March 31, 2011

Gasland and wind energy

With panning shots of the sprawling arrays of giant wind turbines in Texas, Josh Fox thought he was silently offering an alternative vision at the end of his eye-opening documentary Gasland.

He obviously hadn't seen Laura Israel's documentary Windfall yet. Anyone who knows how wind developers operate and have suffered the consequences saw the same story played out by gas developers in Fox's film.

To anyone aware of the facts about wind energy development, those eerie shots of the Texas turbines were clearly foreboding rather than promising. They seemed to promise part 2 of the exploration of energy's unpublicized dark side, not the end of the story.

Especially considering that more wind means more natural gas, which is required to balance the erratic production of wind turbines.

Part 1: Gasland.  Part 2: Windfall.

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March 26, 2011

Greens for Nuclear: Useful Idiots

Alexander Cockburn writes at Counterpunch:

On the recruitment of Greens to the cause of the nuclear industry, Martin Kokus sent us the following very interesting letter:
“Instead of saying that global warming rescued the nuclear lobby, I would say the nuclear complex invented global warming. I was working on man-made climate change during the 70's and I think that even the biggest conspiracy theorist is underestimating the role that the nuclear complex played in shaping the debate on AGW. When I say nuclear complex, I am not just referring to the power lobby, but also the weapons manufacturers, the military, the nuclear labs, the academics who are funded by nuclear labs, and those who think that there is some huge geopolitical advantage for the west to go nuclear.

“The nukes were pushing AGW from my earliest political memory. In 1973-74, the Hoover Institute funded a tour by Edward Teller where he described co2 as the real environmental problem and nuclear power was its only solution. (I am sure that you are aware that the Hoover Institute is now espousing AGW as a liberal conspiracy.) During the same time period Bernard Cohen, head of U of Pitt's Nuke Labs, self-appointed expert on safety, and proponent of nuclear power was funded by Americans for Energy Independence (AEI) to do the same thing. One of the organizers of AEI was longtime Cohen associate Zalman Shapiro who was the subject of a series of Counterpunch essays by Grant Smith in regards to the Israeli nuke program. These speakers were not sponsored by climatology departments but by nuclear engineering departments.

“I was in the first US seminar on man-made climate change at UVA. We were worried about particulates, land use, deforestation, and most of all the introduction of agribusiness into the third world. My profs dismissed AGW in about 15 minutes. But even then, one of our contract monitors from Oak Ridge AEC was pushing me to get interested in the greenhouse effect. I also remember Outside magazine (which I always considered right wing and phony environmentalist [indeed, its interest is clearly in conquering nature —Ed.]) doing a series that considered AGW to be the most serious environmental threat. I always found this interesting because there were absolutely no data behind it.

“The real money came into AGW after Thatcher got elected. I am sure that you are familiar with the Centre for Policy Studies', a conservative British think tank, decision to hype AGW. Well, the Reagan administration more than matched that money. We funded half the Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s climate group. The UEA was the scene of the recent Climategate scandal. The Hadley Centre and the UEA were the incubators for the IPCC. The money was monitored by what used to be the AEC lab at Oakridge which is now under DOE. The older climatologists were ignored in this funding buildup. In fact, existing funding for non co2 climate change research disappeared.”

March 22, 2011

Green Development?

To the Editor, New York Times:

By painting as "Nimby" all who question development plans, Elisabeth Rosenthal does a disservice to community participation in decision-making ["Green Development? Not in My (Liberal) Backyard", Week in Review, Mar. 13]. Such pejorative name-calling serves only to quash serious and open discussion.

Every development project requires a cost-benefit analysis, but the "greater good" is often evoked as a means of shutting out local concerns. The people who will be directly affected are best placed to ensure that the costs -- and the claimed benefits -- are properly assessed. It should not be a surprise that their conclusions are frequently different from those of developers and politicians.

This is certainly the case with wind power, which, when examined with the cold eye of someone facing major industrial development of a rural or even wild area, seems to be primarily a tax avoidance scheme for energy companies and investors. After decades of deployment, its other benefits (e.g., less carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning) have proven to be elusive at best. And its impacts -- on the environment, wildlife, and human neighbors -- far exceed the developers' reassurances.

Rosenthal also describes overseas acquiescence, but the European Platform Against Windfarms includes at last count 473 organizations from 21 countries, including 6 from Denmark and 68 from Germany. In the U.K. (with 78 groups signed on to the EPAW), industrialists regularly complain that a third of proposed wind energy facilities are blocked because of locals having a say on the future of their landscapes and their lives.

Eric Rosenbloom
President, National Wind Watch

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

March 21, 2011

Joke of the day

A CEO, a union worker, and a Tea Partier are at a table with 12 cookies. The CEO takes 11 and says to the Tea Partier: "Keep an eye on that union guy, he wants your cookie."

March 19, 2011

Wind power kept going in Japan by other sources surviving earthquake

The blogosphere is aquiver with a press release from the Japanese Wind Power Association noting that all of the country's wind energy facilities survived the recent earthquake. Since only one facility is in or even anywhere near the hardest hit region, and they are designed to withstand earthquakes (as were the Fukushima nuclear plants -- it was the tsunami that took them out), that is hardly surprising.

In all the parroting of this self-serving and shamelessly opportunistic industry press release, not one blogger attempts to establish context. How did Japan's 100,000 MW or so of coal, oil, gas, hydro, and most nuclear plants fare? Compared with the <300 MW (<100 MW actual average output) of wind, those other sources obviously are what is keeping Japan going. But what should be most informative is the fact that 36% of the wind plant was inoperable because the rest of the grid was down. In fact, wind turbines require power from the grid to operate, though in this case it was probably transmissi­on that was down. So the remaining 64% were still operating only because the other sources on the grid were still operating.

wind power, wind energy

March 18, 2011

The "Green" Nuclear Cabal

Jeffrey St. Clair writes about how global warming and the nuclear lobby (click the title of this post for the entire piece, an excerpt from his book "Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature":

Even when compared to coal, nuclear power fails the test if investments are made to increase the efficient use of the existing energy supply. One recent study by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that "even under the most optimistic cost projections for future nuclear electricity, efficiency is found to be 2.5 to 10 times more cost effective for CO2-abatement. Thus, to the extent that investments in nuclear power divert funds away from efficiency, the pursuit of a nuclear response to global warming would effectively exacerbate the problem."

environment, environmentalism

March 17, 2011

Brotherhood of Man

Motorhead reminds you to get back in line:

And from the song "Brotherhood of Man":

We are worse than animals, we hunger for the kill.
We put our faith in maniacs, the triumph of the will,
We kill for money, wealth and lust, for this we should be damned.
We are disease upon the world, brotherhood of man.
environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism