December 24, 2014

‘not just climate denialists who are anti-science’

This letter in the Dec. 21 New York Times Magazine, in response to Rebecca Solnit’s Dec. 7 essay “Are We Missing the Big Picture on Climate Change?”, deserves its own post:

‘The climate-change angle we usually ignore is the apocalyptic side of the human “success story” — our phenomenal growth in population to seven billion from one billion in little more than two centuries. But our cleverness in transforming fossil-fuel energy into labor-saving technology and high-yield agriculture has gone to our heads. It’s not just the climate denialists who are anti-science; it’s also those renewable-energy optimists who ignore basic laws of thermodynamics and entertain the fantasy that it will be possible for seven billion to live in the style of the American middle class. The new story we need to tell is “managed degrowth” — gradually but significantly paring down our demands for resources and learning to live within the ecological budget of the earth.’ —Ando Arike

December 22, 2014

Violence against women seen in both Sydney siege and Brooklyn police murderers

While Australia hypes up a war on Islamic terrorism, and New York City hypes up a police war on (not-so-) minority communities, there is another element that links the recent murders in Sydney and Brooklyn: Both gunmen had already exhibited violence against women.

The New York murderer of two policemen had that day already shot his ex-girlfriend in a town near Baltimore and had a history of violence (including to himself) and mental instability.

The Sydney murderer of two of the hostages that he held for 18 hours also had an established history of violence, including being an accessory to the brutal murder of his ex-wife a year and a half earlier. He was let out on bail. Two months ago, he was charged with 40 counts of sexual assault. He was again let out on bail.

December 21, 2014

Animal agriculture is the most destructive industry on the planet today

Animal agriculture is the most destructive industry on the planet today. Here's why.

Climate Change

Global greenhouse gas emissions:
• 13% due to transport (road, rail, air and sea)
• 51% due to livestock and their byproducts

Livestock is responsible for 65% of nitrous oxide emissions, a greenhouse gas 296× more destructive than CO₂.

A person who follows a vegan diet produces 1/2 as much CO₂ as a meat eater.


1-2 acres (4,000-8,000 m²) of rainforest are cleared every minute.

Animal agriculture is responsible 91% of Amazon destruction.

Area of rainforest cleared:
• palm oil: 105 billion m²
• animal agriculture: 550 billion m²

A person who follows a vegan diet uses 1/11 as much oil as a meat eater.

Species Extinction

110 animal and insect species are lost every day from rainforest destruction.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of:
• species extinction
• ocean dead zones
• water pollution
• habitat destruction


80.4 million metric tons of fish are pulled from the oceans each year.
(1 metric ton = 1,000 kilograms ≈ 2,200 pounds)

3/4 of the world's fish habitats are exploited.

For every 1 kilogram of fish caught, 5 kilograms of unintended species are caught and discarded as by-kill
(1 kg = 2.2 lb; 5 kg = 11 lb)

Water Use

1 hamburger = 3,000 liters of water = 2 months' showering
(1 liter ≈ 1 quart; 3,000 liters ≈ 800 gallons)

The meat & dairy industry use 1/3 of the earth's fresh water.

USA water use:
• domestic: 5%
• animal agriculture: 55%

A person who follows a vegan diet uses 1/13 as much water as a meat eater.


Waste from a farm of 2,500 dairy cows = waste from a city of 411,000 people.

Every minute, 3.2 million kilograms of excrement is produced by animals raised for food in the USA.
(3.2 million kg ≈ 7 million lb)

Land Use

1/3 of land desertification is due to livestock.

30% of the earth's land is used for livestock.

1.5 acres (6,000 m²) = 16,800 kg (37,000 lb) of plant-based food OR 170 kg (375 lb) of meat

Land needed to feed 1 person for 1 year:
• meat eater: 12,000 m² (3 acres)
• vegan: 675 m² (1/6 of an acre)

A person who follows a vegan diet uses 1/18 as much land as a meat eater.

Click here for nonmetric original by Luke Jones.

See: Cowspiracy references and calculations.

December 14, 2014

A Dairy/Veal Farm

These photos and their captions are all taken from Jo-Anne McArthur's "We Animals" web site.

Ears are clipped and tagged without anesthetic or painkillers.

These young calves will either be raised for veal or put into the milk production system. Both outcomes involve lives of exploitation and a premature death.

Veal calves are taken away from their mothers within minutes of being born. Their first food is colostrum from a bottle.

Unless veal crates are thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis, they can be breeding grounds for flies which plague the calves.

These cows know no pasture. Their days are spent standing on hard surfaces and as a result their hooves grow to painful lengths.

Born with ropes around her legs, she is literally enslaved to us from birth.

Other dairy cows, who have had their calves taken away, watch as the new mother cleans her baby.

The bond between mother and babe is obvious and immediate.

Dairy cows who have had their babies removed from them so that we can drink their milk, watch the new mother bond with her calf.

As the calf takes her first steps, the cows watch the humans warily.

The calf is dumped in barrow and wheeled to her home, a veal crate.

Still wet from birth, she will be added to the rows of other calves and crates, and raised in this confinement.

A lonely existence.

Painfully overgrown hooves are a result of sedentary days and the cement they stand on their whole lives.

Overgrown hooves, anxious looks.

Meanwhile, the mothers are milked through a meticulously motorized and computerized system.

The sickly, fly-covered calf we saw earlier in the day is now dead.

A calf's life.

The dead are wheeled away.

She will be reimpregnated until her body becomes exhausted from the years of giving birth and milk production. At that point, she will be sent to slaughter and sold as low-grade beef. Outside this system, she could live 20+ years but here, she will be slaughtered before her eighth birthday.

December 9, 2014

Wind Turbines and Property Values: Does Goverment/Academic Analysis Match Empirical Evidence?

Richard Vyn, Assistant Professor, Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, Ontario, is the author along with Ryan McCullough of Health Canada of “The Effects of Wind Turbines on Property Values in Ontario: Does Public Perception Match Empirical Evidence?”, which was published by the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie on line in January and in print in September – and being publicized only now, perhaps to distract from the fiasco of Health Canada’s self-contradicting summary of its “Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study” without releasing the actual data. The complete paper is not available for free.

What follows is a transcript of excerpts (in italics) from a Nov. 18 recording of a class presentation by Professor Vyn, along with some comments.

Now, the number of sales in close proximity is relatively low. Not that it's lower than anywhere else, just when you're looking at a 1-kilometre band around the turbines, the number of sales is not huge in the post-turbine period. This may influence the results to some degree. ... That can be seen as a limitation of the study: the fact that the number of sales isn't as high as we would like to be.

[The key term in his description of the results is "significant", because calculation of a statistically significant difference requires both a large enough sample and the elimination of other variables, both of which are practically impossible regarding property sales (in fact, the purpose of such a broad statistical analysis seems to be precisely to dilute the sample). So significance is a red herring. Nonetheless, his repeated use of the term "not significant" suggests that there was in fact a clear "trend". More informative, however, would be a simple case series, such as that done by Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens for the Ripley project. Such a study would not ignore properties bought by the wind company, abandoned properties, continuing farms but without residents, and homes for sale but remaining unsold.]

It wouldn't surprise me if we do find, if we do at some point in Ontario find some evidence of negative impacts of wind farms. The reason for this is just given the increasing attention this issue has drawn and just how people value properties. A lot of the value you place on a property is relatively subjective. Why does one property which, with the exact same house, you put it in a different location, why is the value any different? Because of how people perceive the differences in those locations. So in the past few years there's been a big increase in the amount of concerns that are raised, public press articles that are expressing these concerns, and more and more people are hearing about these potential impacts. And so I'm wondering if this will eventually translate into observed impacts on property values. I mean in one sense you can only hear about these impacts again and again for so long before you start to believe that these impacts do actually exist. And it's not beyond the realm of possibility when you consider the fact that a large wind turbine's been put up that maybe there would be impacts.

[These efforts to blame access to information (or to common sense) as the cause of problems never seem to consider the relentless promotion of and reassurances regarding giant wind turbines – why isn't that succeeding to decrease reports of harm? Also, people are not statistical averages. Nobody is "only 5-10%" (or whatever) affected; what that means is that there is a 5-10% chance that you will be 100% affected; and that's plenty to be concerned about.]

[question] Going back to when you were talking about future research needs, you mentioned how since the value of a house is largely subjective, as we move into the future and more people hear about these potential impacts, even though they may be from unreliable sources, you said it could become sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy as we see these prices go down. So alternatively, if you improve the access to information, this information specifically, instead of sensationalist news stories, do you think that public perception could improve, so if more people, essentially, read this paper do you see that improving public perception of it?

I think a little bit. At the very least it would sort of inform public opinion about these issues. But on the other hand, if people believe that there are these impacts, it really doesn't matter what research studies such as this one suggest. I mean, we saw that even with the Health Canada study on the linking wind turbines to health, where they really didn't find any significant linkages
[except the link of wind turbine noise to annoyance and the link of annoyance to health problems]. It was immediately dismissed, as I imagine this study will be as well by those that believe strongly that there are these impacts. So I think it furthers the discussion, but I don't know that a study like this will turn things around in terms of public perception. I would hope it has some impact on how it's discussed, but for those that do believe there is a significant negative impact on property values this study isn't going to change. There are certainly some limitations of this study, and I think because there's limitations, as there are with any study, that may be what gets focused on by those that believe there are negative impacts.

[Much worse is the determination of many policy analysts to deny the evidence of negative impacts. Vyn recognizes the limitations of his study and other studies that show impacts, but persists in laying the blame for any evidence of harm on fear-mongering and prejudice rather than accepting that giant industrial constructions (with rotating blades day and night) in rural areas would have any consequence. They use statistics and the language of science not to discover the truth, but rather to deny the evidence, to hide the obvious, to instead promote and defend a particular industry or policy.]

December 8, 2014

War by Media and the Triumph of Propaganda

John Pilger writes at Counterpunch:

... [H]ad journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children might be alive today; and millions might not have fled their homes; the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia might not have ignited, and the infamous Islamic State might not now exist.

Even now, despite the millions who took to the streets in protest, most of the public in western countries have little idea of the sheer scale of the crime committed by our governments in Iraq. Even fewer are aware that, in the 12 years before the invasion, the US and British governments set in motion a holocaust by denying the civilian population of Iraq a means to live. ...

The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The biggest Western military build-up in the Caucasus and eastern Europe since world war two is blacked out. Washington’s secret aid to Kiev and its neo-Nazi brigades responsible for war crimes against the population of eastern Ukraine is blacked out. Evidence that contradicts propaganda that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner is blacked out.

And again, supposedly liberal media are the censors. ...

There is almost the joi d’esprit of a class reunion. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post are the very same editorial writers who declared the existence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to be “hard facts”.

“If you wonder,” wrote Robert Parry, “how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.” ...

It’s 100 years since the First World War. Reporters then were rewarded and knighted for their silence and collusion. At the height of the slaughter, British prime minister David Lloyd George confided in C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: “If people really knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don’t know and can’t know.”

It’s time they knew.

December 7, 2014

Are We Missing the Big Picture on Climate Change?

So Rebecca Solnit asks in today's New York Times Magazine, going on to show that she is indeed.

She begins by describing the remains of a bird scorched to death by the Ivanpah concentrated solar power facility, which has paved over a chunk of the desert "nearly five times the size of Central Park" (3,500 acres, to produce, according to Solnit, 392 megawatts of power at full capacity).

However, it can generate at that rate only when sun position and atmospheric conditions are ideal. The developers themselves project an average output of 30% capacity, or a total annual generation of just over 1,000,000 megawatt-hours. With an average household use of 10 megawatt-hours per year, that's equivalent to the electricity use of 100,000 households, not 140,000 as Solnit writes.

Therein lie her first manipulations of the story. Besides exaggerating the projected output of the Ivanpah facility and ignoring the fact that actual output has not been reported and is almost invariably much less than projected, as well as not considering the loss of at least 3,500 acres of desert habitat (new roads and transmission corridors were also built; desert tortoises were forcibly moved out), she uses the deceptive industry practice of expressing output in terms of "homes served". Domestic use of electricity represents only around 35% of the total. So in terms of total per-capita electricity use, the projected output of the Ivanpah facility would be equivalent to only the total amount used by the people from only 35,000 households.

And it would provide electricity for none at night. And electrical energy represents less than 40% of our total energy use. So the benefit in terms of reducing the use of other fuels becomes negligible. Considering the vast resources required to build the facility and the vast amount of land required to harness the energy, this hardly seems a wise path.

[Update:  In fact, the actual generation of electricity from the Ivanpah facility is reported to and by the Department of Energy. Those data can be daunting to sift through, but more than a month ago it was reported by Pete Danko at Breaking Energy that production was running well under 40% of what was projected (ie, less than 14,000 households, one tenth Solnit's claim), and that use of "auxiliary" natural gas had to be increased by 60%.]

Some waterfowl mistake that shining sea of mirrors for a real lake, so they try to land on it. But without water to launch themselves back into the air, they’re stranded, prey for coyotes or doomed to die of thirst or hunger. Other birds fly into Ivanpah, where, dazzled by glare, they collide with the mirrors or towers. Still others are scorched by the heat and fall to their deaths.

It’s this last form of avian death that became news. In August, The Atlantic described Ivanpah “incinerating” birds in flight; The Associated Press reported that wildlife investigators saw birds “ignite,” and that birds “burned and fell” every two minutes. Ivanpah’s corporate website noted that a death every two minutes would mean 100,000 dead birds a year, while only 321 dead and injured birds had been recovered. The actual number of deaths seems to be well above the power plant’s tally and far below the number reported by The Associated Press. But birds do die there, in many ways.

A second manipulation is in presenting the figure of "only 321" recovered bird corpses without context. Every such survey calculates an estimated "true" figure from such a sampling, considering imperfect recovery and loss to predators (such as the coyotes that Solnit mentions). In other words, Solnit's low figure, which she presents as final, is in fact only the starting point towards a much higher estimate.

But who cares, Solnit implies, because she's looking at the big picture. Let's not talk about what's actually happening at the Ivanpah facility, or whether the Ivanpah facility's benefits are enough to justify its harms, because climate change is a much bigger issue. And if you insist on worrying about the birds being killed there (or the displaced tortoises), you obviously don't care about climate change.
Supporters of fossil fuel and deniers of climate change love to trade in stories like the one about Ivanpah, individual tales that make renewable energy seem counterproductive, perverse. Stories cannot so readily capture the far larger avian death toll from coal, gas and nuclear power generation. Benjamin Sovacool, an energy-policy expert, looked into the deaths of birds at wind farms (where the blades can chop them down) and concluded that per gigawatt hour, nuclear power plants kill more than twice as many birds and fossil-fuel plants kill more than 30 times as many. He noted that over the course of a year fossil-fuel plants in the United States actually kill about 24 million birds, compared to 46,000 by wind farms. His calculations factor in climate change as part of their deadly impact.
That paragraph, typical of the logic of big energy apologists, is an absolute muddle. First, "individual tales" are precisely what make the climate change story compelling. So why write off these particular victims as something less? Yes, the toll from other sources of energy is much greater — that's because they represent a much greater proportion of our energy. Non-hydro renewable energy is still — and will likely always remain, because of its intermittency and variability — in the low single percentage points. And that's just electrical energy, which, recall, is less than 40% of total energy use.

So the question is not who kills more, but what can be done to kill less. Without meaningfully reducing our use of other fuels, giant wind and solar facilities are only adding to the toll, not reducing it.

Furthermore, the factoring of climate change in the calculation of bird deaths is the flip side of citing "only 321" bird corpses. It's meaningless. It's particularly questionable in the case of nuclear power, which does not emit carbon and so does not contribute to climate change (at least by that means).

Besides being manipulative, it is also simplistic, ignoring the fact that wind turbines, for example, are a particular danger to raptors (eagles, hawks, falcons, owls), whose populations (never mind the individuals!) are already challenged by habitat loss to humans. It ignores the toll on bats. And it ignores the huge increase of human land use (so much of it for supporting livestock, which represents massive deforestation, water depletion and pollution, and emissions of methane, which has 25 times the greenhouse effect of CO₂), ie, destruction of natural habitat, obviously the greatest barrier to plant and animal survival, resilience, and adaptation to climate change.
For a while our eyes were on the photographs of oil-soaked pelicans, victims of the 2010 BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. The devastation of the region is no longer news, but scientists, who track data for long unnewsworthy swathes of time, have found that the spill has killed more than 600,000 birds. It is still killing sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins and contaminating the seafood in areas where human beings fish. ... A recent Audubon Society report on climate change concludes: “Of the 588 North American bird species Audubon studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble. Our models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080. Of the 314 species at risk from global warming, 126 of them are classified as climate endangered. These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050.”
The latter part of the preceding excerpt points to the loss of habitat as being as much a problem as climate change. And the former part is relevant to oil use, but irrelevant to the toll at Ivanpah — because oil is used for transport and heating (and lubricating wind turbines and insulating their transformers), not for generating electricity. And again, these deaths are due to a catastrophic well blowout, not to climate change.
The technology for wind and solar farms can still be improved, but they are among the few remedies we have to the biggest problem humanity has ever faced. All over the world, renewable energy is proliferating — even on the plains of West Texas, there are now wind turbines among the fracking wells. Wind and solar are not only problems but solutions to the deadliness of the fossil fuel industry, whether it’s through routine devastation, as with tar sands, or catastrophic accidents, as with the BP spill, or the sabotage of the whole planetary system by climate change.
Having raising the unquestionable harms of an oil spill, now Solnit more directly contrasts it to wind and solar, even though, again, oil is not used for electricity. Even if wind and solar were everything their promoters claim (including the eternal canard that next year's technology and planning will solve all problems so don't worry about the continuing harm from last year's which if you think should be decommissioned you must really hate the planet), they would not change anything about oil at all. Insisting that wind and solar will save us almost seems a means of shrugging off the real problems of oil use, eg, that it is our use of it that drives all that drilling. Pave the desert with solar panels, string wind turbines across the mountain ridges: Just don't look, as Solnit's title suggests, at the big picture. Instead: Blame everything on climate change, and justify everything as fighting climate change.

She ends with a fire-and-brimstone vision of absolute calamity. She may not be wrong, but she would have us accept the deaths of birds and bats and the massive loss of habitat from building giant wind and solar projects as a distraction from the calamities due to climate change. That is exactly the self-rationalizing casuistry that guarantees — and justifies — only more calamity.

  • “Before human populations swelled to the point at which we could denude whole forests and wipe out entire animal populations, extinction rates were at least ten times lower. And the future does not look any brighter. Climate change and the spread of invasive species (often facilitated by humans) will drive extinction rates only higher.” —Protect and serve, Nature 516, 144 (11 December 2014)
  • ‘Many species are already critically endangered and close to extinction, including the Sumatran elephant, Amur leopard and mountain gorilla. But also in danger of vanishing from the wild, it now appears, are animals that are currently rated as merely being endangered: bonobos, bluefin tuna and loggerhead turtles, for example.

    ‘In each case, the finger of blame points directly at human activities. The continuing spread of agriculture is destroying millions of hectares of wild habitats every year, leaving animals without homes, while the introduction of invasive species, often helped by humans, is also devastating native populations. At the same time, pollution and overfishing are destroying marine ecosystems.

    ‘“Habitat destruction, pollution or overfishing either kills off wild creatures and plants or leaves them badly weakened,” said Derek Tittensor, a marine ecologist at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge. “The trouble is that in coming decades, the additional threat of worsening climate change will become more and more pronounced and could then kill off these survivors.”’ —Earth faces sixth ‘great extinction’ with 41% of amphibians set to go the way of the dodo, The Observer, 14 December 2014
Update: Ando Arike writes:  ‘The climate-change angle we usually ignore is the apocalyptic side of the human “success story” — our phenomenal growth in population to seven billion from one billion in little more than two centuries. But our cleverness in transforming fossil-fuel energy into labor-saving technology and high-yield agriculture has gone to our heads. It’s not just the climate denialists who are anti-science; it’s also those renewable-energy optimists who ignore basic laws of thermodynamics and entertain the fantasy that it will be possible for seven billion to live in the style of the American middle class. The new story we need to tell is “managed degrowth” — gradually but significantly paring down our demands for resources and learning to live within the ecological budget of the earth.’

December 3, 2014

Reducing meat and dairy is crucial to fighting climate change

In an article titled “The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets”, published in the May 2014 issue of Climatic Change, the authors – from the Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden – “conclude that reduced ruminant meat and dairy consumption will be indispensable for reaching the 2 °C target with a high probability”.

And Chatham House, the preeminent establish think tank in the U.K., has just published “Livestock – Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector”, recognizing that:
  • Consumption of meat and dairy produce is a major driver of climate change.
    • Greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 per cent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.
    • Even with ambitious supply-side action to reduce the emissions intensity of livestock production, rising global demand for meat and dairy produce means emissions will continue to rise.
  • Shifting global demand for meat and dairy produce is central to achieving climate goals.
  • However, there is a striking paucity of efforts to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products.
  • The data presented in this paper reveal a major awareness gap about livestock’s contribution to climate change.
  • Climate change is not currently a primary consideration in food choices.

December 1, 2014

Evil masterminds behind citizen opposition to evil masterminds

Here’s a mildly fun game. The New York Times’ crusade against Russia has become such a caricature of cold-war-era propaganda that it now resembles the tirades against the Koch brothers for forcing all of us to burn fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow and duping us into opposing the turning of our last rural and wild places into industrial wind and solar energy facilities.

On Nov. 30, the Times published an article by Andrew Higgins titled “Russian Money Suspected Behind Fracking Protests”. As with most such openly propagandistic pieces at the Times, the article is not opened to comments. The article is reminiscent of one at The Guardian on June 19 reporting then Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s claim that Russia is “secretly working with environmentalists to oppose fracking”. Yes, the choice is between fracking (injecting a slew of toxic chemicals into the ground at high pressure to fracture rocks and release deposits of methane, much of which is released into the air, with some 25 times the greenhouse gas effect of CO₂) and ... what, exactly?

In each of these articles, one can simply substitute Russia with Exxon, Putin with the Koch Brothers, and fracking with wind turbines and, as if they were written from a “Mad Libs” template, one has another typical article that avoids the actual issue involved, rather evoking a vague powerful network of “astroturf” organizations surely backed by a nefarious puppetmaster. The articles flip the power relationship to portray the frackers/wind developers as victims of the monstrous power of local opposition. The local officials who thought it was fine to sell out their communities are left scratching their heads, cursing (and having it dutifully reported) what they can only assume (out of their own worldview) to be “well financed and well organized” opposition instead of acknowledging the power of democracy and information. The lack of evidence for the charges only proves how powerful the evil geniuses behind it really are. The fact that people across the social and political spectrum unite against these developments is also presented as proof that they can only be paid agents – or gullible dupes – instead of recognized, even celebrated, as the populist power of a common cause.

In the Guardian article, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth laugh at Rasmussen’s claim. Maybe those groups should reconsider their own demonization campaigns against people who oppose large-scale wind and solar developments in rural and wild areas.

November 26, 2014

We can’t address climate change without addressing meat consumption

Ruby Hamad wrote at The Drum on ABC (Australia), 28 April 2014:

The cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said, "It is easier to change a man's religion than his diet." It is also, apparently, easier to change the entire world's energy production.

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, "Mitigation of Climate Change", citing fossil fuels as the biggest source of emissions, with coal, oil, and natural gas the major culprits.

