Tag Archives: energy sprawl

Hey, Joe Biden.* Where You Gonna Put 60,000 More Wind Turbines?

USGS wind turbine database as of 11-12-20 (green replaced with blue).
If Biden is successful with a version of the Green New Deal, what you see above could be doubled with bleak urgency (source).

With Donald Trump grudgingly leaving office, we’ve lost one of the few major politicians willing to criticize the crass blight of industrial wind turbines. Though he was crass himself and fabricated certain details, he was morally right on this issue. Wind turbines may not directly cause cancer, but they’re like a cancerous growth on nature, taking over too much horizontal and vertical space in areas untouched by older energy projects. Even 22 years ago, their sprawl could no longer be described as novel and welcome. Nothing so blatantly ugly, noisy, lethal and futile has been marketed as “green” with such blind ambition. Relatively few environmentalists bother to ask if wind power meaningfully reduces carbon, or whether other footprints still matter. They assume anything beats smokestacks, even if it resembles hordes of them, minus blades.

A greenly zealous President Biden plans to carry on with Obama’s PTC wind power legacy after a notable construction lapse during Trump’s term. In his 2020 campaign, Biden spoke of building 60,000 more wind turbines on top of the 65,548 already spiking America (as of this posting-date). If funding is secured, this politically-correct and bipartisan destruction of nature will resume unless rural landowners and honest environmentalists put up roadblocks. But where would all these new eyesores be built? Offshore ocean sites promise more consistent wind and less visibility, but theory & reality have clashed and permitting is slow. It’s been unrealistic to put turbines far enough offshore and keep them affordable, including maintenance at sea.

Row of wind turbines spoils another mountain ridge (in BC).
One’s reaction to a scene like this determines whether nature matters versus coddling people’s endless needs. You’re reading the wrong blog if you find this beautiful!

This means Biden’s Departments of Interior & Energy are likely to target pragmatic onshore locations, including besieged mountaintops where wind can be most effectively “harvested” (a term also applied to anthropocentric hunting). Since wind “farms” unavoidably destroy scenery and bird & bat habitat, big environmental groups have responded to the encroachment with denial, covered at length here and here. They downplay the visceral impact of giant machines and replace it with shill-terms like “installed capacity.” To be green now, you must itemize nature as a product and wrap it around metrics.

There’s been a misleading controversy over Biden’s plan to “replace” fossil fuels with quasi-renewables, upsetting the livelihoods of traditional energy workers. It’s based on a widespread misunderstanding of energy scale and the dependency of most infrastructure on fossil fuels for construction and maintenance. The laws of physics will not allow wind or solar to actually replace oil, gas and coal. Once one understands the scale problem, nuclear power becomes our best hope in the electricity sector, though it can’t replace what fossil fuels do best. Recent urgency in approving molten salt SMRs, and fast-tracking fusion, shows that scientists understand the limits of wind & solar. Both Democrats and Republicans are too vague about our energy predicament, compounded by general denial of scarcity.

Cutesy can't hide ugly.
Quaint clip art can’t really soften what these machines do to landscapes. The world has over 360,000 wind turbines as of 2020.

We can hope that Biden’s “500 million” new solar panels are only built on roofs and parking lots, but wind turbines can’t be “carefully sited” much longer, if it was ever true. We’re stuck with the same dilemma of sacrificing open space for the growing demands of people. With Trump, this took the form of shrinking national monuments and more oil & gas drilling, which at least didn’t pretend to be green. Biden will be compelled to spoil nature in “smarter” ways, rationalizing huge structures that wreck the facade of wilderness faster than anything else.

And, just as Trump weakened hunting regulations to appease right-wingers, Biden will be forced to weaken protections for anything that flies in the path of wind turbine gauntlets, e.g. more eagle-take permits. When America’s national bird and scenic heritage are threatened by “clean energy,” you wonder what qualifies as dirty these days. If Joe Biden really thinks Big Wind is green, one needs to say “Come on, man!”

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 title theme is a nod to Jimi Hendrix.

“Planet of the Humans” Rightfully Shames Green-Growthers and Technophiles

The film’s poster shows the Lowell Mountain, Vermont wind project at an early stage. It ended up covering over three miles of ridge-line; a tiny fraction of what exists elsewhere.

On Earth Day 2020, Jeff Gibbs, Ozzie Zehner and Michael Moore released a strong attempt to save environmentalism from the pipe dreams and lies of “green growth” addicts. Other activists and blogs have been sending the same message to limited audiences but this film got wide attention, helped by its free YouTube presence. It was welcomed by deep ecologists who can’t support Man’s latest and largest assault on open space, built with fossil fuels at every step. But big environmental groups are trapped in funding cycles with mega-sprawl developers, compelling them to pan the film.

Given their addiction to technological growth, critics of the film ganged up to call it “outdated” and “dangerously” misinformed. Some even claimed that Gibbs is a fossil fuel shill and barely watched it. There’s bad press from prominent scientists like Micheal Mann but others have yet to weigh in (James Hansen’s opinion would be interesting since he’s scoffed at “100% renewable energy”). Critics cite relatively minor technology improvements that happened during the film’s pre-production years, and they assume wind & solar can do far more than physically plausible. They list incremental solar efficiency gains and somewhat cheaper wind turbine materials, missing the point of how they’re built and the vast acreage they occupy. Today’s energy sprawl will look quaint if a full Green New Deal (Mark Jacobson style) ensues.

Ivanpah and other solar projects litter the Mojave desert. Scenic ecosystems are being converted to “clean” industrial parks, rationalized by “wasted, empty space” attitudes.

In 1973, Oregon Governor Tom McCall warned that “…the future must be protected from the grasping wastrels of the land…” but today’s clean-techies are embracing that same disregard for nature on an unprecedented scale. They say it’s being done for “the planet” but it’s really an effort to reduce CO2 for civilization’s sake (more on that). Since the year 2000, the scale of landscape and seascape industrialization has grown by millions of acres due to wind & solar sprawl, including all the areas these projects can be seen from. The visibility of wind turbines can’t be compared to other structures not nearly as tall, bright or numerous. Solar has a lower profile at ground level, but even when photovoltaic panels could technically be built on roofs and parking lots, open space gets developed for expediency, like the upcoming 7,100 acre Gemini Solar Project near Las Vegas. It will supply a city that should only be a fraction of its size, given local resources. To stay viable, Las Vegas is also grabbing water from distant valleys and represents everything wrong with urban sprawl.

Obsession with Man’s carbon (vs. landscape) footprint has distracted many younger people born into the mantra of climate change as Public Enemy No. 1. They’re willing to dump former environmental concerns and develop the hell out of nature if they can brand it “clean energy.” In a YouTube review supposedly debunking the film, someone says it’s “disturbing” when people compare mountaintop wind projects with coal mining damage, as if wind power is more sacred than any mountain. Climate concerns have drowned out land ethics and open space is for sale more than ever. If people really want to save the planet, they should realize that CO2 isn’t the fundamental problem, and helping modern economies doesn’t mean expanding them.

Other films like The 11th Hour (2007) also have anti-growth themes but fall back into “clean energy” rhetoric without examining its hypocrisy. They walk right to the edge of full disclosure then decide to not offend gluttonous people too much. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017) was full of green-growth doublespeak and Planet of the Humans showed that Gore himself represents prevailing power. Filmmakers tend to close with hopium after showing grim montages, which robs their story of integrity and leads to environmental complacency. Gibbs’ film was notably lacking in that tactic and many are grateful for it.

Strong and weak points of Planet of the Humans (2020):

What it did well:

  • Questioned our addiction to economic growth and technological fixes.
  • Explained why “100% renewable energy” is a deception on many levels. It’s a present and future lie based on carbon credit manipulations.
  • Strong critique of desert solar projects, showing old how ones are abandoned and new ones physically deteriorate.
  • Revealed that “biomass” often means cutting more trees and comprises the bulk of “renewable energy” now. Old forest industry propaganda plays into that.
  • Successfully rattled arrogant clean-techies, and reached a bigger audience than Doomers have managed to. Let’s hope it’s not a temporary boost.

What it left out:

  • It should have shown the full scale of wind energy sprawl plus more coverage of wildlife impacts, noise and shadow flicker.
  • More time could have been spent discussing human overpopulation, though they probably knew the Social Justice crowd wouldn’t like it.
  • Nuclear energy, namely SMR, wasn’t presented as a low-sprawl alternative to wind & solar invasions. Safe(r) nuclear may be the only reliable way to offset electrical-generation from fossil fuels, but not their other uses.
  • The somber orangutan scene was powerful, but could have been shortened as part of the larger context. That sort of thing was happening long before “renewables” started plundering nature.

Given the time limits of a feature film, they did well enough with their focus on energy issues, so those aren’t big criticisms. Author’s overall rating: 8/10

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.