Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This Just In: Wind Power Opponents Run Out of Wind-related Puns, Abandon Cause and Go Home

“When we first heard about the proposed wind turbines in Schoharie County we were outraged and immediately mobilized to fight against them” say’s Joe Blow of Against the Wind, a non-profit (5019(C) status pending) organization dedicated to fighting proposed wind power developments. A few weeks later, Will Gust, a life-long resident of Richmondville founded a weekly newsletter entitling it: “Clearing the Air”. The newsletter was designed to debunk the supposedly “green” nature of wind power.

Excited by the prospect of taking up a cause with such potential for clever headlines and sloganeering, the wind power opponents scoured the internet in search of evidence showing the deadly hazards of wind turbines. Apparently somewhere a wind turbine caught on fire spewing toxic fumes and lubricants into the atmosphere. As far as the wind power opponents knew, no innocent coal-fired generating plant or nuclear plant ever had such a mishap with such disastrous consequences.

And on the litany of charges went. One angry letter writer even suggested that the ultra-low frequency noise generated by wind turbines was responsible for causing coronary diseases. However, it would be unfair not to point out that in these cases, the possibility that these low frequency noises were generated by the activities of extra-terrestrials, paranormal hauntings, or top-secret governmental weather-controlling experiments could not be ruled out.

Soon however, these wind power opponents so filled with fury began to notice a decline in the number of catchy puns to serve as banners and slogans for their crusade. “I felt like somebody was taking the wind out of our sails” explains a once enthusiastic Joe Blow. “I searched and searched for potential wind puns, metaphors, idioms, double entendre and any and all manner of wordplay devices, but there was nothing left” claimed Will Gust. Finally, when one opponent, groping desperately for a wind-related pun, simply said “ahh, just blow me” to an audience of environmental scientists, energy policy specialists and engineers, they were a little less than “blown away” by the logic of his argument.

And so the crusade to fight against wind power development in Schoharie County petered out as its most vehement members failed to find the creative wordplay required to disguise a movement that simply has little more to offer than empty bluster and hot air.


Anonymous said...

fucking nimbyism

Anonymous said...

Once again you fail to post any worthy arguments for your unwaivering support. Are u for real or just on the Reunion payroll??

Heavy Dose of Reality said...

Here is some food for thought. The October 2007 National Geographic has a short essay, Carbon’s New Math by Bill McKibben describing how to cut carbon dioxide. I found it interesting that Princeton researchers Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala have described 15 “stabilization wedges” to help us realize the goal of reducing emissions with current technologies. Achieving 8 of the wedges would hold us at today’s emissions rate. Achieving 12 of the wedges could lower emissions 50 percent. Achieving more than 12 would help us reduce emissions further and hopefully new technologies will arrive too.

Here are the wedges:

1. Improve fuel economy of the 2 billion cars expected on the road by 2057 to 60 mpg from 30 mpg.

2. Reduce miles traveled annually per car from 10,000 to 5,000.

3. Increase efficiency in heating, cooling, lighting, and appliances by 25 percent.

4. Improve coal fired plant efficiency to 60 percent from 40 percent.

5. Introduce systems to capture CO2 and store it underground at 800 large coal-fired plants or 1,800 natural gas-fired plants.

6. Use capture systems in coal derived synthetic fuel plants producing 30 million barrels a day.

7. Use capture systems at coal derived hydrogen plants producing fuel for a billion cars.

8. Replace 1,400 large coal fired plants with natural gas fired plants.

9. Displace coal by increasing production of nuclear power to 3 times today’s capacity.

10. Increase wind-generated power to 25 times current capacity.

11. Increase solar power to 700 times current capacity.

12. Increase wind power to 50 times current capacity to make hydrogen for fuel-cell cars.

13. Increase ethanol biofuel production to 50 times current capacity. About 1/6th of the world’s cropland would be needed.

14. Stop all deforestation.

15. Expand conservation tillage to all cropland (normal plowing releases carbon by speeding decomposition of organic matter).

Pick the 12 you want and also consider that China builds a new coal-fired plant every week or so and you should get a better understanding of the enormous change in the world that must take place in some opinions. To me, building anything in new areas seems silly at this stage because it involves disturbing the environment when there is so much more to be done with existing projects. I want to see some major work on getting 8 wedges achieved that do not involve disturbing new areas. You decide for yourself. I say before going around advocating to build wind turbines in new areas we should work on driving our autos around less, achieve better fuel efficiency, get farmers to practice conservation tillage, put solar panels on all flat roof buildings, increase energy efficiency and work on some of the other wedges that can be done without intruding on backyards. I personally fail to see the logic in doing the more disruptive activities first when we have made little effort to accomplish the lesser impact wedges and developing countries are only increasing the problem. And if you really want to make a difference and reduce reliance on foreign oil stop driving your auto around or flying from place to place so much. Take a look at your own lifestyle and make some changes before complaining about f*ing NIMBYs. This is a huge problem that is difficult to comprehend. Get in your car and drive by the wind turbines if it makes you feel good but you are only kidding yourself unless you think a lot of the other wedges can be achieved too and you are ready to do something about it.

Sean Thomas said...

Fine, my only problem with your argument is that it assumes that some of these goals will be easier or less-disruptive than developing wind power. You can't really improve fuel economy without forcing people to sacrifice big cars, you think that'll be easy? Who's going to pay to put solar panels on all flat-roof buildings? Look, these are all great ideas but don't use them as a wedge between wind power supporters and environmental sustainability.

All of these ideas have a part to play, and I frankly don't see how implementing one rather than the other will be less disruptive to our current lifestyles. You wonder why we have failed to accomplish the so-called "lesser impact" solutions, well the answer is simple: people scream bloody murder when we try anything that might make our society more sustainable.

Try implementing any of the wedges listed below and I'm sure at least one group will come out of the woodwork to protest it for one reason or another. The simple fact is that there are no simple answers, and pretending that there are merely drives a wedge between people who want to seriously address these problems and people who want to BS about them.

heavy dose of reality said...

None of the wedges are easy, only some are less disruptive to the environment. I do not care if it disrupts a lifestyle in terms of paying more for an appliance or living in a smaller house. Some automaker not building a big car is something that can and should be regulated and it will not be disruptive to our existing forests and hills, solar can be installed and it is less disruptive if installed on existing buildings. There are actions that are less disruptive, but the problem is it won't make someone money. How about refocusing the inland wind development push to solar?

There is excessive greed in this country and people only want more and more and bigger and better. Sadly the "people that want to seriously address the problems" have business and financial degrees instead of environmental ones. The less disruptive actions may mean spending or making less money instead of just making it and then the companies are the ones screaming to the politicians who in turn respond with what we have today. My argument is simple - put some hard focus on the possible solutions that do not involve building brand new facilities in relatively untouched areas. I won't shed a tear if this means FORD can't come out with a six door pickup truck for an urbanite.

We are also arguing about an issue on a larger scale then how it is being treated in the Cobleskill area. In this area it comes down to who will make the money off of something no one else gets anything from. I'm sure a lot of folks would be more apt to embrace wind if the region was getting some benefit directly instead of powering the McMansions downstate. That means showing a company like Reunion the door (for the time being) and working on using the wind resource from a different angle.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that you can just burry carbon underground without that having horrible consequences? Just think about that whole process for a minute and then decide if that is really a viable solution. Also do you realize how coal is mined. One strip mine does a hell of a lot more damage than one wind farm without taking into consideration the transportaion of the coal to all the different sites and then the burning of the coal itself. Wind power is not the only answer but it can greatly reduce our dependencey on fossil fuels which we need to do now not in the year 2057.

Anonymous said...

Sounds great - in theory. Unfortunately wind power is not reliable enough and still needs to be backed up by nasty coal and nuclear. So all that gets accomplished is the disturbance of more of the environment in the name of getting more and more power. It is all more complicated than I wish to get into right now. We should try conserving energy before resorting to these tactics and then it may not be best to place wind turbines near residences. How about harnessing the wind in the ocean, desert, or plains? How about helping developing countries build renewable power plants instead of coal plants? How about scaling down the size of structures instead of building the tallest, biggest, etc... of everything?

Sean Thomaston said...

All great ideas. However, let's not hold our breath waiting for the most radical and unlikely solutions to the exclusion of energy alternatives (however flawed) that are currently being incentivized and implemented. I am not drinking the wind industry's kool-aid, I'm merely saying let's not crap all over something because it isn't perfect. At the same time, it's exactly this kind of criticism that pushes the envelope and prevents complacency with solutions that are obviously not the be all and end all of alternative energy. So by all means let's keep the discussion going, but leave room for the possibility that right now some investment in wind energy might not be that bad of an idea.

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