However, the panel also implicates animal agriculture, noting that "changes in diet and reductions of losses in the food supply chain, have a significant, but uncertain, potential to reduce GHG emissions from food production."

Seventy per cent of agricultural emissions come directly from livestock - and about 37 per cent of total worldwide methane emissions - and it is clear that moving away from animal products is not just potentially significant but downright necessary.

The IPCC findings come hot on the heels of another study, "The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets", published in the April edition of Climate Change.

The study's lead author argues that targeting the fossil fuel industry alone is insufficient because "the agricultural emissions ... may be too high. Thus we have to take action in both sectors."

In 2010 a UN report, "Priority, Products, and Materials" concluded that, "A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

That report puts agriculture's global emissions at 14 per cent, and while not giving an exact figure, the researchers warn that "animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives". Subsequent research suggests emissions from livestock and their by-products may be much higher (even as high as 51 per cent). Even if we err on the side of conservatism and stick to the lower UN figure, it still indicates that agriculture is responsible for more emissions that all means of transport combined.

No one who cares about the threat of climate change is ignorant of the importance of renewable energy and a reduction in energy use. So why do we still have our collective head in the sand about the need to change our diet?

In an impassioned tirade against Earth Day (April 22), which he dismisses as emblematic of "the culture of progressive green denial", The Nation's Wen Stephenson calls for radical action, namely, "physically, non-violently disrupting the fossil-fuel industry and the institutions that support and abet it ... Forcing the issue. Finally acting as though we accept what the science is telling us."

I don't know what Stephenson's food habits are but, ironically, in a piece railing against denialism, he does not mention meat consumption once. It is rather extraordinary how we acknowledge the need to address climate change and then carry on with those very activities that are causing the damage in the first place.

While some media outlets do report on the link between animal agriculture and global warming, they also undermine the urgency by featuring stories on, for example, how to include bacon in every meal - including dessert. TV channels flog reality shows glorifying high levels of meat consumption, and fast food outlets compete to see who can stuff the most meat and cheese into a single, fat-laden item.

All as scientists warn of the need to move away from dependency on animals as a food source.

When those of us who are concerned by the devastating effects of animal agriculture raise the issue, somehow the focus shifts from saving the planet to respecting personal choice, as if the choice to eat certain foods is sacrosanct.

We have to compromise our personal preferences every day in the interests of public safety. Smoking prohibitions, speed limits, alcohol restrictions, even initiatives promoting recycling and "green" household products all affect our choices.

But, for some reason, requesting people reduce their consumption of meat is taken as a personal affront to their very being. Humans have been eating animals for so long, and in such large quantities, we think we are entitled to their bodies, regardless of the consequences.

Clearly, our dependence on fossil fuels has to change but it is quite remarkable that we actually consider restructuring our entire energy system as an easier and more viable undertaking than simply altering our food habits.

The Guardian's food writer Jay Rayner unwittingly demonstrates this in his reaction to a University of Aberdeen study that found a worldwide adoption of a vegan diet would reduce CO₂ emissions by a massive 7.8 gigatonnes. But, rather than take this on board, Rayner chooses instead to shrug his shoulders, declare that "the world is not going vegan any time soon" and condemn "self-righteous vegans" for "making airy proclamations about the way forward when [they] have no power whatsoever to make it happen".

But why don't we have the power to make it happen?

Even if we don't all go completely vegan, surely the takeaway is that everyone should eat less meat and more plants, and not just on Meatless Mondays?

It's easy to point the finger only at fossil fuels because this requires no major personal sacrifice. We can pin all the blame on big corporations, demand policy change, and then feel good about ourselves by declaring on Facebook that we are against dredging the Barrier Reef and we don't support fracking.

But meat is different. Meat means we have to change. It means we have to sacrifice something we enjoy, something we believe we are entitled to. And most of us simply aren't willing to compromise that entitlement, so we pretend that the idea of a worldwide shift to a plant-based diet is simply too ridiculous to contemplate. That's if we even acknowledge the crisis at all.

So we sign petitions and attend demonstrations. Some of us even drive less, take shorter showers, and use eco light bulbs. But nothing it seems, not even the looming threat of environmental catastrophe, could compel a significant number of us to simply change our diet.

November 24, 2014

How to connect an HP printer to your wireless network

For those of us with older HP printers (particularly without WPS capability; I have a Photosmart C4599 All-in-One), the ability to reconfigure the printer is maddeningly elusive. Today, we got a new modem/router combo from our telecom, so the printer needed to be re–set up on the new network. After trying several instructions per Hewlett-Packard, those of a video posted 6 years ago actually work. Why, one might ask, since it actually appears to have been made by HP, isn't one directed to it or something similar on the HP site? [They probably bank on your frustration driving you to just buy a new model.] [Luckily, since the video is no longer available,] The steps as I did them are listed here. They are probably similar on Windows.

Overview:  Connect your computer directly (wirelessly) to the printer to set it up on the network, then, back on the network, set up the printer on your computer.

  1. Have at hand your network's SSID (network name), authentication type (eg, WPA2/AES), and password (or "key"). You won't have access to the network (to look things up, unless you can use another computer) during the following process, because you will be connected to the printer's wi-fi instead. (You won’t have access to this page of instructions, either, so be sure to leave it open in a browser.)
  2. At the printer, restore its network defaults. Make sure its wireless transmitter is still on afterwards.
  3. At the printer, print out its network configuration page. Note the network name (SSID; probably "hpsetup") and the URL (http://…) for the printer's embedded web server. (Note: This may require restarting the printer first (and making sure its wireless transmitter is on.)
  4. Connect your computer's wi-fi to the device network of the printer.
  5. Open a browser page to the URL of the printer’s web server.
  6. In the browser, go to the Networking tab, and in the Wireless frame go to the Advanced tab. Enter your network’s (not the printer’s) SSID (remember: case-sensitive), activate the Infrastructure area, and activate and enter the authentication information. Apply. The printer will now be switched to the network, so the URL won’t reload when that's done.
  7. After a bit, print out the printer’s network configuration page again. It should confirm that it is now connected to your network. (Again, this may require restarting the printer.)
  8. Connect your computer's wi-fi to your network.
  9. The printer should now be available.

November 20, 2014

Renewable energy won’t reverse climate change

Ross Koningstein and David Fork, engineers at Google, write at IEEE Spectrum (excerpts):

At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope ...

As we reflected on the project, we came to the conclusion that even if Google and others had led the way toward a wholesale adoption of renewable energy, that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. Trying to combat climate change exclusively with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.

[T]oday’s renewable energy sources are limited by suitable geography and their own intermittent power production. Wind farms, for example, make economic sense only in parts of the country with strong and steady winds. The study also showed continued fossil fuel use in transportation, agriculture, and construction.

RE<C invested in large-scale renewable energy projects and investigated a wide range of innovative technologies .... By 2011, however, it was clear that RE<C would not be able to deliver a technology that could compete economically with coal, and Google officially ended the initiative and shut down the related internal R&D projects. ...

In the energy innovation study’s best-case scenario, rapid advances in renewable energy technology bring down carbon dioxide emissions significantly. Yet because CO₂ lingers in the atmosphere for more than a century, reducing emissions means only that less gas is being added to the existing problem. We decided to combine our energy innovation study’s best-case scenario results with Hansen’s climate model to see whether a 55 percent emission cut by 2050 would bring the world back below that 350-ppm threshold. Our calculations revealed otherwise. Even if every renewable energy technology advanced as quickly as imagined and they were all applied globally, atmospheric CO₂ levels wouldn’t just remain above 350 ppm; they would continue to rise exponentially due to continued fossil fuel use. So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change ...

Suppose for a moment that it had achieved the most extraordinary success possible, and that we had found cheap renewable energy technologies that could gradually replace all the world’s coal plants — a situation roughly equivalent to the energy innovation study’s best-case scenario. Even if that dream had come to pass, it still wouldn’t have solved climate change.

Incremental improvements to existing technologies aren’t enough; we need something truly disruptive to reverse climate change. What, then, is the energy technology that can meet the challenging cost targets? How will we remove CO₂ from the air? We don’t have the answers. Those technologies haven’t been invented yet.

[And then there's methane, with ~25 times the greenhouse gas equivalence of CO₂ and whose reduction would show effect in only a few years. Go vegan, people.]

November 16, 2014

Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of a Critical Review of the Scientific Literature

J Occup Environ Med. 2014 Nov;56(11):e108-30. Robert J. McCunney, MD, MPH, Kenneth A. Mundt, PhD, W. David Colby, MD, Robert Dobie, MD, Kenneth Kaliski, BE, PE, and Mark Blais, PsyD

Objective: This review examines the literature related to health effects of wind turbines. Methods: We reviewed literature related to sound measurements near turbines, epidemiological and experimental studies, and factors associated with annoyance. Results: (1) Infrasound sound near wind turbines does not exceed audibility thresholds. (2) Epidemiological studies have shown associations between living near wind turbines and annoyance. (3) Infrasound and low-frequency sound do not present unique health risks. (4) Annoyance seems more strongly related to individual characteristics than noise from turbines. Discussion: Further areas of inquiry include enhanced noise characterization, analysis of predicted noise values contrasted with measured levels postinstallation, longitudinal assessments of health pre- and postinstallation, experimental studies in which subjects are “blinded” to the presence or absence of infrasound, and enhanced measurement techniques to evaluate annoyance.

Brief critique by Eric Rosenbloom:

“The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) funded this project ....” McCunney and Colby had already prepared a similar review for the American and Canadian Wind Energy Associations (which are industry lobby groups) in 2009.

The paper consistently implies that the inaudibility of infrasound makes it nonproblematic, but by definition infrasound is inaudible and there is a substantial body of research showing that it is indeed harmful. The review ignores conference papers and so bypasses the issue of measurable infrasound inside homes as well as the unique characteristics of wind turbine noise as presented by many acousticians.

In its assessment of epidemiologic studies, the review rigorously critiques those that correlate wind turbine proximity and health problems while accepting without question those that find no such correlation (for example, a Polish study by industry consultants). In all cases that attempt to correlate complaints with noise levels, the latter are only estimated and characterized as continuous dBA tones. The paper picks out for special praise surveys that set out to prove “psychogenic” causes of health problems, which could not be more biased. This section concludes with a warning against the “mistaking of correlation with causation”, which only underscores the authors’ desperation to dismiss health problems as pre-existing and to ignore the consistent evidence that those health problems disappear when people move away or spend time away from the wind turbines (which they would no doubt only view as more evidence that they are indeed psychogenic, as if people willingly suffer physically in their homes but not when they are forced to abandon them). And again, they insist on the quotidian nature of wind turbine noise as being no different from ocean waves or air conditioning, ignoring the ever-growing documentation that it is indeed unique, and uniquely disturbing to many. As with other complaints, the review dismisses sleep disturbance as a fault of the sufferer, not the giant wind turbine thumping away all night. This bias is simply repeated in the next section that examines – and dismisses concerns about – infrasound and low-frequency noise. Again, the paper even denies that any infrasound and/or low-frequency noise (let alone that from wind turbines) can affect health, despite decades of research showing otherwise.

Continuing in this vein, the review of annoyance (a health effect according to the World Health Organization) examines only efforts to show it to be due only to the complainant’s psychology, not actual noise. The review unsurprisingly gives pride of place to the “nocebo” theory that nonsensically blames complaints on the publicity of them.

In its conclusion, the review cites the World Health Organization’s Night Noise Guidelines as a non sequitur vindication that wind turbine noise is not a problem, but fails to note that those guidelines specify an outside limit of 30 dB, which no jurisdiction on earth enforces, let alone regulation of amplitude modulation and infrasound, or even adequate setback distances, all of which the wind power industry fiercely fights (eg). The review itself makes no siting or regulatory recommendations (which might harm the industry paying for this review), instead placing the entire blame for problems on those who suffer them. A shameful performance.

