Even unscrupulous braggarts can be fundamentally right about a topic or two. Donald Trump, despite his crassness and pro-development attitude, was telling core truths about industrial wind power long before the 2016 Presidential election. His motives didn’t have to be pure to describe the obvious. The public had been brainwashed by “clean energy” rhetoric associated with progressive causes, enabling widespread desecration of scenery. It caught many people off guard when the blight rapidly accelerated in Europe and under Obama’s PTC.
Trump’s public involvement started when he opposed an offshore wind project that would blight views from his Aberdeen area golf course (map), which itself was under scrutiny for covering shoreline sand dunes. There was also local opposition to the wind farm but environmentalists focused on protecting the dunes. Many have turned a blind eye to Scotland’s growing wind power blight as urgent CO2 targets are chased. See videos of Trump facing Scotland’s Parliament and getting nothing but smug attitudes despite articulate experts testifying with him. The wind industry treats iconic landscapes like graffiti walls and Loch Ness residents now fear encroaching wind monsters, much realer than their mythic beast.
Someone famous needed to call out the environmental hypocrisy and Trump was it, but he’s tarnished the anti-wind-power movement during a critical phase where subsidies may not be extended. Whenever he speaks you can imagine greentech nerds smirking over “installed capacity” on some ruined horizon. The only places safe from new wind projects are either windless, officially designated as scenic from many angles, obvious flyways for birds & bats, or capable of angering enough landowners. Even though backlash is growing, the world faces an increasingly ugly future as civilization pretends to right its wrongs.
The documentary, “You’ve Been Trumped” (2011) covered the golf course dunes dispute. It was depicted as greedy old Trump vs. Nature, while a much bigger wind power invasion of Scotland and other countries was in full swing. Trump’s golf course is a relative blip compared to the total scope of land alteration. Both the dune-protectors and Trump were losers in that case, and nature loses to energy sprawl daily. People have built wind turbines directly amid sand dunes (below) and just about anywhere they can get away with it. Calling it green on the flimsy premise that it’s “fighting” fossil fuels (which allow it to exist) is the very sort of lie Trump would tell!
Using the logical fallacy of guilt by association, Trump is continually mocked for daring to criticize a “renewable energy” technology, with emphasis on his comments about birds and cancer. At rallies and conferences, he’s said that wind turbines are ugly, killing all the eagles, and actually cause cancer. It’s automatically assumed in politically-correct crowds that he’s lying or grossly exaggerating, since wind turbines still have a “green” sheen through extensive lobbying. They’re not killing all eagles (yet) and his cancer correlation should have focused on noise which can weaken immune systems and lead to greater disease risk. But many ecologists and rural residents definitely find them ugly in all types of landscapes. A barrage of subjective hype from wind shills won’t change what we can plainly see and hear.
2020 Presidential candidate Jay Inslee said of Trump: “Wind turbines do not cause cancer, they cause jobs.” He was cherry-picking Trump’s most dubious criticism while ignoring other big negatives. Inslee is a classic “bright green” progressive who thinks technology and rebranded growthism can fix everything. With that mindset comes denial of wind power’s big energy sprawl problem. As a long-time Washington Congressman, then Governor, he was OK with the southeast corner of his state being overrun by huge pinwheels and blinking red lights. The other end of the Columbia River has been under threat from the Whistling Ridge Energy Project which has more urbanites within its viewshed and may not happen. Scenery aside, Inslee’s job-creation angle is misleading, since wind projects generally bring in outside specialists with relatively few permanent local jobs. Emphasizing jobs as the gospel of progress also promotes economic growthism, which is what led to climate change in the first place. Most politicians will not touch that subject.
In time, as more turbines are built, Trump’s statements today will seem prescient, and he’s hardly the only one concerned. Even his rants about “fake news” have some merit in wind energy’s spun context. Highly intrusive due to their extreme size and acreage-needs, wind projects are no less harmful to the environment than any large structures displacing nature’s physicality, but they’re worse because of stark contrast with rural environs, like having Sky Whirl triple Ferris wheels all over the countryside, and much taller. Wind factories also require vast new road networks and forest clear-cuts, and their impact on birds and bats is well documented, despite industry attempts to understate it. Corpses are often eaten or dragged away; impossible to fully count over tens of thousands of acres per facility. Calling wind turbines “beautiful” is absurdly subjective if you see what environmentalists used to protect from bulldozers and chain saws.
If Trump proves that wind power is GOOD, Charles Manson proves that environmentalism is BAD. His general derangement didn’t debunk his deep ecology views, which were echoed by the likes of Arne Næss (as fair-minded as you’ll find). Trump is no Manson, just a greedy megalomaniac, but you don’t mock a logical message simply because the messenger is unpleasant. Almost everyone has valid views on certain topics, hard as it can be to admit. If Trump manages to slow the growth of wind power, the end could justify the means, especially since it’s doing very little to offset fossil fuels and can never replace them.
End note on Trump: Though his stance on fossil fuels and the EPA is unscientific and dangerous, he cuts to the chase on various important issues, including non-assimilating immigrants and the unpatriotic outsourcing of jobs. Few politicians are willing to say “Our country is full,” even if Trump is still in denial of overpopulation, ecologically. A leader with similar views, who didn’t conduct himself like a reckless teenager, could actually do some good in the world. It’s too bad Trump has shown few signs of maturing during his White House stay. Re-electing him would be a yuuge mistake, but we sure don’t need the Green New Deal either.
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Starting around 20 years ago, some otherwise intelligent people began asking whether we might live in a simulation created by computers. In other words, completely fake reality conjured by devious entities. You’d not even know you were unreal. The idea was triggered by advancements in video games, CGI, and specifically “The Matrix,” which accelerated paranoia among conspiracy theorists, followed by people who ought to know better. The latter use disclaimers to appear sane, but some take it seriously.
At first, second and third glance, the whole thing reeks of blind faith in technology and chronic detachment from nature. Yes, there are visually impressive video games and 3D immersive experiences, but that’s all they’ll ever be in the world outside of Silicon Valley or Hollywood. The simulation hypothesis is the latest stretch of thinking that places people and machines above the very laws of nature. It’s the embodiment of a God complex. Anthropocentric arrogance prevails over everything, including “green” ideology.
Here’s why a simulated planet or universe defies logic:
Who or what built the computers, and what materials, energy and social structure maintains them? Just like the (planet-bound) “100% renewable energy” fallacy, no machine can exist or replicate in a vacuum.
Where do these creatures or entities live, if not on an actual planet? If they are actually us, it gets even nuttier, like looking at endless mirrored reflections.
Why would they go to such lengths? The notion that someone wants to “control us” can be explained by banal things like marketing. There’d be no logical gain in making a virtual society, just twisted entertainment for someone.
No computer is 100% reliable, even the combination of millions networked online, so the system would occasionally crash. Billions of people would notice* something’s wrong, as would other species caught up in a simulation.
Why would the makers allow accidents, diseases and the pitfalls of aging in a virtual environment? If it was done for a serious purpose you’d think they’d strive for Utopia. But if it’s all unreal, why would it even matter? The conflicts are endless.
Why would they allow numerous environmental problems to escalate or begin in the first place? A “runaway simulation” is absurd because the very capability of creating it should allow parameter controls. Someone could shut it down if it got ridiculous.
How can countless discrete instances of self-awareness* exist in a computer? Simulating an external environment is one thing, but so many different selves wandering around is a tall order, including the minds of other animals. As with belief in ghosts, people get confused by entertainment media vs. things they’ve truly seen.
Scientists have already debunked the hypothesis with other types of reasoning, if one needs more detail. Being dazzled by computer power doesn’t make Moore’s Law infinite, and YouTube will eventually run out of server space, if the power even stays on. People treat fallible systems like bedrock just because they still happen to work.
If someone insists we’re actually living in a simulated world (no less crazy than solipsism) they ought to join the Flat Earth club as well. Wild concepts distract people from pressing problems on a real planet with too many distractions already.
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“Do people pretend to be Saving The Planet while simply rebranding business as usual? People DO.” (Chevron ad satire)
As a hasty response to Republicans’ climate and fossil fuel myopia, Democrats are pushing the “Green New Deal” which claims to be pro-environment but looks like the biggest industrial invasion of rural lands & oceans ever conceived. Acreage thought to be immune from development would be wide open to exemptions under a Clean Energy banner. Trump’s attacks on national monuments were already outdone by Obama’s fast-tracked wind energy blight. There’s a new psychological construct wherein a technology is only dirty if it directly emits smoke or CO2. Both the material chain of its existence and its physical intrusion on nature are wished away.
The core problem with “clean energy” is the scale of weak, intermittent sources trying to replace dense, reliable sources (oil, gas and coal) which inconveniently build the weaker infrastructure. A common term for this is energy sprawl and it’s already happening, but the GND would speed it up while adding costly social agendas. Wind power blight has been covered at length here (1, 2) but the solar component of rural uglification is increasing. Well-meaning environmentalists are in denial about this new sprawl, which they frame as a special case. You can’t just put new wind turbines on brownfields, nor can you only see them from there. They must know this.
Before environmentalists sold their souls to techno-fixes, few would link BIGNESS with greenness, like praising Glen Canyon dam or maximizing the Atlantic Ocean’s generating capacity. Had the Internet existed in the 1980s, conscientious searchers would be dismayed by thousands of hits for MASSIVE NEW PROJECTS linked to pro-environment causes. The word MASSIVE brings images of invasion and disruption, which is exactly what’s happening to our last open spaces. Even when they just invade farmland (considered “developed”) they kill the former feeling of openness. Invert wind turbines and you’ve got a claustrophobic H.G. Wells scenario, including red lights at night. Those who praise them the most rarely live among giants.
A MASSIVE NEW WIND FARM is about to go online! This clean energy project created new jobs and economic growth, which is always good for the planet, of course. Don’t be alarmed because fossil fuels built it and it resembles urban sprawl. It’s different this time because we call it Green.
Due to the paucity of wind and sun in broad regions, new transmission corridors are needed, like the planned 780-mile Grain Belt Express Clean Line; a relatively benign example where pristine wilderness isn’t crossed. Unfortunately it’s planned as an overhead series of pylons, despite using new HVDC technology. Underground power lines have cost & maintenance issues, so most hidden lines are necessitated by lakes or oceans. When wild areas are targeted, politically-pressured environmentalists who normally fight clearcuts and lost carbon sinks may have to cave in. Constant attempts are made by wind companies to build in or near wilderness, which usually requires new power lines. Projects at Steens Mountain, OR and Crescent Peak, NV were rebuffed, but pressure will mount, just as it did with the fracking invasion.
The fallacy of “100% Renewable Energy” has become the cornerstone of progressive energy policies and needs to be called out. It’s based on carbon credits posing as “zero carbon” through accounting tricks and venture capital. RE100 is physically impossible with any known technology but the story’s been repeated too often to be quickly debunked. Shiny objects fool people who don’t trace their history. Not one wind turbine or solar panel has been built solely with energy from its kind, and ERoI will always matter in the physical world. When you debate supporters of these projects you often get vague answers about scaling and net energy factors. They don’t want to know because they’ve latched onto something new and it must be better.
Imagine a committee of Green New Dealers writing an open letter to The Planet:
Dear Planet Earth:
We’re embarking on an ambitious plan to free the world from fossil fuels and stop climate change while employing the poor in new industries for a bright green future. This will allow us to solve serious energy problems, clean our air & water, and lift people of color out of poverty, all in one cohesive plan.
Imagine the countryside glistening with beautiful solar lakes and unimaginably tall white forests, far more attractive than grim derricks and gray tailings, and even some living trees. Spin, Baby, Spin! We’ll show nature that we can coexist with it while changing only what we need to. The key is proper siting, and we’ve got plenty of space for that, according to Smart Growth planners. There’s also lots of room for immigrants in our diverse melting pot. Green growth is much different than standard growth-based capitalism.
On the social front, millions of misunderstood urban youth who once dealt drugs, tagged bridges and bumped bass will be happily cleaning solar panels and climbing wind turbines as they spread cool new 3D graffiti and move tasteful infrasound beats into farm & mountain country. These efforts will create countless jobs along with social justice and economic parity. It’s a win-win for nature and people.
We’re obligated to note that these green projects use quite a bit of space, so you’ll have to travel some distance on vacation to see unaffected vistas. But don’t worry, National Parks will remain mostly intact and you’ll get there in electric cars with a 500-mile range! It’s all good. Furthermore, there will be a number of casualties in terms of birds, bats and other displaced species, but special breeding centers will mitigate losses. They may not fly as freely but they’ll be grateful for our help.
We fully expect Planet Earth to understand our wonderful new undertaking and we can hardly wait to get rid of all those ugly coal mines! Below is a sneak preview of Earth’s future using samples from the present. Just imagine this multiplied manyfold (in carefully sited locations). It’s Green so it’s all good!
Scroll down to see just a small fraction of our b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l green future!
OK, enough scrolling and back to reality. If the above looks like a bunch of un-green, bloated construction projects pretending to save the planet, you’re not mistaken. Quoting a famous rocker before climate fears buried aesthetic values, “How can everyone see it and yet be so blind?” The same capacity for denial that causes some people to ignore environmental problems makes others think they’ll be solved by the species that created them. It always comes down to building more stuff all over the place, never true conservation or personal restraint.
Earth, good luck with the Green New Deal if it ever gets fully implemented. This reluctant Democrat can’t support it. See “Roadmap to Nowhere” for one of the better take-downs of the whole scheme.
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What sort of ignorant conspiracy-nuts would look at a scene like that and blame it entirely on lack of logging or “job-killing” water regulations while refusing to acknowledge global warming as a major factor? Who would keep parroting rationalizations like “the climate’s changed before” with chronic resistance to established facts and the latest insights?
Stubborn right-wing idiots, that’s who. With all due respect to conservatives who can see the world beyond money, let’s call these people what they really are. We need to thin the deniers, not the trees (housing sprawl justifies understory fire-suppression). It’s long past the point where debates about man-made environmental problems are a case of “agree to disagree.” There’s a swamp of avarice badly in need of draining.
Here are some typical right-wing views on the environment, loaded with greed, pettiness and evil:
They think the economy must grow indefinitely, spurred on by the weakest possible environmental regulations. It’s a mindset of making money and destroying anything that lacks a utilitarian or recreation purpose. They see wilderness-preservation as an economic impediment, unless of course hunting is allowed. Everything’s about human wants, with no intrinsic respect for nature. Zinke under Trump and Watt under Reagan are prime examples of that attitude.
They decry immigration (wise in a carrying-capacity context) yet defund contraception for impoverished nations, which could actually reduce the pressure. They’d rather build yuugely expensive walls to support resource-guzzling, make-work construction jobs. Their ability to grasp root causes and effects is limited by archaic beliefs and small-mindedness.
Mindless global warming denial is an automatic response from Republicans. CO2 supposedly disobeys the laws of physics just for them. Some of the smarter ones acknowledge the science but would rather tow the party line and keep the threat vague, or throw free-market solutions at it. They “forget” that the free-market necessitated the EPA after decades of industry inaction. They now support filth-mongers like Trump, bent on crippling the EPA’s taken-for-granted progress.
A number of them literally hate nature and take pride in pillaging it. Look in any comment section on endangered species articles and you’ll find some GOP dirtbag wanting a cost-benefit analysis of its very existence, wishing it gone for economic expedience. “Wipe your ass with a spotted owl” was a popular white trash slogan, as if decimating forests is a good thing. If that’s not an evil, sadistic attitude, what is? Creationism is common among that ilk, with emphasis on “subdue” in Genesis 1:28. One species, arrogant under God, united to destroy.
They call themselves “pro-life” yet won’t enact common sense gun laws and enjoy killing non-human life for entertainment. They’re eager to shoot anything they can label a pest or game animal, often just to test new firearms or bows. The true motives of quasi-hunters have become very clear with online media sharing. Here’s what many “sportsmen” are up to, grinning all the while.
When a right-winger lies about humans having minimal impact, or talks about “plenty of land remaining,” refer them to Google Earth time-lapse imagery. Start by showing them lands with so-called sustainable logging and watch them go silent. Forests are constantly being pillaged because the population never stops growing. The process is also known as “job creation” among those who respect no other benchmark.
