That crawls by a track none turn to climb

To the strait waste place that the years have rifled

Of all but the thorns that are touched not of time.

The thorns he spares when the rose is taken;

The rocks are left when he wastes the plain.

The wind that wanders, the weeds wind-shaken,

These remain.


Not a flower to be prest of the foot that falls not;

As the heart of a dead man the seed-plots are dry;

From the thicket of thorns whence the nightingale calls not,

Could she call, there were never a rose to reply.

Over the meadows that blossom and wither

Rings but the note of a sea-bird’s song;

Only the sun and the rain come hither

All year long.


The sun burns sear, and the rain dishevels

One gaunt bleak blossom of scentless breath.

Only the wind here hovers and revels

In a round where life seems barren as death.

Here there was laughing of old, there was weeping,

Haply, of lovers one never will know,

Whose eyes went seaward a hundred sleeping

Years ago.


Heart handfast in heart as they stood, “Look thither,”

Did he whisper! “Look forth from the flowers to the sea;

For the foam-flowers endure when the rose-blossoms wither,

And men that love lightly may die — but we?”

And the same wind sang, and the same waves whitened,

And or ever the garden’s last petals were shed,

In the lips that had whispered, the eyes that had lightened,

Love was dead.


Or they loved their life through, and then went whither?

And were one to the end — but what end who knows?

Love deep as the sea as a rose must wither,

As the rose-red seaweed that mocks the rose.

Shall the dead take thought for the dead to love them?

What love was ever as deep as a grave?

They are loveless now as the grass above them

Or the wave.


All are at one now, roses and lovers,

Nor known of the cliffs and the fields and the sea.

Not a breath of the time that has been hovers

In the air now soft with a summer to be.

Not a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter

Of the flowers or the lovers that laugh now or weep,

When as they that are free now of weeping and laughter,

We shall sleep.


Here death may deal not again for ever;

Here change may not come till all change end.

From the graves they have made they shall rise up never,

Who have left nought living to ravage and rend.

Earth, stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing,

While the sun and the rain live, these shall be;

Till a last wind’s breath upon all these blowing

Roll the sea.


Till the slow sea rise, and the sheer cliff crumble,

Till terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink,

Till the strength of the waves of the high tides humble

The fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink,

Here now in his triumph where all things falter,

Stretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread,

As a god self-slain on his own strange altar,

Death lies dead.

October 31, 2007

Capacity calculations for wind on the grid

Operators of the electrical grid have to know how much power capacity they can county on when they need it. This creates a problem for wind energy, because only the wind determines its production rate and time. It's largely chance that wind and demand might coincide in any dependable way. Therefore, wind is largely a sideshow, or even an added burden, to the real work of the grid.

Here is how different grid operators look at wind power's actual value in their planning, as compiled by the Utility Wind Integration Group ("Wind Power and Electricity Markets", information compiled through September 21, 2007). For "Capacity Calculation":
  • PJM (Mid-Atlantic plus northern IN and IL) initially assigns a value of 20% of the rated capacity and then uses the average output over the previous 3 years ot 4, 5, and 6 o'clock p.m. from June through August.

  • NYISO uses the average capacity factor between 2 and 6 o'clock p.m. from June through August and between 4 and 8 o'clock p.m. from December through February.

  • ISO-NE (New England) uses the overall capacity factor.

  • Ontario IESO uses 10% of the rated capacity for long-term (e.g., seasonal) forecasting and 0% (zero) for 1 to 34 days ahead.

  • MISO (Midwest) gives wind a 15% capacity value for transmission planning purposes.

  • SPP (KS, OK, TX panhandle) uses the level of output equalled or exceeded for 85% of the top 10% load hours.

  • ERCOT (TX) uses 8.7% of the rated capacity in capacity reserve margin calculations.

  • CAISO uses the average monthly output over the previous 3 years between 12 and 6 o'clock p.m. from May through September.

  • Alberta Electric System Operator assigns a 20% value.
wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines

October 29, 2007

Bush Wants Another $46 Billion for Wars

[headline and blurb from Ironic Times]

Dems pledge to whine “even louder” before giving it to him.

