Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don't Buy "Chainsaw" Autos!

Many Mendonoma friends and neighbors still display “Don’t drink chainsaw wine” bumper stickers, which came to mind as I read a Spiegel article “Mutiny in the land of wind turbines.” 

To refresh our memories, “Chainsaw wine” refers to the now-defunct Preservation Ranch proposal to “plant 1,150 acres of premium, sustainably farmed vineyards on 1,769 acres” (9% of 19,645 acres), which ardent environmentalists fought by abstaining from consuming a non-existing product.

Ardent environmentalists also spear-head the movement in Germany to aggressively replace nuclear and fossil fuel electrical generation with wind power, and so far succeeded in boosting Germany’s electricity cost to $0.31/kWh compared to $0.08-$0.17/kWh in the US.  As wind turbines in Germany have to locate deeper into its interior, productivity per turbine falls to under a third of offshore turbines, while greatly increasing visual and noise pollution, lowering property values, and slaughtering birds, bats, and insects. These are all the typical unintended consequences of blind environmental idealism.

But there’s more: ironically, the increase in land-based wind turbines unleashes a vast chainsaw-wielding army to clear-cut trees for foundations, access roads, and power lines. The German state of Hesse alone plans to cut down forest acreage equal to over ten proposed Preservation Ranch vineyards, and North Rhine-Westphalia wants to do even more.

Since automobiles are the preeminent German export produced by intensive electrical energy exploitation, true environmentalists should join me in fighting the degradation of German forests and loss of CO2-sequestering trees by buying and displaying my bumper sticker “Don’t buy chainsaw automobiles©”.

Unlike “chainsaw wine”, German automobiles are real, not symbolic, and their production is causing real environmental degradation.

Save the world! Buy bumper stickers, not BMW’s!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Unscientific Adoration of "Chasing Ice"

Recently some of my unscientific friends have been carried away with wonder by a movie “Chasing Ice” filmed by an environmental photographer, James Balog, who is not a scientist. Among the obvious flaws not noticed by its gullible viewers is that it only spans a four-year period, and mixes photography shot in May with September. Obviously, this produces dramatic differences in glacier dynamics, although not nearly as dramatic as the period for the same glacier from 1780 AD to 1948 AD. During that period, glaciers in Glacier Bay, Alaska, and in particular the glacier in the Muir Inlet, retreated over 60 miles. Since 1948, the retreat has only been 6 miles, and all this information is courtesy of a very informative US government map, which I am pleased to include for your use and admiration. Truly a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Concerning “Chasing Ice”, I’m reminded of a saying mistakenly attributed to Samuel Johnson that I will paraphrase: “I’ve heard it is true and original. However, what is true is not original, and what is original is not true.”

Laissez les bons temps rouler!