November 15, 2014

Comments on the Vermont campaign for a carbon tax

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) and friends in business and the legislature have proposed a tax on fossil fuels used in heating and transportation, starting at $5 per metric ton (“tonne”) of CO₂ and rising to $50 in 10 years (or $150 in 15 years).

Ninety percent of the revenue would be returned as tax cuts to businesses and households, which would rather nullify the incentive. The concern for reducing the burden on lower-income people is a sham, because getting a tax cut or even rebate in May won’t help to pay for gas or heating oil back in January.

The VPIRG press release trots out hurricane Irene as a warning of future extreme weather due to climate change. That is flat out bullshit. Hurricanes are a normal feature of the weather, and Irene was not even extreme — New Yorkers scoffed at its dissipation. Irene's damage was so great simply because it stalled over the Green Mountains. Climate change — as one part of our general environmental depredation — is a serious issue that is not well served by baseless fear mongering.

Finally, what about the second major greenhouse gas, methane? Besides every one of Vermont’s cows exhaling about 1 tonne of CO₂ per year, each of them also emits methane by belching and farting (not counting that contained in their manure) with a greenhouse gas equivalence of about 7 tonnes of CO₂ per year. With some 150,000 cows in Vermont, that's some serious emissions (1,200,000 tonnes of CO₂ and equivalent: $60 million at the proposed $50/tonne). And ignoring it is a serious omission in any plan claiming to address climate change.

If taxing cows as well as fossil fuel is not an option, how about giving some of the 10% of the revenues earmarked for energy improvements to subsidizing alternatives to animal agriculture. Much like the state makes it cheaper to buy CFLs and LEDs, why not also make it cheaper to buy vegan meat and dairy substitutes?

October 25, 2014

James McWilliams telling vegans to eat insects

“At the risk of being a total bore, I have a few more thoughts to shake out on the proposition that vegans are morally obligated to eat insects. ...” —The Life and Death of Insects

Insects As Food: Hard Fact Versus Possible Fact
Are Vegans Obligated To Eat Insects?
Starting Over]

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

You are indeed becoming a total bore here. Everything you argue about insects has already been said about other animals to justify their mass exploitation and slaughter. Even about other humans.

And telling vegans what they are “morally obligated” to do is as offensive coming from another vegan as it is from a grass-fed beef proponent.

James says:
October 24, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’ve offered a number of arguments for why cows and crickets do not deserve the same level of moral consideration. I’m open to having those arguments proven wrong. But you need to do that. Rather than make blanket statements without substantiation, I urge you to avoid insults and make arguments.

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

The argument is simply that cows and crickets DO deserve the same level of moral consideration. That is the vegan ethic. It is not a question of sentience or whatever other anthropocentric rationalization you want to apply.

I really don’t have a problem with anyone eating insects, although I don’t see any good coming from “farming” them. It’s just absurd to suggest that it should be a part of veganism. Your very language in this post has devolved into that of “humane meat” advocates.

(As for insult, you set yourself up for the confirmation.)

James says:
October 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Your logic is circular. To say that a behavior is wrong because it does not adhere to a preexisting definition (in this case, veganism) is to subsume the demand for a real argument (which you still won’t provide) under the guise of a label that may or may not best accomplish the goal that we both seek–to reduce the suffering of animals who can suffer. My argument is that veganism may not be the best approach to reducing the harm humans do to animals. My previous posts on insects have laid out why I think that is the case. Thus, in the interests of having a genuine and fruitful discussion (and possibly getting me to change my mind), you must do more than say, in essence, “veganism does not allow for eating crickets.” I really don’t care about the insult, honestly, so no worries there. But I do care about logic.

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Any circularity is in your framing the question as one of “animals who can suffer”. In other words, you’ve already asserted the conclusion in the premise.

Furthermore, if, rather than arguing that veganism may not be the best approach to reducing harm to animals (other than insects), you are attempting to redefine veganism to include eating insects, then the burden is yours.

unethical_and_speciesist_vegan says:
October 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm

“It’s just absurd to suggest that it should be a part of veganism.”

Thankfully deontic vegans don’t get to decide who is and is not vegan. Many utilitarian (see vegan action and vegan outreach position on insects and honey) vegans accept the ambiguity of insects and insect products (shellack, honey, silk etc).

Moreover, many deontic vegans are not at all consistent when it come to their own avoidance of insect “suffering”: honey is verboten but shellack is “don’t ask don’t tell”.

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

“Vegan” is generally understood to mean no animal flesh or products. It is not a “deontic” or utilitarian or pseudo-religious proposition, but just a simple definition. Nobody’s a perfect vegan, but if everybody’s a vegan by their own definitions, than the word means nothing.

unethical_and_speciesist_vegan says:
October 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm

“Vegan” is generally understood to mean no animal flesh or products.

Generally understood as “NO” by deontic vegans but not by many utilitarian vegans:

“Again, it depends on one’s definition of vegan. Insects are animals, and so insect products, such as honey and silk, are not traditionally considered vegan. Many vegans, however, are not opposed to using insect products, because they do not believe insects are conscious of pain.”

“This may sound odd coming from a co-founder of Vegan Outreach, but it doesn’t matter what label anyone places on me, or what label anyone places on themselves. For example, if Peter Singer (author of Animal Liberation) were to eat a dish that contains hidden dairy when at a colleague’s house, or if Carole Morton (who runs Green Acres Farm Sanctuary and is a humane agent in a rural PA county) were to eat the eggs laid by the hens she has rescued … do I want to cut them off, shun them from our vegan club?”

Rucio says:
October 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm

That’s essentially what I already said. Many vegans fudge the line with invertebrate animals. But asserting that vegans are “morally obligated to eat insects” is a lot more offensive than asserting that they shouldn’t. As I also pointed out earlier, that’s not much different than Alan Savory asserting that we are morally obligated to eat free-range beef to save the planet. Even if his evidence were sound, we are certainly not obligated.

(Regarding evidence, James McW stacks his a bit by ignoring the tremendous land use required for animal agriculture feed. Switching to a vegan diet would reduce that land use to an eighteenth. Whereas farming insects would add a new land use, since it would obviously replace non-insect meat, not plants, in the diet.)

Later post: Consciousness

Rucio says:
November 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Moral consideration that relies on the resemblance of a being to oneself would not seem to be very deep.

It may turn a few people away from eating other vertebrate animals, but it’s a shaky foundation to build on. After all, humans easily rationalize brutality towards other humans. The hierarchic ladder of being is an easily manipulated fallacy.

October 24, 2014

Vermont: Vote Liberty Union!

Liberty Union Party statewide candidates —

Governor: Peter Diamondstone, Brattleboro

Secretary of State: Mary-Alice Herbert, Putney

Attorney General: Rosemarie Jackowski, Bennington

State Treasurer: Virginia Murray Ngoima, Pomfret

Liberty Union Party statewide federal candidate —

House of Representatives: Matthew Andrews, Plainfield

Liberty Union Party local candidates —

State Senate:
Aaron Diamondstone, Marlboro (Windham County)
Jerry Levy, Brattleboro (Windham County)
Ben Bosley, Colchester (Grand Isle County)

Sheriff of Orleans County: Thomas Farrow, Orleans

Assistant Judge, Windham County:
Lynn Russell, Brattleboro
Alice Landsman

October 17, 2014

October 9, 2014

Sorry, your health care coverage can't actually be used.


Subject: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2013
To: [ ]@[ ].net

Dear [ ],

Hello! We are writing to let you know that you have a new notice regarding your bill for health care benefits from Vermont Health Connect. To view your notice, please click on the link below and log in to your account.

Your notice is: Premium Invoice

After logging into your account, click on ‘My Account’ and select the ‘My Profile’ tab. Once there, click on ‘View Documents’ from the ‘Quick Links’ box. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call Vermont Health Connect Customer Support toll-free at 1-855-899-9600, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm (except holidays and holiday weekends).

Thank you,

Vermont Health Connect


Subject: Re: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2013
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>

There doesn't appear to be a way to log in. There is a "logout" button, which remains "logout" after clicking it. No "login" button or pane.

In fact, because of the consequent inability to check my account and the lack of reply by telephone [since applying on line], I just sent in a paper application today. Which I guess is now unnecessary as far as setting up an account.

I think I would like a paper notice/statement/bill.



Subject: RE: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2013
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for writing.

To log in to your account, please go to and click on “Start Here” found next to where you see “Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?” On the next page, please click either on “Login to your Account” or “Apply Now” as either will bring you to the log-in screen. Once you are logged into your account, you will be able to access your invoice using the directions in your original e-mail.

[Makes sense? Even if you have an account, you have to illogically click "Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?" to get to it. But perhaps that was an admission of the truth recorded here.]

As you've requested, we'll send a paper invoice to you in the mail. You can expect to receive this invoice within a week.

Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Kind regards,

Vermont Health Connect
Customer Support – 855-899-9600

Check out our website for updated information!

Vermont Health Connect:
YouTube Channel:


Subject: Your Vermont Health Connect Invoice
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2013
From: Vermont Health Connect
To: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for completing your application for health insurance coverage through Vermont Health Connect. You may have received two invoices this month – one for your new (2014) Vermont Health Connect health plan, which begins January 1, 2014, and one for your former (2013) health plan, which was recently given the option of extending up to March 31, 2104.

You only need to pay the bill for the plan you wish to have effective on January 1. You do not need to pay the other bill. If you want help making the choice of which bill to pay, please call our Customer Support Center toll-free at 1-855-899-9600 and reference the code “VHC1215.” A customer service representative will then talk you through your options. Please note that our call volume is high at this time. We thank you in advance for your patience. If you applied through a Navigator, you could consult him or her as well.

Please note that you do not need to take any additional steps to cancel your former plan. Your 2013 health plan will automatically expire after you pay your premium and your 2014 plan takes effect.

We are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays.


Vermont Health Connect Customer Service


Subject: Starting coverage in February
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2014
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>

I set up my account and selected a plan very early and received an invoice by mail (as requested) in December. However, I had already paid my Catamount Care premium for January, so I did not pay the premium for the new plan.

Now I need to make sure that I will get another invoice (by mail, please) for the new plans, to start coverage in February.


Subject: RE: Starting coverage in February
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2014
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for writing. We're so sorry for the delay in replying to your email.

I've reviewed your account and see that you also called and spoke with someone about this last week. As they told you, it is fine for you to just pay your premium for February. Your account has been marked so that your policy will start in February.

Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Kind regards,

Vermont Health Connect


Subject: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2014
To: [ ]@[ ].net

Dear [ ],

Hello! We are writing to let you know that you have a new notice regarding your bill for health care benefits from Vermont Health Connect. To view your notice, please click on the link below and log in to your account.

Your notice is: Premium Invoice

After logging into your account, click on ‘My Account’ and select the ‘My Profile’ tab. Once there, click on ‘View Documents’ from the ‘Quick Links’ box. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call Vermont Health Connect Customer Support toll-free at 1-855-899-9600, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm (except holidays and holiday weekends).

[Steps to view invoice:
• Click "Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?"
• Click "Log in"
• Click "My Account"
• Click "My Profile"
• Find the "Quick Links" box and Click "View Documents"
• Click the listed documents until you reveal the current invoice]

Thank you,

Vermont Health Connect


Subject: Re: Starting coverage in February
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2014
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>
To: AHS - VT Health Connect

Today I received a "Payment past due/Termination Notice" from BCBS [Blue Cross/Blue Shield]. As noted below, this is because I was assured that it was OK to ignore the January premium and that the new policy was to begin in February. This was necessary because the invoice for January coverage under Catamount Care was due (and paid) before the invoice for the new BCBS policy under VHC was available.

According to the BCBS notice, "Vermont Health Connect has reported that full payment has not been received for your health insurance."

Please resolve this.


