The ECOreport responds to the video Good News from Climate Reality, solar & wind energy are not always good
By Roy L Hales
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.