September 29, 2012

Wind and U.S. Electricity Data, 2000-2011

wind power capacity at end of year (MW) :
capacity added from previous year (MW) :
average capacity for year (MW) :
net generation (GW) :
capacity factor :
net generation from fossil fuels (GW)
2011 : 46,919 : 6,652 : 43,593   : 119,747 : .31 : 2,790,291
2010 : 40,267 : 5,404 : 37,565   :  94,652 : .29 : 2,883,361
2009 : 34,863 : 9,453 : 30,136.5 :  73,886 : .28 : 2,726,451
2008 : 25,410 : 8,503 : 21,158.5 :  55,363 : .30 : 2,926,731
2007 : 16,907 : 5,332 : 14,241   :  34,450 : .28 : 2,992,238
2006 : 11,575 : 2,428 : 10,361   :  26,589 : .29 : 2,885,295
2005 :  9,147 : 2,424 :  7,935   :  17,811 : .26 : 2,909,522
2004 :  6,723 :   373 :  6,536.5 :  14,144 : .25 : 2,824,798
2003 :  6,350 : 1,663 :  5,518.5 :  11,187 : .23 : 2,758,651
2002 :  4,687 :   455 :  4,459.5 :  10,354 : .27 : 2,730,167
2001 :  4,232 : 1,693 :  3,385.5 :   6,737 : .23 : 2,677,004
2000 :  2,539 :    65 :  2,505.5 :   5,593 : .25 : 2,692,479
1999 :  2,472

Note that fossil use has not decreased in relation to the increase of wind energy. Also note that if two-thirds of the cost of erecting wind turbines is covered by federal tax breaks and other subsidies (North American Windpower, June 2009; Keith Martin, Chadbourne and Parke, LLP, Financing Wind Power conference, Dec. 3-5, 2003, New York, N.Y.), then at $1.5 million per megawatt, taxpayers cover $1 million of that. At the end of 2011, then, federal taxpayers had paid and were committed to paying $47 billion to wind developers. For no measurable benefit and a great deal of environmental and social harm.

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

September 27, 2012

There they go again

Benjamin Netanyahu used a cartoon at the U.N. General Assembly today to demonstrate the extent of Iran's nuclear program, a frightening parody of Colin Powell's cartoon presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, demonstrating Iraq's chemical weapons program.

[photo of Netanyahu by Chang W. Lee, The New York Times]

September 22, 2012

Stewart Alexander for President!

The Real Deal.

