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The Naturalist's Corner: The dark side

I would simply like simple answers to simple questions, i.e., what happens when the wind doesn't blow?; what happens when the wind blows too hard?; how many dirty power plants will be decommissioned as a result of embracing wind power?; how many projected new plants now on the books will be scrapped?; will the air over the Smoky Mountains become cleaner and clearer as a result of wind turbines?; will ozone alerts become fewer and farther between?; where are we going to put 300,000 wind turbines to meet the proposed goal of generating 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2025?

Fear not my Jedi brethren, I have not succumbed to the dark side. But I believe a healthy dose of skepticism is called for before blindly leaping aboard the wind-power train, confident it is headed for the Holy Land of power independence where electricity flows abundant, cheap and pure like milk and honey in the Promised Land.

I would simply like simple answers to simple questions, i.e., what happens when the wind doesn't blow?; what happens when the wind blows too hard?; how many dirty power plants will be decommissioned as a result of embracing wind power?; how many projected new plants now on the books will be scrapped?; will the air over the Smoky Mountains become cleaner and clearer as a result of wind turbines?; will ozone alerts become fewer and farther between?; where are we going to put 300,000 wind turbines to meet the proposed goal of generating 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2025?

I am familiar with many of the organizations associated with the North Carolina Wind Working Group and know some of the people responsible for leading these groups. I have the utmost respect for these people, their organizations and their tireless efforts on behalf of the citizens... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Fear not my Jedi brethren, I have not succumbed to the dark side. But I believe a healthy dose of skepticism is called for before blindly leaping aboard the wind-power train, confident it is headed for the Holy Land of power independence where electricity flows abundant, cheap and pure like milk and honey in the Promised Land.

I would simply like simple answers to simple questions, i.e., what happens when the wind doesn't blow?; what happens when the wind blows too hard?; how many dirty power plants will be decommissioned as a result of embracing wind power?; how many projected new plants now on the books will be scrapped?; will the air over the Smoky Mountains become cleaner and clearer as a result of wind turbines?; will ozone alerts become fewer and farther between?; where are we going to put 300,000 wind turbines to meet the proposed goal of generating 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2025?

I am familiar with many of the organizations associated with the North Carolina Wind Working Group and know some of the people responsible for leading these groups. I have the utmost respect for these people, their organizations and their tireless efforts on behalf of the citizens and environment of North Carolina and beyond. But I have not seen these simple questions addressed in a simple straightforward way by any of these groups nor the NCWWG.

I believe honest open debate between and among environmentalists and environmental groups is as critical to finding the best solutions for the myriad of issues facing our environment as the honest open debate and confrontation between environmentalists and culpable polluters and profiteers desecrating the environment in the name of the bottom line.

And I am happy to admit my biases regarding wind turbines. I see nothing esthetically pleasing about their "sleek lines" or "soft whirr." When I look at Southern Appalachian ridgelines I like to see mountains and forests not wind turbines, cell towers and second homes. When I'm in the woods I like to hear the riffle in the creek and the wood thrush in the distance not the whirr of rotors.

And I can tell you, after five years of working in the Gulf of Mexico, the thought of thousands of more man-made structures hugging the coasts of our country also has very little esthetic appeal. The sea is where one goes to see the ocean, coral-green or deep blue with frothy whitecaps breaking above your head to Sargasso Sea slick, like being stuck on a sheet of glass. It's where the ocean stretches unfettered till it slides over the horizon and the sky rises up and flies back overhead.

And yes Virginia, turbines do kill birds and bats. Often the response to this from wind proponents is "cats kill more birds." That's like saying you don't need to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle because more people are killed in cars. Mortality rates are going to rise as the number of turbines increases. If you take the conservative industry-proclaimed number of three birds per turbine and extrapolate that to the additional 300,000 turbines that would be needed to reach that magical 20 percent threshold, you can see we're talking about millions of bird deaths added to all other current mortality factors. But that three bird per turbine average is going to rise abruptly if turbines are sited in migration flyways and/or along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas where millions of dead-tired Neotropical migrants make landfall every spring.

But, hey, I can change my mind. If wind proponents can answer the above questions and convince me that turbines will truly significantly enhance air quality and that detrimental effects upon viewsheds and wildlife can be largely mitigated and that we're not looking at some kind of "feel good" technology that's going to make T. Boone Pickens and the like richer at the expense of my tax money, I can support wind power.

Till then, may the force and the forests and the seas be with you.


Source: http://www.smokymountainnew...

AUG 13 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16501-the-naturalist-s-corner-the-dark-side
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