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TimG

Windmills, Oilspills and Bird Deaths

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I dont think those concerns are forgotten. But they face the example same problem that co2 concerns face... and its not the "left".

A subset of conservatives, and industrial lobbiests have been able to sell the narrative that regulation is a bad word, and if we dont give industries carte blanch to trash the planet we will be living in grass huts and foraging for roots and berries.

I really don't think this is the issue. Lot's of progress was made on regulations to reduce environmental damage associated with industry and the use of technology prior to global warming becoming the focus. An obvious example is CFCs and the ozone hole. The deterioration of the ozone was a real and immediate problem, and drastically reducing the use of CFCs was a possible step to take, and eventually regulations were put in place to do exactly that, and now the ozone is recovering.

Similarly, issues like deforestation, tailings ponds, etc, are also feasible to tackle. Unlike a drastic cut in CO2 emissions, which would involve redeveloping and retooling almost all industry and infrastructure in the industrialized world, reducing deforestation can be addressed much more viably. And, if environmentalists and their lobbies had been pushing as hard on these issues as they have been on global warming, something would long since have been done. But they haven't, almost all focus is now on global warming.

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I really don't think this is the issue. Lot's of progress was made on regulations to reduce environmental damage associated with industry and the use of technology prior to global warming becoming the focus. An obvious example is CFCs and the ozone hole. The deterioration of the ozone was a real and immediate problem, and drastically reducing the use of CFCs was a possible step to take, and eventually regulations were put in place to do exactly that, and now the ozone is recovering.

Similarly, issues like deforestation, tailings ponds, etc, are also feasible to tackle. Unlike a drastic cut in CO2 emissions, which would involve redeveloping and retooling almost all industry and infrastructure in the industrialized world, reducing deforestation can be addressed much more viably. And, if environmentalists and their lobbies had been pushing as hard on these issues as they have been on global warming, something would long since have been done. But they haven't, almost all focus is now on global warming.

Im not buying this at all. Youre blaming environmentalists for not fighting hard enough for some regulations and too hard for others... instead of the people that fight every single environmental tooth and nail, and propogate economic doomsday scenarios every time any company is asked to do virtually anything at all.

Its not the industries that are actually making the tailing ponds, and cutting down all that forest and jungle that are to blame... its not the armies of lobbiests they hire to con the government into letting them do this... its not the political ideologs that oppose regulation as a matter of principle and vote for parties promising less regulation.

Its... wait for it... the ENVIRONMENTALISTS. :blink:

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Its not the industries that are actually making the tailing ponds, and cutting down all that forest and jungle that are to blame... its not the armies of lobbiests they hire to con the government into letting them do this... its not the political ideologs that oppose regulation as a matter of principle and vote for parties promising less regulation.

Its... wait for it... the ENVIRONMENTALISTS. :blink:

A blatant mischaracterization of my argument, and you know it. Of course industries lobby to be able to carry out their business. Opposing interests, such as environmentalists, lobby to have regulations imposed so that this business does not excessively harm the environment. Out of this competing lobbying, the government implements certain rules, which hopefully strike some sort of balance between the needs of industry and preserving the environment.

If environmentalists focus all their energies on one specific issue, others will go unaddressed, or less addressed than they would have been. This is precisely what is happening now.

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I really don't think this is the issue. Lot's of progress was made on regulations to reduce environmental damage associated with industry and the use of technology prior to global warming becoming the focus. An obvious example is CFCs and the ozone hole. The deterioration of the ozone was a real and immediate problem, and drastically reducing the use of CFCs was a possible step to take, and eventually regulations were put in place to do exactly that, and now the ozone is recovering.

Similarly, issues like deforestation, tailings ponds, etc, are also feasible to tackle. Unlike a drastic cut in CO2 emissions, which would involve redeveloping and retooling almost all industry and infrastructure in the industrialized world, reducing deforestation can be addressed much more viably. And, if environmentalists and their lobbies had been pushing as hard on these issues as they have been on global warming, something would long since have been done. But they haven't, almost all focus is now on global warming.

It's a ruse to blame environmentalists for the ecological collapse that this world is facing! Unless drastic cuts are made to our already too high carbon dioxide levels, all other environmental issues become meaningless. If CO2 stays over 350, there's no point bothering with the rest! Our planet becomes irreversibly altered, and almost certainly in ways that threaten extinction of our species as well.

