Simulation Hypothesis = Insane Technological Hubris

Starting around 20 years ago, some otherwise intelligent people began asking whether we might live in a simulation created by computers. In other words, completely fake reality conjured by devious entities. You’d not even know you were unreal. The idea was triggered by advancements in video games, CGI, and specifically “The Matrix,” which accelerated paranoia among conspiracy theorists, followed by people who ought to know better. The latter use disclaimers to appear sane, but some take it seriously.

At first, second and third glance, the whole thing reeks of blind faith in technology and chronic detachment from nature. Yes, there are visually impressive video games and 3D immersive experiences, but that’s all they’ll ever be in the world outside of Silicon Valley or Hollywood. The simulation hypothesis is the latest stretch of thinking that places people and machines above the very laws of nature. It’s the embodiment of a God complex. Anthropocentric arrogance prevails over everything, including “green” ideology.

Simulation Hypothesis - Nick Bostrom, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk

Nick Bostrom, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk are among the more famous people floating the idea. Too much thinking or wealth can overinflate human abilities.

Here’s why a simulated planet or universe defies logic:

  • Who or what built the computers, and what materials, energy and social structure maintains them? Just like the (planet-bound) “100% renewable energy” fallacy, no machine can exist or replicate in a vacuum.
  • Where do these creatures or entities live, if not on an actual planet? If they are actually us, it gets even nuttier, like looking at endless mirrored reflections.
  • Why would they go to such lengths? The notion that someone wants to “control us” can be explained by banal things like marketing. There’d be no logical gain in making a virtual society, just twisted entertainment for someone.
  • No computer is 100% reliable, even the combination of millions networked online, so the system would occasionally crash. Billions of people would notice* something’s wrong, as would other species caught up in a simulation.
  • Why would the makers allow accidents, diseases and the pitfalls of aging in a virtual environment? If it was done for a serious purpose you’d think they’d strive for Utopia. But if it’s all unreal, why would it even matter? The conflicts are endless.
  • Why would they allow numerous environmental problems to escalate or begin in the first place? A “runaway simulation” is absurd because the very capability of creating it should allow parameter controls. Someone could shut it down if it got ridiculous.
  • How can countless discrete instances of self-awareness* exist in a computer? Simulating an external environment is one thing, but so many different selves wandering around is a tall order, including the minds of other animals. As with belief in ghosts, people get confused by entertainment media vs. things they’ve truly seen.

Scientists have already debunked the hypothesis with other types of reasoning, if one needs more detail. Being dazzled by computer power doesn’t make Moore’s Law infinite, and YouTube will eventually run out of server space, if the power even stays on. People treat fallible systems like bedrock just because they still happen to work.

If someone insists we’re actually living in a simulated world (no less crazy than solipsism) they ought to join the Flat Earth club as well. Wild concepts distract people from pressing problems on a real planet with too many distractions already.

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Green New Deal: Energy Sprawl Destroys Scenery, Wildlife and Rural Ambience

“Do people pretend to be Saving The Planet while simply rebranding business as usual? People DO.” (Chevron ad satire)

green new deal 3 logos edit1

Ominously upbeat logos reveal the future loss of open space to Green New SPRAWL. Climate change didn’t make land-use issues vanish. Environmentalists just became sellouts.

As a hasty response to Republicans’ climate and fossil fuel myopia, Democrats are pushing the “Green New Deal” which claims to be pro-environment but looks like the biggest industrial invasion of rural lands & oceans ever conceived. Acreage thought to be immune from development would be wide open to exemptions under a Clean Energy banner. Trump’s attacks on national monuments were already outdone by Obama’s fast-tracked wind energy blight. There’s a new psychological construct wherein a technology is only dirty if it directly emits smoke or CO2. Both the material chain of its existence and its physical intrusion on nature are wished away.

The core problem with “clean energy” is the scale of weak, intermittent sources trying to replace dense, reliable sources (oil, gas and coal) which inconveniently build the weaker infrastructure. A common term for this is energy sprawl and it’s already happening, but the GND would speed it up while adding costly social agendas. Wind power blight has been covered at length here (1, 2) but the solar component of rural uglification is increasing. Well-meaning environmentalists are in denial about this new sprawl, which they frame as a special case. You can’t just put new wind turbines on brownfields, nor can you only see them from there. They must know this.

Before environmentalists sold their souls to techno-fixes, few would link BIGNESS with greenness, like praising Glen Canyon dam or maximizing the Atlantic Ocean’s generating capacity. Had the Internet existed in the 1980s, conscientious searchers would be dismayed by thousands of hits for MASSIVE NEW PROJECTS linked to pro-environment causes. The word MASSIVE brings images of invasion and disruption, which is exactly what’s happening to our last open spaces. Even when they just invade farmland (considered “developed”) they kill the former feeling of openness. Invert wind turbines and you’ve got a claustrophobic H.G. Wells scenario, including red lights at night. Those who praise them the most rarely live among giants.

Fântânele-Cogealac wind farm Romania 1c

A MASSIVE NEW WIND FARM is about to go online! This clean energy project created new jobs and economic growth, which is always good for the planet, of course. Don’t be alarmed because fossil fuels built it and it resembles urban sprawl. It’s different this time because we call it Green.

Due to the paucity of wind and sun in broad regions, new transmission corridors are needed, like the planned 780-mile Grain Belt Express Clean Line; a relatively benign example where pristine wilderness isn’t crossed. Unfortunately it’s planned as an overhead series of pylons, despite using new HVDC technology. Underground power lines have cost & maintenance issues, so most hidden lines are necessitated by lakes or oceans. When wild areas are targeted, politically-pressured environmentalists who normally fight clearcuts and lost carbon sinks may have to cave in. Constant attempts are made by wind companies to build in or near wilderness, which usually requires new power lines. Projects at Steens Mountain, OR and Crescent Peak, NV were rebuffed, but pressure will mount, just as it did with the fracking invasion.

The fallacy of “100% Renewable Energy” has become the cornerstone of progressive energy policies and needs to be called out. It’s based on carbon credits posing as “zero carbon” through accounting tricks and venture capital. RE100 is physically impossible with any known technology but the story’s been repeated too often to be quickly debunked. Shiny objects fool people who don’t trace their history. Not one wind turbine or solar panel has been built solely with energy from its kind, and ERoI will always matter in the physical world. When you debate supporters of these projects you often get vague answers about scaling and net energy factors. They don’t want to know because they’ve latched onto something new and it must be better.

Imagine a committee of Green New Dealers writing an open letter to The Planet:

Dear Planet Earth:

We’re embarking on an ambitious plan to free the world from fossil fuels and stop climate change while employing the poor in new industries for a bright green future. This will allow us to solve serious energy problems, clean our air & water, and lift people of color out of poverty, all in one cohesive plan.

Imagine the countryside glistening with beautiful solar lakes and unimaginably tall white forests, far more attractive than grim derricks and gray tailings, and even some living trees. Spin, Baby, Spin! We’ll show nature that we can coexist with it while changing only what we need to. The key is proper siting, and we’ve got plenty of space for that, according to Smart Growth planners. There’s also lots of room for immigrants in our diverse melting pot. Green growth is much different than standard growth-based capitalism.

On the social front, millions of misunderstood urban youth who once dealt drugs, tagged bridges and bumped bass will be happily cleaning solar panels and climbing wind turbines as they spread cool new 3D graffiti and move tasteful infrasound beats into farm & mountain country. These efforts will create countless jobs along with social justice and economic parity. It’s a win-win for nature and people.

We’re obligated to note that these green projects use quite a bit of space, so you’ll have to travel some distance on vacation to see unaffected vistas. But don’t worry, National Parks will remain mostly intact and you’ll get there in electric cars with a 500-mile range! It’s all good. Furthermore, there will be a number of casualties in terms of birds, bats and other displaced species, but special breeding centers will mitigate losses. They may not fly as freely but they’ll be grateful for our help.

We fully expect Planet Earth to understand our wonderful new undertaking and we can hardly wait to get rid of all those ugly coal mines! Below is a sneak preview of Earth’s future using samples from the present. Just imagine this multiplied manyfold (in carefully sited locations). It’s Green so it’s all good!

Sincerely, Green New Dealers, Inc.

Scroll down to see just a small fraction of our b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l green future!

wind and solar blight vertical image 1c


OK, enough scrolling and back to reality. If the above looks like a bunch of un-green, bloated construction projects pretending to save the planet, you’re not mistaken. Quoting a famous rocker before climate fears buried aesthetic values, “How can everyone see it and yet be so blind?” The same capacity for denial that causes some people to ignore environmental problems makes others think they’ll be solved by the species that created them. It always comes down to building more stuff all over the place, never true conservation or personal restraint.

Earth, good luck with the Green New Deal if it ever gets fully implemented. This reluctant Democrat can’t support it.

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Right-Wingers aren’t “Anti-Science,” they’re Anti-Nature

“The most beautiful thing about a tree is what you do with it after you cut it down.” – Rush Limbaugh (undeniable avarice)

California and Oregon wildfires - August 2018

Record fires burn in California & Oregon (August 2018). “Now is not the time to talk about climate change” say brain-dead Republicans. Such thinking is an evolutionary dead-end.

What sort of ignorant conspiracy-nuts would look at a scene like that and blame it entirely on lack of logging or “job-killing” water regulations while refusing to acknowledge global warming as a major factor? Who would keep parroting rationalizations like “the climate’s changed before” with chronic resistance to established facts and the latest insights?

Stubborn right-wing idiots, that’s who. With all due respect to conservatives who can see the world beyond money, let’s call these people what they really are. We need to thin the deniers, not the trees (housing sprawl justifies understory fire-suppression). It’s long past the point where debates about man-made environmental problems are a case of “agree to disagree.” There’s a swamp of avarice badly in need of draining.

Here are some typical right-wing views on the environment, loaded with greed, pettiness and evil:

  • They think the economy must grow indefinitely, spurred on by the weakest possible environmental regulations. It’s a mindset of making money and destroying anything that lacks a utilitarian or recreation purpose. They see wilderness-preservation as an economic impediment, unless of course hunting is allowed. Everything’s about human wants, with no intrinsic respect for nature. Zinke under Trump and Watt under Reagan are prime examples of that attitude.
  • They decry immigration (wise in a carrying-capacity context) yet defund contraception for impoverished nations, which could actually reduce the pressure. They’d rather build yuugely expensive walls to support resource-guzzling, make-work construction jobs. Their ability to grasp root causes and effects is limited by archaic beliefs and small-mindedness.
  • Mindless global warming denial is an automatic response from Republicans. CO2 supposedly disobeys the laws of physics just for them. Some of the smarter ones acknowledge the science but would rather tow the party line and keep the threat vague, or throw free-market solutions at it. They “forget” that the free-market necessitated the EPA after decades of industry inaction. They now support filth-mongers like Trump, bent on crippling the EPA’s taken-for-granted progress.
  • A number of them literally hate nature and take pride in pillaging it. Look in any comment section on endangered species articles and you’ll find some GOP dirtbag wanting a cost-benefit analysis of its very existence, wishing it gone for economic expedience. “Wipe your ass with a spotted owl” was a popular white trash slogan, as if decimating forests is a good thing. If that’s not an evil, sadistic attitude, what is? Creationism is common among that ilk, with emphasis on “subdue” in Genesis 1:28. One species, arrogant under God, united to destroy.
  • They call themselves “pro-life” yet won’t enact common sense gun laws and enjoy killing non-human life for entertainment. They’re eager to shoot anything they can label a pest or game animal, often just to test new firearms or bows. The true motives of quasi-hunters have become very clear with online media sharing. Here’s what many “sportsmen” are up to, grinning all the while.
greed - redneck rampage - prairie dog shoot - rolling coal

Greedy by nature, with “All the killin’, twice the humor, half the intelligence.” (spot-on slogan for a video game), plus prairie dog serial killers and wasteful diesel coal-rolling.

When a right-winger lies about humans having minimal impact, or talks about “plenty of land remaining,” refer them to Google Earth time-lapse imagery. Start by showing them lands with so-called sustainable logging and watch them go silent. Forests are constantly being pillaged because the population never stops growing. The process is also known as “job creation” among those who respect no other benchmark.

This was written while surrounded by forest fire smoke, which gets one thinking about mass stupidity and denial as a political agenda. Don’t just blame the likes of Trump, blame your neighbors who thought he was fit to lead and supported his anti-EPA, monument-shrinking agenda. The current POTUS is merely the latest incarnation of a piss-on-nature mentality that Reagan kicked into high gear. People like that have been around since America was founded, and exist all over the world. They should be corralled in the foulest possible cities while decent people try to do the actual RIGHT thing.

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“Saving the Planet” is a Misleading, Lost Cause

“There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation.” – Herman Daly

urban land use 1

The actual ratio of cleared forest to urban land is exponentially larger than this, along with water, food and energy acreage. Most cities are temporary illusions of prosperity.

Too many cards are stacked against saving nature from human greed, hunger and environmental apathy. The evidence is clear when you get past the veneer of endless hope, techno-fixes and greenwashing. We should just admit it and drop the ruse of “sustainability” as more people consume more resources each day. Nature is under a long-term siege because “The Economy” demands it. A POTUS was elected on an EPA-gutting mandate while “environmentalists” praise the biggest machines ever built on rural lands and won’t take a real stance on overpopulation. Rare leaders who promote serious conservation are seen as weak, or enemies of individual freedom (to take as one pleases). Manifest Destiny still prevails, framing wilderness as a place to be feared more than respected. People actually trying to save the biosphere are caught in an expanding charade that bows to economic growth. Wise people should certainly keep trying, but not with optimistic rhetoric that ignores root causes and placates the masses.

Humans are genetically programmed to overcome nature’s hazards simply to stay alive. This includes ruthless survival tactics like lying and cheating to gain advantage. For many centuries these traits had limited impacts on ecosystems, then fossil fuels greatly amplified our ability to harm nature while also enabling a population explosion. The expansion of technology and consumerism turned us from survivors into destroyers. Even well-meaning people behave as if the power balance never shifted from nature to Man. They were born into a system that served their post-industrial ancestors and assume it must be “the way of the world,” so they keep obeying primal instincts in outdated context. They’ll say things like “what a crazy system!” as in fun-crazy instead of terminally corrupt. Some never contemplate the growing scale of human impact or simply don’t care. “People are basically good” doesn’t explain the true state of the world. The belief that God will decide when humans have gone too far is foolish since hardships occur with or without prayer. Christians who practice Creation Care are at odds with Genesis 1:28 and similar Bible passages.

Some conservatives gloat about polluting and pillaging nature, combining ignorance with evil. They also call environmentalism “socialism” when regulations cramp their style. The greedy see greed-control as liberty-infringement. The history of tetraethyl lead in gasoline is typical of toxicity driven by expediency. Its inventor also introduced CFCs, so “big government” regulations have saved many lives. Meanwhile, many liberals who claim to be Green are so concerned about being fair to other cultures that they ignore blatant problems like overpopulation and criminality. Or they push destructive technology like IWTs to protest coal, etc.  This complex combination of greed and naivety prevents intelligent policies from being carried out on a meaningful scale. The wealthy may think they’re above nature’s laws while the poor often trash their surroundings, e.g. homeless camps, nonexistent regulations in third-world countries and tropical deforestation. “Environmental & social justice” overlooks shared flaws in human nature. Growing numbers of people from all ranks are stifling environmental progress.

carrying capacity overload - migrants on boat

Desperate migrants on an overcrowded boat symbolize carrying-capacity overload. Stubborn pronatalists and cornucopians keep ignoring warnings about tipping points.

In crude but accurate terms, this is how a lot of people think:

  • I need stuff to live, so don’t question how I make money to get it. I’m special!
  • Hey, look at their stuff! I need some of that to boost my image and reputation.
  • I’ll do whatever it takes to get it, so screw the environment if need be. People first!
  • Is it wise to destroy your very life-support system to accomplish this? (voice of reason)
  • Look, I gotta feed my kids so get off my case. The guv’mint/tree-huggers just want to control me!
  • The conversation ends there because they won’t rise above their CYA programming.

Modern cultures are obsessed with economic growth, business and being busy with an industrious, industrial attitude. Action for its own sake is favored over letting things be. Slogans like “work hard, play hard” and “no limits” defy conservation and restraint. Most modern work depletes resources and the mantra of progress is to constantly build something, either physically or monetarily. It’s considered lazy to halt the grind and let nature recover, except temporarily for fallow fields, clearcuts or overfished waters. Everything’s about stock indices, housing-starts and production capacity, measured in flawed GDP terms. The ethos of “hard work” is seen as moral, regardless of what’s being sacrificed. One can feed a family designing war machines, or with barely ethical FIRE Economy schemes, including pyramids and Ponzis. Environmental shortcuts are inevitable in difficult, dirty jobs like mining, drilling, logging, construction and vehicle repair. The unnatural tedium and effort creates a mindset of “dump it in the creek so we can go home.” Workers are told to be grateful for miserable slogs that serve 24/7 manufacturing cycles and superfluous marketing, and union-busting is the trend. Countless jobs require hustling, lying and searching for loopholes, with no shortage of sleazy people willing to do it. Also, the words build and produce are not defined honestly. People merely convert nature into forms convenient to our species with little regard for balance. True production is growth without depletion, like plants fertilized by natural decay. Finite replenishment cycles have been replaced by the infinite allure of fiat money.

oil derricks and wind turbines on beach

The old oil derricks on this CA beach are similar to modern wind turbines except for low-carbon hype. Millions of very large, noisy machines are sought by cleantech hypocrites.

To ostensibly stop all this depletion, the term “renewable energy” gets thrown around, but it’s mostly a new spin on business-as-usual. Man has greatly escalated urban sprawl with things like industrial wind power, discussed at length in other posts here. The main differences between today’s “renewable” and non-renewable sources are partial energy offsets and green slogans. With the exception of dependable, high-ERoI sources like hydroelectric and geothermal, little of the infrastructure is viable without finite fossil fuels and mined raw materials for construction, maintenance and replacement. Greenwashing has millions of naive people convinced that destroying nature to preserve society is reasonable, so hard questions about overpopulation and restraint are unanswered by public policy.

Thanks to an artificial money system, people are the only species that keeps depleting finite resources to make a living. Money is seen as a resource unto itself rather than contrived compensation, thus physical commodity limits are disrespected. Other species don’t need to invent financial schemes merely to stay alive. They used to live in balance until we disrupted ancient systems and replaced them with unnatural growth. The mandate to constantly create jobs and build something (“green” or otherwise) drives most modern enterprises. Deliberate job-creation accommodates a surplus of labor and overpopulation. Intrinsically necessary work wouldn’t have to be schemed up or funded with credit, and it wouldn’t create landscapes that resemble mold growth.

True sustainability looks a lot like primitive hunting and gathering. Understandably, few want to revert to that lifestyle, except with temporary gestures backed up by modern gear. There’s a lot of contextual denial among sandaled “back to nature” types. If everyone tried to hunt, fish or survive on backyard farms, we’d quickly learn that agribusiness and dense livestock are the only practical way to feed huge populations. Many bushcraft practitioners make a living from videos these days. The worst hypocrites travel the globe killing wildlife as professional hunters, or enjoy the crass sport of bass fishing with speedboats. Look at how many jobs are based on recreation that mimics true needs from pre-industrial times. Nature needs to survive our growing harshness, not the converse; at least to the point where we destroy its ability to support us. It’s become a contest to see which happens first, Peak Oil or major AGW impacts, both of which are ignored by utilitarian commerce.

Oregon railroad clearcuts

Square-mile railroad logging parcels in Oregon symbolize human land-use. When species like bark beetles kill trees they’re a pest, but man-made damage is called “management.”

So-called victories for the environment tend to be islands in a sea of development, and have done relatively little to stop habitat fragmentation. A typical example is saving a few acres of trees as greenspace for an “intentional community.” It’s still a net loss for the forest, and later a nearby ridge could be logged, mined or covered with ugly wind turbines (more net losses). Our ability to develop and denude the planet went viral when fossil fuels made the work much easier. If you study the duties of environmental professionals, you realize they’re mostly cleaning up messes and shuffling population growth into different areas. They have no way to stop the source of the growth, and developers pay them for image-control. Urban planners plan for more destruction while calling it balance. Hands-on efforts like untangling animals from fishing lines or relocating endangered species make little difference as more people put pressure on nature. When root causes are addressed, it’s usually worded to not offend the human perpetrators. You can see why nothing really changes.

Some neo-environmentalists have taken fatalism too far, like terminally ill smokers who believe in reincarnation (examples: 1, 2, 3). They use the demented argument that we can never completely destroy nature (minus runaway nuclear war) therefore “the planet is fine” because nature will “recover” after we’re gone. The degree of recovery and “after we’re gone” date are kept vague to accommodate all future suffering they’ve rationalized as acceptable. Would today’s extinct or soon-to-be species get regenerated, Jurassic Park style, assuming there’s anyone left with such technology? Do they think quality of life now is meaningless to all the species lucky enough to have survived human impact so far? That includes us, you know! The whole narrative is arrogant anthropocentrism, i.e. forget the planet that allows us to live and rescue us from our sins in the absence of viable life-support.

Another twist on fatalism is asking “What are YOU doing about it?” whenever environmental topics come up. For example, a crusty rancher who denies global warming might brag about planting 100 trees, as if that proves he’s mitigating CO2 while you aren’t. It’s a tactic of those who view everything in terms of their own property, not the wider planet. Many people will never own enough land to personally restore it, but if they did they could plant 1,000 trees instead of building a rifle range. It’s all relative to personal leverage. The implication that you must single-handedly do something big or you should shut up about the environment is like saying don’t criticize murder unless you’re a cop who can prevent a few. Of course that’s an imperfect analogy because environmental damage is done by countless “good guys” per society’s standards.

Movies have widespread influence and apocalyptic themes are popular because people know something’s out of balance, but root causes are usually sidestepped. Most plots are sympathetic to human failings or go overboard with zombie plagues and alien invasions. Others use shock value by making overnight catastrophes out of slow-moving problems, e.g. “The Day After Tomorrow.” It ends up inspiring apathy because people see it as unrealistic. In the ecologically-aware 1970s, the film “Z.P.G.” tackled overpopulation but sympathized with people bucking efforts to stop it. A similar plot occurred in “Children of Men” where mass infertility could have been seen as a reprieve from environmental ruin. In the real world, economic recessions mandate conservation but are seen as negative. “They Live” tried to blame consumerism on aliens, with people as hapless victims. “WALL-E” was praised for its environmental message but the director said it was just a subplot. The viral-humans speech in “The Matrix” told the truth, yet a virtual reality cure was unacceptable. Human interest or anti-government themes tend to drown out pragmatic solutions. A society with gravitas about overshoot would face the topic head-on without endless tangents. “Soylent Green” was one of the few films that got to the point, and deserves a sequel. The “nobody cares” scene in “Silent Running” was also truthful. Many television documentaries present grim environmental warnings but usually stay polite to the perpetrators. Educating the public doesn’t help without personal accountability. Billions of complicit people will have to be offended at some point.

alfred e. neuman couple

Even when they do worry, most people still ignore the 24/7 destruction of their only life source, preferring to dwell on personal matters. Denial is built into the human brain.

If people were seriously planning to save nature it would be echoed in the things they do and say every day, but most still talk about making money (from depletion) feeling good and staying entertained. Watch and listen to your neighbors and co-workers. They’re generally ego-driven, hedonistic and impatient, with nature as a mere backdrop for their scarce leisure time. They keep electing leaders with similar values, then blame them for societal ills. The relative few who make sacrifices for the environment (beyond token recycling) or live at a slower pace are seen as “not with the program.” The Internet provides some hope with an echo chamber of wise people fighting all this denial, but they’re vastly outnumbered. If you talk among average people about what’s really happening you’ll be called a doomer, or get blank stares as the subject is changed to something upbeat, especially at work where it’s understood that “we’re here to make money.” There’s little evidence that enough people care about their true source of life to protect it from profit-driven sprawl and banality. Let’s stop pretending the planet can be saved from us, by us.*

This page will be updated and reworded at random with new information. If you cite it, please post the link instead of a pasted snapshot. *Us means everyone who won’t practice personal restraint until it’s too late to matter.

Oil is FINITE at any price. Why do people keep wasting it?

“The human race does not have a very good record of intelligent behavior.” – Stephen Hawking

If you walk through almost any city you’ll see people idling their engines at zero MPG, often fooling with their smartphones or GPS devices. They seem oblivious to their surroundings and time itself. Sometimes it goes on for 30+ minutes, including situations where someone stands outside talking with the driver. Oil-wasters are easiest to spot at night when glowing screens and headlights give them away. Unsurprisingly, they waste bulbs like they waste oil, thinking “I’ll just buy more.” When the price of fuel is modest, idle-waste tracks with general apathy more than income. It’s a way of life in America; get inside, turn the key and don’t even think about where oil comes from as long as you can “afford the gas.” Gratuitous fuel squandering isn’t new but mobile entertainment has made it notably worse. The phenomenon peaks during extreme weather but it happens in all seasons and the apathy is obvious.

These wastrels could at least limit idling on hot and cold days by parking in the shade when possible, or blasting the heater before they park, letting residual heat linger inside. Also, a big 12-volt battery won’t get drained by charging a much smaller phone without the alternator. All it takes is some forethought and a general conservation ethic.

engine idling 1

Who really cares about oil depletion or global warming? This is America! We have better things to do, like checking Twitter and keeping the interior above a lethal 55-degrees.

rolling coal diesel 1a

Unburned diesel fuel, T&A, and a good ol’ time at the expense of others. Ain’t that the American way? You betcha! Gluttonous and proud. We’re gettin’ ours!

Many large pickup trucks are bought as crass status symbols or ego-boosters (similar to pseudo-hunting pursuits). Diesel drivers are known for excessive idling despite modern engines requiring much shorter warm-ups and turbo cool-downs. A number of them are wannabe semi-truck drivers who like the sound and torque aspects. Truck-stop idling itself is a major source of waste, though APUs are helping. The worst diesel offenders “roll coal” on other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. They’re scumbags but they’re also more honest than passive idlers in terms of environmental consequences. Overall, more fuel is wasted in cities due to sheer numbers of people. Country air is cleaner for lack of population density, not because residents put more effort into it. They take that for granted when they defy emissions controls with ego-mods, including removing catalytic converters to fight the EPA’s “back-pressure conspiracy.” Rural air would be even cleaner if fuel pumps had vapor recovery nozzles and two-stroke engines were phased out on thrillcraft. Average folk do things the cheapest, laziest way they can get away with.

Another common waste of fuel occurs at car dealerships and rental companies. An agent will walk up to a vehicle, open the door and immediately turn on the engine while describing its features. Are they trying to entice you to test drive it? With rental cars they already know you’ll be taking it, so why squander fuel you’ll have to replace anyhow? Techniques from the old days of looser engine tolerances still encourage pointless idling. In most weather you shouldn’t have to idle more than 10-30 seconds for full oil pressure. Engineering manuals suggest warming up by driving as soon as possible at moderate speeds, which warms the drivetrain along with the engine so it isn’t shocked by acceleration. Some claim that stopping and restarting a warm engine causes wear but there’s always a sheen of oil protecting the metal (otherwise, hybrid engines would fail prematurely). Remote starters are often abused as pointless gadgets rather than a warm-up method for very cold days. Cold starts have higher metal-on-metal risk but oil remains trapped in the rings overnight. Vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances have excuses for idling (to power equipment) but it can still be reduced. Chronic speeding is also a major source of waste. Efficiency plummets in top gear at speeds much over 60 MPH, and even hybrid drivers join mobs of tailgaters (Jevons paradox). Calculations vary, but Americans alone waste at least 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

The only thing that really makes average people conserve oil is a price increase, which they quickly forget if it falls again. Over-hyped reserves of oil-bearing shale and OPEC’s deliberate overproduction (to starve U.S. frackers) temporarily wiped the 2008 oil price spike from Americans’ memory, and they’ll be caught off guard when it returns. At the time of this posting, oil prices had crept back into the upper $60’s after being flat for many months. SUV and V8 sales had risen as prices dropped and placated the herd, but the world was burning upwards of 90 million barrels a day all the while. That’s oil we won’t get back (abiotic oil is a conspiracy theory). We’ll see how long this recent price increase holds, but anyone who claims oil is infinite doesn’t understand geological processes. Creationist fables are behind a lot of that thinking.

When the “official” Peak Oil finally hits, millions of people will be indignant at first. Being willfully ignorant of oil’s physical limits, they’ll try to blame scarcity on “lack of drilling,” even if rapacious EPA-haters are still in the White House. They refuse to see that the fracking of shale for oil and natural gas is not an actual increase in physical reserves. There’s less of it in the ground every second and it will cost more to extract as sources get tighter. The world can burn a billion barrels of oil in ten days, so don’t be impressed when some huckster hypes recent discoveries in the billions. Peak Oil deniers are invariably educated in finance, not geology. Pseudo-petroleum sources like kerogen are an ERoI fallacy, hyped into “trillions of barrels” by wild speculators. Also, renewable energy infrastructure like bloated wind turbines can’t exist without fossil fuels and “100% renewable energy” claims are deviously optimistic. Increased “production” of ancient, condensed resources just means people are getting desperate and using newer extraction methods. Horizontal drilling isn’t a major leap, just a refinement of old techniques, but it suits the “technology will save us” narrative. After a point, there’ll be no new tricks and nobody else to blame for the squandering of finite energy.

peak oil graphs 2

These graphs follow the law of diminishing returns, even if the curves aren’t fully predictable. The number of nations already past peak production debunks abiotic oil theory.

oil rigs sunset decline peak oil

Peak Oil is inevitable. Renewable energy can’t match the scale of fossil fuels, nor can it be built without them. It’s also ruining landscapes that old energy didn’t disturb.

This page will be updated and reworded at random with new information. If you cite it, please post the link instead of a pasted snapshot.

Windschmerz: Can The Planet Survive Industrial Wind Energy Sprawl?

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” – Edward Abbey

spare the mountains from industrial wind turbines - U.S. & Japan

The top image is the aptly-named Hatchet Ridge, built by the same outfit that spoiled Great Basin park, NV. Below it is one of Japan’s insults to its mountain heritage. (maps 1, 2)

Industrial wind turbines are arguably the most misguided, bloated technology ever invented. Instead of saving the planet, utilitarian zombies are sTaving it with carbon-dependent sprawl and dishonest slogans. It’s a staggering case of corporate greenwashing that was never thought through to its final outcome. The definition of an “environmentalist” has never been blurrier.

Windschmerz, a newly coined word*, describes the sinking feeling of witnessing a huge industrial plague being spun as good for the environment despite its obvious negative impacts. A good companion word is klugly (kludgy + ugly). Instead of constraining the human footprint with conservation and rooftop solar, Man decided to turn the countryside into industrial parks. If this urban mega-sprawl is the new environmentalism, nature has a slim chance of remaining intact anywhere the wind blows and power lines can reach. Wind power is so absurdly large that one can only look at it with profound disappointment or concoct stories about its “beauty” and “installed capacity” to distract from the obvious. Mainstream environmental groups have done exactly that. Whatever happened to “small is beautiful?” The Sierra Club, NRDC, The Union of “Concerned” Scientists, and even Audubon have sold out to platitudes like “wind is a vital part of our energy mix” (despite its futility as a fossil fuel replacement) and “they can be carefully sited” (despite growing protests as unsullied views run out). Something is rotten in Windmark when self-proclaimed environmentalists chide people for lamenting the replacement of natural horizons with spiky machines.

Even though it’s the environmental equivalent of trying to prevent arson with vandalism, wind power has a momentum that’s hard to control because an Environmental-Industrial Complex has grown around it, propped up with slick cover stories. When thousands or millions of jobs depend on something, moral objectivity becomes nearly impossible. Germany has been a test-case for this misguided form of progress with its Energiewende mandate that caused alarm decades ago with only a fraction of today’s turbines. The landscape desecration is so blindingly obvious that many people apparently can’t perceive what they’re seeing, especially if incomes depend on it. A whole government/industry PR machine is dedicated to pretending these giants are midgets.

Windschmerz is a variant of weltschmerz (world pain or sadness) focused on a specific technology that’s destroying nature while claiming to save the planet. Are there any safe vistas now? Even if remote areas are spared, millions of acres of “near wilderness” on the outskirts of cities must remain intact to avoid a world that feels completely urbanized. Such lands are under constant threat as UGB zoning laws are weakened for utilitarian purposes. The industry seems happy to keep trashing scenery and wildlife until these eyesores are too thick for even the most deluded Greens. It used to be conservatives who didn’t respect landscapes but liberals have been successfully brainwashed by these scenery-eaters. It happened on the sly without adequate warning, mainly in Europe at first. Machine overpopulation gets similar reactions to denials of human overpopulation. “Isn’t this how modern life is supposed to be?” But, like the frog in a pot of water analogy, the masses will someday wake up and ask “What the hell happened to all the scenery?”

wind turbines cellular tower metaphor tree of utah

Comparison of moderately large wind turbines to a cellular tower (disguised as a tree by public demand) and the Metaphor: Tree of Utah sculpture, often called a desert eyesore.

The desert is especially at risk because greentechies consider it “wasted space” that mu$t be used for utilitarian purposes. The animation below is part of the Alta Wind Energy Center east of Tehachapi, CA, which has held the record for biggest wind project in America. Another large area along I-10 north of Palm Springs has long been an ugly IWT experiment, blighting views of San Gorgonio mountain. Arid Texas landscapes are littered with vast wind turbine armies; no surprise, given their anti-environmental legacy. Texas shows that the nuts & bolts of wind power are hardly liberal anymore. One of the most inappropriate (“carefully sited”) locations is Spring Valley, roughly 8 miles northwest of Great Basin National Park, NV and half that distance to a major bat cave. There was a temporary shut down for bat-kills and biased workers can’t be trusted to track mortality. Just as with “eagle take” permits, it’s accepted that these “100% Renewables” icons will keep killing wildlife. No less importantly, the remote visual character of a place is easily spoiled with a windustrial park anywhere in sight. They’re often built where coal mines or oil fields have never tread, so it’s bogus to claim that those are worse.

GE wind turbines in desert

Hordes of wind turbines infest the desert near Tehachapi. See map & panorama images.

There are several ways people create unnatural landscapes:

  • Gouging or drilling, e.g. mining, blasting, roads and wells.
  • Removing plant cover with logging, farmland plowing, etc.
  • Building structures for cities, factories and energy production.

Wind energy projects do all of the above except for deep drilling, and they are now the tallest structures in rural areas, especially on mountaintops which amplify their long-range visibility. The starkness of their contrast to natural surroundings is not just about size. Nothing else on that scale catches the eye with rotation, plus the shadow-flicker it creates. Mandatory red lights also intrude on skies that never had them. Wind power advocates downplay those obvious impacts, and ride on the psychological notion that anything (appearing to) fight carbon must not be causing harm. It’s a very narrow definition of harm, convenient to the industry’s agenda of grabbing subsidies for new construction projects.

Here are structures that environmentalists have routinely protested:

  • BILLBOARDS (nowhere near the scale of IWTs)
  • ROADS (wind turbine access roads encourage other intrusions in wild areas)
  • HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS (aka urban sprawl)
  • SKI LIFTS (similar to wind energy’s impacts on mountains, but much smaller)
  • CELLULAR TOWERS (even 80-foot ones can spoil a view)
  • SMOKESTACKS (resemble wind towers sans blades and are less numerous)
  • TRANSMISSION LINES and TOWERS (commonly called PYLONS in Europe)
  • RADIO ANTENNAS (gray, skinnier, don’t stand out like wind turbines)
  • MOUNTAINTOP OBSERVATORIES (e.g. Hawaii’s 30-meter telescope project)
  • MOUNTAINTOP MINING (wind turbines just carve up mountains differently)
  • OIL DERRICKS and PLATFORMS (usually less visible at long range than wind towers)
  • DAMS (dam removal is considered progress but wind turbines dam the sky)
ski resort vs wind turbines 1c

When developers tear up slopes for a new ski resort, environmentalists often resist, but much bigger wind turbines are rationalized as “beautiful clean energy for a green future!”

smokestacks look like wind turbines minus blades

Lone smokestacks get demolished for aesthetic reasons, but guess what they look like when you add blades and plant thousands of them on fields, ridgelines and oceans?

Why are industrial wind turbines allowed to break so many old rules respecting nature? The worst wind pimps display no humility about their goals. They just want to build, build and build some more, like other rapacious enterprises.

No matter how many airheads call them “beautiful,” wind turbines will always impact millions of people and animals in negative ways. The industry wants to expand what we see today by orders of magnitude if they can get away with it. Biologist E.O. Wilson’s plan for setting aside half of nature is already impossible. These machines are a colossal aesthetic blunder that doesn’t require number-crunching to analyze. All you need is eyes, ears and environmental awareness. They aren’t replacing older industrial scars like coal mines; they’re just adding to the total human impact. The moment wind turbines began expanding beyond their experimental beginnings and corporations got involved, it was inevitable that this would happen. The goal is to make them as tall as possible to catch elusive winds, which means they will never become less visible. It’s also a pipe dream that they can be made quiet or safe for flying animals. Most people in the industry must know this, which makes them doubly full of it.

wind turbines with other industrial projects 1

One of the few contexts where wind turbines don’t look out of place, though these aren’t the largest models. Seen at ground level they still loom over most structures.

mountaintop removal wind project in BC

This wind project resembles coal mining mountaintop removal, yet some people only criticize the latter. They must see the similarities, so intact nature is not their true priority.

The 2018 Kilauea eruption generated publicity for “damaging” Hawaii even though it’s a natural force. Much more attention should be paid to relentless man-made destruction of tropical landscapes. The image below shows Maui’s Kaheawa Wind Power project occupying a significant piece of the island, with the smaller Auwahi project to the south (yellow ovals). The Kahuku project on Oahu was initially more ambitious but ran into problems, including a battery storage fire. Later, proposed 650-foot wind turbines in the same area prompted outcries over bat kills and further losses of scenery. Wind power sprawl on small land masses makes a clear case for their limits. The Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea is another example of construction overshoot, protested by those who still respect nature’s integrity.

wind energy projects, Maui, Hawaii

This shows the scale of just two Maui wind projects. A 5-mile access road was needed for Kaheawa (left & center panels, larger yellow oval). Auwahi is circled at the bottom.

