August 2, 2012

Wind power promotes extractive industries

Reuters reports on the increasing demand for copper due to mandates requiring the building of giant wind turbines:

“Copper is used in wind turbine installations and for sub-sea cables that transfer power back to the grid. ... [W]ind turbines use 3.6 tonnes of copper per megawatt.”

A dissertation from England concludes that wind turbines use ~5.64 tonnes/MW capacity onshore and ~9.58 tonnes/MW capacity offshore.

See also:  “Green power LOVES chemicals” and “Green energy”.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

August 1, 2012

Seven Roadblocks to the Good Life: (4) Six Human Hungers Which Squander Resources, Time and Energy

Side by side with the six corrosives that devitalize human beings are six human hungers. Attempts to satisfy these hungers squander needed resources, consume time and use up energy that could be employed to greater advantage in other directions.

These hungers are for self-preservation; food and drink; sex satisfaction; power; something for nothing; soporifics. All six plead personal or social necessity as a justification for top priority. Over-indulgence in any or all of them warps, frustrates and cripples normal human functioning and prevents the rounded fruition of human life. All six demand attention, time and energy to a point at which the undisciplined individual is wholly involved and totally committed. Other aspects of life recede into the background until the satisfaction of particular human hungers enslaves the victim.

Food, drink, air, sunshine and sex are prerequisites to the continuance of human life. Without them there would be no life as we know it. All are essential elements in the preservation of the individual and the human race. They are the basis of life and are among the driving forces animating the individual and the race. Man shares these hungers with animals, birds and insects. They are general characteristics of terrestrial creatures.

In a previous section I commented on greed for power. Power hunger is easily stimulated in concentrations of population. The urge behind human hungers inheres in the individual. Sex satisfaction demands at least one partner. Power hunger is associated with population aggregates from the family to larger and more complex social groups.

Gambling (taking a chance on getting something for nothing) is an urge arising out of group life. Drug addiction stems from the effort to overcome pain, to compensate for nutritional imbalance, to off-set weariness and exhaustion or emotional disappointments, as an alternative to boredom.

Through the ages unscrupulous exploiters have used human hungers as a source of easy money. As society moved from a scarcity level to a level of abundance, crafty crooks and grasping businessmen have artfully stimulated human hungers by various forms of propaganda and cashed in on satisfying the hungers at top prices.

Urges to satisfy hungers arouse human beings and stimulate them to greater expenditures of interest and energy. Immoderate indulgence, especially in soporifics, diverts human beings from creative and social usefulness, makes them hapless victims of their animal appetites and denies them any effective role in broadening and ennobling human existence.

(from Chapter III, The Conscience of a Radical, Scott Nearing, Harborside, Maine: Social Science Institute, 1965)

Buy a copy of the book directly from The Good Life Center, Harborside, Maine.

[Click here for all seven roadblocks.]

USDA advocates, then denounces, vegetarian diet

As Mark Bittman reports in the New York Times, an internal newsletter at the USDA (“Greening Headquarters Update”, July 23, 2012) promoted not only “meatless Mondays” but even vegetarianism:
One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat. While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment. Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results.
Cowed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the USDA has renounced those facts and suppressed the newsletter. The NCBA complained that the USDA “does not understand the efforts being made in rural America to produce food and fiber for a growing global population in a very sustainable way”. Bittman notes
that meat is not fiber, that its industrial-style production is not sustainable by any normal definition, and that “agriculture” produces the food “Meatless Monday” advocates eat, too.
The only possible good that might come of the USDA's brief airing of the truth, if not their subsequent caving to corporatist pressure, is that reactionaries like Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Steve King, both of Iowa, have promised to hasten their own demises by doubling down on their corpse consumption every Monday.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, anarchism, ecoanarchism

July 31, 2012

Seven Roadblocks to the Good Life: (3) Six Corrosives Which Deplete Vitality

Human beings are unable to devote themselves to constructive and creative tasks because of six corrosives which deplete vitality. They are malnutrition, ill health (physical, mental, emotional), worry, anger, fear, and hatred. Each one of the six is present, to a greater or less degree, in every human life.

Food intake is one of the chief sources of human energy. The human organism, like any other functional apparatus, can operate only so long as it is adequately supplied with the necessary nourishment. Perhaps three-fifths of mankind attempts to survive on a diet that is insufficient in quantity. Many among the other two-fifths consume stale, processed, devitalized food which is lacking in nutritive value. Comparatively few people are aware of the need for correct food combinations. A rapidly increasing proportion of mankind is being actively poisoned by pollution of the water supply, by the use of chemicals in food processing, and by spraying and dusting foods with high-power poisons aimed at the prevention of food deterioration and at the destruction of harmful micro-organisms and vermin.

Resulting malnutrition leads to a crippling failure of energy. Continued over long periods it lowers vitality, impairs the efficiency of body tissues and organs and becomes a major factor in physical degeneration. Malnutrition is one of the chief causes of physical, mental and emotional disability. There is a direct relation between nutritional deficiencies and the mal-functioning of the human organism.

Ill health also can be caused by natal influences, by accidents, by contagions and infections, by the disintegration of the organism. Where these causes are sufficiently severe, they result in premature death; otherwise they use up vital energy, and force their victims to drag themselves about, suffering constant pain or to spend their days in wheel chairs or in bed.

Worry is hard to measure. There are chronic worriers who devote their lives to this futile practice. There are victims of occasional worry spells. Under stress, most people worry-devoting their attention and consuming their energies upon some imaginary situation which seldom or never actually arises.

Anger, fear and hatred are widely prevalent in the daily lives of human beings. All consume energy, lower vitality and detract attention from constructive and creative endeavors.

Corrosive factors which deplete human vitality should be avoided with the same care that one takes in avoiding collision with a tree, a wall or a moving vehicle. All detract from health and well-being. The normal, healthy individual attempts to avoid them as a matter of course. But mass poverty, mass infection and mass unemployment cannot be dealt with by individuals acting singly. They are social mal-adjustments. As such they can be handled effectively only by social plans and action programs aimed to revive the victims of social maladjustment and to make the changes necessary to remove the causes that undermine individual health and fitness and thus lower the levels of community well-being.

(from Chapter III, The Conscience of a Radical, Scott Nearing, Harborside, Maine: Social Science Institute, 1965)

Buy a copy of the book directly from The Good Life Center, Harborside, Maine.

[Click here for all seven roadblocks.]

Thoughts on Americanism and Freedom

When I was growing up in Florida some decades ago, the state required an “Americanism versus Communism” course in 11th grade. “Communism” meant not any economic system, but rather the totalitarian Soviet Union, and “Americanism” presumably its opposite — not only in the means of working towards achieving the universal aspirations of human society, but also in what those aspirations might be. Mostly, of course, the intention was to define Communism as all bad and Americanism as all good. (Our teacher subverted the state’s intention by teaching us a lot of Russian history and about world power politics. She used the official course guide as a spur to commentary and analysis. Today, illustrating how much freedom has been lost with the ascendancy of capitalism, it is unlikely that she could have gotten away with that.)

Americanism is the premise that market capitalism is the best means of securing individual freedom. At its most crude level, it is the belief that everyone striving to maximize his or her own acquisition of wealth ensures the most equitable distribution of wealth. (And too bad if you have other interests than such striving and acquisition — that’s your choice — or if you lack the advantages of the already wealthy — that’s just a greater spur.) The belief has followed that capitalism is synonymous with freedom; and consequently, that any social structure that limits the liberty of capital is an enemy of freedom itself.

Yet by definition, capitalism is a system of hoarding, such that the success of one requires the diminished wealth of many. The imperatives of Americanism require an imperial program of conquest and exploitation both to prevent socialist sharing and to expand wealth.

As more of the world is forced to live by the terms of Americanism, however, it must keep more of its own wealth. American capital must turn on its own citizens to maintain the level of hoarding it expects. Capitalism becomes the enemy of freedom, and Americanism reveals itself as fascism — no longer pretending to benefit the many and redoubling the myth that a weakening of the power of capital is a threat to the liberty of all.

The lie of American democracy also is revealed. Dissent that challenges the myth of Americanism is viewed as not just subversive, but even treasonous: a rebellious act of war. As for an alternate vision of individual freedom, secured by a social system that equitably shares the common wealth, that does not allow one individual or group to hoard while others suffer a lack of food, shelter, leisure, medical care, education, and economic security — such a vision can not be allowed publicity. Its proponents must be vilified as terrorists, whose aim is no less than to bring down the American way of life (which is true, as far as Americanism is a barrier to freedom and not its guarantor).

Politics in the U.S.A. forbids a challenge to Americanism. Only a tinkering with the capitalist myth is allowed, an occasional crumb when the people clamor for bread. One party continues to work to expand Americanism throughout the world, and the other party works to reinforce the equation of unfettered capital and individual freedom. Liberalism is the tool of the former, religion the latter’s weapon. Both muster the energies of self-righteousness and fear which characterize their cynical politics. Hand in hand, they protect capital and strengthen its power against the needs of the people. War — at home as well as abroad — is the price the people must pay for the freedom of capital. The approved parties must either minimize or deny, or deny as currently impractical, the fact that every expansion of popular freedom has been by the limitation of capitalist power.

human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

July 30, 2012

Seven Roadblocks to the Good Life: (2) Greed for Wealth, Prestige, Power

Webster’s dictionary defines greed as “an unsatiable desire to possess or acquire something to an amount inordinately beyond what one needs or desires.” I would modify this definition thus: greed is the desire to have more of a good, service, or experience after one has had a reasonable sufficiency. Greed violates the Greek slogan “nothing too much.”

Greed shows itself in five chief directions: getting and keeping goods and services; attracting attention to oneself; gaining recognition, prestige, status; attaining and maintaining security, and achieving and holding power.

Miserliness is the most extreme expression of greed for goods and services. The miser accumulates for the sake of accumulation, and short of extreme provocation he refuses to part with any of his hoard. In a society based on scarcity only a genius can reach this level of greed. In a modern, affluent society, however, the abundance and variety of goods and services makes it possible for even the rag-picker to acquire and accumulate more than he can use. Stories of beggars who die leaving valuable property and large bank accounts often make the news columns.

The average home in an industrialized community is littered, cluttered and stuffed with clothing, bric-a-brac, gadgets, utensils, appliances, most of which have no great aesthetic appeal and are seldom used. Despite this glut, the householder continues to acquire, greedily, as occasion offers.

Attracting notice to oneself is a second expression of greed. It begins in infancy and grows into extreme forms of egomania among adults. It is particularly prevalent in a society of potential abundance which measures success in life by the quantity and variety of possessions. “How much is he worth” means “how much has he accumulated.”

Greed finds a third outlet in the desire to gain and hold recognition, prestige, position, status. Status seeking and status keeping preoccupy people whose objective is to get ahead of others by climbing toward the top of the social pyramid.

Greed turned in the direction of power is usually called “ambition.” Power is the possibility of pushing others around, using others to advance the interests of the power-seeker, keeping others in a permanent position of subordination and, if possible, servility. The power-holder is able to satisfy his power urge by keeping the largest possible number of his fellows at his beck and call. In a private enterprise society the power-hungry gain and hold economic, political and social positions which enable them to say: “You work and I will enjoy the product of your labor.”

Greed for power may be seen in families, on school playgrounds, in the economy, notably in politics and in general social relations. It is found at all levels, local, regional, national.

Greed is one of the chief driving forces in an acquisitive society. The clever, the shrewd, the unscrupulous use their talents to get and keep more than their just share of life’s good things. By this unreasonable accumulation of material possessions the greedy separate themselves from their fellows and lay the foundations for a class and caste-divided society.

Greed is an essentially anti-social force. In an acquisitive society it not only has unique opportunities for expression but it absorbs attention, consumes energy and expresses itself in activities which are directed to the aggrandizement of one, rather than the advancement of general well-being.

(from Chapter III, The Conscience of a Radical, Scott Nearing, Harborside, Maine: Social Science Institute, 1965)

Buy a copy of the book directly from The Good Life Center, Harborside, Maine.

[Click here for all seven roadblocks.]

Wildlife consultants hired to find minimal wildlife impact

Westwood Professional Services was hired as wildlife consultants by National Wind to find no threat to eagles from their proposed wind energy plant in Goodhue County, Minnesota. A presentation by Rob Bouta of Westwood Professional Services, titled “Wildlife Consultants: Narrowing the Gap between Wildlife Agencies and Wind Energy Developers”, clearly shows the fact that their interest is not in reducing — let alone preventing — risks to wildlife but in reducing the developer's risk of losing financing and approval by minimizing the perception of risks to wildlife with the appearance of objective science. Some excerpts:
Goal of Wildlife Consultants
• Establish scientific credibility.
• Achieve an acceptable level of wildlife risk.
• Obtain agency approval or concurrence.

Scientific Credibility
• Consultants demonstrate or earn credibility
• Support conclusions with data
• Address concerns of neighbors
• Wildlife agencies have default credibility
• Viewed as experts by permitting agencies

How Much Does Science Matter?
• Permitting decisions are based on politics rather than science
• Perception is reality
• Null hypothesis of agencies: Presumed risk
• Influence the perception of decision makers

What Is Risk?
USFWS Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines:
• The likelihood that adverse impacts will occur to individuals or populations of species of concern as a result of wind energy development and operation.
Wind Energy Developers:
• Anything that threatens the likelihood that a wind project can be successfully designed, permitted, financed, and constructed.

Challenges and Obstacles
Affect potential for wind project financing:
• Wind turbine curtailment
• Agency requests viewed as project risks
• Requests for concurrence met with requests for more studies
wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, animal rights