Not in My Back Yard. It’s a classic psychological and sociological phenomenon.
A March 12 Letter to the Editor in The Pilot got me thinking of it while rotating my compost piles. The writer opines, “Sitting looking out to sea, I’m imagining the thrill of knowing that just beyond the horizon there are windmills capturing the power of the wind, and turbines turning to the power of the tides, sending that power to hundreds and hundreds of homes and businesses on shore.”
Classic NIMBY. Note that the writer cannot see the wind turbine “…just beyond the horizon…” You may have missed this subtle point, but it is an extremely revealing insight into the “green” psyche. Alternative energy is fine, if it doesn’t ruin my ocean view.
The writer is also not inconvenienced by the bird deaths from turbines. Each turbine can average between five and 18 bird deaths per year. The current U.S. average is 681,000 total deaths per year.
Consider, also, the noise. The turbine industry states that at 300 meters (984 feet) a turbine produces noise at 43 decibels. It increases the closer you get, topping off at 105 decibels (70 decibels is damaging to your hearing). At 43, it is merely a window air conditioning unit level of noise – all year long.
This is just the impact of operating the turbines. We haven’t touched on building them and the infrastructure required to get the power ashore. What about the dolphins and whales getting tangled in all those cables?
I have written previously on the issues with the mining, manufacture and disposal of batteries. That was just page one. The rest of the story is the land requirement for storing the energy produced by wind and solar.
Some general figures for solar, based on projects currently underway in developed countries: The land required to produce and store 25mWh (megawatt hours) of power is approximately 271 acres for the panel and battery array. For perspective, the average U.S. household consumes 11,000 kilowatt hours per year. So, a 271-acre footprint will power approximately 2,300 homes. Moore County has about 43,000 homes.
When proponents of “clean” energy are presented with the facts concerning the mining, construction, delivery, use, maintenance and disposal of “clean” energy capabilities, they are quick to state, “Yes, but the benefits outweigh the side effect” or ”Yes, bald eagles and other endangered or threatened bird species are killed by turbines, but…” and the list goes on.
I find this most curious. They expect folks with legitimate concerns about these technologies and their impacts to just accept the impacts and mitigating circumstances of their solution. Yet, they are absolutely unwilling to hear the same about a new pipeline, drill permit or nuclear power plant proposal.
This is nothing to say of the simple fact of the unreliability of these technologies to provide current, let alone future, energy requirements of a modern society. Considering that most of the world’s population does not enjoy the benefits of modern society, you would think “clean” proponents might consider the impact on the individual families around the globe who will now have to wait another few generations for that privilege – if they are not displaced by solar and wind farms and battery arrays.
Another interesting phenomenon of “clean” proponents is their ability to become instant futurists when confronted with the realities of their ideas. Their solutions will always perfectly address our current needs in 15 to 50 years.
This is not just the wishful thinking of wide-eyed enthusiasts. This is deliberate subterfuge of religious zealots. It is akin to the TV evangelist’s passionate plea to his listeners to send money and sacrifice now for the promise of a future utopia.
All hope is not lost. As with everything, the Law of Unintended Consequences is at work. As “clean” energy groups put the squeeze on the publicly traded, major, hydrocarbon producers, they are creating room and, in fact, a boom for the little guy. Small, privately owned producers, previously relegated to the back seat, are experiencing great returns on their investments and patience. On private lands and often at locations abandoned by the big guy, these small, nimble, and more efficient producers are now providing up to 20 percent of reliable energy for the U.S., because of the green agenda.
Bringing this back to Moore County, what about erecting wind turbines in Pinehurst to provide power to the “hundreds of homes and businesses” there? Place one on each of the championship golf courses (good air channelization), and two at the new USGA headquarters, to make the golf communities net-zero. All those dead birds, noise and batteries may not seem such a “thrill.”
Alas, Pinehurst is a Bird Sanctuary City. I doubt the starry-eyed proponent of her imagined energy utopia would endorse that plan in her backyard.
Nick Lasala lives in Cameron.
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