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In Honor of Earth Day: A Guide to Refuting Pro-Turbine Arguments

Below, you'll find an excerpt from a great blog post that deals with everything pro-turbine folks like to claim as a valid argument in favor of industrializing residential communities (as in Champaign County) with a network of 500-foot towers that will send energy (when it is produced at all) out of our county.

The whole post is well worth reading. Click HERE to go to the source and read the entire post.

Blight for Naught: Wind Turbines and the Rationalized Desecration of Nature

“To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” – Aldo Leopold *
This mountaintop removal is praised by wind geeks who claim to hate coal mines. Wind projects don’t remove as much material but they prominently industrialize ridges.
Early explorers would have seen this as an enemy gauntlet, and modern gut reactions are similar. There should be a penalty for ruining unbroken vistas.
Unsettling numbers of environmentalists fail to see that wind turbines are enemies of nature posing as saviors. Wind in the abstract sense is clean and natural, but the physical manifestation of how people “harvest” wind is big and unnatural by necessity, and keeps spreading. Wind zealots refuse to see that ruining the countryside with obscenely large towers is a continuum of the “build, build, build!” mentality that’s destroyed nature throughout history. It’s the towering, spinning version of “drill, baby, drill!” and supply-side ideology. Wind energy promoters keep pushing the fable that their emperor isn’t an ungainly giant who cuts down trees, blasts ridges, kills airborne animals and tortures ground-based ones with blight and noise. They claim to be environmentalists but they’re mainly about non-fossil energy and new income streams. The presumption that nothing is workable unless someone’s profiting is a big part of the problem. Almost everything modern people do involves destruction of nature somewhere. With wind power, those who benefit most tend to be furthest from it.
The original point of environmentalism was buffering nature from all human intrusions and toxins, not just fighting a specific type of pollution (that allows pseudo-green machines to exist). Wind cheerleaders have decided that giant, mechanical weeds are green because they “must” be green. Reason and restraint were once central to ecological thinking and one wonders if younger environmentalists really understand what “the environment” is, beyond AGW. They should revisit the history of physical landscape destruction, which has entered a major new phase with wind power. Nature has a bleak future unless this industry is restrained quickly. It’s a tragic case of blight for naught when you see how ineffectual wind turbines really are. An all-electric economy may never be possible without earthbound nuclear fusion in portable configurations. The sun’s fusion reaction is the original solar, hydro and wind energy source.
Landscape-change denial has become as bad as climate-change denial. Very large industrial wind turbines are creating an unprecedented visual plague on the planet, with over a quarter million already installed as of 2016 (exact counts are elusive; please post a link below if you have a reliable source). Benign depictions of wind turbines “dotting” the landscape should be changed to “stabbing” and “blighting.” Nothing else is as tall, widespread, stark and kinetic. As with climate change or cancer in the initial stages, honest discussions of wind power must include its future potential spread, not just what’s known today. The industry seeks to fill up every possible “wind resource zone” and views would keep deteriorating. There’s no precedent for machines of this size and quantity, especially in the scenic areas they’ve invaded. Their closest rivals are offshore oil rigs, which are far less numerous, not seen from inland areas, and not designed for permanence. Some future schemes call for nearly 4 million wind turbines but backlash is already strong because people can no longer ignore their presence.
Note: If you’re a wind power pusher who’ll ignore the content on this page, click here for a one sentence summary.
Quasi-environmentalists keep repeating the same rationalizations for this growing blight on finite scenery. Here are some common propaganda tactics, with responses.
  1. We think wind turbines are beautiful.” Should the crass aesthetics of a subsidy-chasing industry be accepted just because of green branding? Natural scenery is integral to quality of life and should never be disrespected. When you call something beautiful you must do it in the context of what it replaced, altered, devalued or ignored. You can’t expect others to accept something absurdly large and kinetically distracting as part of the environment. Rare wind turbines in urban settings can be interesting but most end up in rural areas where they upset the historical sense of place. Oddly, some turbine-lovers say power lines are ugly, even though new ones are built for many wind sites. A number of soulless people have never respected nature’s grandeur without man-made “improvements.” It tends to be a Creationist or anthropocentric engineering mindset. Wind turbines are the biggest structures being forced onto landscapes by the same types who used to interrupt rivers (see below). Where’s the moral consistency? Nothing in nature looks like wind turbines or flashes red lights all night. In the overrun UK, people are rightfully comparing them to War Of The Worlds tripods or marauding Triffids. In rural landscapes it goes against evolution to accept mechanical monsters as normal or desirable.
  2. Would you rather live near a coal mine or wind farm?” This is a mostly meaningless diversion, since far more people are dealing with visible wind turbines now. Mines tend to be hidden at depth or obscured by ridges, whereas wind turbines are deliberately prominent. Unlike fossil fuel developments, wind projects aren’t limited by geological formations and they add new blight that nobody foresaw. Few people predicted the eventual size of these machines but it’s central to what ails them, plus their growing quantity. Even fracking is much less vertically intrusive and its sites can be restored (water is a separate issue). Wind turbines are put wherever the wind blows, and it’s often nice country that wouldn’t have been touched by other energy developments. The wind mob knows that many people resent the blight but they keep rationalizing the spread of their machines. Their money/subsidy motivations are covered in depth elsewhere.
  3. They will replace fossil fuels and help stop global warming.” This also fails the evidence test, since wind turbines merely stretch fossil fuels by using them to create a different, less efficient form of energy uptake. There are analogies to a hydrogen economy that needs fossil fuels to extract it, so why bother with the middleman. You can’t build or transport such absurdly large machines with electric power; you need heavy mining & smelting equipment and big diesel trucks to move them around. Due to wind’s intermittent nature, wind power can’t work on the grid without a backup energy source, often gas, coal or nuclear. In many cases (e.g. Germany) it’s been shown that CO2 emissions have actually risen as backup plants are installed in new areas to accommodate fickle wind patterns.
  4. We can carefully site wind turbines to minimize their impact.” If this was ever true, why would there be so much resistance to almost every new project? In its 1970s infancy there were few protests because people saw it as a limited scale experiment but the monster escaped its cage and there are only so many places to put them now, with fewer after every new installation. Too much land is already developed and wind power just adds to existing blight. Wind energy advocates think their giant machines can’t be ugly due to a righteous anti-carbon message but landscape blight didn’t vanish as an issue just because global warming took center stage. Turbine apologists say that smokestacks are ugly but wind towers just add blades to the same general structure. The industry talks of making towers even bigger to work in lower wind areas, and concrete may become a means to that end, with a more smokestack-like appearance. Will they keep calling them beautiful? Some wind drones do admit that turbines blight landscapes, and they think offshore wind factories are the answer but it’s not cost effective to install them at distances where they’re invisible from shore. Many people see an unbroken ocean horizon as a basic right. Where else can you look to “infinity” without disruption? Ocean-based turbines also tend to be the largest models and harder to hide. See calculators for visibility vs. height and distance.
  5. Wind turbines occupy relatively little acreage.” A popular scientist repeated this deception in the 2014 Cosmos remake. It’s based on the disingenuous claim that tower-bases are the only land & ocean space physically affected by preternaturally large machines. It’s the same rationalization used for ANWR oil drilling, citing “only 2,000” affected acres that would actually sprawl over 1.5 million acres. A direct parallel is Wyoming’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, which claims to need only about 2,000 acres of a 320,000-acre ranch but would actually sprawl over 229,000 acres (see map) and require hypocritical “eagle take permits.” Most environmental groups understand the ANWR ruse, so who are they kidding? See the NRDC ANWR land-grab map vs. their wind energy platitudes. The Union of Concerned Scientistsalso tows that line, apparently unconcerned with scenery. Any industrial complex has a footprint of its total encompassed acreage, including access roads. The whole area becomes aesthetically tainted and cannot be classified as natural anymore. The relatively wide separation of wind towers (which increases with tower height) is irrelevant and their total visibility is the obvious problem. Dodging that issue with technical wording is extremely devious. The industry also pretends home values aren’t affected when turbines are in the viewshed. A number of people have simply moved away, as they might with any lousy, permanent neighbor. Such large machines are difficult to remove for legal and financial reasons, e.g. Falmouth, MA. Those who claim turbines can be a bridge technology, later dismantled, are not facing facts. Their roads and cement bases may remain for centuries and energy put into building them is wasted now.
  6. Rich people just don’t want their view spoiled.” With this canard, the wind mob plays the common man sympathy card while trivializing the importance of scenery to quality of life. It’s also an admission that “wind turbines are beautiful” is a damned lie. When D.J. Trump fought an offshore wind farm near his Aberdeen, Scotland golf course, it was used as dual proof of wealth and climate-denial conspiring against innocent wind machines. In truth, some very humble people live in or travel through scenic areas all the time, and wildlife has no voice when homewreckers arrive. Wind companies often target cash-strapped farmers to bribe them for land-grabs. Some carbon-obsessives think tarnished scenery is our penance for fossil fuel use, but the subsidy-hungry industry pushes the same growthist agenda as the rest of the economy, using green sales pitches for a sense of urgency to ruin landscapes. Maine and Vermont are notable examples with remote mountains in the crosshairs. West Virginia has already been spoiled with eyesores like the Laurel Mountain project, with its additional battery storage blight. North Carolina set the rare precedent of banning all but the smallest mountaintop wind turbines in 2009, but it’s unclear how long it will last. The rural poor get caught in situations where a neighbor is paid to host turbines but one could be 10 feet from their property line and create nothing but noise. A number of wind executives are quite rich but how many would live near their own contraptions? T. Boone Pickens didn’t want turbines on his own land when pushing a Texas wind power scheme. He literally called them ugly.
  7. Cats, cars and windows kill more birds than wind turbines.” People who automatically use that excuse are revealing that bird life is as trivial to them as untrammeled scenery. Also, cars or store windows never claimed to be saving the world. More birds will obviously die as more turbines are built on this finite planet, so the “X kills more than Y” diversion becomes less true with every wind-sword placed in a flyway. There are no house-cats in many areas where wind turbines are installed, and the species of birds are often different, e.g. large raptors that rarely succumb to other animals. Birds tend to be mentioned first in mortality discussions but the plight of bats is worse. Read these articles. Bats can’t escape wind turbine blades via sonar and are actually drawn to wind turbines. Even if they avoid the actual blades, they often die from pressure shocks as they narrowly pass by, and few other machines can duplicate that effect. Why would any “green” technology be killing animals on a regular basis? The wind mob generally ignores such ethical questions (gotta stop carbon by any means, even at the expense of nature itself).
  8. People who complain about wind turbine noise are NIMBY liars.” This is a puerile denial of the obvious. You can’t claim that gigantic machines intercepting large volumes of air won’t affect the soundscape! Listen to the air-roar of a mere 20″ box fan, then ask yourself how something vastly larger with a driven generator can be quiet. The noise is complex in its manifestations and topography, yet fundamentally simple; friction and mechanical resonance creates sound. The industry uses the complex aspects to distract from the blatant ones, especially in opinion polls with cherry-picked residents. Infrasound causes some very unpleasant effects and can be hard to measure with standard equipment, but the audible noise is bad enough. It needn’t be super loud, either, just unnatural or jarring, like a dripping faucet that would barely register on a dB meter but can prevent sleep. The typical industry excuse is that they aren’t louder than a refrigerator but who hasn’t been kept awake by a refrigerator in the same room, e.g. a motel? A related, equally dishonest angle is “I usually see wind turbines at a distance and never hear them.” Do they think wind turbines have a magic motility that always makes them far away and quiet to a given observer? Why are setback distances from homes such a big issue?
  9. Some right-wing climate deniers are against wind power, therefore that’s everyone’s motive.” This is an association fallacy or hasty generalization. Why assume that landscapes and quiet nights aren’t important to millions of Democrats and other random people? Wind turbines are very large machines built where nobody really expected them. Some things are offensive on a gut level no matter how much green propaganda is thrown around. Wind turbines are an example of something that can be done with applied engineering skills but ought not be, for moral reasons. They aren’t as dangerous as nuclear weapons (another case of hubris gone mad) but they are “blowing up” scenery in many ways. Small-footprint alternatives like rooftop solar should be getting the bulk of subsidies.
  10. Wind energy advocates are good environmentalists.” Only because they say so, as they wreck landscapes while yammering about how beautiful or majestic their machines are. Many green groups were adamant about protecting scenery until carbon-dread quashed so many old concerns (typical human overreaction). How many who resent Trump’s attacks on national monuments like Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante would be silent if those same lands were blighted by wind machines? Same goes for the NODAPL protesters of a barely visible pipeline (water issues aside in this context). We’ve reached a strange point where the visible environment is seen as inconsequential compared to air and water pollution, but the damage is all cumulative. Climate concerns don’t make scenery ruination any less of an issue. The environment is intrinsically linked to its physical horizons all around us. People plant trees and grass in cities because we evolved in nature and don’t want it obliterated by buildings and machines. The industry’s growth is decades past the point where there’s any balance between the scale of wind energy and the need for pleasant scenery. German academics saw this coming in 1998 but landscape apathy prevailed and things are much worse now. Each new “farm” (aka factory) eats into more space that wasn’t tainted by huge machines, unnatural noise and light pollution. When you witness their detachment from nature, it’s clear that many wind engineers, truckers, crane operators and maintenance workers could easily segue into fossil fuel extraction.
Click HERE to read the rest of the post for a guide in how to refute these pro-turbine arguments...

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