October 27, 2007

Corrections re: wind turbine foes

A story late last month by Lydia DePillis from Greenwire stated that Lisa Linowes organized the meeting in May 2005 at which a national coalition (namely, National Wind Watch [NWW]) against industrial wind energy development was formed. Whether that statement was due to confusion on the reporter's part or misinformation provided by Lisa, the fact is that Lisa was but one of the dozens of invited guests at that meeting, which was conceived and organized by David Roberson.

A story early this month by Kristi Swartz in the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post stated that the Industrial Wind Action Group (IWAG) was founded in 2005. Again, whether that statement was due to the reporter's confusion or misinformation provided by Lisa, the fact is that National Wind Watch, not IWAG, was founded in 2005. Lisa Linowes left National Wind Watch (after a failed coup followed by stealing NWW's web site and domain) to work independently (as IWAG) in 2006.

The coincidence that two reporters at the same time made similar incorrect statements about Lisa Linowes and National Wind Watch strongly suggests that Lisa was indeed the source of these errors.

wind power, wind energy

October 18, 2007

Huge project takes huge parts

Report from the construction of the Smoky Hills Wind Farm in Kansas, on hills on both sides of state highway 14 south of Lincoln:

The crane standing atop a hill across the Ellsworth County line north of Interstate 70 soared 315 feet into the air.

Nearby stood two white tubes, one stacked on the other. These made up the bottom two sections of a four-section tower. When this and more than 50 other towers like it are operational, the Smoky Hills Wind Farm will go on-line ...

The wind farm is being developed by TradeWind Energy of Lenexa under the ownership of Enel North America, Inc., a subsidiary of Enel, SpA, the third largest utility in the world.

The components [that electricians, engineers, construction employees and others] are putting together to make the wind turbines are huge. For instance, each turbine will have three blades, each one 132 feet in length.

The towers, manufactured in Denmark, Canada and China, are shipped to the Gulf of Mexico, where they are loaded on rail cars and transported to Kanopolis, 10 miles to the south of the construction site.

Other information shared by [farmer, landowner (hosting 15 of the machines), and tour guide Richard Plinsky]:

• Ten special "low-boy trucks" were needed -- just to deliver the crane, which will hoist the tower components, including the nacelle or generation head, which holds the hub for the three blades.

• The turbines [are capable of producing] 1.8 megawatts of energy [sic -- megawatts are a measure of power], making them the largest producers in Kansas. The wind turbines at Spearville and Elk River, east of Wichita, are 1.5 megawatts.

• The cost of a finished turbine is between $3.5 and $4 million [$1.9-2.2 million per megawatt].

• Each base takes 500 cubic yards of concrete, which is poured 8 to 10 feet into the ground.

• Each tower has 77,000 pounds of reinforcement bar in the concrete. The towers stand 260 feet tall.

"It was such a large project that there was no way anybody local could handle it," Plinsky said.

• When construction started, about 140,000 gallons of water were needed daily to pour the concrete and build the roads. Plinsky said large amounts of water are still required to control the dust on the roads.

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

October 13, 2007

Searsburg wind output misstated by officials

To the Editor, Brattleoro (Vt.) Reformer [published Oct. 12, 2007]:

The article "Answers blowing in wind" (Oct. 11) states that the current annual output of the existing Searsburg wind turbines is 27 percent of their capacity. That is incorrect.

For the last four years for which data are available, 2002-2005, the annual output has ranged between 20.4 and 21.7 percent of capacity.

There is no reason to expect a new facility in the same area to perform any better. The new machines are just bigger; they do not rewrite the laws of physics.

Searsburg's output for 2007 is likely to be much lower, since one of the machines -- its blades destroyed by lightning some time ago -- has not been repaired.

Such abandonment after the tax benefits expire and manufacturers have moved on to bigger machines is typical. It should be noted that "decommissioning" is superficial: all such agreements leave the huge steel-reinforced concrete foundation behind, permanently altering the terrain.

