Is wind energy really a good alternative for environmentally friendly energy production, as Stewart Brand claims?
Stewart Brand (Whole Earth Catalog) was recently interviewed by Arnie Cooper in The Sun (Sept. 11 Interview Environmental Heretic, Stewart Brand On Nuclear Energy, Genetically Modified Foods, and Climate Engineering, issue 429.)
As my readers know by now, I am completely in favor of earth-friendly, sustainable energy and lifestyle alternatives, but when I read the interview I just had to respond to Brand’s assumption that miles and miles of habitat-destroying wind ‘farms’ (more appropriately ‘industrial installations’) in the landscape, are ‘less intrusive’ than other alternatives.
He even went so far as to say ” . . .cattle can put up with them.”
My letter to The Sun is below, as well as additional data from wind industry and bird-of-prey expert Jim Wiegand, explaining why industrial-scale wind energy production, in its current incarnation, is not a viable Earth-friendly alternative – even for cattle:
I was at first thrilled then dismayed to read the Stewart Brand interview on green energy alternatives, and especially his poorly supported conclusion that wind farms are ‘less intrusive’ to the environment’ than solar, are ‘beautiful to look at’ – ‘ and that at least cattle can put up with them’.
To quote: “Wind farms are far less intrusive. At least, cattle can put up with them. Though I don’t think people want to live under turbine, the farms are beautiful to visit. The problem is we haven’t figured out how to store all the energy, and it’s just a fraction of what we need.”
Gracious alive – to begin with, wind ‘farms’ (actually large industrial installations) devastate MILES of critical habitat (as do solar installations), routinely slaughter millions of flying creatures (from condors to bats) each year and are even associated with ‘wind turbine syndrome’ human health issues (http://www.savewesternny.org/docs/pierpo
Even if cattle weren’t dying and people weren’t suffering, the countless examples of wildlife mortality cover-ups by the wind industry (including the denial of significant endangered condor and other bird-of-prey blade-strike casualties – //www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NAAzBArY
The whirling blades also create wind turbulence that explodes bat lungs (//www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRqu4WiLQ
The list of calamities is far too extensive to list, but the short take on it is that wind energy, in its current unreliable and very inefficient incarnation, is one of the worst so-called ‘green’ energy alternatives on the planet – yet it is supported by politicians catering to this big, oil-industry arm.
Oh, and NO, Fukushima can not be likened to a mere dam break. What is he thinking?
I’m afraid even so-called ‘visionaries’ like Brand will have to start doing some bigger, more innovative imagining. We have not come across the right solution yet but it is not a question of ‘either/or’. We need entirely new ideas.
With those great big clever brains we’re all so darned proud of, we should be able to think of something better.
New concerns are being brought to light now, including atmospheric disturbances that might be leading to deepening droughts in areas like Mongolia.
It’s very possible this could also be a factor in the current droughts plaguing Oklahoma and Texas in the US, since wind installations in those states are spreading like cancers.
Wildlife Biologist and wind industry expert Jim Wiegand graciously supplies further insights on current wind industry technology, and concerns about wildlife mortality:
“The new propeller-style wind turbines reach 400- 500 ft into the sky and have a kill zone 45 times the area of the famous eagle killing turbines built at Altamont Pass. Now, a wind farm of just 50 turbines is equivalent to 2250 of theses early turbines. With 12 ton blades, the blade tips rip through the air at 220-240 mph when spinning at just 20 rotations per minute. This is creates a tip speed that is twice as fast as the old turbines and over three times the speed of a major league baseball bat swing.
Looking at a spinning propeller style wind turbine it creates an illusion that fools most people. They spin at around 20 rpm and it looks slow. But the tips or these huge turbines are traveling at over 220 mph feet per second. This illusion of the slow turning blades also fools birds and wherever these turbines are installed, the bird species that use the habitat are killed. No species of bird is safe around these turbines.
The old-model, small turbines at Altamont Pass rotated at about 80 rotations per minute but their tip speed was much slower at around 110-120 mph. Yet this was still enough to dismember Golden eagles.”
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