The Alexander-Mendoza social safety net model supports:
  • A system based upon basic human rights and basic economic rights that eliminate suffering
  • The provision of comprehensive high-quality healthcare, using Single-payer healthcare as a stepping stone into a fully socialized medical system
  • Increased and expanded unemployment insurance at 100% of the worker’s wage or the minimum wage, whichever is higher. Fully funded Federal job re-training programs.
  • Moving to a policy of full-time employment and the provision of livable guaranteed annual income
  • The right to affordable high-quality housing, the expansion of Section 8 housing and the creation of a Federally funded Community Land Trust program that will help homeowners remove their homes from the marketplace.
  • Easy access to high quality food that is organically grown or locally sourced.
  • The right to civil rights and civil liberties, including the right to political choice and expression.
We think that it is particularly important to immediately enact the following measures [to dismantle the war machine]:
  • Cut the amount of Federal funds going to the military by 50%
  • End all foreign military interventions in the Middle East / Central Asia by removing remaining troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and ending the secret war in Pakistan by ending drone attacks and clandestine (black) operations throughout the region.
  • Close all US military bases throughout the world and demilitarize US embassies around the world
  • End the US membership and participation in NATO.
  • Dismantle the Central Intelligence Agency, end all clandestine (black) operations, and all other covert operations that contravene international law and the domestic laws of nations
  • Criminally prosecute military and civilian officials responsible for involving the United States in undeclared, unconstitutional, or illegal wars and prosecute those officials who planned for the utilization of torture and the creation of illegal confinement facilities to include Guantanamo Bay.
  • Prosecute all American military, civilian, and contract personal who ordered, executed, or covered-up offenses under International Humanitarian and Human Rights law. Prosecute commanders who tolerated a criminally permissive command climate that engendered contempt for humanitarian standards.
  • Abolish all private armies by cancellation of all private contractors providing armed military, police, and security services abroad.
  • Immediately end all international military, police, and security assistance and training programs, especially funding to Israel, Egypt and Colombia
Our educational model will use public monies to fully fund high-quality education from age 3 through graduate school
  • Full and equal funding of public education and the restoration of a comprehensive K-12 curriculum, including art, music, world languages, and physical education
  • Comprehensive Early Childhood Education including free or low-cost childcare from birth to age three and high quality universal nursery and pre-k programs for 3 and 4 year olds. These programs will be staffed with highly qualified early childhood teachers and professionals.
  • An egalitarian educational system that accommodates a wide range of teaching and learning styles and provides all students with the means to obtain post-secondary education
  • Student, parent, and teacher control of curriculum formation, and in the hiring and dismissal procedures of school personnel through local school/community committees
  • Vigorous affirmative action programs so that the faculty and student-body of all schools reflect the community at large in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, and economic background
  • Opportunities for lifelong self-education, with retraining programs and transitional financial support for workers displaced by technological advances
  • Full funding for Adult Education - We pledge to keep the GED test under public control and administered free of charge. We support full funding for a variety of adult education and ESOL classes.

September 18, 2012

The happy truths of single payer

Vermont Leads and Vermont for Single Payer have produced a brochure (click here to download) addressing frequently raised questions:

Green Mountain Care will provide health insurance for all Vermonters in 2017. The State of Vermont is currently researching a proposed benefit package and a plan for paying for Green Mountain Care. We fully expect these details to be public by January 2013 at the latest.

While this new system is being developed, opponents of health care reform have been spreading myths about single payer. Here’s THE STRAIGHT SCOOP:

MYTH: “Single payer will cost us more!”

The taxes for Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will REPLACE private health insurance premiums and deductibles. With the increased efficiency of a single payer system, expect to pay less for health care.

MYTH: “Doctors will leave the state!”

Doctors say they will move to Vermont for a single-payer system. The list of doctors is growing.

MYTH: “Our healthcare coverage will get worse!”

Under Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) benefits will apply equally to every Vermonter. State law requires the benefit package of Green Mountain Care at a minimum to include primary and specialty care, mental health and substance abuse, hospitals and prescription drugs. Under Green Mountain Care everyone will be eligible for these broad benefits.

MYTH: “There will be delays to see our doctor.”

We experience delays now for many reasons: patients put off treatment because of high costs, insurance companies create roadblocks, and sometimes the resources just aren’t there. The efficiency of a single payer system will ensure that the money we have is spent on the care we need, and not on insurance company middlemen.

MYTH: “We won’t have free choice of doctor or hospital.”

Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will provide free choice of doctor and hospital, unlike now when private insurers limit choice to suit themselves.

MYTH: “Government bureaucrats will stand between us and our doctors, preventing us from getting necessary care.”

Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will remove insurance company bureaucrats now standing between us and our doctor. It is rare for enrollees in Vermont’s existing public health care programs like Dr. Dynasaur to be denied services. We expect this to be the case under Green Mountain Care as well.

MYTH: “Medicare will change.”

Basic Medicare will stay the same. Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will add more benefits to Medicare. [Medicare, by the way, is a working example in the U.S. of single payer; it was meant to expand to include all, not just older, citizens. The VA system is a working example in the U.S. of socialized medicine.]

MYTH: “More private insurance companies mean lower costs.”

There is no evidence for this claim. More insurance competition does not result in lower health care costs for everyone. [Health care is not like a consumer commodity, because it is necessary and competition actually drives prices up.]

MYTH: “Under Single Payer care will be rationed!”

Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will not be set up to ration care. It will use existing dollars more efficiently to ensure that every Vermonter gets necessary health care.

human rights, Vermont

September 17, 2012

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif v. Barack Obama

The Guantánamo prisoner, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, who died on Sept. 8 had been ordered freed in 2010 by the District Court for the District of Columbia, which granted the writ of habeas corpus.

Not accepting the ruling, the Obama administration appealed that order and won in 2011, condemning Latif to detention without end without trial.

Although many news reports have mentioned Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., the District Judge who ordered Latif freed, and some David Tatel, the Circuit Judge who dissented from the order vacating Kennedy's ruling, almost none named the Circuit Judges who condemned Latif to continued detention without cause and ultimately to death.

They are Janice Rogers Brown and Karen LeCraft Henderson. Henderson even wrote an additional concurring opinion to express even more contempt for law and life than Brown's ruling opinion.

Brown and Henderson should thus be remembered for their role in Obama's relentless trashing of civil rights.

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif

human rights, anarchism

September 15, 2012

Wind's reliably poor performance

Wind developer consultant Tiff Thompson, in the September installment of her Windtech International column, “Nimbyism”, takes on critics of climate change science. She acknowledges critics of wind's ability to affect climate change, but dismisses them with industry projections of more wind power and, therefore, more effect on climate change.

Like wind itself, it's a poor performance.

She notes, without clear citation — it may be from the Global Wind Energy Council — that 1 MWh of wind energy “will” offset 550 kg (1,200 lb) of CO₂. Elsewhere, the wind industry in the U.S. has been boasting of their reaching 50 GW of installed capacity. Since the industry also maintains that their average production is at least 30% of capacity (despite actual data showing much less), that would mean 50,000 MW × 0.30 × 8,760 hours/year × 550 kg/MWh = 72,270,000,000 kg (72,270,000 metric tons; 159,328,100,000 lb) less CO₂ every year.

In fact, energy-related CO₂ emissions totaled 1,340,000,000 metric tons in just the first quarter of 2012, falling slightly below the figure for 1992, when the Production Tax Credit jumpstarted wind development. The U.S. Energy Information Administration attributes this to a mild winter, increased use of natural gas instead of coal for electricity generation, and reduced gasoline consumption. It is revealing that 50 GW of wind power was not noted. In fact, even by Thompson's industry-approved boosterism, wind energy would have reduced energy-related CO₂ emissions by 1.3%. And energy-related CO₂ emissions are only about 80% of the country's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in terms of CO₂ equivalence, so wind's theoretical effect would be to reduce GHG emissions by barely 1%.

But again, looking only at electricity, it is clear that emissions have decreased almost entirely because of increased use of natural gas, which releases half the amount of CO₂ as coal for the same amount of energy (ignoring, of course, the release of GHG methane in the fracking process to procure that natural gas).

In short, it is clear that wind does not, and will not, seriously affect climate change. So Thompson deflects that criticism by raising the demon of climate science denial. She closes her column with: “To deny climate change ... is to embrace ignorance.” She can not honestly defend wind as a means of addressing climate change, so she changes the subject to that of the importance of addressing climate change, digging herself into an even deeper hole, because addressing climate change is so important that we certainly should not waste our time and resources on such an insignificant player as wind power.

[[[[   ]]]]

In her cursory attempt to deny the evidence that wind does not meaningfully reduce CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels on the electric grid, Thompson draws a caricature of the criticism and then accuses it of being oversimple. But it is precisely her formula of x wind equals y CO₂ emissions reduction that critics show to be oversimple.

She starts with the apt simile: “It's not like riding a bike and leaving the car in the driveway ... Wind energy on the grid is more like riding a bike and having someone follow you in the car in case you get tired.” (She cites the source as the Energy Integrity Project (Idaho) web site’s home page, but it is on their “Not Clean” page and there credited to one Eric Rosenbloom.) Thompson makes a paper tiger out of this by asserting that “once the biker tires, he has one option: to drive the car at 60 mph, without stopping, wherever he goes”, which she then shows to be untrue — thus proving the validity of the analogy, because in fact someone else would be driving the car and they would be stopping and starting and slowing to accommodate the flagging and reviving energy of the cyclist, and it would be much more efficient to leave the bike behind and simply drive steadily.

