Solar & Wind energy are not Always Good

The ECOreport responds to the video Good News from Climate Reality, solar & wind energy are not always good

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1“Good News,” from Climate Reality, is good propaganda. The message is clear and, to a large extent, true – only it also perpetuates a myth. Solar and wind energy are not necessarily good, it depends how they are used.

Harnessing the wind to produce energy ceases to be a good idea if it is making people sick, or if wind turbines may be eradicating a species like golden eagles.

Solar panels are not a good idea if they are forced into unwilling communities, or if building them necessitates the destruction of a local ecosystem.

Geoglyph of the Creator, Ometeotl, at Blythe CA, viewed from an airplane – from the Movie “Who Are My People?”
Geoglyph of the Creator, Ometeotl, at Blythe CA, viewed from an airplane (Click on image to enlarge) – from the Movie “Who Are My People?

Not too long ago I had a chat with someone from the DOE about some solar farms going on to land considered sacred by Native Americans: Ivanpah, Blythe, Palen, Blythe, McCoy, Genesis. He could not explain why it is necessary to put solar farms there, rather than on brownfield areas. Instead, he acknowledged it was a good question and that he had been given orders “from upstairs.”

That is not good enough.

One of the most outrageous solar stories comes from Boulevard, California,  where retired tugboat captain Don Renard settled because the community plan prohibited industrial development or even dense housing.  He and his family enjoyed the solitude, until an  industrial solar farm was slated to surround his property.

“Why aim 1,500 panels at our house?” he asked East County Magazine.

Simplistic equations like “solar = good,” or “wind = good,” are sometimes bad.

There have been many reports of  people who live close to wind turbines being deprived of sleep, or getting dizzy, or a number of other symptoms.

Industry apologists like to dismiss these complaints as imagination.

A radiologist found that people living within 1.4 kilometers of the Mars Hill Wind Farm, in Maine, found that noise from the turbines disrupted sleep and had “the potential to harm human health.”

The Falmouth Board of Health, in Massachusetts, came to the same conclusion. Follow this link to an ariel photograph sleep deprivation reports from that area. They all occur within 1.4 kilometers of the turbines.

A number of bad reports have come to me and, so far, they fall within that radius. Thousands of wind turbines may have been built too close to houses. Kevon Martis told me that every wind turbine in Michigan state is closer than 1.4 kilometers.

Industry apologists like to dismiss reports of bird and bat fatalities with statistics about the number of birds that crash into windows or are eaten by pussycats.

Diagram of Bird fatality search area - Courtesy Jim Wiegand
Diagram of Bird fatality search area – Courtesy Jim Wiegand

Firstly, North American studies of turbine kills appear to be flawed. According to Jim Wiegand, of Save The Eagles,  the search area has not expanded since wind turbines were 100 feet tall! He said most of the carcasses are being catapulted outside the search area. Furthermore, as reporting is voluntary, Wiegand said you have absurd situations that – on paper – there are virtually no fatalities in Texas (America’s #1 wind state).

More important,  the real issue is not the numbers but rather the species being killed. Pussycats do not normally eat eagles, nor do eagles crash into many windows.

White Tailed Sea Eagle Corpse stuck in a tree outside of the search area – Courtesy Save The Eagles
White Tailed Sea Eagle Corpse stuck in a tree outside of the search area – Courtesy Save The Eagles

Both Wiegand and industry bird expert David Bittner agree the golden eagle population of Southern California is disappearing.  They disagree as to the cause. Comparing their arguments, I find Wiegand’s far more compelling. If he is correct, wind farms may be  eradicating a species.

It has been almost two years since the Ocotillo Wind Project went online and gigantic dust storms still hit the town when-ever there are strong winds. The problem is not the turbines, but the fact the desert floor was scrapped clean of vegetation in preparation for them.  The same kind of preparation is made for solar projects, as you can see in the photo below,  and when done over thousands of acres could be releasing more carbon than these projects are supposed to save.

Illustration of a solar project's negative impact on the desert. Note all the vegetation is gone from the lower photo - from Alicia Previn's book: The Strange Disappearance of Walter Tortoise.
Illustration of a solar project’s negative impact on the desert. Note all the vegetation is gone from the lower photo – from Alicia Previn’s book: The Strange Disappearance of Walter Tortoise.

The disturbing thing about the myth “wind = good” is that blindly acting out that assumption can lead to some very bad consequences.

Cars are “good” – but imagine what would happen if they were manufactured without steering wheels!

Solar and wind energy are both good, if used properly.

Some critics question the appropriateness of the propeller design used for almost every wind turbine.

Some believe that most of the problems with wind technology would be reduced by building facilities 15-50 miles offshore. There would be no worry about setbacks from houses and bird fatalities may be greatly reduced. The winds are generally stronger, which means a better yield. This might be the solution (I do not know).

There are incredible utility scale solar success stories, like Yolo county, as well as the phenomenon of rooftop solar.

The video “Good News” is actually quite good and, despite my rant, I would recommend watching it.

One thought on “Solar & Wind energy are not Always Good”

  1. Sell out experts and wind industry shills like to trivialize their wind turbine slaughter to protected species with meaningless comparisons to other forms of bird mortality. As for the inflated billions of birds these studies claim are being killed by communication towers, buildings, windows and domestic cats, here is the truth………..Communication towers, buildings, windows and domestic cats kill very few raptors and bats. In fact raptor and bat deaths at communication towers are virtually nonexistent.

    While it is true that millions of the more common city dwelling birds are killed by windows, none of this mortality has anything to do with the slaughter of rare and highly protected species in their remote habitats by wind turbines. Species like golden eagles, bald eagles, snowy owls, sage grouse, prairie chickens, and whooping cranes do not live around cities. The Interior department knows all of this and could correct this wind energy propaganda overnight. Instead because of ongoing collusion with the wind industry, they have allowed this garbage to circulate for years. It is even on their website.

    One final thought these absurd bird mortality comparisons, these fraudsters have forgotten to include the billions of chickens and turkeys killed each year at processing plants.

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