Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Answer is not Blowing in the Wind - The Futility of Wind Power

For nine years Alice and I lived on a small ranch east of Livermore, California. Two of my closest neighbors were the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and the Altamont Pass wind farm. I could only see a hint of the sprawling Livermore Lab campus, but from my backyard I could watch many of the wind turbines at Altamont not doing much.

On two occasions recently I drove through the Altamont Pass on Highway 580 and both times did not see even one wind turbine turning. The first time was understandable; it was just after noon on a desultory summer day. The second time, however, was during a driving rain storm.

Aside from their demonic ability to kill Eagles and raptors during their rare periods of operation, Altamont Pass should be viewed as a living laboratory of the futility of wind power. (For a very clear exposition of this point, click on this link to an excellent Master Resource blog post)

Its near neighbor, the Livermore Lab, is another matter. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle reported: "Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported Thursday they have taken a major step toward harnessing the forces that power the sun in an effort to create unlimited energy on Earth."

There it is in a nutshell. On the one hand, the supposed scientifically enlightened pursue a very limited, costly, and as common sense demonstrates, futile method of meeting burgeoning energy needs. On the other hand, science is just taking baby steps to develop nuclear power production, which assuredly will one day become the means of satisfying mankind's ever increasing energy needs. One direction leads nowhere while fueling the cry that what must be done is for mankind to stop economic progress. The other direction unleashes the potential for mankind to achieve economic security for all, thereby reducing the need for politicians and their acolytes to preside over the division of shrinking resources.

We know which road politicians will choose, so common sense (and science) will lead us to choose the other.

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