We know why there has been a retreat on environmental issues, and following the age-old wisdom of 'follow the money' the money trail leads to the massive profits that energy companies earn from the status quo. Especially the oil industry; last year Exxon/Mobil set yet another all time record, with profits over 40 billion dollars. Of the top ten corporations in the world today, seven of them are oil companies, and they are not going to let a little thing like mass extinction get in the way of making money. The Coal Industry spent 200 million last year on their various disinformation campaigns, all designed to create confusion and keep our present dependence of fossil fuels.

All of this carping about windmills and solar panels ignores one simple fact: we are already using many times more energy than we need. Mostly because large agribusiness decided that cheap oil made specialization in agriculture their preferred option -- so today, we have these god-awful factory farms producing cheap meat products that are overconsumed by a fat, unhealthy population. And cheap oil made globalization possible, so it became feasible for our local factories to be shut down by the owners, and have production outsourced to sweat shops in Mexico, Bangladesh and China. Well, if we have to go back to localization of our economies, that may mean a drop in living standards for the already filthy rich, but most of us will be living better with re-localization.

All that's standing in the way are these greedy psychopathic oil companies that are determined to double down and go for the last, dirtiest, and most dangerous sources of fossil fuels remaining. We need to have the courage to say good riddance to your goddammed oil drilling platforms, that are being towed out of the Gulf; they need to be shut down in the Arctic and especially in vulnerable Third World nations like Nigeria, where there are no government controls on the damage done by multinational corporations. We need to get on with developing a green economy, which will have to be done when the oil and coal runs out anyway!

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It's a ruse to blame environmentalists for the ecological collapse that this world is facing! Unless drastic cuts are made to our already too high carbon dioxide levels, all other environmental issues become meaningless. If CO2 stays over 350, there's no point bothering with the rest! Our planet becomes irreversibly altered, and almost certainly in ways that threaten extinction of our species as well.

This is false and alarmist. If CO2 stays at 360 (over 350), we'll be just fine. The associated temperature change and ocean acidification will no doubt cause some extinction, but that does not mean we should not address extinction from other causes, such as habitat destruction.

We know why there has been a retreat on environmental issues, and following the age-old wisdom of 'follow the money' the money trail leads to the massive profits that energy companies earn from the status quo. Especially the oil industry; last year Exxon/Mobil set yet another all time record, with profits over 40 billion dollars. Of the top ten corporations in the world today, seven of them are oil companies, and they are not going to let a little thing like mass extinction get in the way of making money. The Coal Industry spent 200 million last year on their various disinformation campaigns, all designed to create confusion and keep our present dependence of fossil fuels.

Oil and energy companies have been profitable for a long long time. That alone invalidates your statement that the recent "retreat" on environmental issues has been due to the profitability of energy companies. Environmentalism as a movement has greatly hampered itself by focusing so much of its efforts on the one problem that happens to be by far the most intractable, reducing CO2 emissions. There are many other problems that could already have been solved.

All of this carping about windmills and solar panels ignores one simple fact: we are already using many times more energy than we need.

More than we need? Hardly. World energy usage will only continue to increase faster than ever. Billions of people in the developing world are being raised into lifestyles that use more and more energy. Furthermore, the energy intensity of developed countries will also continue to increase as we continue to develop new technologies that require more energy.

I'm sorry but people aren't going to give up civilization and live in the stone age just because you told them to use less energy.

Mostly because large agribusiness decided that cheap oil made specialization in agriculture their preferred option -- so today, we have these god-awful factory farms producing cheap meat products that are overconsumed by a fat, unhealthy population.

What? Agribusiness is hardly the largest user of energy.

All that's standing in the way are these greedy psychopathic oil companies that are determined to double down and go for the last, dirtiest, and most dangerous sources of fossil fuels remaining. We need to have the courage to say good riddance to your goddammed oil drilling platforms, that are being towed out of the Gulf; they need to be shut down in the Arctic and especially in vulnerable Third World nations like Nigeria, where there are no government controls on the damage done by multinational corporations. We need to get on with developing a green economy, which will have to be done when the oil and coal runs out anyway!

You might want to tone down your raw hatred for business if you want people to take you seriously.

Edited by Bonam

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This is false and alarmist. If CO2 stays at 360 (over 350), we'll be just fine. The associated temperature change and ocean acidification will no doubt cause some extinction, but that does not mean we should not address extinction from other causes, such as habitat destruction.

Oil and energy companies have been profitable for a long long time. That alone invalidates your statement that the recent "retreat" on environmental issues has been due to the profitability of energy companies. Environmentalism as a movement has greatly hampered itself by focusing so much of its efforts on the one problem that happens to be by far the most intractable, reducing CO2 emissions. There are many other problems that could already have been solved.

