Friday, May 11, 2012

This is the end, my only friend the end

When Jimmy Carter claimed that the country's energy problems should be considered the the Moral Equivalent Of War, his critics howled with scorn.  His phrase was quickly reduced to MEOW.  The resulting laughter soon drove his concerns from the discussions of the "serious" people in Washington—and his solar panels from the roof of the White House.  Unfortunately for the world, Jimmy's MEOW was one of the few things he got absolutely right.

The need to find ways to power our civilization without resorting to fire has only grown more obvious every day since then.  We cannot find nearly enough oil and other fossil fuels to supply the needs and wants of the 7+ billion inhabitants of the world and even if we could, there are no sinks large enough to contain the wastes so much fire will bring.  We are lucky that humanity has discovered ways to generate electrical power without resorting to fire or the situation would be hopeless.  Even so, a conversion to these methods is difficult and still pretty expensive.  But because there really is no alternative to finding working substitutes for fire, it really doesn't matter that the problems are difficult or spendy—they MUST be solved.

The technical problems of conversion are difficult enough.  But unfortunately, there are those who believe it is their best interests to make finding solutions more difficult—hopefully impossible.  Some of these creatures are driven by ignorance and fear.  But as the following article suggests, a lot of them are motivated by naked greed.  The firestarters have an amazingly profitable racket going on—one they do not want threatened in any way.  And so "think tanks" have been hired to sabotage the efforts of those attempting to solve perhaps humanity's most important dilemma.

What a waste!  And by simply delaying solutions, the forces of ignorance and regression have probably baked a calamity into humanity's future.  Because Jimmeh was right—the need to find solutions is extremely urgent.  If the greedheads trying to sabotage solar and wind power are successful, they will easily rank as the most destructive and evil people in history.

Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy

Confidential memo seen by Guardian calls for climate change sceptics to turn American public against solar and wind power

Suzanne Goldenberg US environment correspondent, Tuesday 8 May 2012

A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama's energy agenda.

A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.

Now a confidential strategy memo seen by the Guardian advises using "subversion" to build a national movement of wind farm protesters.

The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) – although the thinktank has formally disavowed the project.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting of self-styled 'wind warriors' from across the country in Washington DC last February.

"These documents show for the first time that local Nimby anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry," said Gabe Elsner, a co-director of the Checks and Balances, the accountability group which unearthed the proposal and other documents.

Among its main recommendations, the proposal calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing "subversion in message of industry so that it effectively because so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it."

It suggests setting up "dummy businesses" to buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a "counter-intelligence branch" to track the wind energy industry. It also calls for spending $750,000 to create an organisation with paid staff and tax-exempt status dedicated to building public opposition to state and federal government policies encouraging the wind energy industry.

The proposal was reviewed by John Droz Jr, a senior fellow at ATI, for discussion at the Washington meeting, which he also organised. ATI's executive director, Tom Tanton, said Droz had acted alone on the memo, although he confirmed he remains a fellow at the thinktank.

Droz is a longtime opponent of wind farms, arguing that the technology has not yet been proven and that wind technology should not receive government support. He claims 10,000 subscribers to his anti-wind-power email newsletter.

In a telephone interview, Droz said the Washington strategy session was his own initiative, and that neither he nor any of the participants had been paid for attending the session.

Their main priority was co-ordinating PR strategy. "Our No 1 reason for getting together was to talk about whether there should be agreement to talk about a common message."

The strategy session is the latest evidence of a concerted attack on the clean energy industry by thinktanks and lobby groups connected to oil and coal interests and free-market ideologues.

ATI is part of a loose coalition of ultra-conservative thinktanks and networks united by their efforts to discredit climate science and their close connections to the oil and gas industry, including the Koch family. Those groups include the Heartland Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity, the organising arm of the Tea Party movement.

ATI is a relatively new entrant, coming to national attention only last year when it filed lawsuits against climate scientists including Michael Mann and James Hansen.

Campaign groups and spokespersons for the wind industry say there has been a sharp rise in organised opposition since early 2009 when Obama put investment in renewable energy at the heart of his economic recovery plan.

"We do see evidence of co-ordination," said Peter Kelley a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Assocation. "The same rhetoric pops up all over the place. Things that are disproven, that are demonstrably untrue, continually get repeated." more
And for the NIMBYs who want us to believe that wind power is bad because the turbines are somehow ugly, I shot this video footage of some in action in Minnesota—mostly on Buffalo Ridge.  Rembrandt once painted windmills.  While shooting this footage, I began to understand the aesthetic sophistication of one of history's greatest artists.


  1. I'm a big fan of windpower. People need to recall that windmills are so logical they go back to at least 1st century AD--
    "The windwheel of the Greek engineer Heron of Alexandria in the 1st century AD is the earliest known instance of using a wind-driven wheel to power a machine. Another early example of a wind-driven wheel was the prayer wheel, which was used in ancient Tibet and China since the 4th century. It has been claimed that the Babylonian emperor Hammurabi planned to use wind power for his ambitious irrigation project in the 17th century BC."

    The 1st problem with wind isn't reliability, it is people expecting perfection. The furnace in my house was sold to me as being 90% efficient, but we have been heating homes with fire...forever? how come my furnace isn't perfect? Because it didn't need to be, and wind power doesn't need to be now either.

    The most inefficient energy hog in most homes is the why did we move away from ice boxes? Certainly not because Frigidare created a perfect fridge, eh? The biggest energy user in most homes now are big screen TVs...why aren't they perfect, we've been using them for 60+ years, so why aren't we throwing them away?

    You'll also notice I talk small, household-sized appliance. I know bigger is better, but the banksters and big oil/gas/gov't won't let the world go there.

    But if I was a farmer or do-it-yourself handyman homeowner, I'd be messing around with John Deere sized windmills right now just to see if I could get some ROI and hands-on knowledge and experience instead of all that mis-information out there. It would be like a hobby, cheaper than having a car by far, and having a much better ROI.

    And a couple solar panels, why not have both types of power, this is not a football game where only one team can win. And if I had a stream on my property, I'd be wondering if I could rig up a waterwheel to generate power. Because those are the 2nd and 3rd biggest problems with alt energy--the 'find one type' approach, and the 'figure this out for me and run it into my house for me' approach.

  2. Let's look honestly at energy and I include nuclear power too. Fossil fuels were the one BIG SIMPLE source for our energy needs now we need to grow up and face complexity.