May 28, 2007

Wind: corporate "environmentalism" at its worst

To Don Fitz, editor of Synthesis/Regeneration: A Magazine of Green Social Thought and writer of "Consume Like There's No Tomorrow":

The corporate enviro embrace of industrial-scale wind energy is not an exception but fits perfectly in your critique.

As the first section of the essay "A Problem With Wind" concludes, 'wind farms constitute an increase in energy supply, not a replacement. They do not reduce the costs -- environmental, economic, and political -- of other means of energy production. If wind towers do not reduce conventional power use, then their manufacture, transport, and construction only increases the use of dirty energy. The presence of "free and green" wind power may even give people license to use more energy.'

Wind is an intermittent, highly variable, and unpredictable source, so it either requires the building of new quick-response conventionally powered plants for back-up (such as the natural gas plant that would be built to support Delaware's planned off-shore wind facility and the diesel plant that Cape Wind's parent company would build to support that facility) or elaborate and manufacturing-intense storage systems, whose added inefficiencies would seriously cut into wind's already low output.

Since Enron set up the modern wind industry in the 1990s, its only success has been a massive transfer of public funds into private bank accounts.

Wind energy also requires huge amounts of space (60 acres per megawatt, according to the American Wind Energy Association) or clearing and road building on forested mountaintops.

With very rare exceptions, it also represents NIMBY predatory capitalism at its worst. In the U.S. and similar countries, the usual targets for sprawling industrial wind facilities are poor rural communities. Wind has become part of the current strife in Oaxaca, as the governor and president assist the Spanish energy giant Iberdrola in taking the lands of ejidatarios without consent and with very poor compensation. Their interest in erecting hundreds of giant wind turbines in the western hemisphere's most important migratory bird flyway is not to provide energy (which will be all but lost by the time it gets to where it might be needed) but to generate carbon "credits" for Spain.

Not only should big wind not be a focus at the expense of conservation, it should be rejected as a destructive boondoggle.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, ecoanarchism