The extensive destruction of otherwise protected habitat necessary to erect the giant new wind turbines would be done to produce an annual total of barely one percent of Vermont's needs. It would, however, be practically idle for a third of the time and produce at or above its average rate only another third of the time -- depending on the wind and not grid demand, making its actual value for providing power almost nil. (Its real product is tax avoidance and green tags.)

It's time to admit that wind energy on the grid is a failure, not to stubbornly expand the folly. The only result has been the destruction of rural and wild lands that we and the earth can ill afford.

Eric Rosenbloom
President, National Wind Watch

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

October 10, 2007

Facts and figures about Jiminy Peak wind turbine

The giant wind turbine on Jiminy Peak in the northern Berkshires has been on line for 2 months and has already broken down. At this rate, they won't even save their (our) investment, let alone the planet.

Type: General Electric 1.5-megawatt model SLE

Heights and weights
Base tower section: 72', 64.5 tons
Midsection: 85’, 47.5 tons
Top tower section: 97', 33.5 tons
Total tower: 253' (77 m), 144.5 tones
Nacelle: 12'2" high, 61.7 tons
Blade (x3): 122' long, 9'2" wide, 11.2 tons
Hub: 11' radius
Total blade assembly: 249' diam. (81 m), 134.6 tons, swept area 1.27 acres
Total: 386' (117.5 m), 236 tons

Foundation: 412 cubic yards of cement; 40' diameter; 8' deep in rock; 25 tons of reinforcing rod; 140 8’ anchor bolts

Likely output of this behemoth (when not broken down): about 325 kilowatts annually, reaching that rate or above only a third of the time, essentially idle another third of the time

See some pictures at National Wind Watch.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism

October 8, 2007

NO industrial wind turbines in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

Make sure the organizations listed below understand that they need to stand against industrial wind energy development in the Northeast Kingdom to protect the beauty and character of the area.

From "Vermont's Northeast Kingdom", National Geographic Geotourism Map Guide:

Also see

Geotourism Travelers' Tips:

1. What is geotourism?

The formal definition is, "Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited -- its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents." In other words, travel for people who like distinctive places and care about protecting them.

2. Who are geotravelers?

... they support local businesses and travel organizations that care about conservation, preservation, beautification, and benefits to local people.

3. How can I be a good geotraveler in the Northeast Kingdom?

The Kingdom got its name from its natural beauty. Residents are determined to retain that beauty. ...

9. What should I do, and not do, if I want to buy property or build a home in the Kingdom?

The Geotourism Alliance is committed to preserving sense of place in the Kingdom. If you decide to purchase a home or move to the area, please consider local values and the effect you and your house have on the landscape, culture, environment, and communities. ...

[Who makes up the Geotourism Alliance?]

National Geographic
Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association
Nulhegan Gateway Association
University of Vermont Tourism Data Center
Cabot Creamery
Connecticut River Byway
Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
Kingdom Trails Association
Northeastern Vermont Development Association
Northeast Kingdom Collaborative
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
NorthWoods Stewardship Center
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
USDA Rural Development
Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing
Vermont Fresh Network
Vermont Maple Foundation
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Vermont WoodNet

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

NO industrial wind turbines in National Forest

Dear Bob Bayer, Project Coordinator, USDA Forest Service --

Please do not allow the construction of industrial wind turbines on National Forest lands in Readsboro, Vt., as proposed by PPM Energy.

Such construction would be a permanent loss of the land for any other purpose. It would require acres of clearing for each turbine, new heavy-duty roads, and excavation (including blasting) for steel-reinforced concrete bases that would remain in the ground forever.

The motion and consequent noise and vibration of the giant turbines are a threat to flying animals -- birds, bats, and insects -- and would disturb the lives of animals on and in the ground.

Their height and required safety lighting would adversely transform the character of a rare natural landscape.

These and other impacts far outweigh the potential benefit of the facility as a source of nonpolluting renewable energy.

As you know, wind energy is highly variable, intermittent, and nondispatchable. Thus, integrating it into the grid is problematic.