So explaining the complex mix of baseload and peaking plants that meet the changing electricity demand through the day, Thompson offers the novel claim that “variable” energy such as that from wind turbines fills the gap (which never existed) between them. She makes the nonsensical claim that wind is “more readily dispatched than baseload”, as if the grid operator tells the wind when, how strongly, and in what direction to blow, and thereby provides cost relief to peaking gas turbines, which, she says, have high operational costs. Their operational costs are high, however, precisely because they provide only peaking power, so it takes more time to make up the initial capital costs. Wind energy cutting into their use only increases that cost burden. Plus the system as a whole has the added costs — and environmental burden — of the wind facilities and their associated infrastructure.

But Thompson’s charade of expertise avoids the main charge against wind on the grid, which is indeed suggested by the analogy of the cyclist followed by a support car. Like the difference between city and highway driving, more frequent startups and ramping of output levels of the gas turbines not only increase wear and tear (thus increasing costs again), but also reduce their efficiency, i.e., cause them to emit more CO₂ per unit of electricity generated.

Furthermore, there are two kinds of gas turbines: open-cycle and combined-cycle. Only open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) are able to respond quickly enough to fill in or make way for the variability of wind energy so that demand is reliably met. Not only does wind require them to operate less efficiently, it also prevents the use of combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs), which are much more efficient than OCGTs. In the interest of CO₂ savings, many analysts have determined that emissions from wind + OCGT (which wind requires) are not less than, and are in some cases more than, CCGT alone. (For example: here, here, here, here, here and here.)

[[[[   ]]]]

The controversy about climate change is not whether human activities contribute to it. It is about the activities excused in the name of fighting climate change. Industrial wind is a prime example of that deceit: furthering crimes against nature in the name of saving it. And rather than admit those crimes, wind's apologists tar any and every critic as a climate change denier. That is true for some critics of wind, who also might, as Thompson describes the Heartland Institute and Manhattan Institute, consider wind to be a pet project of “ecosocialism” (which they oppose), which is odd since big wind is clearly a playing piece in the game of big energy and big capital. It is that latter fact, and the depredation of nature and communities it is thus an active participant in, that advocates such as Thompson must hide by pretending concern for the planet.

It is a cynical and pathetically transparent performance.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

September 10, 2012

The Montpelier Manifesto

Petition of Grievances

We, citizens of this American land, haunted by the nihilism of separation, meaninglessness, and powerlessness, subsumed by political elites who use corporate, state, and military power to manipulate our lives, pawns of a global system of dominance and deceit in which transnational megacompanies and big government control us through money, markets, and media, sapping our political will, civil liberties, collective memory, traditional cultures, sustainability, and independence, and as victims of affluenza, technomania, cybermania, globalism, and imperialism, do issue and proclaim this:

Document of Grievances and Abuses

  1. A government too big, too centralized, too undemocratic, too unjust, too powerful, too intrusive, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities.
  2. One that is too big and corrupt to be fixed or reformed, certainly not by such fantasies as campaign finance reform or corporate-personhood amendments.
  3. One that has lost its moral authority, is corrupt to the core, and is owned, operated and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, and their political lackeys.
  4. One run by a single brain-dead national political party on life-support systems, sustained by national and Congressional elections that are sold to the highest bidder, disguised as a genuine two-party system.
  5. One that relies on and fosters the illusion that only the U.S. government can solve all or our problems all of the time, in the face of the fact that it is the U.S. government that is the problem.
  1. A collapsing economy, with a moribund housing market and a staggering number of mortgage foreclosures, and high unemployment because of jobs lost to China, India, and elsewhere over the past three decades of globalism.
  2. Stagnant real incomes for all but the super-rich, resulting in an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor and an increasing rate of poverty, homelessness, and inadequate insurance.
  3. A $15-plus trillion national debt and unfunded mandate obligations of $43 trillion, a staggering burden only added to by stimulus spending, tax cuts, and “quantitative easing” (printing money), none of which is restoring economic growth but does make us increasingly and dangerously dependent on China, Japan, and other foreign countries buying our treasury bonds.
  4. A central bank which has, by monetizing the growing national debt and providing cheap credit to bail out banks, increased the money supply to the point where the future value of the dollar and the rate of inflation are highly uncertain.
  5. A financial system based on “tricks and traps” rather than customer service and a financial regulatory system which favors predatory and ruthless Wall Street mega-banks at the expense of ordinary citizens.
  6. An economic system absolutely dependent for survival on consumption and affluenza (the illusion that the accumulation of more stuff, provided by big-box stores fostered by government globalization policies, can provide meaning to life), despite the knowledge that unrestrained growth in a world of finite resources is unsustainable and unworthy of pursuit.
  7. Public and private sector labor unions which have been under open attack by the government since the Reagan administration, by hostile anti-union private employers such as Wal-Mart, and more recently by some Republican governors.
  8. Corporate-owned, government-subsidized agriculture with its use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, anti-biotics, genetically-engineered seeds, systematic animal cruelty, and virtual absence of food safety regulations creating a menace to public health, the environment, and small farmers.
Foreign Policy
  1. An immoral, often clandestine and illegal, imperial system based on full-spectrum dominance, military overstretch, might-makes-right, and the proposition that the world wants to be just like us, leading us to provide support to dictators and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere in the world.
  2. A dependence on military might, based on a multi-trillion dollar budget, 1.6 million American troops stationed at over 1,000 bases in 153 countries (including 80,000 in Europe, 36,000 in Japan, and 30,000 in Korea), Special Operations strike forces (Seals, Delta Forces, Rangers, Green Berets) deployed in 120 countries, and a proliferation of pilotless drone aircraft worldwide for reconnaissance and stealth attacks, sometimes killing civilians, including Americans.
  3. Immoral, illegal, undeclared wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and (via Israel) Palestine, the threat of war with Iran based on our deliberate acts of provocation, and the endless “war” on terror largely aimed with racial overtones at Muslims.
  4. The hammerlock hold of the Israeli Lobby over American foreign policy that forces us to support an Israeli-inspired war on terror against Muslims and keeps us from any real commitment to an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
  5. The Cuban embargo.
Civil Liberties
  1. The highly intrusive, inept, ever-growing, money-guzzling Department of Homeland Security, together with other intelligence agencies, using the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Detainee Security Provision of the National Defense Administration Act of 2011, and other covers for citizen surveillance and suppression of civil liberties.
  2. The disgraceful (and expensive and useless) Guantanamo Prison, prisoner abuse and torture, and the illegal rendition of terrorist suspects.
  3. A president who can order the assassination of anyone, anywhere, anytime (including U.S. citizens) whose name happens to appear on the White House “kill list.”
Criminal Justice
  1. Six million people under “correctional supervision” (more than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin), including more black men than were in slavery in 1860 and 50,000 men in solitary confinement in “supermax” prisons.
  2. A failed international war on drugs that costs billions, ruins more lives than it saves, has spawned corruption and violence, an entrenched bureaucracy, and which has had no impact on drug use in the United States.
Social Services
  1. The most expensive health care system in the world, driven by fear of death on the demand side and greed on the supply side, that ranks 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization, now tied to Obamacare, which remains fatally attached to a private health care system that is in a death-spiral of rising costs and declining health outcomes.
  2. An education system dominated by the Federal government, committed to a one-size-fits-all corporate model, to the dumbing-down of America, and to a race to the bottom, which is why it ranks 18th in the industrial world, according to the OECD.
  3. A higher education system that is becoming so expensive that only the rich will be able to attend college; all others look forward to debt slavery.
  4. A social-welfare net that, despite being enormously expensive, is woefully inadequate to those it serves and has proven incapable of serious reform.
  1. A widespread aging and collapsing infrastructure, including highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, dams, levees, and public water systems, now costing America $129 billion a year, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, and will take an expenditure of $206 billion a year for the next 20 years to fix, sums which are simply unavailable.
  2. Transportation crises, including the obsolete and inadequate air-traffic-control systems and railroad passenger train systems, and a Federal highway system now 60 years old falling into disrepair across the country.
Redress of Grievances

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive … it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government … as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness,” says the Declaration of Independence. Alteration and abolishment include the right to disband, or subdivide, or withdraw, or create a new government.

Let us therefore consider ways peaceably to withdraw from the American Empire by (1) regaining control of our lives from big government, big business, big cities, big schools, and big computer networks; (2) relearning how to take care of ourselves by decentralizing, downsizing, localizing, demilitarizing, simplifying, and humanizing our lives; and (3) providing democratic and human-scale self-government at those local and regional levels most likely to effect our safety and happiness.

Citizens, lend your name to this manifesto and join in the honorable task of rejecting the immoral, corrupt, decaying, dying, failing American Empire and seeking its rapid and peaceful dissolution before it takes us all down with it.

By Thomas H. Naylor, Kirkpatrick Sale, James Starkey, and Charles Keil
September 4, 2012

To be presented at the Third Statewide Convention on Vermont Self-Determination on September 14, 2012, to be held in the Vermont State House in Montpelier.

human rights, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

Nation of Lawless

Yesterday's New York Times reported that the U.S. is moving to protect former Mexico President Ernesto Zedillo from a civil lawsuit in Connecticut (Zedillo lectures at Yale) concerning a massacre in Chiapas in 1997 during his term: "The State Department said Mr. Zedillo should have immunity because the suit, filed in federal court in Connecticut, concerned actions taken in his official capacity, which generally allow heads of state freedom from the hook of American courts."

As the Chicago Tribune reported last week, the U.S. is refusing an extradition request from Bolivia for former President Sanchez de Lozada to stand trial for the death of 63 protesters in 2003, soon after which de Lozada fled to the U.S.

About a week before, as the Washington Post reported, the U.S. Justice Department ended its investigation of CIA torturers with no plans for prosecution.

And a couple weeks earlier, the Obama-Biden campaign "Truth Team" boasted: "The Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many cases under the Espionage Act as all other administrations combined."

Except for the first one, Glenn Greenwald has written about all of these at The Guardian, and himself reported the last one.

Also read Greenwald on the latest death in the Guantánamo prison: “In the hierarchy of evil, consigning someone who has been convicted of nothing to a cage year after year after year, until they die, is high up on the list. And in that regard, this latest episode demonstrates not only the ongoing travesty of the US’s war on terror policies, but also the dishonesty of the attempt to exonerate Obama for those policies.’

Here is an excerpt on Youtube from John Pilger about the fall of de Lozada.

human rights, anarchism

September 9, 2012

Big oil, big wind

What is meant by the term “industrial” wind, besides the obvious size and the consequent destruction of landscape and habitat? It means it is inextricably part of resource-intensive industry, both dependent on and providing a market for.

Continuing in our occasional series on this theme, here are two large oil ads from this month's North American Windpower, one of them from Exxon-Mobil. Also in this issue is an article emphasizing the importance of lubrication to the survival of industrial wind turbines. Hand in hand, bleeding the planet dry.


wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

September 8, 2012

War is theft

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

—Dwight Eisenhower, President, USA, April 16, 1953, New York Statler Hotel, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors [click here to go to complete text]

Of course, he was crowing over the death of Joseph Stalin and hoping for capitulations from the Soviet Union. But still, this kind of rhetoric today gets you branded as a fringe leftist. Or, as in the case of Ron Paul, simply a nutcase.

human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism