Sunday, April 18, 2010

Earth Day Blows It

On Earth Day the “Windies” gusted, and John Muir spun. The marriage of convenience between environmentalists – the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, the American Bird Conservancy, Greenpeace, and the Audubon Society – and industrial wind power projects offends the principles of both science and conservation.

Wind power is retrograde, a technological dinosaur. It only generates within a narrow range of wind speeds, is intermittent, produces best when needed least (nighttime), doesn’t play well with others (see “intermittent”), destroys scenic vistas, remorselessly kills birds (endangered or otherwise), and is and will continue to be prohibitively expensive. Although wind power has a very low capacity factor (25%) compared to nuclear (over 90%), coal (around 80%), natural gas (used primarily for load following, 60%), or hydro (50%), it is much better than solar (under 20%).

For example, between Maryland and West Virginia there is potential for around 2000 wind turbines, each nearly 500-feet tall; they would be placed atop 400 miles of the Allegheny Mountain ridges. About 20 acres of forest must be clear cut to support each turbine—4-6 acres to allow free flow of wind per turbine; one or more large staging areas for each wind project; access road construction; and a variety of substations and transmission lines. Cumulatively, about 40,000 acres of CO² sequestering woodlands containing rare habitat and many vulnerable wildlife species would be destroyed.

Local environmentalists used the California Coastal Commission to annihilate my home-town Gualala’s modest fireworks display by demonstrating that a few nesting pairs of seabirds were disturbed. I doubt any of these environmentalists have voiced objections to the thousands of eagles and raptors killed, not just disturbed, by the Altamont Pass wind farm, or the thousands of migratory birds and sea birds killed annually worldwide. On the contrary, most “environmentalists” turn a blind eye to such carnage.


Anonymous said...
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Frank Drouillard said...

So, because you believe that local environmentalists do not protest the Altamont Pass wind turbines, they're hypocrites for protesting the adverse effects of the Gualala fireworks on nesting birds.

For one, it's irrelevant. Second, you don't know if they object to the wind turbines at Altamont Pass or not.

And, it's important to note that the CCC didn't say "no" to Gualala fireworks. They said a CDP is needed so the adverse effects on coastal resources -- in this case nesting birds -- can be properly mitigated.

In fact, if you review the video archives for the Friday session of the hearing week in which the CCC issued their C&D order, you'll see that the Executive Director expressed a desire to work with the GFC to permit an event that wouldn't cause nesting birds to abandon their nests. One simple way to accomplish that would be to have the fireworks outside of nesting season, say over the Labor Day weekend.

If you absolutely must have your coastal fireworks fix over the Independence Day holiday, you can always drive up to the Cove at Point Arena, the traditional location of coastal fireworks in your area.

That's what the City of Capitola did last year.

Or are those simple accommodations too inconvenient for you anti-environmentalists?

Major Combs said...

I know many of the environmentalists in this area support wind turbines; I've written on this issue before and some have responded.

Fourth of July fireworks are an honored American tradition, not a Labor Day tradition. Further, there are sea birds nesting in the vicinity of the Point Arena wharf. Isn't it hypocritical of bird lovers and the California Coastal Commission not to want to protect them too, if protection is deemed warranted?