Subject: RE: Starting coverage in February
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for contacting us. We're very sorry that you received the past due notice from BCBS. I see that you have paid each of your invoices well in advance of the due dates, and as you noted, the fault is entirely ours for not yet making that change to your coverage start date. Unfortunately, we don't have that functionality to make the change once your plan is in force, but we are working on it and will correct your account as soon as we are able.

You actually have a 90 day grace period, so there is no danger of your plan being terminated as long as you keep paying your monthly premiums as you have been doing.

Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Kind regards,

Vermont Health Connect


And so I have been paying the monthly premium to Vermont Health Connect, ignoring the monthly "PAST DUE/NOTICE OF TERMINATION" notices from BCBS.

Secure in the knowledge that we do indeed have continuing "affordable health insurance" (which Vermont was already providing for almost everybody, effectively and without major problems: the "Catamount Care" referred to above). Secure, that is, as long as we would never need it, as it turned out.

I had an annual check-up scheduled in early October and was told by the doctor's office that a check of insurance status revealed it to be "pending". For that reason, they would not be able to submit the bill. I learned from a call to BCBS on Oct. 1 that "pending" in this case meant that I was behind in payments, because they still considered my coverage to have begun on Jan. 1 instead of Feb. 1, and therefore still expected an extra month of payment. In other words, despite the reassurance from Vermont Health Connect 8 months before that "we are working on it and will correct your account as soon as we are able", they still had not. Furthermore, the reassurance that "there is no danger of your plan being terminated as long as you keep paying your monthly premiums as you have been doing" turned out to be meaningless, since my regular doctor wouldn't risk billing to a "pending" insurance account. The person I talked with at BCBS helpfully transfered me to Vermont Health Connect, noting that she had heard that they may be "a few months" behind.

Thank goodness we have not been in any emergency situation or in urgent need of a prescription refill.

From Vermont Health Connect I now (!) learned that changing the start date required a new application because it is a "change of status". And so I was transfered to another office to handle that. The woman there, like everyone I have talked with at every step, it should be said, was very helpful and was able to use the original application to make a new one for coverage starting Feb. 1, ie 8 months earlier, to expire Dec. 31, ie in less than 3 months.

Now we were expected to have "new" insurance active in a couple of weeks, a new card in a week after that. Just in time to start the whole charade over again for coverage next year.

We essentially have had no usable insurance coverage since Feb. 1, despite regularly paying monthly premiums for it. What surprises lie in wait for us in the new cycle beginning Jan. 1, 2015, with a promised automatic renewal of coverage? Or in April, when the IRS recalculates everybody's share of their previous year of premiums?

The faster we move to a single payer system the better! Federally, Medicare was supposed to steadily expand in the 1960s to cover everyone, not just the elderly (but then it would have covered draft dodgers and black panthers along with "deserving" citizens like oneself). If the US government can not or will not provide that very basic service to all those who live within its borders, then the states need to go it alone. And I mean not just setting up some mash-up of federal support and state-provided health coverage, although that would be a welcome step despite the likelihood of its being as dysfunctional as the current private-public mash-up — I mean breaking away altogether from the government of Washington. Because health care is just one of its many failures, and war to gain world hegemony seems to be its only goal, war ordnance its only economy, squandering our common wealth as well as our lives, sacrificing them to an end that can only be catastrophic.

[Update:  Two and a half weeks later, we've received no notice about the "new" coverage, but instead a series of premium invoices (up to 4 so far), each one different from the last and none of them reflecting a resolution.]

[Update:  Four weeks later, we haven't received a new insurance card or any notice about the "new" coverage.]

[Update:  A month later, BCBS remains uninformed of the change, which Vermont Health Connect says was "finalized" on Oct. 14 (under a different "service request" no. than the "confirmation no." originally provided).]

[Update:  Five weeks later, the "change of circumstance center" has promised to notify BCBS today, which was supposed to have been done on Oct. 14 but was not. The reason another 2 weeks was required in the first place was because there is a child on S-CHIP, and that "start of coverage" (despite being continually covered under the auspices of the state for some 13 years already) was not supposed to change from January to February, so a new "change of circumstance" (the only change being the system's, not ours) had to be created to disinclude the S-CHIP part — it was done, but then someone neglected to tell BCBS. Oh, and a new "master case" number. Could it be more complicated? More counterproductive (unless, of course, prevention of care is precisely the intention)??]

[Update:  Five-and-a-half weeks later, BCBS remains uninformed of the change, which the Vermont Health Connect "change center" now says was "finalized" on Oct. 29 and confirmed that it was sent to "billing" who would then notify BCBS, which process could take 15 days, likely more as they are busy starting enrollment for next year. Vermont Health Connect customer service confirms the change, that the start date has been changed, billing reconciled, and BCBS informed. However, BCBS finds no change -- and it's not on the latest weekly confirmation list from Vermont Health Connect, waiting to be processed. BCBS suggests checking in another week.]

[Update:  A month and a half later, the "last invoice for 2014" has arrived, showing a "balance forward" of 10 times the new premium amount, presumably representing the charges for February through November of our "new" coverage, ignoring the year of payments for our "old" coverage for those same months. Then, inexplicably, the amount due adds only the SCHIP charge, not the next month's premium. Aieee!]

Further notes from 2015: 

May 13:  "Use this updated form [1095-A] when you complete IRS Form 8962 and file your federal income tax return [last month]."

Premiums due:  January 26: $627.52. February 26: $313.76. March 26: ($2.30). April 26: $311.46. May 26: ($238.36). June 26: $75.40. July 26: $313.76.

June 8:  Notice from Blue Cross–Blue Shield: "Payment Past Due." Go to newly launched Vermont Health Connect web site for any information that might be there: My Health Plans: "No current plans found."

June 25:  "A refund has been issued to you in the amount of $20.00."

July 16:  Notice from IRS: "Our records show that you did not file a 2014 tax return to reconcile advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit. … We received a copy of form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, issued to you by your Health Insurance Marketplace showing … You are required to file a a 2014 federal tax return with Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, to reconcile …" So it seems that filing Form 8962 with the correct information from one's own records — because the 1095-A form originally provided was obviously incorrect — instead of the updated 1095-A that came a month after the tax filing deadline (and which was still incorrect) [see May 13, above] is not recognized as a possibility, is as good as failing to file at all, and in fact nullifies the 1040 and everything as if never filed at all!

See a new report from 2016:  Vermont Health Connect: “Current wait times are 90 minutes”

October 8, 2014

The Breakdown of Nations

A few excerpts from The Breakdown of Nations by Leopold Kohr, first published in 1957 by Routledge & Kegan Paul ...

Compared with the barbaric exploits of the civilized, the savageries of the barbarians seem to lose all significance.


If wars are due to the accumulation of the critical mass of power, and the critical mass of power can accumulate only in social organisms of critical size, the problems of aggression, like those of atrocity, can clearly again be solved in only one way – through the reduction of those organisms that have outgrown the proportions of human control. As we have seen, in the case of internal social miseries, already cities may constitute such overgrown units. In the case of external miseries, only states can acquire critical size. This means that, if the world is to be relieved of some of the pressures of aggressive warfare, we can do little by trying to unite it. We [w]ould but increase the terror potential that comes from large size. What must be accomplished is the very opposite: the dismemberment of the vast united national complexes commonly called the great powers. For they alone in the contemporary world have the social size that enables them to spread the miseries we try to prevent but cannot so long as we leave untouched the power which produces them. … where there is a critically large volume of power, there is aggression, and as long as there is critical power, so long will there be aggression.


In vastness, everything crumbles, even the good, because, as will increasingly become evident, the world’s one and only problem is not wickedness but bigness; and not the thing that is big, whatever it may be, but bigness itself. That is why through union or unification, which enlarges bulk and size and power, nothing can be solved. On the contrary, the possibility of finding solutions recedes in the ratio at which the process of union advances.


The great powers are the ones which are artificial structures and which, because they are artificial, need such consuming efforts to maintain themselves. As they did not come into existence by natural development but by conquest, so they cannot maintain themselves except by conquest – the constant reconquest of their own citizens through a flow of patriotic propaganda setting in at the cradle and ending only at the grave.


The chief danger to the spirit of democracy in a large power stems from [the] technical impossibility of asserting itself informally. In mass states, personal influences can make themselves felt only if channeled through forms, formulas, and organizations. It is these latter rather than the individual who become increasingly the true agents and asserters of political sovereignty, so that we should speak of a group or party democracy rather than of an individualistic democracy. As a result, the individual declines, and in his place emerges the glorified average man of whom Ortega y Gasset writes that ‘he is to history what sea-level is to geography’. An individual can now have his will only to the extent that he comes close to this mystical average, and it is on the strength of his being an average, not an individual, that his desires can be satisfied. …

But who is this mystical, glorified, flattered, wooed, famous, inarticulate, faceless average man? … [H]e can only be one thing, the representative or reflex of the community, of society, of the masses. What we worship in the individualistic fiction of the average man is nothing but the god of collectivism. No wonder that we overflow with emotion when we hear of government of, for, and by the people, by which we express our adherence to the ideals of group or mass democracy, while as true democrats we should have nothing in mind but government of, for, and by the individual.

Thus, however democratic a large power may try to be, it cannot possibly be a democracy in the real (though not original) meaning and glory of the term – a governmental system serving the individual. Large powers must serve society and, as a result, all genuine ideals of democracy become reversed. their life rhythm can no longer depend on the freedom and interplay of individuals. Instead they become dependent on organizations.


As has already been indicated, it is not any particular economic system that seems at fault, but economic size. Whatever outgrows certain limits begins to suffer from the irrepressible problem of unmanageable proportions. When this happens to a community, its problems will not only increase faster than its growth; they will be of a new order, arising no longer from the business of living but from the business of growing. Instead of growth serving life, life must now serve growth, perverting the very purpose of existence. … [T]he more powerful a society becomes, the more of its increasing product, instead of increasing individual consumption, is devoured by the task of coping with the problems caused by the rise of its very power. The more it gains in density, the more is devoured by the process of meeting the problems caused by its increasing density. And the more it advances, the more is devoured by the problems resulting from its very advance.


[S]ince nothing is ultimate in this ever-changing creation, one may safely carry de Tocqueville’s predictions [‘[Russia’s and America’s] starting-points are different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems to be marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe’] or, rather, deductions a step or two further and state that, whatever comes, the ultimate world state will go the road of all other ultimate world states of history. After a period of dazzling vitality, it will spend itself. There will be no war to bring about its end. It will not explode. Like the ageing colossi of the stellar universe, it will gradually collapse internally, leaving as its principal contribution to posterity its fragments, the little states – until the consolidation process of big-power development starts all over again. This is not pleasant to anticipate. What is pleasant, however, is the realization that, int he intervening period between the intellectual ice ages of great-power domination, history will in all likelihood repeat itself and the world, little and free once more, will experience another of those spells of cultural greatness which characterized the small-state worlds of the Middle Ages and Ancient Greece.

October 7, 2014

The last German state has now abolished university fees

A friend writes:

I am trying to step back and care less about everything. But this is so hard to ignore. Germany is now entirely free of college fees, which is wonderful news. But sitting here in the desperate gulag called the US, one can only feel like weeping.

Here, where a college education is the most obscenely expensive necessary "luxury" in the world, the costs inflated far beyond the means of most people anywhere on the planet, Americans are told that they are worthless without a college degree, so they are forced to borrow fortunes which then ruins their futures, ironically. Some parents mortgage or sell their house, practically kill themselves with overwork and go into enormous debt to procure for their children what should be a free and basic human right. And after all that sacrifice and suffering and work and worry, there are few jobs for graduates, of course. People with huge college loans often must take the kinds of jobs that cannot possibly pay enough to repay those loans. And for people who aren't into going to college and/or like to work with their hands, the "blue-collar" jobs which used to provide a fairly secure middle-class life for millions have been stolen by fascists, shipped away to China, Pakistan, the entire third world where people are treated like slaves and paid like them too.

Then people in the NY Times sneer that those "blue-collar" types don't belong in college anyway. They sneer at community colleges. Then they sneer at anyone who took out college loans they can't repay. Then they sneer at people who didn't bother to go to college. The best jobs and most interesting opportunities are reserved for children of the privileged and hyper-connected. There is no way to live in this society any longer, unless you have an exceedingly charmed life and and/or were born into riches. Everyone else is considered to be a waste of space, and ordinary people now must fight for the small morsels of moldy crumbs eked out to them by fascist America, and after all that scrabbling for advantage, can be fired at will with no explanation required and no recourse.

But oh how this dreadful scenario enriches the lenders of college loans; probably debtor's prisons will become legal ... every single goddam thing in this vile "society" is a fucking scam, with college education at the top of the list. But what choice do people have now? To demand a free education as they have in Germany would be laughable to most Americans who feel that you must pay for everything you have. They simply aren't educated enough to understand that they ARE paying -- but instead of their taxes being used to enrich their own lives and of their fellow citizens, it's all being diverted into endless war. Part of the problem is the "their fellow citizens" part -- they don't want anyone they don't absolutely know to be "deserving" to get the same benefits they might get, so they'd rather go without. The real problem with Americans is a knee-jerk penchant for Puritanical intolerance and a love of abject cruelty; this has poisoned the entire nation.

October 5, 2014

How like kingdoms without justice are to robberies

Aurelius Augustine, The City of God, Book IV, Chapter 4:

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”

October 4, 2014

Wind turbine setback and noise regulations since 2010

These changes in and new wind turbine regulations since 2010 do not include moratoria and bans. See also the list at Windpowergrab and the Renewable Energy Rejection Database (USA). All ordinances in USA: WindExchange (Dept. of Energy) wind energy ordinances database; NREL: Wind Ordinances, Wind Regulations by Region; NCSL: State approaches to wind facility siting (local or state-level).

[note:  1,000 ft = 305 m; 550 m = 1,804 ft; 1,000 m = 1 km = 3,281 ft = 0.62 mi; 1 mi = 1.61 km = 5,280 ft;  about decibels (dB)]

  • Pottawattamie County, Iowa, February 27, 2024:  setbacks 1/2 mi from nonparticipating homes, 1.1× height from participating homes, 1,500 ft from lot lines and public rights of way, 3 mi to incorporated municipalities, airport property, conservation partks, and habitat areas; 412 ft max height; noise limit 40 dBA 1-hour LEq 25 ft outside nonparticipating home; max 30 hours/year shadow flicker at nonparticipating home [link]
  • Slovakia, January 2024:  setback 3 km from inhabited areas [link]
  • New South Wales, Australia, November 2023 [draft]:  noise limit 35 dBA or existing background noise level (LA90(10 min)) plus 5 dBA at residences (whichever is lower) [link]
  • Jefferson County, Nebraska, March 23, 2023:  setback 1 mi from nonparticipating homes, incorporated towns, schools, churches, and state-owned recreation areas [link]
  • Buffalo County, Nebraska, March 14, 2023:  setbacks 3 mi from agriculture residential zoned property, nonparticipating property, church, hospital, pool, or park, 5 mi from villages, cities, and wildlife preservation and management areas, 2 mi from burial sites, Platte River, and South Loup River [link]
  • Poland, March 2023 [effective July 2, 2024]:  setback 700 m [2,300 ft] from houses [link]
  • Iowa, January 9, 2023 [proposed]:  setback from dwelling or nonparticipating property greater of 1.5× height or 5,000 ft [link]
  • Woodbury County, Iowa, August 23, 2022:  setback from residences increased from 1,250 ft to 2,500 ft [link]
  • Stockbridge Township, Michigan, August 2022:  height limit 400 ft [link]
  • Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, June 22, 2022:  setback from dwellings increased from 600 to 1,000 m; 3.2 km from main Wentworth Valley road [link]
  • Grand Forks County, North Dakota, June 2022:  setback increased from 1/4 to 1/2 mi; shadow flicker limited to 30 h/yr [link]
  • Leroy Township, Michigan, May 8, 2022:  height limit 400 ft [link]
  • Gage County, Nebraska, Nov. 17, 2021:  noise limit at residence reduced to 40 dB (from 45) daytime and 37 dBA (from 40) nighttime (10pm–7am), or 3 dBA max 10-minute Leq above ambient [link]
  • Ohio, Oct. 11, 2021:  counties have right to veto, ban, and limit projects; several counties subsequently prohibited wind projects ≥5 MW in 2022 [link]
  • Vermillion County, Indiana, Sep. 28, 2021:  setback 2 mi from property lines and roads; noise limit 32 dBA [link]
  • Ford County, Illinois, Sep. 17, 2021:  setbacks 3,000 ft from property line, 1.5 mi from municipality; noise limit 40 dB (Laeq) 9pm–6am; no shadow flicker at neighboring residence [link]
  • Sidney Township, Michigan, July 5, 2021:  300 ft height limit; setback 3,000 ft or 5× height [sic] from nonparticipating property line or right-of-way, 2.5 mi from lake or pond; noise limits of 40 dBA Leq (1 sec) and 50 dBC Leq (1 sec) and no shadow flicker on nonparticipating property; no radio, TV, or other interference [link]
  • Pierson Township, Michigan, June 15, 2021:  setback 4× height from occupied structures and property lines, 39 dBA limit and no shadow flicker on neighboring property [link]
  • Boone County, Missouri, November 4, 2021:  80 m (~263 ft) hub height limit; setback 1,750 ft from property line or public right-of-way; noise limits at property line 50 dBA daytime (7am–10pm), 40 dBA nighttime (10pm-7am), 45 dBA adjusted total day-night (Ldn; 10 dBA added to nighttime level) [link]
  • Dakota County, Nebraska, July 26, 2021:  change of setbacks from 2,700 ft to 2 mi from neighboring residence, from 600 ft to 2 mi from wetlands and other conservation lands [link]
  • Ellington Township, Michigan, July 2021:  setbacks 5× height from property lines, 3× height from roads; 40 dBA limit and no shadow flicker on neighboring property [link]
  • Worth County, Iowa, approved by Planning and Zoning Commission June 25, 2021:  at nonparticipating property: distance greater of 1,600 ft, 3.75× height, or manufacturer’s safety distance, noise limit greater of ambient or 45 dBA/60 dBC 6am–10pm, 40 dBA/60 dBC 10pm–6am, no shadow flicker; setbacks from eagle nest greater of 1,600 ft, 3.75× height, or manufacturer’s safety distance, 1/2 mi from public recreation area, significant body of water, and habitat >40 acres, 1 mi from public recreation area [link]
  • Clarion County, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2021:  at nonparticipating residence: distance 5× height, noise limit 45 dBA, no shadow flicker [link]
  • Kansas, introduced Feb. 24, 2021:  SB 279: setbacks greater of 7,920 ft (1-1/2 mi) or 12× height from residential property or public building, greater of 3 mi or 12× height from any airport, wildlife refuge, public hunting area, or public park, and greater of 5,280 ft (1 mi) or 10× height from nonparticipating property line [link]
  • Vulcan County, Alberta, Canada, Jan. 27, 2021 [proposed]:  45 dBA noise limit at property line; 800 m setback from nonparticipating residence [link]
  • Burt County, Nebraska, 2020:  setback greater of 3.5× height or 1,800 ft from dwelling [link]
  • Wheeler County, Nebraska, Dec. 9, 2020:  5 mi setback from any dwelling, 1/2 mi distance between turbines, height limit 299 ft [link]
  • Piatt County, Illinois, Dec. 9, 2020:  46 dBA noise limit outside of homes [link]
  • Ireland, Nov. 24, 2020 [Wind Turbine Regulation Bill reintroduced]:  10× height setback from any dwelling, no shadow flicker at dwelling, noise limits per WHO community noise guidelines [link]
  • Reno County, Kansas, Nov. 19, 2020:  setback from residence greater of 2,000 ft or 4× height [link]
  • Edgar County, Illinois, Nov. 4, 2020:  increased setback to 3,250 ft from primary structures [link]
  • Piatt County, Illinois, Oct. 22, 2020 [subject to county board approval]:  increased setback from greater of 1.1× height or 1,600 ft to nonparticipating structure to greater of 1.3× height or 1,600 ft to nonparticipating property line [link]
  • Gage County, Nebraska, Sept. 9, 2020:  increased setback to nonparticipating residence from 3/8 mi to 1 mi [link]
  • Batavia Township, Michigan, Sept. 1, 2020:  height limit 330 ft [link]
  • Reno County, Kansas, Aug. 2020 [proposed]:  40-dB annual average noise limit at any principal building (participating property or not) [link]
  • Hughes County, South Dakota, Aug. 17, 2020:  setback 1/2 mi or 4.9× turbine height from any occupied structure; 45-dB noise limit [link]
  • Brown County, Nebraska, May 2020:  setback 1 mi from property lines and roads [link]
  • North Dakota, Mar. 2020 [subject to Attorney General review and approval of legislative Administrative Rules Committee]:  45 dB noise limit 100 ft from residence [link]
  • Fremont County, Iowa, May 2020 [proposed]:  setbacks 1,500 ft from participating residence, 2,000 ft from nonparticating residence, 1,000 ft from nonparticipating property line, 1 mi from incorporated cities, 3 mi from Mississippi River [link]
  • North Dakota, Mar. 2020 [subject to Attorney General review and approval of legislative Administrative Rules Committee]:  45 dB noise limit 100 ft from residence [link]
  • Honolulu (Oahu), Hawaii, Mar. 2020 [subject to full city council approval]:  setback 5 mi from nonparticipating property lines [link]
  • Matteson Township, Michigan, Mar. 4, 2020:  setbacks 1.25 mi from nonparticipating property line, 4× height to any residence; 328-ft height limit; noise limit 45 dB(A) or 55 db(C) at nonparticipating property line; no shadow flicker on nonparticipating property; allowed only in general agricultural, light agricultural, and research industrial zoning districts [link]
  • Farmersville, New York, Feb. 10, 2020:  height limit 455 ft, setbacks 3,000 ft to property line or well, 2,000 ft to roads, 1 mi to churches and schools including Amish homes and home schools; noise limit lower of 45 dBA at property line and 45 dBA outside dwelling or ambient + 10 dB(A), 10 dB added to nighttime (10pm–7am) levels; noise measurement specified, including C-weighted; shadow flicker on nonparticipating property limited to 8 hours/year and 1 hour/month; property value guarantee and decommissioning provisions [link]
  • Seville Township, Michigan, Jan. 13, 2020:  1,640-ft setback from nonparticipating property line [link]
  • Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, Jan. 13, 2020:  3 mi from business or residence [link]
  • Farmersville and Freedom, New York, Jan. 6, 2020:  2019 law revoked, reverting from 600-ft height limit, 1.3× height setback at property line, and 50-dBA noise limit to 450-ft height limit.  Proposed [approved Jan. 30, 2020, by Cattaraugus County Planning Board]:  height limit 455 ft, setbacks 3,000 ft to property line, 2,000 ft to roads, 1 mi to churches; noise limit lower of 45 dBA at property line and 45 dBA outside dwelling or ambient + 10 dB(A), 10 dB added to nighttime (10pm–7am) levels; noise measurement specified, including C-weighted; shadow flicker on nonparticipating property limited to 8 hours/year and 1 hour/month; property value guarantee and decommissioning provisions [link]
  • Fell Township, Pennsylvania, Jan. 6, 2020:  setback 5× total height to property line, minimum 1,500 ft; noise limit at property line 45–55 dB, 42–52 dB 10pm–7am [link]
  • Mills County, Iowa, 2019:  height limits 80 ft, 150 ft in commercial zones, 200 ft in industrial zones [link]
  • North Rhine–Westphalia, Germany, 2019 [subject to public comment]:  setback 1.5 km from municipalities; banned from forests [link]
  • Ireland, Dec. 12, 2019 [subject to public consultation]:  setback 4× total height to residences, minimum 500 m; noise limit (L90,10 min) outside sensitive properties (e.g., residences) lesser of 5 dBA above existing 30–38 dBA background noise or 43 dBA, with penalties for tonal noise and amplitude modulation and a threshold for low-frequency noise; no shadow flicker at sensitive properties [link]
  • Sanford, New York, Dec. 10, 2019: setbacks 3× height from all permanent structures and off-site property lines, rights of way, easements, public ways, power lines, gas wells, and state lands, greater of 1,500 ft or 3× height from all off-site schools, hospitals, places of worship, places of public assembly, and residential structures; noise limits at nonparticipating property line of 45 dBA Leq (8-hour), 40 dBA average annual nighttime level, no audible prominent tone, no human-perceptible vibrations, 65 dB Leq at full-octave frequency bands of 16, 31.5, and 63 Hz, and 40 dBA (1-hour) from substation equipment; maximum shadow flicker 30 min/day, 30 h/year [link]
  • Sherwood Township, Michigan, Dec. 5, 2019:  height limit 330 ft; setbacks 5× height to nonparticipating property, 1 mi from village, 2 mi from environmentally sensitive areas [link]
  • Posey County, Indiana, Nov. 25, 2019 [subject to town and County Commission approvals]:  noise limit greater of 45 dB or 5 dB over ambient (L₉₀) at nonparticipating property line more than 10% of any hour; no shadow flicker at nonparticipating residence [link]; Jan. 3, 2021:  10 mi distance from Doppler radar site [link]
  • Thomas County, Nebraska, Oct. 2021:  setback 3 mi from property lines, roads, and wetlands; noise limit 35 dbA at residence [link]
  • Hamilton County, Nebraska, Sep. 19, 2021:  setback 2 mi from property line [link]
  • Portland, New York, Aug. 8, 2020:  setbacks 1,600 ft from residences, 1/2 mi from county parks [link]
  • Casnovia Township, Michigan, Oct. 2019:  setback 4× total height to nonparticipating property line; height limit 500 ft; 39 dBA nighttime noise limit and no shadow flicker on nonparticipating property [link]
  • Madison County, Iowa, Aug. 8, 2019:  Board of Health recommendation of 1.5 mi setback from nonparticipating property line, 2,100 ft from participating property line, 40 dBA noise limit at property line [link]; Sept. 8, 2019: County Board approves [link]
  • Montgomery County, Indiana, June 10, 2019:  setbacks greater of 2,640 ft (1/2 mi) or 5× height to property line (Board of Zoning Appeals may increase to 3,200 ft) and 1 mi from towns and schools; 32 dB(A) noise limit at property line; no shadow flicker on nonparticipating property; wells within 1 mi to be tested before and after [link]
  • Jasper County, Indiana, May 7, 2019:  setbacks greater of 2,640 ft (1/2 mi) or 6.5× height to nonparticipating property lines and 1 mi from nonparticipating existing residences, platted subdivisions, “institutional land uses” (e.g., schools), Iroquois and Kankakee Rivers, and confined feed lots; 35 dB(A) noise limit at nonparticipating property line; no shadow flicker on nonparticipating properties [link]
  • Sherwood Township, Michigan, June 13, 2019:  height limit 300 ft; setbacks 5× height to property line, 1/2 mi from water, 1 mi from Village of Sherwood, 2 mi from environmentally sensitive areas [link]
  • Monitor Township, Michigan, effective Apr. 29, 2019:  change of setback from 750 ft to 2,000 ft to nonparticipating or 1,640 ft to participating property line or right-of-way; no shadow flicker or strobe effect on nonparticipating property; no stray voltage; noise limits (Lmax) 45 dBA and 55 dBC at property line or anywhere within neighboring property, no detectable sound pressures of 0.1-20 Hz [link]
  • Worth, New York, Apr. 3, 2019:  setback 5× height to property lines, structures, and roads; 35 dB(A) noise limit during day, 25 dB(A) at night (7pm–7am) [link]
  • Kansas, introduced Feb. 12, 2019:  HB 2273: setbacks greater of 7,920 ft (1-1/2 mi) or 12× height from residential property lines or public building, greater of 3 mi or 12× height from any airport, wildlife refuge, public hunting area, or public park, and minimum 1,500 ft from any property line [link]
  • Nebraska, introduced Jan. 16, 2019 [subject to legislative approval]:  LB373: requires hosting counties to have wind ordinances restricting wind turbines within 3 mi of residence without owner’s permission and addressing noise and decommissioning [link]
  • Saline County, Nebraska, 2018:  setback 1/2 mi from neighboring dwelling; noise limit 40 dBA (10-min average) at any dwelling [link]
  • Redfield, New York, Dec. 11, 2018:  setback 5× height to property lines, structures, and roads; 35 dB(A) noise limit during day, 25 dB(A) at night (7pm–7am) [link]
  • Henry County, Indiana, Nov. 14, 2018:  setback 4 mi from town lines: Blountsville, Cadiz, Greensboro, Kennard, Lewisville, Mount Summit, Springport, Straughn, Sulphur Springs, Mooreland [link]
  • Richland, New York, Nov. 13, 2018:  setback 1 mi from property line; height limit 500 ft; 35 dB(A) (for more than 5 minutes) noise limit at residences [link]
  • Adair County, Iowa, Oct. 24, 2018:  setback 2,000 ft to nonparticipating home, 800 ft to property line [link]
  • Kosciusko County, Indiana, Oct. 16 2018:  setback greater of 3,960 ft or 6.5× height to property line, right-of-way, or power line, 1 mi from community or municipality boundary; 32 dB(A) noise limit at property line; no shadow flicker on nonparticipating property; no detectable vibration in nearby structures or that could damage wells; no interference with TV, radio, GPS, etc.; property value guarantees within 2 mi; notification to all within 5 mi [link]
  • Adams County, Nebraska, Oct. 2, 2018:  setback 2,400 ft to neighboring dwelling, 6,000 ft from turbines not owned by applicant [link]
  • Paint Township, Pennsylvania, Aug. 7, 2018:  height limit 335 ft; setback 1.5× height to buildings and roads, 2,500 ft to property line [link]
  • Greenwood, Maine, Aug. 6, 2018:  added height limit of 250 ft; lowered noise limits at nonparticipating property lines from 55 dB during day and 42 dB at night to, respectively, 35 and 25 dB; increased setback to nonparticipating property lines from 1.5× height to 1 mi per 100 ft height [link]
