October 16, 2006

For a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of our energy: wind power!

At 20% "penetration," a typical goal (limited by the amount of excess capacity on the system that is free to balance the fluctuating wind load), wind energy would in theory replace only one forty-fifth of our energy.

Electricity accounts for roughly a third of all energy use, 20% wind would be a fifth of that third. (And that fifth requires four times the capacity of that actual output.) And the effective capacity (because of its variability) is yet a third of that output.

Even in theory, then, it is clearly an awfully destructive and expensive "alternative." In reality, it is even worse.

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

October 15, 2006

Impact of industrial wind on rural economy

From "UK Energy Policy: The Small Business Perspective & the Impact on the Rural Economy," researched and written by Candida Whitmill for, and on behalf of, the Small Business Council, February 2006 (revised June 2006) [available at wind-watch.org]:

[p. 1, Foreword]  The Small Business Council is a non-departmental public body established in May 2000 to advise the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Chief Executive of the Small Business Service on the needs of existing and potential small businesses in order to help them succeed and prosper. Working with Ministers and Senior Policy makers, the Council advises and reports on the effects on small businesses of current and potential policies.

[p. 2, Executive Summary]  This study focuses attention on one particular area of potential impact in the United Kingdom, the impact on tourism, an area dominated by small businesses and of pivotal importance to the rural economy as a whole. Twenty-five percent of all registered businesses are in rural areas.

The rural visitor economy is worth £14 billion in England alone and supports up to 800,000 jobs. Research shows that for an average 75% of visitors, the quality of the landscape and countryside is the most important factor in choosing a destination. Between 47% and 75% of visitors felt that wind turbines damage the landscape quality. In North Devon turbines would deter 11% of visitors, at a cost of £29 million and the loss of 800 jobs. Approximately 7% of visitors would not return to Cumbria, which would result in a loss of £70 million and 1,753 jobs. In the South West, just a 5% overall reduction in visitor numbers would lose the region £400 million and 15,000 jobs. Because of the multiplier effect, a reduction of visitors can have farreaching consequences for the overall regional economy, a fact richly illustrated during the Foot and Mouth crisis. The evidence shows that in some areas, 49% of all sectors of rural businesses experienced a negative impact. [Full analysis, pp. 10-18]

We argue that the current trend towards high levels of wind energy development onshore presents an unacceptable threat to rural businesses and runs counter to almost all other aspects of Government policy relating to the rural economy. This has important implications when assessing the overall cost-benefit equation of the current renewable energy policy.

[p. 20]  Sustainable development, as defined by the Rural Strategy, is characterised by "integrating and balancing environmental, social and economic considerations at every stage." 41 Recognising its potentially negative impact on the environment, UK tourism has long embraced the ethos of sustainability. Today UK tourism is striving to be a role model for sustainable practices. Businesses are investing in energy efficiency, recycling and local purchasing. Many are gaining international accreditation through sustainable programmes such as the Green Business Tourism Scheme. Local partnerships are operating visitor payback schemes that include visitors as stakeholders in reinvesting back into the conservation of the environment they enjoy. It is in the industry's interest to maintain and improve the environment and to contribute to the economic and social stability of local communities.

This symbiosis represents the greatest prospect of achieving the Rural Strategy 2004 goals and the Government's sustainability agenda. In contrast, the current onshore wind policy is at odds with the concept of sustainability. For the majority of onshore wind developments, the environmental costs are local and the benefits are invariably taken or delivered outside the region. In the most striking cases, a large-scale wind farm may be entirely financed by overseas investors, using imported equipment and a team of specialist contractors to oversee the installation. Once operating no one is employed on the site and the income and profits from the Renewables Obligation scheme are repatriated back to the investor country.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms

October 13, 2006

The End of the U.S. as a Civilized Nation

Ted Rall has put the new legalization of torture and elimination of habeas corpus for anyone the Führer deems his (sorry, "the people's") enemy into apt historical context (click the title of this post for the complete essay):

... Had there been the political will, Hitler and his goons could have been arrested and tried under German law. The German government was a lost cause, but the German nation still had a (slim) chance. Until 1935.

That's when Germany officially codified the Nazis' uncivilized anti-Semitism by passing the Nuremberg Laws. Jews were stripped of citizenship and banned from marrying or dating non-Jews. The laws were a form of legalized harassment, prohibiting Jews from displaying German flags or shopping in stores at certain times. ... the barbaric ipso facto policies of the Nazi government had corrupted Germany's lofty and admirable system of legal guarantees. ... Germany was no longer a civilized nation in the clutches of gangsters. It had become a gangster nation.

Similarly, the recently passed Military Commissions Act [MCA] removes the United States from the ranks of civilized nations. It codifies racial and political discrimination, legalizes kidnapping and torture of those the government deems its political enemies, and eliminates habeas corpus -- the ancient precept that prevents the police from arresting and holding you without cause -- a basic protection common to all (other) modern legal systems, and one that dates to the Magna Carta.

Between 2001 and 2006, George W. Bush worked tirelessly to eliminate freedoms and liberties Americans have long taken for granted. The Bush Administration's CIA, mercenary and military state terrorists kidnapped thousands of innocent people and held them at secret prisons around the world for months and years at a time. These people were never charged with a crime. (There was good reason for that. As the government itself admitted, fewer than ten had actually done anything wrong.) Yet hundreds, maybe even thousands, were tortured.

Under American law these despicable acts were illegal. They were, by definition, un-American. Although it didn't help the dozens of Bush torture victims who died from beatings and drowning, the pre-Bush American judicial system worked. The Republican-controlled U.S. Supreme Court handed down one decision after another ordering the White House to give its "detainees" trials or let them go. For a brief, shining moment, it looked like there was hope for the U.S. to find its way back to the light.

Now, thanks to a gullible passel of Republican senators and an unhinged leader who is banking that Americans are just as passive as the Germans of the mid-1930s, we have our own Nuremberg Laws.

Under the terrifying terms of the radical new Military Commissions Act, Bush can declare anyone -- including you -- an "unlawful enemy combatant," a term that doesn't exist in U.S. or international law. All he has to do is sign a piece of paper claiming that you "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." The law's language is brilliantly vague, allowing the president to imprison -- for the rest of his or her life -- anyone, including a U.S. citizen, from someone who makes a contribution to a group he disapproves of to a journalist who criticizes the government.

[Partner to the MCA is AETA, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, with vague enough language to brand as a terrorist (i.e., "unlawful enemy combatant") anyone handing out flyers in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken or publicizing the abuse of elephants in the circus or even advocating vegetarianism -- any activity that cuts into the profits from animal abuse and slaughter is a threat to the nation. The AETA bills are still in committee: check the status of H.R.4239 here and S.1926 here.]

October 12, 2006

McCourt for Governor of New York

From an interview with Malachy McCourt, Green Party candidate for governor of New York, by Clyde Haberman in the Oct. 10 New York Times:

“The inculcation of fear is the essence of American politics,” Mr. McCourt said. “Fear and the evil of your opponents – what awful, dreadful, less-than-human beings they are, until elected. Then they say, ‘We have to get behind them.’”

October 11, 2006

A vote against voting

Last month, Noel Ignatiev wrote an excellent essay for Counterpunch on the stupidity of "progressives" voting for the lesser evil that Democrats represent. Click the title of this post to read it.
[O]ne difference between Republican and Democratic voters is that the former hope their candidates mean what they say while the latter hope their candidates do not mean what they say.

October 4, 2006

Hull benefits from REC sales not wind energy

To the editor, Boston Globe:

Although the wind turbines in Hull may generate electricity equivalent to 12% of the town's total electricity consumption (editorial, Oct. 1), that is unlikely to be the amount actually used.

Because the turbines' level of generation is in response to the wind rather than consumer demand, it would more often than not be well out of sync with the town's needs. Consequently, Hull's municipal utility -- without large-scale storage of the wind-generated energy -- must still have to buy just about as much power from the regional grid as before.

The money they are "saving" appears to be in fact income from the sale of renewable energy credits to Harvard, who thereby also pretend to be using the same wind power.

wind power, wind energy

The twilight of industrial wind

Comment by Lyn Harrison, editor, Windpower Monthly, October 2006:

... witness the chaos in Spain caused by the sudden removal of the basis for wind power pricing, the overnight stop to the thriving wind market in the Netherlands, the fast approaching cliff-edge in Australia, Denmark's decline from role model to full-stop, and the perennial on-off market support in the US.

wind power, wind energy