Other sources must be kept available to balance the infeed from wind. They may continue to burn fuel in standby mode, burn fuel at lower efficiency in a ramped down state, or burn extra fuel in more frequent starts.

The beneficial effect of wind as a clean source of energy is therefore substantially diminished as a supplier to the grid.

In many cases, the infeed from wind may simply be absorbed as a tolerable variation in line voltage, thus not displacing any other source at all.

In sum, forest land and habitat should not be sacrificed for such a negligible potential benefit that will not measurably alter our energy use.

Reject the proposal of siting wind turbines in the National Forest.

The forest is not renewable.

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

October 6, 2007

Protected wolves and hyenas disappearing in Indian district

From, via National Wind Watch:

Three years ago, Gajendragad [in Gadag district] was recognised as a safe haven for highly endangered species like the Indian grey wolf and striped hyenas, but then came wind farming and wind mills with huge noisy fans and human traffic to maintain these machines. It drove away these species from their habitat.

Dr H N Kumara, wildlife biologist, observed the changes during his visits to the place. ‘‘Some years ago, I could sight huge packs of animals during my visits. My week-long stay here had revealed that these places were an ideal den for the wolves. But after a couple of years, the habitats were destroyed and wolves disappeared,’’ he explained.

The hills were destroyed for the construction of roads and huge mills by a private firm, replacing the dry decidous place. The only beneficiary is cattle, for they can graze free and without fear. ‘‘There were a lot of wolves here. And the sight of grazing sheep was rare. Now the situation is the reverse. The wolves have gone,’’ said Goni Basappa Koralahalli, a shepherd.

[Poachers also take advantage of the new roads. --Ed.]

Prashant Rathod says he had sighted wolves several times, but it was more than a year ago. Now no one comes across wolves. The status of the Indian striped hyena, an endangered species, is no different. They have disappeared since the past three years.

‘‘This is a significant habitat for these hyenas and we had seen some near goshalas around Kalakaleshwar temple. But they are gone. It is possible that too much human interference might have driven them away,’’ he said.

Power generation is permitted on this government land and about five megawatts of power is generated. Officials from the forest department were not available for comment on the alarming migration of animals. The forest department had reported many incidents where bears made life miserable for people in Arasikere and parts of Hiryur recently.

The Indian grey wolf (Canis lupus) is found in the Deccan plateau and differs from its Himalyan cousin. Though considered secondary predators with significant roles in the food chain, the numbers of this nocturnal and diurnal species is dwindling rapidly due to poaching, loss of habitat and threat from feline species.

The species is protected under Wildlife Act Schedule 1.

The Indian striped hyena, a scavenger species was sighted in places like Gajendragad, Chitradurga, parts of Tumkur region, around Doroji, Sandur and Bidar.

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

October 2, 2007

Corrosion grounding off-shore wind

From Environmental Data Services (U.K.), via Friends of the Irish Environment, comes a report of a Sept. 20 article in the Norwegian engineering journal Teknisk Ukeblad about off-shore wind energy facilities being shut down because of corrosion damage to gearboxes, rotor blades, and other mechanical components. Affected sites include Nysted and Horns Rev off the Danish coast, Barrow in the Irish sea, and Kentish Flats in the Thames estuary. Vestas has suspended sales of its 3-MW off-shore turbine.

The Swedish engineering journal Ny Teknik also carried an article on the subject on Sept. 19, confirming Vestas' problems and noting that the technology still needs a lot of work (how much more money will we throw down this dead end?) to withstand the harsh environment off shore.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines

October 1, 2007

Non Aux Eoliennes!

Demonstration this Friday, October 6, in front of the Environment Ministry in Paris at 2:00 in the afternoon

Community and environmental groups from all over France will be demonstrating against the madness of industrial wind turbine development. They will be demanding that the Environment Ministry protect the environment instead of wreck it.

For details, go to the Collectif 6 Octobre web site.

