Monday, April 04, 2011

Richard Alleyene: "Wind turbines 'hit' bat populations" @ The Telegraph, U.K.

[A Kansan posts an intelligent comment on the Telegraph, proving that there is life in America's "Flyover Zone." Read it below.]

I've recently received photographs of two wind turbines that burned up from well meaning, but uninformed friends, one from Colorado.

They're on conservative newslists, not the raging right wing vitriol "SEND THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW," sort, but misguided all the same. One of the photos shows a pickup truck beneath one of those incinerated turbines crushed by weight of the enormous blade that dropped upon it.

That's all it takes to convince them that wind power is bad.

I suppose I should have responded by sending them hundreds of pictures of automobiles that have burned up, as if that would have stopped them from driving.

There was a raging battled in Kansas that went on for recent years over the siting of a coal-fired power plant near the Colorado border at Holcomb. The coal and rail industries pushed very hard for permits and eventually succeeded in getting permission to build, thanks to public relations and campaign contributions.

The reason they were intended for Kansas, even though the power would be exported back to Colorado, is because the latter state has had its fill of these problematic sources of generation.

Such plants use an enormous amount of water from declining aquifers, they produce staggering quantities of difficult-to-dispose-of fly ash, they exude copious toxic airborne emissions including mercury and sulfur, poisoning streams, lakes, farms and the atmosphere. There's no such thing as "clean coal" of course.

It is not a coincidence that readers " beegdawg" and "bassetedge" fail to acknowledge these realities. They are carrying water for a perspective and possibly as well for an industry that pays well for its bearers. The Koch brothers, after all, pay handsomely for a propaganda machine that reflects their narrow anti-taxation interests, including those tools who post reader feedback and even sanitize Wikipedia pages.

Until six weeks ago, I received regular propaganda from conservative or right wing friends who believe simply silly things that promoted the nuke power industry. They've been understandably quiet of late, though there are still idiotic professional talking heads such as William Tucker pooh-poohing the dangers and drawbacks of nuke plants on the telly.

"beegdawg" gets close to a good part of the problem but doesn't explain it, as simple as that would be. Americans are sure they need those enormous McMansions, built cheek to jowl in subdivisions distant from their workplaces, because their government has subsidized the polar opposite of what would ultimately be best for our population. We have immense subsidies for roads instead of rail, and for mortgage tax write-offs, and taxation policies and subsidies and incentives for energy production that have caused the most profitable corporation of all time, Exxon, to owe no corporate income tax at all last year.

I was raised in apartment smaller than "beegdawg's" with six younger brothers and sisters. I don't think any of us bemoaned the lack of space, because were had not been given the sense of entitlement that our current younger generations share. The Sarah Palinesque, addle headed, "me, me, me," "gimmie, gimmie, gimmie," narcissism is the unfortunate personification of Americans today, lazy, ill-tempered and uninformed.

I live in a 123-year-old farmhouse which has its drawbacks, not being as well insulated as it might be, though we've upgraded it considerably. We don't have huge heating costs, however. We keep it heated to 68F in the winter, cooled to 76F in the summer, thanks to my wife's constitutional hypersensitivity to temperature. I own a house in the Mohave desert as well, where I didn't bother with evaporative cooling unless temperatures went over 100F, and wore warm clothes when it dropped under 60F.

The house replaced an earlier "soddy," a partly subterranean Nineteenth-century adaptation of more primitive habitations' environmental control. I lived on the Arctic Coast where the Inupiat/Inuit previously lived for a thousand years in semi-subterranean, sod, sealskin and whalerib/driftwood homes heated by single small seal oil lamps and captured body heat. They crafted heat trapping deeper dug entrances that efficiently kept the wind, cold and polar bears outside and cooled their perishables such as whale and caribou meat in ice cellar caches dug deep into the permafrost.

I lived in beautiful San Francisco for many years but in recent decades have been appalled by the immense masses of commuters who drive alone in SUVs, for four or five hours a day, so they can "enjoy" their detached crackerboxes in Mallville a hundred miles distant from their jobs. Driving twice through Phoenix during rush hour my wife and I cruised at the speed limit in the commuter lane past many thousands of creeping 10 mpg Hummers, Escalades and Suburbans carrying only their drivers.

Americans need a government that at last recognizes that externalized costs, whether from AGW or acid rain or waste disposal from nuke or coal-fired power plants, or overuse of Pleistocene-era aquifers, or long commutes in service of the American dream/nightmare are a far greater threat to ourselves and the world than is Osama bin Laden.

What we need is a substantial reordering of priorities, but I can't imagine that it will happen in my lifetime, no matter what the forecasts, since most Americans won't sacrifice their perverse and often imagined or aspirational lifestyles for the common good, and the ascendant "Tea Party" elected nitwits share their myopia.

[Read the article at The Telegraph]

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