This was written while surrounded by forest fire smoke, which gets one thinking about mass stupidity and denial as a political agenda. Don’t just blame the likes of Trump, blame your neighbors who thought he was fit to lead and supported his anti-EPA, monument-shrinking agenda. The current POTUS is merely the latest incarnation of a piss-on-nature mentality that Reagan kicked into high gear. People like that have been around since America was founded, and exist all over the world. They should be corralled in the foulest possible cities while decent people try to do the actual RIGHT thing.
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“There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation.” – Herman Daly
Too many cards are stacked against saving nature from human greed, hunger and environmental apathy. The evidence is clear when you get past the veneer of endless hope, techno-fixes and greenwashing. We should just admit it and drop the ruse of “sustainability” as more people consume more resources each day. Nature is under a long-term siege because “The Economy” demands it. A POTUS was elected on an EPA-gutting mandate while environmentalists engage in overpopulation-denial to avoid offending immigrants. Rare leaders who promote serious conservation are seen as weak, or enemies of individual freedom (to take as one pleases). Manifest Destiny still prevails, framing wilderness as a place to be feared more than respected. People actually trying to save the biosphere are caught in an expanding charade that bows to economic growth. Wise people should certainly keep trying, but not with optimistic rhetoric that ignores root causes and placates the masses.
Humans are genetically programmed to overcome nature’s hazards simply to stay alive. This includes ruthless survival tactics like lying and cheating to gain advantage. For many centuries these traits had limited impacts on ecosystems, then fossil fuels greatly amplified our ability to harm nature while also enabling a population explosion. The expansion of technology and consumerism turned us from survivors into destroyers. Even well-meaning people behave as if the power balance never shifted from nature to Man. They were born into a system that served their post-industrial ancestors and assume it must be “the way of the world,” so they keep obeying primal instincts in outdated context. They’ll say things like “what a crazy system!” as in fun-crazy instead of terminally corrupt. Some never contemplate the growing scale of human impact or simply don’t care. “People are basically good” doesn’t explain the true state of the world. The belief that God will decide when humans have gone too far is foolish since hardships occur with or without prayer. Christians who practice Creation Care are at odds with Genesis 1:28 and similar Bible passages.
Some conservatives gloat about polluting and pillaging nature, combining ignorance with evil. They also call environmentalism “socialism” when regulations cramp their style. The greedy see greed-control as liberty-infringement. The history of tetraethyl lead in gasoline is typical of toxicity driven by expediency. Its inventor also introduced CFCs, so “big government” regulations have saved many lives. Meanwhile, many liberals who claim to be Green are so concerned about being fair to other cultures that they ignore blatant problems like overpopulation and criminality. Or they push destructive technology like IWTs to protest coal, etc. This complex combination of greed and naivety prevents intelligent policies from being carried out on a meaningful scale. The wealthy may think they’re above nature’s laws while the poor often trash their surroundings, e.g. homeless camps, nonexistent regulations in third-world countries and tropical deforestation. “Environmental & social justice” overlooks shared flaws in human nature. Growing numbers of people from all ranks are stifling environmental progress.
In crude but accurate terms, this is how a lot of people think:
I need stuff to live, so don’t question how I make money to get it. I’m special!
Hey, look at their stuff! I need some of that to boost my image and reputation.
I’ll do whatever it takes to get it, so screw the environment if need be. People first!
Is it wise to destroy your very life-support system to accomplish this? (voice of reason)
Look, I gotta feed my kids so get off my case. The guv’mint/tree-huggers just want to control me!
The conversation ends there because they won’t rise above their CYA programming.
Modern cultures are obsessed with economic growth, business and being busy with an industrious, industrial attitude. Action for its own sake is favored over letting things be. Slogans like “work hard, play hard” and “no limits” defy conservation and restraint. Most modern work depletes resources and the mantra of progress is to constantly build something, either physically or monetarily. It’s considered lazy to halt the grind and let nature recover, except temporarily for fallow fields, clearcuts or overfished waters. Everything’s about stock indices, housing-starts and production capacity, measured in flawed GDP terms. The ethos of “hard work” is seen as moral, regardless of what’s being sacrificed. One can feed a family designing war machines, or with barely ethical FIRE Economy schemes, including pyramids and Ponzis. Environmental shortcuts are inevitable in difficult, dirty jobs like mining, drilling, logging, construction and vehicle repair. The unnatural tedium and effort creates a mindset of “dump it in the creek so we can go home.” Workers are told to be grateful for miserable slogs that serve 24/7 manufacturing cycles and superfluous marketing, and union-busting is the trend. Countless jobs require hustling, lying and searching for loopholes, with no shortage of sleazy people willing to do it. Also, the words build and produce are not defined honestly. People merely convert nature into forms convenient to our species with little regard for balance. True production is growth without depletion, like plants fertilized by natural decay. Finite replenishment cycles have been replaced by the infinite allure of fiat money.
To ostensibly stop all this depletion, the term “renewable energy” gets thrown around, but it’s mostly a new spin on business-as-usual. Man has greatly escalated urban sprawl with things like industrial wind power, discussed at length in other posts here. The main differences between today’s “renewable” and non-renewable sources are partial energy offsets and green slogans. With the exception of dependable, high-ERoI sources like hydroelectric and geothermal, little of the infrastructure is viable without finite fossil fuels and mined raw materials for construction, maintenance and replacement. Greenwashing has millions of naive people convinced that destroying nature to preserve society is reasonable, so hard questions about overpopulation and restraint are unanswered by public policy.
Thanks to an artificial money system, people are the only species that keeps depleting finite resources to make a living. Money is seen as a resource unto itself rather than contrived compensation, thus physical commodity limits are disrespected. Other species don’t need to invent financial schemes merely to stay alive. They used to live in balance until we disrupted ancient systems and replaced them with unnatural growth. The mandate to constantly create jobs and build something (“green” or otherwise) drives most modern enterprises. Deliberate job-creation accommodates a surplus of labor and overpopulation. Intrinsically necessary work wouldn’t have to be schemed up or funded with credit, and it wouldn’t create landscapes that resemble mold growth.
True sustainability looks a lot like primitive hunting and gathering. Understandably, few want to revert to that lifestyle, except with temporary gestures backed up by modern gear. There’s a lot of contextual denial among sandaled “back to nature” types. If everyone tried to hunt, fish or survive on backyard farms, we’d quickly learn that agribusiness and dense livestock are the only practical way to feed huge populations. Many bushcraft practitioners make a living from videos these days. The worst hypocrites travel the globe killing wildlife as professional hunters, or enjoy the crass sport of bass fishing with speedboats. Look at how many jobs are based on recreation that mimics true needs from pre-industrial times. Nature needs to survive our growing harshness, not the converse; at least to the point where we destroy its ability to support us. It’s become a contest to see which happens first, Peak Oil or major AGW impacts, both of which are ignored by utilitarian commerce.
So-called victories for the environment tend to be islands in a sea of development, and have done relatively little to stop habitat fragmentation. A typical example is saving a few acres of trees as greenspace for an “intentional community.” It’s still a net loss for the forest, and later a nearby ridge could be logged, mined or covered with ugly wind turbines (more net losses). Our ability to develop and denude the planet went viral when fossil fuels made the work much easier. If you study the duties of environmental professionals, you realize they’re mostly cleaning up messes and shuffling population growth into different areas. They have no way to stop the source of the growth, and developers pay them for image-control. Urban planners plan for more destruction while calling it balance. Hands-on efforts like untangling animals from fishing lines or relocating endangered species make little difference as more people put pressure on nature. When root causes are addressed, it’s usually worded to not offend the human perpetrators. You can see why nothing really changes.
Some neo-environmentalists have taken fatalism too far, like terminally ill smokers who believe in reincarnation (examples: 1, 2, 3). They use the demented argument that we can never completely destroy nature (minus runaway nuclear war) therefore “the planet is fine” because nature will “recover” after we’re gone. The degree of recovery and “after we’re gone” date are kept vague to accommodate all future suffering they’ve rationalized as acceptable. Would today’s extinct or soon-to-be species get regenerated, Jurassic Park style, assuming there’s anyone left with such technology? Do they think quality of life now is meaningless to all the species lucky enough to have survived human impact so far? That includes us, you know! The whole narrative is arrogant anthropocentrism, i.e. forget the planet that allows us to live and rescue us from our sins in the absence of viable life-support.
Another twist on fatalism is asking “What are YOU doing about it?” whenever environmental topics come up. For example, a crusty rancher who denies global warming might brag about planting 100 trees, as if that proves he’s mitigating CO2 while you aren’t. It’s a tactic of those who view everything in terms of their own property, not the wider planet. Many people will never own enough land to personally restore it, but if they did they could plant 1,000 trees instead of building a rifle range. It’s all relative to personal leverage. The implication that you must single-handedly do something big or you should shut up about the environment is like saying don’t criticize murder unless you’re a cop who can prevent a few. Of course that’s an imperfect analogy because environmental damage is done by countless “good guys” per society’s standards.
Movies have widespread influence and apocalyptic themes are popular because people know something’s out of balance, but root causes are usually sidestepped. Most plots are sympathetic to human failings or go overboard with zombie plagues and alien invasions. Others use shock value by making overnight catastrophes out of slow-moving problems, e.g. “The Day After Tomorrow.” It ends up inspiring apathy because people see it as unrealistic. In the ecologically-aware 1970s, the film “Z.P.G.” tackled overpopulation but sympathized with people bucking efforts to stop it. A similar plot occurred in “Children of Men” where mass infertility could have been seen as a reprieve from environmental ruin. In the real world, economic recessions mandate conservation but are seen as negative. “They Live” tried to blame consumerism on aliens, with people as hapless victims. “WALL-E” was praised for its environmental message but the director said it was just a subplot. The viral-humans speech in “The Matrix” told the truth, yet a virtual reality cure was unacceptable. Human interest or anti-government themes tend to drown out pragmatic solutions. A society with gravitas about overshoot would face the topic head-on without endless tangents. “Soylent Green” was one of the few films that got to the point, and deserves a sequel. The “nobody cares” scene in “Silent Running” was also truthful. Many television documentaries present grim environmental warnings but usually stay polite to the perpetrators. Educating the public doesn’t help without personal accountability. Billions of complicit people will have to be offended at some point.
If people were seriously planning to save nature it would be echoed in the things they do and say every day, but most still talk about making money (from depletion) feeling good and staying entertained. Watch and listen to your neighbors and co-workers. They’re generally ego-driven, hedonistic and impatient, with nature as a mere backdrop for their scarce leisure time. They keep electing leaders with similar values, then blame them for societal ills. The relative few who make sacrifices for the environment (beyond token recycling) or live at a slower pace are seen as “not with the program.” The Internet provides some hope with an echo chamber of wise people fighting all this denial, but they’re vastly outnumbered. If you talk among average people about what’s really happening you’ll be called a doomer, or get blank stares as the subject is changed to something upbeat, especially at work where it’s understood that “we’re here to make money.” There’s little evidence that enough people care about their true source of life to protect it from profit-driven sprawl and banality. Let’s stop pretending the planet can be saved from us, by us.*
This page will be updated and reworded at random with new information. If you cite it, please post the link instead of a pasted snapshot. *Us means everyone who won’t practice personal restraint until it’s too late to matter.
“The human race does not have a very good record of intelligent behavior.” – Stephen Hawking
If you walk through almost any city you’ll see people idling their engines at zero MPG, often fooling with their smartphones or GPS devices. They seem oblivious to their surroundings and time itself. Sometimes it goes on for 30+ minutes, including situations where someone stands outside talking with the driver. Oil-wasters are easiest to spot at night when glowing screens and headlights give them away. Unsurprisingly, they waste bulbs like they waste oil, thinking “I’ll just buy more.” When the price of fuel is modest, idle-waste tracks with general apathy more than income. It’s a way of life in America; get inside, turn the key and don’t even think about where oil comes from as long as you can “afford the gas.” Gratuitous fuel squandering isn’t new but mobile entertainment has made it notably worse. The phenomenon peaks during extreme weather but it happens in all seasons and the apathy is obvious.
These wastrels could at least limit idling on hot and cold days by parking in the shade when possible, or blasting the heater before they park, letting residual heat linger inside. Also, a big 12-volt battery won’t get drained by charging a much smaller phone without the alternator. All it takes is some forethought and a general conservation ethic.
Many large pickup trucks are bought as crass status symbols or ego-boosters (similar to pseudo-hunting pursuits). Diesel drivers are known for excessive idling despite modern engines requiring much shorter warm-ups and turbo cool-downs. A number of them are wannabe semi-truck drivers who like the sound and torque aspects. Truck-stop idling itself is a major source of waste, though APUs are helping. The worst diesel offenders “roll coal” on other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. They’re scumbags but they’re also more honest than passive idlers in terms of environmental consequences. Overall, more fuel is wasted in cities due to sheer numbers of people. Country air is cleaner for lack of population density, not because residents put more effort into it. They take that for granted when they defy emissions controls with ego-mods, including removing catalytic converters to fight the EPA’s “back-pressure conspiracy.” Rural air would be even cleaner if fuel pumps had vapor recovery nozzles and two-stroke engines were phased out on thrillcraft. Average folk do things the cheapest, laziest way they can get away with.
Another common waste of fuel occurs at car dealerships and rental companies. An agent will walk up to a vehicle, open the door and immediately turn on the engine while describing its features. Are they trying to entice you to test drive it? With rental cars they already know you’ll be taking it, so why squander fuel you’ll have to replace anyhow? Techniques from the old days of looser engine tolerances still encourage pointless idling. In most weather you shouldn’t have to idle more than 10-30 seconds for full oil pressure. Engineering manuals suggest warming up by driving as soon as possible at moderate speeds, which warms the drivetrain along with the engine so it isn’t shocked by acceleration. Some claim that stopping and restarting a warm engine causes wear but there’s always a sheen of oil protecting the metal (otherwise, hybrid engines would fail prematurely). Remote starters are often abused as pointless gadgets rather than a warm-up method for very cold days. Cold starts have higher metal-on-metal risk but oil remains trapped in the rings overnight. Vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances have excuses for idling (to power equipment) but it can still be reduced. Chronic speeding is also a major source of waste. Efficiency plummets in top gear at speeds much over 60 MPH, and even hybrid drivers join mobs of tailgaters (Jevons paradox). Calculations vary, but Americans alone waste at least 300,000 barrels of oil per day.
The only thing that really makes average people conserve oil is a price increase, which they quickly forget if it falls again. Over-hyped reserves of oil-bearing shale and OPEC’s deliberate overproduction (to starve U.S. frackers) temporarily wiped the 2008 oil price spike from Americans’ memory, and they’ll be caught off guard when it returns. At the time of this posting, oil prices had crept back into the upper $60’s after being flat for many months. SUV and V8 sales had risen as prices dropped and placated the herd, but the world was burning upwards of 90 million barrels a day all the while. That’s oil we won’t get back (abiotic oil is a conspiracy theory). We’ll see how long this recent price increase holds, but anyone who claims oil is infinite doesn’t understand geological processes. Creationist fables are behind a lot of that thinking.
When the “official” Peak Oil finally hits, millions of people will be indignant at first. Being willfully ignorant of oil’s physical limits, they’ll try to blame scarcity on “lack of drilling,” even if rapacious EPA-haters are still in the White House. They refuse to see that the fracking of shale for oil and natural gas is not an actual increase in physical reserves. There’s less of it in the ground every second and it will cost more to extract as sources get tighter. The world can burn a billion barrels of oil in ten days, so don’t be impressed when some huckster hypes recent discoveries in the billions. Peak Oil deniers are invariably educated in finance, not geology. Pseudo-petroleum sources like kerogen are an ERoI fallacy, hyped into “trillions of barrels” by wild speculators. Also, renewable energy infrastructure like bloated wind turbines can’t exist without fossil fuels and “100% renewable energy” claims are deviously optimistic. Increased “production” of ancient, condensed resources just means people are getting desperate and using newer extraction methods. Horizontal drilling isn’t a major leap, just a refinement of old techniques, but it suits the “technology will save us” narrative. After a point, there’ll be no new tricks and nobody else to blame for the squandering of finite energy.
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“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” – Edward Abbey
Industrial wind turbines are arguably the most misguided, bloated technology ever invented. Instead of saving the planet, utilitarian zombies are sTaving it with carbon-dependent sprawl and dishonest slogans. It’s a staggering case of corporate greenwashing that was never thought through to its final outcome. The definition of an “environmentalist” has never been blurrier.
Windschmerz, a newly coined word*, describes the sinking feeling of witnessing a huge industrial plague being spun as good for the environment despite its obvious negative impacts. A good companion word is klugly (kludgy + ugly). Instead of constraining the human footprint with conservation and rooftop solar, Man decided to turn the countryside into industrial parks. If this urban mega-sprawl is the new environmentalism, nature has a slim chance of remaining intact anywhere the wind blows and power lines can reach. Wind power is so absurdly large that one can only look at it with profound disappointment or concoct stories about its “beauty” and “installed capacity” to distract from the obvious. Mainstream environmental groups have done exactly that. Whatever happened to “small is beautiful?” The Sierra Club, NRDC, The Union of “Concerned” Scientists, and even Audubon have sold out to platitudes like “wind is a vital part of our energy mix” (despite its futility as a fossil fuel replacement) and “they can be carefully sited” (despite growing protests as unsullied views run out). Something is rotten in Windmark when self-proclaimed environmentalists chide people for lamenting the replacement of natural horizons with spiky machines.
Even though it’s the environmental equivalent of trying to prevent arson with vandalism, wind power has a momentum that’s hard to control because an Environmental-Industrial Complex has grown around it, propped up with slick cover stories. When thousands or millions of jobs depend on something, moral objectivity becomes nearly impossible. A whole government/industry PR machine is dedicated to pretending these giants are midgets.
Windschmerz is a variant of the German word weltschmerz (world pain or sadness) focused on a specific technology that’s destroying nature while claiming to save the planet. Germany has been a test-case for this misguided form of progress with its Energiewende mandate. They went all the way with their landscape holocaust, driven by a zeal reminiscent of an earlier one. Germany’s scenic legacy has effectively been exterminated, especially in northern regions. Just as with earlier extremism, they mostly sat by and let it happen. They’ve built over 30,000 wind turbines (density equivalent of 826,000 in America) with little net CO2-reduction, due to additional carbon sources needed to back up wind, and social factors like the Jevons paradox. Germany serves as a scale model (or omen) for energy sprawl nightmares like the Green New Deal.
Are there any safe vistas now? Even if remote areas are spared, millions of acres of “near wilderness” on the outskirts of cities must remain intact to avoid a world that feels completely urbanized. Such lands are under constant threat as UGB zoning laws are weakened for utilitarian purposes. The industry seems happy to keep trashing scenery and wildlife until these eyesores are too thick for even the most deludedGreens. It used to be conservatives who didn’t respect landscapes but liberals have been successfully brainwashed by these scenery-eaters. It happened on the sly without adequate warning, mainly in Europe at first. Machine overpopulation gets similar reactions to denials of human overpopulation. “Isn’t this how modern life is supposed to be?” But, like the frog in a pot of water analogy, the masses will someday wake up and ask “What the hell happened to all the scenery?”
The desert is especially at risk because greentechies consider it “wasted space” that mu$t be used for utilitarian purposes. The animation below is part of the Alta Wind Energy Center east of Tehachapi, CA, which has held the record for biggest wind project in America. Another large area along I-10 north of Palm Springs has long been an ugly IWT experiment, blighting views of San Gorgonio mountain. Arid Texas landscapes are littered with vast wind turbine armies; no surprise, given their anti-environmental legacy. Texas shows that the nuts & bolts of wind power are hardly liberal anymore. One of the most inappropriate (“carefully sited”) locations is Spring Valley, roughly 8 miles northwest of Great Basin National Park, NV and half that distance to a major bat cave. There was a temporary shut down for bat-kills and biased workers can’t be trusted to track mortality.
The existence of eagle take permits shows that these “100% Renewables” icons are sanctioned to kill, despite industry attempts to deny the problem. Researchers are trying to trick eagles with sounds (on top of existing noise) to help them avoid wind turbines, but they ought to question the very existence of flyway gauntlets. Wind factories kill scenery along with wildlife and have been futile at reducing CO2. Their biggest pragmatic function is a construction industry gravy train. Big Wind claims that mitigation efforts will eventually work but the very premise of keeping birds and bats out of vast areas is implausible. The very existence of huge machines in flyways can discourage birds from using some routes, but that’s a Faustian benefit! Wind turbines are intruders, period. You have to either stop building them or accept that further carnage is inevitable and drop the “green” lie.
There are several ways people create unnatural landscapes:
Gouging or drilling, e.g. mining, blasting, roads and wells.
Removing plant cover with logging, farmland plowing, etc.
Building structures for cities, factories and energy production.
Wind energy projects do all of the above except for deep drilling, and they are now the tallest structures in rural areas, especially on mountaintops which amplify their long-range visibility. The starkness of their contrast to natural surroundings is not just about size. Nothing else on that scale catches the eye with rotation, plus the shadow-flicker it creates. Mandatory red lights also intrude on skies that never had them. Wind power advocates downplay those obvious impacts, and ride on the psychological notion that anything (appearing to) fight carbon must not be causing harm. It’s a very narrow definition of harm, convenient to the industry’s agenda of grabbing subsidies for new construction projects.
Here are structures that environmentalists have routinely protested:
BILLBOARDS (nowhere near the scale of industrial wind turbines)
ROADS (wind turbine access roads encourage other intrusions in wild areas)
HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS (aka urban sprawl)
SKI LIFTS (similar to wind energy’s impacts on mountains, but much smaller)
CELLULAR TOWERS (even 80-foot ones can spoil a view)
SMOKESTACKS (resemble wind towers sans blades and are less numerous)
TRANSMISSION LINES and TOWERS (commonly called PYLONS in Europe)
RADIO ANTENNAS (gray, skinnier, don’t stand out like wind turbines)
MOUNTAINTOP MINING (wind turbines just carve up mountains differently)
OIL DERRICKS and PLATFORMS (usually less visible at long range than wind towers)
DAMS (dam removal is considered progress but wind turbines dam the sky)
Why are industrial wind turbines allowed to break so many old rules respecting nature? The worst wind pimps display no humility about their goals. They just want to build, build and build some more, like other rapacious enterprises.
No matter how many airheads call them “beautiful,” wind turbines will always impact millions of people and animals in negative ways. The industry wants to expand what we see today by orders of magnitude if they can get away with it. Biologist E.O. Wilson’s plan for setting aside half of nature is already impossible. These machines are a colossal aesthetic blunder that doesn’t require number-crunching to analyze. All you need is eyes, ears and environmental awareness. They aren’t replacing older industrial scars like coal mines; they’re just adding to the total human impact. The moment wind turbines began expanding beyond their experimental beginnings and corporations got involved, it was inevitable that this would happen. The goal is to make them as tall as possible to catch elusive winds, which means they will never become less visible. It’s also a pipe dream that they can be made quiet or safe for flying animals. Most people in the industry must know this, which makes them doubly full of it.
The 2018 Kilauea eruption generated publicity for “damaging” Hawaii even though it’s a natural force. Much more attention should be paid to relentless man-made destruction of tropical landscapes. The image below shows Maui’s Kaheawa Wind Power project occupying a significant piece of the island, with the smaller Auwahi project to the south (yellow ovals). The Kahuku project on Oahu was initially more ambitious but ran into problems, including a battery storage fire. Later, proposed 650-foot wind turbines in the same area prompted outcries over bat kills and further losses of scenery. Wind power sprawl on small land masses makes a clear case for their limits. The Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea is another example of construction overshoot, protested by those who still respect nature’s integrity.
Compounding the bleakness of this hypocritical sprawl, a sizable number of wind energy opponents are global warming deniers who think wind turbines were invented expressly to fight climate change and must be part of a Green/NWO cabal to infringe on their property rights. Donald Trump (environmental idiot savant on wind power) is a famous critic and UK writer James Delingpole is another example. A promising book by an “ecologist,” called “The Wind Farm Scam” is tainted by climate denial and it’s common in other books like “Paradise Destroyed…” These people make good points about the economic & environmental hypocrisy of wind sprawl, yet foolishly question the existence of gaseous atmosphere sprawl (it’s really all the same bloat). Some otherwise clever sites like StopTheseThings are strewn with climate “skepticism” and get blacklisted on sites like SourceWatch as fossil fuel shills. The “unbiased” FactCheck.org claimed “Trump Again Overblows Risks of Wind Power” but they lied about noise, birds and low-wind days vs. grid stability. Trump’s claim that wind turbines cause cancer was also a gift to the industry, but they are a cancerous growth on the landscape. Both sides of this debate try to vilify opponents instead of tackling intrinsic flaws in growth-based capitalism.
Lesser-educated rural people are often caught in siting battles and add GOP ignorance to the wind debate. Some see corrupt officials like Scott Pruitt as righteous warriors against “unfair” EPA regulations while ignoring commonalities of all industrial developments. Even though their suffering is very real, they hurt their own cause with climate conspiracy theories. They should treat wind power as one of many rural threats, like deforestation (major component of wind projects), noise pollution from boom cars in rural drug ghettos, and homes sprawling into wild areas. It’s unclear how many rural anti-wind activists are OK with coal mining mountaintop removal but they should realize it’s all part of the pillaging continuum, regardless of whether it pays their bills (where wisdom ends and greed prevails). Their mindset of “us against city-slickers” distracts from everything the wind business has in common with fossil fuel, mining and logging interests.
Wind energy is the opposite of small-footprint thinking that real environmentalists should favor. It thrives on a single-action bias that fails to consider total environmental impact. It’s part of the same engineering mindset that destroys nature for money in the fossil fuel business. The standard ploy is that carbon is THE environmental demon and must be fought at any cost, though many wind farm workers are interchangeable with frackers. They are industrial mercenaries who do what they’re told and cash their checks. At least the old environmental villains weren’t overtly trying to fool people.
The next time you look at a horizon full of mutant pinwheels and windschmerz hits you, just let it happen. Then get angry and join the fight to stop them. It’s too late to do much in many regions, but some famous environmentalists have called for sanity. Here are links to organizations trying to do something locally and nationally. Hopefully, a few mainstream environmental groups will wise-up before these things metastasize. Small modular nuclear reactors could be the best hope for an alternative if the public can get over old fears.
“In some way or other, the human race has to learn how to leave the world alone.” – Alan Watts
This page will be updated and reworded at random with new information. If you cite it, please post the link instead of a pasted snapshot. *The word “windschmerz” (with no spaces) may have been first used here, but nobody owns the definition.