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

September 24, 2007

Wind turbines and noise

From abstracts of papers presented at the Wind Turbine Noise 2007 conference, Sept. 20-21, Lyon, France:

"In wind turbines the drive train, especially the gear box, is a significant source of noise. Significant contributions come from the gear mesh and from resonances of the structure like the main frame or the torque arm. The structure-borne noise from these sources is transferred either to the rotor or to the tower and radiated to the environment. The contributions to the noise spectrum from these sources are single tones in the frequency range from about 100 Hz to about 600 Hz."

--paper describing passive and active vibration absorbers manufactured by the German company ESM

"The larger proportion of the general population who live far from them think wind turbines are great -- while the smaller proportion representing people with homes near where wind turbines were subsequently erected have concerns, particularly about noise. On a popular vote basis, as seen by elected officials, the choice is clear, but on a justice basis, who looks out for the impacted few? ...

"The results for one wind farm, the Kingsbridge wind farm near Goderich Ontario, which has the closest distance between the wind turbines and the Environment Canada weather office monitoring station, show that about 31% of the hours of the year show an unmasked noise output above the Ontario Standard, and for nearly 10% of the hours of the year, the noise is significantly above the provincial standard (over 3 dBA), in many cases about 10 dBA above the background level produced by the wind at the receptor. In the 6 months from October 2006 to March 2007, on 64% of the days, there were hours of unmasked noise. This demonstrated the problem to be chronic and significant in nature. For another Ontario wind farm, the results in the summer period between May 1st and August 31st, 2006 showed 59% of the days demonstrated the problem, with it occurring 48% of the nights, and 33% of the nights showing the condition sustained for 3 or more hours. ...

"The presentation will go through the results in detail. They will show that the current Ontario interpretation by the Ministry of the Environment is not adequate to protect the public from excessive annoyance."

--William K. G. Palmer, Canada

"Previous studies have shown that wind turbine noise could be annoying at sound pressure levels lower than those known to be annoying for other community noise sources, such as road traffic. This could be due to the special characteristics of wind turbine noise (amplitude modulation) that make the sound easily perceptible. It could furthermore be due to atmospheric situations influencing large modern wind turbines more than older ones, leading to higher sound exposure than accounted for in the planning process."

--Eja Pedersen, Sweden, and Jelte Bouma, Roel Bakker, and Frits van den Berg, the Netherlands

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, human rights, animal rights

September 22, 2007

Save the Rupert River from hydro and wind power

To members of the Save the Rupert coalition:

I am in complete solidarity with your opposition to yet more destruction of the James Bay region by Hydro-Québec.

I must, however, note that wind power, although it certainly should have been mentioned in the EIA, is not a viable or desirable alternative.

And like big hydro, which was initially considered to be green and turned out not to be, big wind is not green, either.

At $1.5 million per installed megawatt, the alternative wind projects represent perhaps 3,000 megawatts of nameplate capacity. The American Wind Energy Association's "rule of thumb" for onshore wind turbines is that they require 60 acres of clearance for every installed megawatt.

So the alternative to a 135-square-mile hydro reservoir would be 280 square miles of wind turbines.

Along with the impacts of clearing, heavy-duty roads, and massive steel and concrete platforms, the environmental toll would continue with a broad spectrum of noise that disturbs wildlife (and people), and blades sweeping up to 2 acres of vertical airspace at tip speeds of 150-200 mph that kill substantial numbers of birds, bats, and insects.

The adverse impacts of large-scale wind power are increasingly documented, including by some of the groups in the Save The Rupert coalition. Again, like big hydro, big wind can no longer be thought of as green.

Furthermore, wind is an intermittent and variable energy source, which requires balancing by other sources. The ideal partner for wind is hydro. In fact, wind is likely the reason for the Rupert River project. Hydro-Québec recently called for offers to provide 2,000 megawatts of wind power (they received almost 8,000 MW of proposals). If those projects were to be built, adding to the hundreds of megawatts already installed in Québec, they would need new balancing power from another source.

Thus the company's need for new hydro capacity -- not to provide needed electricity (which, as you say, is not in fact necessary), but to make wind viable so that they can profit from the unwarranted perception that it is a green alternative.

Again, wind is not an alternative to the Rupert River project but the reason for it.

I join you in opposing this latest assault on wilderness. And hope that you also oppose the same assault by wind power projects.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

September 21, 2007

Sibylline gesture

The first image is from 1473 Ulm, Germany. The second is a painting by Dirck van Baburen from the 1600s. They are both found in From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, by Marina Warner (1994).

September 19, 2007

Around the world: two days of the wind energy depredation news

India: Vultures hounded by windmills

Suthari village in Abrasa Taluka, Kutch, used to have 10 to 15 nests of the white backed vultures till a couple of years ago. This year, just a lone nest has been found. Where once there were more than 70 birds, now only 10 to 15 remain. When birdwatchers got together to look for a possible reason for the sudden drop in number of these birds, they attributed it to the wind farms that have come up in the area in the last year. ... In India, no Environmental Impact Assessment is done before setting up windmills as they are [presumed to be] a source of clean energy.

California: Riverside County supervisors doubt necessity of bird-safety rules

Two supervisors in Riverside County, one of California’s top producers of wind energy, want the region to be exempt from new statewide guidelines aimed at reducing the deaths of hawks, bats, owls, and other animals from windmills.

Illinois: Study puts focus on bird deaths by wind turbines

Despite proof that birds and bats are being killed by the rotating blades of wind turbines, a new state report says more studies are needed to determine if anything should be done about it.

Scotland: Council accused of ripping up rulebook over windmills plan

Wind turbines will be built close to a road and a stone circle after councillors over-ruled policies set out to prevent their construction on sensitive sites. The decision paves the way for a Turriff pig farmer to diversify his business with income from three 262ft-high windmills.

Iowa: Wind turbines raise some legal questions for landowners

Roger McEowen, an extension specialist at Iowa State University, says wind energy farming presents legal issues landowners need to carefully consider before entering into an agreement with developers.

India: Maharashtra ignoring tribal rights over forest land

Senior leaders of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and the Janata Dal, N. D. Patil and Mrinal Gore on Tuesday alleged that the Maharashtra government was favouring companies over the rights of poor Adivasis in Dhule district. ... Since January, there have been several protests in Dhule over the allotment of forest land for wind energy projects. Earlier this month the government issued notices to extern five activists championing the cause of the Adivasis and ban their entry into Dhule and four other districts.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism

Wind energy on the grid is not green

An associate has written to the Climate Trust's, regarding their support of wind energy green tags from Bonneville Environmental Foundation:

"The electricity generated by the co-funded wind facility displaced electricity that otherwise would have been generated by burning fossil fuel at other power plants."

That may or may not be the case (if the amount of wind is a small enough percentage, the grid most likely just allows the line voltage to rise withing tolerable limits). Isn't the true measure, however, the amount of fuel burning that is reduced? The calculation of displacement has to account for: 1) the preference of hydro to balance wind; 2) switching thermal plants to standby, in which they still burn fuel to stay warmed up and ready to switch back to generation; 3) the extra fuel necessary for more frequent ramping or less efficient operation of those plants that are able to switch more quickly; and 4) the likelihood that the addition of wind energy is simply absorbed as a tolerable rise in line voltage.

These factors may explain why there is no evidence from anywhere in the world that wind energy on the grid actually reduces fossil fuel use or emissions, despite more than a decade of extensive experience, and casts serious doubt on wind's green credentials.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

September 18, 2007

A couple wind energy quotes from insiders

"We have three windmill parks in Norway, and we have pinpointed two countries to look for building more wind parks, that's the U.K. and Sweden. That's mainly because of the green certificate market they have there." --Ragnvald Nærø, executive vice president of communications, Statkraft (Sweden)

"The US Department of Energy said that you would need to cover four states with wind farms to supply America's energy needs." --Jim Dehlsen, chairman and CEO, Clipper (U.S.)

wind power, wind energy

September 14, 2007

Threat to fungi, worms, and insects from wind turbines

A Scottish news story yesterday publicized concerns being raised about the effect of industrial wind turbine noise and vibration might have on "our tiniest and rarest creatures". Click the title of this post for the article archived at National Wind Watch.

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

September 11, 2007

Disappearance of wildlife around wind turbines

At most wind energy projects, people have noticed a decline in wildlife, presumably because of the noise disturbance. Don Woods continues:

I have also noticed a steep decline of almost all other wildlife in this area. Deer and turkey populations have declined by about 80% since the turbine installation. I firmly believe they are having adverse health effects on the local citizens, myself included. There are many, many unknowns about the problems of wind farms that definitely need to be addressed by the proper authorities before it becomes impossible to stop them, if it isn't already! Specifically, the problems associated with low frequency vibrations. If the moth decline is due to wind turbines it is very serious. This could cause a total collapse of the ecosystem to include the whole food chain. It is definitely worthy of further study.

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

September 9, 2007

Disappearance of moths around wind turbines

Don Woods writes:

I live in the Appalachian mts. of West Virginia. My property borders the vast Monongehela natl. forest. Each year we delight in the hundreds of different moth species we observe here. For some unknown reason they seem to be on a serious decline over the past 5 years or so, to the point of near extinction this year. Last weekend after 4 hrs with the outside lights on not a single moth of any kind was seen! We do not know if the forest service has possibly been spraying for gypsy moth infestation and killed all moth species. Is that possible or might there be some other reason for their disappearance? Recently giant wind turbines have been erected in this area at about the same time the moths started to disappear.

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

August 27, 2007

Taste for Meat Marches On

Tim Flannery writes in the June 28 New York Review of Books:
Many readers will doubtless ask whether vegetarianism is better still. [Michael] Pollan [The Omnivore's Dilemma] tells us that even vegan lifestyles result in animal cruelty. Just think of the the thousands of field mice shredded by harvesters, the woodchucks crushed in their burrows by tractors, and the songbirds poisoned by pesticides when farmers grow the wheat for our bread. Pollan's message seems to be that to live we must kill, and the best we can do is both treat animals decently while they live and kill them humanely.
This is moral argument?!

Your ethical vegan practices ahimsa, or "do the least harm". Choosing organically grown food eliminates the harm from pesticides. Choosing food from small farmers reduces the harm done to animals in the fields. Growing one's own food reduces it yet more.

Michael Pollan, apparently with Tim Flannery's agreement, goes in the other direction. In recognizing that our sustenance does harm to the sustenance of other creatures, he justifies willful harm beyond unavoidable necessity.

His premise is that we must eat the corpses of other animals, and it is commendable that he would like to reduce the brutality of that practice. But that premise is invalid and based only on his unquestioned appetite.

The fact is, most of us do not need to eat the corpses of animals to survive. Many people live very well without eating flesh. So to continue eating flesh is a choice to kill unnecessarily. All the coddling of your "meal" while it is alive doesn't change the brutal fact of that choice. One can raise them and kill them less brutally, but the practice can never be called humane. The result of the feedlot is the same as that for the "happy" grass-grazing beef cow.

Flannery also reviews Bill McKibben's Deep Economy, in which we learn that McKibben is a corpse-eater, too. Has the pre-eminent voice about the dangers of global warming not heard that raising animals for food is responsible for more greenhouse gas effect than transport? Let alone the inexcusable pollution and waste of water, energy, land, and other resources.

How can anyone take these men seriously?

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism

August 26, 2007

Wind energy would not reduce coal emissions

Dan Boone, a naturalist in Maryland, explains in a letter to the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News published Aug. 24 that air pollution would not be affected by adding wind turbines to the grid.

This is because air pollution is regulated under a "cap and trade" system that has very effectively reduced nitrous oxides (NOx) which create ozone and sulfur dioxide (SO2) which causes acid rain emitted by electricity plants. It has even reduced carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming: by 19% from 1995 to 2003 in Pennsylvania, according the the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

If thousands of giant turbines were erected in different regions so that between them there would be some predictably steady electricity generation, wouldn't that reduce coal emissions even more?

No, because even if that happened, the cap and trade system relies on an already established total cap on emissions. The incentive for a plant to reduce its emissions below its assigned cap is that it can then sell that extra to another plant to allow it to pollute more. Thus the total pollution remains the same.

And the cap is unlikely to be lowered because of wind energy. The potential contribution of wind is very small (the Dept. of Energy projects will will generate 0.89% of the total electricity in the U.S. by 2030) and the effect on fuel burning even smaller (because of ramping inefficiencies).

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

August 22, 2007

Cape Wind would not reduce use of Canal Generating Plant

Wendy Williams, in yet another self-promotional piece, this one at Renewable Energy Access (Aug. 20), writes unconvincingly: "I'm not very polished when it comes to publicity." Another howler is this:

"Cape Wind would reduce the use of the oil-fired power plant on the Cape Cod Canal."

Cape Wind's massive turbines may reduce the electricity generated from that plant, but not necessarily the oil it burns.

The Canal Generating Plant in Sandwich is a traditional thermal plant. It can't be simply switched on and off as needed, because starting up first requires heating up water to make the steam that powers the generators, and that can take hours. As a back-up to wind, therefore, it would be switched to standby mode when the wind rises, in which mode it continues to burn fuel to create steam but the steam is released and not used to generate electricity. Thus, the plant would be ready to switch back to generation mode as soon as the wind drops again.

That's the sad fact. The 24-square-mile Cape Wind facility would not clean the air or reduce oil barge traffic.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

August 20, 2007

Ironic Times

Headline:  Angry Dems punish Gonzales by expanding his powers.

August 18, 2007

Animals and morality

Apparently it has been a central problem of philosophy to explain "morality" as a uniquely human attribute. Philosophers, however, are keen to show that they are still equal to scientific thinking, so it has been hard to reconcile a unique human morality with related behaviors among other animals, i.e., with morality necessarily being an evolutionarily derived characteristic and not so unique after all.

And so reason is evoked as the essence of morality. Reason, we reason, is uniquely human, so everything that involves it must also be uniquely human.

This is, of course, a fine example of circular reasoning. Reason is uniquely human, morality requires reason, therefore morality is uniquely human. Neither premise is proven and exists only for the benefit of the other.

How much reasoning must we expend to justify what most people would inarguably see as a moral act, such as helping someone who is hurt? Reason, it seems, is more necessary to rationalize immoral acts, such as torture, the bombing of civilians, or ignoring from a seat of relative comfort the economic plight of others.

It is immorality, it seems, that is uniquely human and requires human reason.

[] [] []

I have written before in this space about Michael Pollan's confusion of morality with appetite. His dilemma, as it is sometimes said about taste, is in his mouth. For him, being an omnivore is what makes one human, and therefore he is committed to being the most conscientious omnivore he can be without denying his humanity.

But just because we can kill and eat anything we want doesn't mean that we should. We don't eat each other, for example, and it is generally not acceptable behavior to kill or even assault one another either. So what seems to make us human is the ability to deny our appetites, not gratify them, no matter how refined the gourmet. There is, of course, a balance -- we ought to enjoy what we eat and the communion of meals -- but one thing that is uniquely human, as Michael Pollan makes clear, is to recognize the immorality of one's actions and, instead of curtailing such behavior or even accepting it as a weakness or imperfection, to write whole books to justify it as right and necessary.

[] [] []

The first section above was written after reading an article by John Gray in the May 10 New York Review of Books, reviewing a couple of books about the evolution of morality.

The second section comes after reading an incisive and very readable review in the September Atlantic of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: "Hard to swallow: the gourmet’s ongoing failure to think in moral terms" by B.R Myers.

And while we're on the subject of treating animals decently as fellow creatures on this earth (not as potential meals), the American Vegan Society has a good article by Dale Lugenbehl in the Summer 2007 American Vegan about the massive impacts on the planet from raising animals to eat. It is available on line here. That issue of American Vegan also includes the report from the U.N. about animal husbandry's substantial contribution of greenhouse gases (more than transport) and other related material.

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism