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Global warming, or climate change, as aggravated by the huge amounts of greenhouse gases -- most notably carbon dioxide, or CO₂ -- released by human industry, has become the most prominent environmental issue of recent years. The urgency to halt and even reverse the increase in greenhouse gas emissions helps drive the push for alternative ways to generate electricity, which is currently responsible for about 30% of worldwide CO₂ and about 21% of all greenhouse gases from human activity (anthropogenic emissions), roughly equal in effect to those from transport and to those from animal farming (other important greenhouse gases include methane and nitrous oxide).

Many people on both sides of the wind issue accept the science of anthropogenic contribution to climate change. Many other people wonder if the importance of anthropogenic carbon emissions has been overblown, perhaps to help sell nuclear power, which does not emit CO₂, or at the expense of other critical environmental and social justice issues. Still others look at CO₂ as a proxy for fossil fuel burning in general, so that if carbon emissions are reduced, so too are pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, and soot, which causes health problems such as asthma -- not to mention the advantage of reducing the environmental and geopolitical impacts of procuring fossil fuels.

It is neither the desire nor the mission of National Wind Watch to tell people how to think about this issue.

No matter whether you are a skeptic or you support the popular view about climate change, industrial-scale wind is not a solution.

Wind is a very diffuse energy source, requiring massive industrial plant to capture and deliver. Furthermore, it is intermittent, highly variable, and nondispatchable, so that new fossil fuel plant has to be built alongside for backup and balancing. Large-scale storage (corresponding to the off-gridder's rack of batteries in the basement) -- which today is mostly experimental -- would help to smooth the variability somewhat (though not the need for backup when the wind is not blowing in an ideal fashion), but at the cost of reducing, probably by half, the net energy production of an already low-yield source as well as adding to the substantial impacts, cost, and carbon footprint of manufacture, construction, and maintenance.

Considering the extent of its impacts, both environmental and economic, and its low potential benefit, industrial wind power is clearly a waste of resources. Modest conservation would far surpass the theoretical carbon savings from wind.

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