  • Dekalb County, Illinois, July 12, 2018 [approved by Board, 19-3, Nov. 21, 2018 (link)]:  setback 6× total height to property line, 3 mi to municipality; height limit 500 ft; noise limit of 35 dBA during day (7am–10pm) and 30 dBA at night; no shadow flicker or flash; no radiofrequency or electromagnetic interference [link]
  • North Dakota, July 1, 2018:  decommission and land reclamation plan, cost estimates, and financial assurance required [link]
  • Ingersoll Township, Michigan, May 14, 2018:  [link]
  • Beaver Township, Michigan, May 14, 2018:  setback 4× total height to property line, public roads, and transmission lines; height limit 500 ft; noise limit 45 dBA Lmax or 55 dBC Lmax (or ambient plus 5 dB if greater) at property line [link]
  • Shiawassee County, Michigan, May 8, 2018 [subject to County Board of Commissioners approval]:  setback 3.5× total height to nonparticipating property line (changed from 1.5×); height limit 450 ft (changed from 600 ft); 45 dB noise limit at property line (changed from 55 dB); no shadow flicker on nonparticipating property (changed from 20 hours/year) [link]
  • Almer Township, Michigan, Apr. 2018:  setback 4× total height to nonparticipating property line; height limit 500 ft; 45 dBA noise limit at property line; no shadow flicker on nonparticipating property; no stray voltage; decommissioning bond; all concrete to be removed [link]
  • Tennessee, Apr. 24, 2018:  setback 5× total height to nonparticipating property line; height limit 500 ft [link]
  • Miami County, Indiana, Apr. 11, 2018:  change of setback from 1,000 ft to 2,000 ft to property line [link]
  • DeWitt County, Illinois, Apr. 19, 2018:  change of setback from 1,500 ft to 2,000 ft to houses [link]
  • Pierce County, Nebraska, Mar. 26, 2018:  setback 2,700 ft to houses [link]
  • Maroa, Illinois, Mar. 26, 2018:  setback 1.5 mi from city border [link]
  • Hopkinton, New York, Apr. 26, 2018:  setback 5× total height to property line; 40 dBA noise limit at nonparticipating residence [link]
  • Burnside Township, Michigan, Feb. 26, 2018:  change of sound limit to 45 dBA Lmax (maximum) at property line [link]
  • Yates, New York, Feb. 8, 2018:  change of setback to nonparticipating property line from 3× height to greater of 6× height or 1/2 mi; greater of 6× height or 1/2 mi to residences, public rights of way, and boundaries with other towns; 1 mi to village boundaries, schools, churches, and cemeteries; 3 mi from Lake Ontario shoreline (per US Fish and Wildlife Service recommendation); change of noise limit from 45 dBA during day (7am–8pm) and 40 dBA at night to 42 dBA during day and 39 dBA at night (per Vermont Public Service Board recommendation) [link]
  • Somerset, New York, Jan. 29, 2018:  height limit 150 ft; industrial zones only; setback greater of 1/2 mi or 6× height to public roads, property lines, and residences; 3 mi from Lake Ontario shoreline; 42 dBA limit during day (7am–9pm), 35 dBA at night [link]
  • Wabash County, Indiana, Dec. 18, 2017:  32 dBA limit outside of primary structures; no vibrations detectable on nonparticipant property; no shadow flicker on nonparticipant property; setbacks 3/4 mi to nonparticipant residential structure, 1/2  to nonparticipant business structure, 3/8 mi to participant residence, greater of 1,000 ft or 2× height to public roads [link]
  • Rochester, Indiana, Dec. 4, 2017:  setback 3 mi from city limits [link]
  • Vermont, Nov. 22, 2017:  42 dBA limit 95% of the time 100 ft to nonparticipating residence during day (7am–9pm), 39 dBA at night (9pm–7am; goal to achieve interior sound level of ≤30 dB) [link]
  • Stanton County, Nebraska, Nov. 2017:  setback 2,700 ft from nonparticipating residence [link]
  • Dixfield, Maine, Nov. 7, 2017:  setbacks 2,000 ft to property line, 4,000 ft to occupied building or scenic or special resource; sound limits at property line of 42 dBA at night (7–7), 55 dBA at day within 4,000 ft; 5 dBA added to any average 10-minute sound level in which a tonal sound occurs, 5 dBA added to any average 10-minute sound level in which ≥5 short-duration repetitive sounds occur [link]
  • Clark County, South Dakota, Aug. 14, 2017 [subject to appeal ruling]:  change of setback from 1,000 ft to 3,960 ft (3/4 mi) to residences [link]
  • Antelope County, Nebraska [subject to county commission approval]:  change of setback from 2,000 ft to 2,700 ft to nonparticipating residence; maximum of 2 turbines within 4,000 ft of nonparticipating residence [link]
  • Parishville, New York, June 22, 2017:  setback 5× total height to property line; 45 dBA noise limit at nonparticipating residence during day (7am–7pm), 35 dBA at night (7pm–7am) [link]
  • Bethel, Maine, June 14, 2017:  setback 2 mi to property line; 25 dBA limit at property line 7pm–7am, 35 dBA 7am–7pm; height limit 250 ft [link]
  • Walworth County, South Dakota, May 10, 2017:  setback 2 mi to off-site residence, business, or church [link]
  • Lincoln County, South Dakota, May 2, 2017 [upheld by referendum, July 18, 2017 (link)]:  setback 1/2 mi to homes; 45 dB limit at property line; shadow flicker limits [link]
  • North Dakota, June 5, 2017:  aircraft detection required to minimize lighting at night [link]
  • Clayton County, New York, Apr. 26, 2017:  own use only; setback 5.5× height to property line [link]
  • Livingston County, Illinois, Apr. 20, 2017:  setback to participating homes changed from 1,200 ft to greater of 3,250 ft or 6× height; setback to property line 1,640 ft; state Pollution Control Board noise limits measured at residential property line [link]
  • County Westmeath, Ireland, Jan. 31, 2017:  setbacks from homes 500 m for heights >25 m to 50 m, 1,000 m for heights >50 m to 100 m, 1,500 m for heights >100 m to 150 m, and >2 km for heights ≥150 m [link]
  • Rush County, Indiana, Dec. 16, 2016:  project approved with setback 2,640 ft to nonparticipating property lines and height limit 200 ft; 32 dB limit at propertly line; no shadow flicker on neighboring property [link]
  • Wayne County, Indiana, Dec. 7, 2016:  zoning variance required for every turbine; large turbines not permitted: >100 ft tall, >50 kW, blade sweep >30 ft [link]
  • Hagerstown, Indiana, Nov. 22, 2016:  no structures over 100 ft height within 2 mi of town (extension of airport regulation) [link]
  • Sand Beach Township, Michigan, Oct. 2016 [approved by referendum, 413-80, May 2, 2017 (link)]:  40 dB limit at hosting residences during day, 35 dB at night; 35 dB and 30 dB for nonhosting residences [link]
  • Wabash County, Indiana, Oct. 17, 2016:  32 dBA limit outside of primary structures; shadow flicker at residential and business structures limited to 15 minutes per day, 4 days per year; setback 1/2 mi to nonparticipating residential or business structure [link]
  • Clayton County, New York, Sept. 27, 2016:  setback 1 mi to any structure, roadway, or property line; developers required to pay property owners for any damages or decreases in property value [link]
  • Palo Alto County, Iowa, Sept. 27, 2016:  setback 1,500 ft to dwellings and cemeteries [link]
  • L’Anse Township, Michigan, Aug. 10, 2016:  setback to nonparticipating property line (without easement) changed from 1,000 ft to 2,540 ft; height limit 500 ft [link]
  • County Laois, Ireland, Aug. 5, 2016 [augmented Mar. 29, 2017, by total ban (link)]:  setback 1.5 km to schools, dwellings, community centers, and public roads [link]
  • Newfield, New York, July 24, 2016:  setback 1,760 ft or 3× blade radius to property line without lease or easement [link]
  • Tipton County, Indiana, July 2016:  setbacks 2,640 ft from residences, 1,500 ft from property lines [link]
  • Letcher Township, South Dakota, June 8, 2016; effective July 1, 2016:  setbacks 1 mi to nonparticipating residence and 1,500 ft to property line [link]
  • Poland, May 2016 (revoked to 700 m setback March 2023):  setback 10× total height of turbine to housing [link]
  • Gage County, Nebraska, Mar. 30, 2016:  45 dB limit at nonparticipating properties during day, 40 dB at night (10pm–7am); setback 3/8 mi to nonparticipating residence [link]
  • New Hampshire, Dec. 15, 2015:  sound limits: greater of 45 dBAL90 or 5 dBA above background level during day (8–8), 40 dBA during day, greater of 40 dBAL90 or 5 dBA above background level at night at any temporary or permanent residence; shadow flicker: no more than 8 hours per year at or in any residence, learning space, workplace, health care setting, outdoor or indoor public gathering area, or other occupied building [link]
  • Freedom, Maine, Nov. 17, 2015:  13× height setback to property line, 4× height to public roads, 2,500 ft to special resources; sound limits 5 dBA above preconstruction ambient level, 40 dBA during day, and 35 dBA at night at property line, and 20 dBC above preconstruction ambient dBA level at property line and inside dwellings [link]
  • Lancaster County, Nebraska, Nov. 10, 2015:  sound limits at exterior wall of dwellings 40 dBA and 3 dBA above background (by 10-minute average, Leq,10min) from 7am to 10pm, 37 dBA from 10pm to 7am [link]
  • Boone County, Illinois, Nov. 4, 2015:  change of setback from 1,000 ft to 2,640 ft (1/2 mi) to property line [link]
  • Emmet County, Michigan, Oct. 15, 2015:  change of setback from 1,000 ft to 2,640 ft (1/2 mi) to property line [link]
  • Oklahoma, Aug. 21, 2015:  set back 1.5 mi from public school, hospital, or airport [link]
  • Catlin, New York, July 9, 2015:  height limit 400 ft;, noise limit 40 dBA at property line [link]
  • Rush County, Indiana, July 1, 2015 (upheld by trial court May 27, 2016, appeals court Feb. 14, 2017, and supreme court May 25, 2017 [link]):  project approved with change of setback to 2,300 ft to residences and property line [link]
  • Peru, Massachusetts, June 6, 2015:  height limit [link]
  • Garden Township, Michigan, June 1, 2015:  35 dBA or 50 dBC limit at property line from 10pm to 6am [link]
  • Iroquois County, Illinois, Apr. 14, 2015:  change of setback to property line from 1,500 ft to 12 rotor diameters [link]
  • Cleburne County, Alabama, Feb. 9, 2015 [needs state approval]:  2,500 ft setback to property line, 40 dB sound limit [link]
  • Howard County, Indiana, Jan. 5, 2015:  change of setback from 1,500 ft to 2,000 ft from property line and noise limit at neighboring residence from 50 dBA to 40 dBA [link]
  • Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Jan. 5, 2015:  1,000 m setback, 600 m with consent of homeowner [link]
  • Bavaria, Germany, Nov. 21, 2014:  10× height setback to homes, 800 m to other dwellings [link]
  • Adams Township, Michigan, Oct. 2014, affirmed Apr. 13, 2015 [link]:  3,000 ft setback to lines, roads, and homes [link]
  • Plympton-Wyoming, Ontario, Oct. 8, 2014; repealed under threat of lawsuit May 27, 2015 [link]:  50 dB average, +10 dB peak infrasound limit inside dwellings; 15 dBC or 20 dB infrasound limit over dBA level inside or outside dwellings; amplitude modulation limit indoors of 2 mPa RMS for 10 seconds out of any 40 seconds [link]
  • Mason County, Kentucky, Sept. 30, 2014:  wind turbines >50 kW in already-designated industrial zones only; 1 mi setback of turbines, substations, and maintenance/operation facilities to property line, residences/regularly used buildings, residential zones, rights of way, wetlands, etc.; 30 dBA and 50 dbC limits at property line [link]
  • Buckland, Massachusetts, Sept. 25, 2014:  limits of 250 kW capacity and 120 ft height, setbacks 360 ft to property line and half-mile to off-site residence [link]
  • County Offaly, Ireland, Sept. 15, 2014:  setback 2 km from towns and villages [link]
  • Fairview Township, Pennsylvania, Aug. 4, 2014:  height limit 350 ft, setbacks 1,500 ft to property lines and bodies of water, 1.1× height to roads [link]
  • Dallas County, Iowa, July 29, 2014:  setbacks 2,640 ft from residence, school, hospital, church, or public library, 2 mi from sensitive natural resource areas, wildlife management areas, prairies, wetlands, forested areas, etc.; 30 dBA noise limit at property line of any dwelling, school, hospital, church, or public library [link]
  • County Donegal, Ireland, June 30, 2014 [cancelled by Minister Oct. 6, 2016; reinstated Mar. 27, 2017]:  setback 10× tip height to places of residence or public assembly [link]
  • Ohio, June 16, 2014:  change of setback (1,125 ft from blade tip) to property line (from house) [link]
  • Schoolcraft County, Michigan, June 5, 2014:  setbacks 3,960 ft (3/4-mi) to dwellings and businesses, 1 mi to scenic areas, parks, highways; 35 dB(A) limit at property line, ambient plus 5 dB limit at dwellings [link]
  • Etowah County, Alabama, Mar. 19, 2014:  40 dB limit at property line, 2,500 ft setback from property line [link]
  • Cherokee County, Alabama, Mar. 18, 2014:  40 dB limit at property line, 2,500 ft setback from property line [link]
  • DeKalb County, Alabama:  40 dB limit at property line, 2,500 ft setback from property line [link]
  • Granville, Pennsylvania, May 5, 2014:  setbacks 2,000 ft to property line and participating residence and 2,500 ft to nonparticipating residence, 45 dBA or 45 dBC limit at property line [link]
  • Carteret County, North Carolina, Feb. 26, 2014:  change of setback to 1 mi (from 6× height), plus 275 ft height limit and 35 dB limit (for more than 5 min) at property line [link]
  • Iredell County, North Carolina:  350 ft height limit, 30 dB noise limit at property line [link]
  • Ashe County, North Carolina:  199 ft height limit [link]
  • County Offaly, Ireland, Sept. 15, 2014:  setback 2 km from towns and villages [link]
  • Kentucky, 2014:  setbacks 1,000 ft from property lines, 2,000 ft from residential neighborhood, school, hospital, or nursing home facility [link]
    • Eastern Kings, Prince Edward Island, 2013:  setbacks 4× height to participating dwelling, 3,280 ft (1,000 m) to nonparticipating dwelling [link]
    • Saxony, Germany, July 12, 2013:  setback 1,000 m to residence [link]
    • Noble County, Indiana, May 2013:  3/4 mi to residence [link]
    • Whitley County, Indiana, May 2013:  greater of 1/2 mi or 6.5× height to residence [link]
    • Woodstock, Maine, Mar. 25, 2013:  setback 1 mi to property line; 35 dBA limit at property line 7pm–7am, 45 dBA 7am–7pm [link]
    • Crook County, Wyoming, June 6, 2012:  setbacks greater of 5× height or 1 mi from residence, 1/2 mi from city or town [link]
    • Pratt County, Kansas, May 12, 2012:  3,960 ft to residence [link]
    • Wisconsin, Mar. 15, 2012:  1.1× height to property line, 1,250 ft to any residence [link]
    • Bingham County, Idaho, 2012:  3× height to property line, 1 mi platted Town sites and cities [link]
    • Haut-Saint-Laurent, Montérégie, Québéc, Jan. 9, 2013:  2 km setback [link]
    • Denmark, Dec. 15, 2011:  addition of 20 dB low-frequency (10–160 Hz) limit (day and night) inside homes [link]
    • Frankfort, Maine, Dec. 1, 2011:  1 mi setback to property line, noise limits within 2 mi 35 dB day, 25 dB night [link] [repeal rejected Nov. 4, 2014; link]
    • Victoria, Australia, Aug. 29, 2011:  2 km setback without consent of homeowner [link]; reduced to 1 km Mar. 2015 [link]
    • Umatilla County, Oregon, June 28, 2011:  change of setback to 2 mi from “urban grown boundary”, 1 mi from "unincorporated community" zones (from 3,520 ft) [link]
    • Barnstable County (Cape Cod), Massachusetts, Apr. 20, 2011:  10× rotor diameter to property line [link]
    • Centerville Township, Michigan, Aug. 18, 2010:  height limit 199 ft; setback 10× rotor diameter to property line or road; noise limits at property line 35 dBA or 5 dBA above background during day, 3 dBA above background at night, with low-frequency limits and tonality penalty [link]
    • Klickitat County, Washington, Aug. 17, 2010:  setback 1,600 ft to residences [link]
    • Allegany County, Maryland, Jan. 1, 2010:  setbacks 2,000 ft to homes, 5,000 ft to schools [link]
    • Dixmont, Maine, 2009:  setback 2,500 ft from neighboring residential property line [link]
    • Kearny County, Kansas, 2009:  setback 2,000 ft from property line [link]