More than we need? Hardly. World energy usage will only continue to increase faster than ever. Billions of people in the developing world are being raised into lifestyles that use more and more energy. Furthermore, the energy intensity of developed countries will also continue to increase as we continue to develop new technologies that require more energy.

I'm sorry but people aren't going to give up civilization and live in the stone age just because you told them to use less energy.

What? Agribusiness is hardly the largest user of energy.

You might want to tone down your raw hatred for business if you want people to take you seriously.

I'm sorry but people aren't going to give up civilization and live in the stone age just because you told them to use less energy.

This is a perfect example of the phenomenon I brought up before and I see it all the time. And it works! As soon as someone suggests using less energy, or spending more for energy because its clean these sort of doomsday scenarios get trotted out. GIVE UP CIVILIZATION!!! LIVE IN THE STONE AGE!!!

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This is a perfect example of the phenomenon I brought up before and I see it all the time. And it works! As soon as someone suggests using less energy, or spending more for energy because its clean these sort of doomsday scenarios get trotted out. GIVE UP CIVILIZATION!!! LIVE IN THE STONE AGE!!!

Hear, hear.

In fact, all of the estimates I've read for adopting new policies, or adapting to change represent low single digit hits on the economy. We should be spending more to build up the environment, IMO.

Maybe we should start in ways that help warming as well as making visible changes for first world citizens. Maybe a global ban on unsustainable logging ?

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This is a perfect example of the phenomenon I brought up before and I see it all the time. And it works! As soon as someone suggests using less energy, or spending more for energy because its clean these sort of doomsday scenarios get trotted out. GIVE UP CIVILIZATION!!! LIVE IN THE STONE AGE!!!

This isn't just confined to this issue. Suggest that local people have a little control over a corporations activities in their ecosystems you're giving up capitalism in favor of communism. Suggest we legalize pot allows the Hell's Angels to take over the streets. Negotiating with the enemy is surrendering to the terrorists. Suggesting a little transparency in government is forcing Big Brother on everyone.

It goes on and on.

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Maybe a global ban on unsustainable logging ?

Great, everyone will have to go back to wiping their bums with a handful of leaves.

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This is a perfect example of the phenomenon I brought up before and I see it all the time. And it works! As soon as someone suggests using less energy, or spending more for energy because its clean these sort of doomsday scenarios get trotted out. GIVE UP CIVILIZATION!!! LIVE IN THE STONE AGE!!!

Well, it's your own fault! That indeed is the inevitable result of your premise! :P

Simple math shows that there are so many Chinese, Indian and Third World country people who are trying to achieve a modern living standard that we could reduce our energy consumption here in Canada to ZERO and it would have "mice nuts" effect on the global demand for energy!

A far more logical approach would be to concentrate our efforts on technical solutions to drastically INCREASE our supplies of available energy! That way there will be enough for every one.

Conservation is a fool's errand. You cannot conserve more than you produce in total. All you can do is improve your efficiency of use. You can have a plot of farmland that is perfectly efficient in feeding 100 people but if you start adding new babies into the group you will all start to get hungry.

We have barely begun to use the energy available to us. And it will not be Arts majors or poli-sci graduates who figure out how to achieve what we need. Anyone with hair in their ears and a copy of "Science for Dummies!" can beat the drum for conservation and reduced use as our salvation. That's as far as their wit can take them in understanding the possibilities!

If engineers and hard scientists were given a free rein all our energy problems would have been solved long ago. Instead, we listen to the yammerheads who read their horoscope every day...

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This is a perfect example of the phenomenon I brought up before and I see it all the time. And it works! As soon as someone suggests using less energy, or spending more for energy because its clean these sort of doomsday scenarios get trotted out. GIVE UP CIVILIZATION!!! LIVE IN THE STONE AGE!!!

He didn't just suggest using less energy, or using clean energy. He said that we are using many times more energy than we need. Using many times less energy than we are means not driving cars, not flying planes, not having heating or AC, etc. Perhaps not quite stone age, but certainly a much less civilized lifestyle than we are used to. People in Africa use much less energy per person than we do. Would you want to live like that? Again, people are not going to respond well to being asked to make such sacrifices, especially when they are completely unnecessary.

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A far more logical approach would be to concentrate our efforts on technical solutions to drastically INCREASE our supplies of available energy! That way there will be enough for every one.

Indeed. There is far more energy available than we are using. And yet people yammer on about conservation, reduction, giving up luxuries, etc. Absolutely no need for that.

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There are also problems with bats due to pressure changes. Your argument also applies to the bird/animal deaths in the gulf spill which are also insignicant compared to the number of birds/animals killed by other human infrastructure.

Its the air pressure changes that are driving the windmills in the first place. The bats are pretty good at avoiding things with their echolocation abilities. Even when objects are moving.

Almost all of our infrastructures are killing wildlife and restricting their movements. How much road kill do you see? Migration patterns of most major species on this planet have been reduced or killed off altogether. Everything we are doing is at the risk and cost of natural wildlife and their habitat. Sometimes it's more apparent than others.

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Its the air pressure changes that are driving the windmills in the first place. The bats are pretty good at avoiding things with their echolocation abilities. Even when objects are moving.
The turbines kill the bats without even touching them:

http://www.ucalgary.ca/news/aug2008/batdeaths

A bat mortality study supervised by U of C biology professor Robert Barclay that began in 2006 has determined that the vast majority of bats found dead below turbines near Pincher Creek suffered severe injuries to their respiratory systems consistent with a sudden drop in air pressure – called barotrauma – that occurs when the animals get close to turbine blades.

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Indeed. There is far more energy available than we are using. And yet people yammer on about conservation, reduction, giving up luxuries, etc. Absolutely no need for that.

True enough, but as always it's the cost of harnessing the energy that's the problem. Wind power needs big-ass capacitors to make up for the high variability in generation. The same, to some extent, goes with tidal. Geothermal is expensive. New material advances may pave the way for cheaper solar power, though I think to do it right we'll have to go with orbiting satellite collector idea, though environmentalists are probably not going to be thrilled with large lasers shooting to collectors on Earth. Nuclear fission is still in the running, but sure isn't cheap and most fissionables like uranium suffer the same, or worse, supply issues than oil. Fusion reactors still seem a pretty distant dream despite considerable amounts of money and effort being put into an efficient fusion process.

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True enough, but as always it's the cost of harnessing the energy that's the problem. Wind power needs big-ass capacitors to make up for the high variability in generation. The same, to some extent, goes with tidal. Geothermal is expensive. New material advances may pave the way for cheaper solar power, though I think to do it right we'll have to go with orbiting satellite collector idea, though environmentalists are probably not going to be thrilled with large lasers shooting to collectors on Earth. Nuclear fission is still in the running, but sure isn't cheap and most fissionables like uranium suffer the same, or worse, supply issues than oil. Fusion reactors still seem a pretty distant dream despite considerable amounts of money and effort being put into an efficient fusion process.

Capacitors don't do much of the work, TB. They are a necessary part to smooth out the power but the voltages have to be in the ballpark in the first place. Capacitors are NOT batteries! They store power but they want to release it almost instantaneously. So they can smooth out a ragged sinewave but they can't bring a low voltage up to a desired higher one for any sort of time.

We're still lacking any sort of battery that can operate at a scale big enough for a windfarm to supply a town or city with the battery taking the load when the wind dies or slows down, charging up during the windy periods. There are small scale solutions for an individual home owner but my mind boggles at the thought of a compressed air tank large enough for a city like Toronto!

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Capacitors don't do much of the work, TB. They are a necessary part to smooth out the power but the voltages have to be in the ballpark in the first place. Capacitors are NOT batteries! They store power but they want to release it almost instantaneously. So they can smooth out a ragged sinewave but they can't bring a low voltage up to a desired higher one for any sort of time.

We're still lacking any sort of battery that can operate at a scale big enough for a windfarm to supply a town or city with the battery taking the load when the wind dies or slows down, charging up during the windy periods. There are small scale solutions for an individual home owner but my mind boggles at the thought of a compressed air tank large enough for a city like Toronto!

You dont necessarily need batteries to store the power... you could couple a windfarm with an existing hyrdo electric dam, and store the power by pumping water up from the base of the dam back into its resevoir. The dam would back up the wind turbines when theres no wind.

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You dont necessarily need batteries to store the power... you could couple a windfarm with an existing hyrdo electric dam, and store the power by pumping water up from the base of the dam back into its resevoir. The dam would back up the wind turbines when theres no wind.
This is true but geographically limited. It also depends on whether the hydro dam has the excess capacity (if the resevoir is full the hydro cannot be dialed back - it has to let water through). What this means is hydro is not suffucient to make wind more than a niche player in the energy game.

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You dont necessarily need batteries to store the power... you could couple a windfarm with an existing hyrdo electric dam, and store the power by pumping water up from the base of the dam back into its resevoir. The dam would back up the wind turbines when theres no wind.

You're right in theory, Dre. Once again, the devil is in the details. Imagine how big a hydro electric dam has to be to power a city like Toronto.. We're not talking a few swimming pools here! We're talking an appreciable fraction of Niagara Falls. A hydro storage system would have to be large enough to supply a city's worth of power. It would need to be a fair sized lake!

Places to build such a lake and dam, with a lower collection basin equally large for the water, that are also close enough to the planned wind farm to negate excessive transmission line losses are not found like service centres every 10 miles along the 401. You would have to have a natural fall in elevation between the holding lake and the collection basin as well, as trying to do it with a water tower is also likely to be prohibitively large.

Again, the difficulty is in the scale. What is practical or at least possible for one household with one small perhaps homemade wind turbine gets rapidly out of hand when scaled up to a wind farm to supply commercial quantities of kilowatts.

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Besides the practical difficulties of storing the very variable energy generated by wind power, have you guys considered the downsides of the wind mills themselves? Have you seen what they do to the land they are built on?

To get a substantial amount of wind energy we are talking about covering thousands and thousands of square kilometers with wind turbines. Some of this can be built on farms and other such areas, but much of it would be in pristine mountain wilderness. Many of the best locations for wind mills are mountain ridges, which naturally get some of the fastest and most reliable wind, but these ridges are also visible from very far away in any direction. They complete ruin the look of the outdoors.

I was out in eastern Washington recently and saw several mountain ridges covered in these ugly things, endlessly flashing with their red aircraft warning lights, creating light pollution out in the back country where otherwise people could enjoy views of the stars, destroying the pristine untouched nature of the country and wilderness in the area, and all these thousands of wind mills generated less power (I looked it up) than just one nuclear reactor, or just one hydro dam, or just one coal/oil power station.

We can talk about cutting emissions, sure, that is perhaps a worthy goal, but ruining vast swathes of pristine wilderness with thousands of ugly wind turbines is not the way to do it.

I don't know if there are any other outdoor/back country enthusiasts on these forums, so I dunno if anyone else has personally seen how these things affect the natural places which are defaced by them, but it is something to think about.

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We're still lacking any sort of battery that can operate at a scale big enough for a windfarm to supply a town or city with the battery taking the load when the wind dies or slows down, charging up during the windy periods. There are small scale solutions for an individual home owner but my mind boggles at the thought of a compressed air tank large enough for a city like Toronto!

Might be the wrong line of thinking. When you have batteries in all the homes, you don't need a large scale solution for the whole city.

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I was out in eastern Washington recently and saw several mountain ridges covered in these ugly things, endlessly flashing with their red aircraft warning lights, creating light pollution out in the back country where otherwise people could enjoy views of the stars, destroying the pristine untouched nature of the country and wilderness in the area, and all these thousands of wind mills generated less power (I looked it up) than just one nuclear reactor, or just one hydro dam, or just one coal/oil power station.

You got a lot of good points there Bonam.

I propose moving away from large power plants to individual solutions for each home or a small group of homes. Wind turbines can be scaled down to basicly fit in a small area of your back yard, or on your roof. A combination of solar/wind and storage solution could eliminate the need for large power and the infrastructure for distribution. I mean all major power sources have their major drawbacks.

Nuclear waste.

Coal produces unwanted byproducts in the air

Wind turbines kill wildlife.

Geothermal is expensive, but if it was more widley used then it will become cheaper. Like every other thing we do large scale.

http://cleantechnica.com/2008/06/20/vertical-axis-turbines-the-future-of-micro-wind-energ/

This is an example of what I am talking about, and the claim is that it does not harm wildlife. I've also seen cases of two poles with a string of small propellers on a cable between the two posts.

We simply need to think a little different on how to implement this new technologies.

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Might be the wrong line of thinking. When you have batteries in all the homes, you don't need a large scale solution for the whole city.

No argument from me, GH! I've been saying that we should concentrate on getting totally off the grid for years! Of course, it would leave the provincial government with the problem of how to pay off the stranded Ontario Hydro debt when no one has an account with them anymore! :rolleyes:

However, we have a long way to go to make that work. My techie friends and I have been "blue sky-ing" ideas for years but we keep coming up with the same problem. Any approach is FAR easier if you live in the country than if you live on a small city lot, especially an inner city one!

However, technical breakthroughs keep happening and that opens up more options.

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