Compounding the bleakness of this hypocritical sprawl, a sizable number of wind energy opponents are global warming deniers who think wind turbines were invented expressly to fight climate change and must be part of a Green/NWO cabal to infringe on their property rights. Donald Trump (environmental idiot savant on wind power and immigration) is a famous critic and UK writer James Delingpole is another example. A promising book by an “ecologist,” called “The Wind Farm Scam” is tainted by climate denial and it’s common in other books like “Paradise Destroyed…” These people make good points about the economic & environmental hypocrisy of wind sprawl, yet foolishly question the existence of gaseous atmosphere sprawl (it’s really all the same bloat). Some otherwise clever sites like StopTheseThings are strewn with climate “skepticism” and get blacklisted on sites like SourceWatch as fossil fuel shills. “Unbiased” FactCheck.org claimed “Trump Again Overblows Risks of Wind Power,” as if he speaks for all critics, and they lied about noise, birds and low-wind days vs. grid stability. Both sides of the wind power debate favor vilifying an enemy instead of tackling intrinsic flaws in growth-based capitalism and human nature.

Lesser-educated rural people are often caught in siting battles and add GOP ignorance to the wind debate. Some see corrupt officials like Scott Pruitt as righteous warriors against “unfair” EPA regulations while ignoring commonalities of all industrial developments. Even though their suffering is very real, they hurt their own cause with climate conspiracy theories. They should treat wind power as one of many rural threats, like deforestation (major component of wind projects), noise pollution from boom cars in rural drug ghettos, and homes sprawling into wild areas. It’s unclear how many rural anti-wind activists are OK with coal mining mountaintop removal but they should realize it’s all part of the pillaging continuum, regardless of whether it pays their bills (where wisdom ends and greed prevails). Their mindset of “us against city-slickers” distracts from everything the wind business has in common with fossil fuel, mining and logging interests.

Wind energy is the opposite of small-footprint thinking that real environmentalists should favor. It thrives on a single-action bias that fails to consider total environmental impact. It’s part of the same engineering mindset that destroys nature for money in the fossil fuel business. The standard ploy is that carbon is THE environmental demon and must be fought at any cost, though many wind farm workers are interchangeable with frackers. They are industrial mercenaries who do what they’re told and cash their checks. At least the old environmental villains weren’t overtly trying to fool people.

The next time you look at a horizon full of mutant pinwheels and windschmerz hits you, just let it happen. Then get angry and join the fight to stop them. It’s too late to do much in many regions, but some famous environmentalists have called for sanity. Here are links to organizations trying to do something locally and nationally. Hopefully, a few mainstream environmental groups will wise-up before these things metastasize.

“In some way or other, the human race has to learn how to leave the world alone.” – Alan Watts

windschmerz (from Wind-farm-Schoeneseiffen-Euskirchen....)

These skeletal skyscrapers don’t belong in rural or wild places. They ominously loom over the countryside like nothing else ever invented.

cenobites pinhead planet of wind turbines

Evil is a much better word than “beautiful” when you study the entirety of these machines. How can legit environmentalists support the scale of this mess?

wind turbines mean energy not clean not green (windschmerz)

Anti wind power bumper sticker: MEAN ENERGY: NOT CLEAN, NOT GREEN (click for large version)

This page will be updated and reworded at random with new information. If you cite it, please post the link instead of a pasted snapshot. *The word “windschmerz” (with no spaces) may have been first used here, but nobody owns the definition.

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 *

mars-hill-maine-ruined-by-wind-turbines

This type of mountaintop removal is praised by many coal mine haters. Wind projects don’t remove as much rock but they add stark, unnatural structures. R.I.P. Mars Hill, Maine.

Laurel Mountain wind and battery storage

For this “green” experiment, 12 miles of Laurel Mountain, West Virginia were industrialized, including a battery storage gesture that tries to make wind seem non-transient.

wild-horse-wind-and-solar-facility-gauntlet

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.

wind turbines red lights at night (animation 1)

All night long, synchronized red FAA obstruction lights flash on and off like an alien airport. They disorient drivers and some locals must black-out their windows to sleep.

Unsettling numbers of environmentalists fail to see that wind turbines are enemies of nature posing as saviors. Fearing a fossil fuel catastrophe, they’ve hastily abandoned their land ethic if they ever had one. Wind energy in the abstract sense is clean and natural, but the physical manifestation of how people “harvest” wind is big and unnatural by necessity. Wind power zealots can’t admit 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 over conservation. Wind energy promoters push 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 mostly gesturing against fossil fuels for new income streams. Their corporate lingo makes it obvious. Ancient respect for landscapes, including modest human additions, has been replaced with sterile slogans about “installed capacity” and “market share of renewables.” The presumption that nothing’s workable unless someone’s profiting guarantees that nature will shrink. Any talk of shrinking economies (the true solution) is shunned since modern systems thrive on growth and slogans of the moment like “clean energy.” Since genetic traits are hard-wired, the avarice may never stop until society crashes like a brakeless wind turbine.

The original point of environmentalism was buffering nature from all human intrusions and toxins, not just fighting a specific type of pollution. Wind cheerleaders have decided that giant, mechanical weeds are green because they “must” be green. Many would probably accept dirt bikes and ATVs crawling all over hills and dunes as long as they had electric motors. Today’s “sustainability” is much more about coddling civilization than protecting nature. Some younger people may not understand what “the environment” is beyond AGW warnings they’ve heard since childhood. To become well-rounded environmentalists they should study the history of physical landscape destruction, which began with agriculture, logging & mining but has entered a major new phase with wind power. Nature has a bleak future unless this industry is restrained. 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. Armies of ugly wind towers are doing nothing for nature itself.

Landscape-change denial has become as bad as climate-change denial and it’s worse in a hypocritical sense. The Kochs and Pruitts of the world at least aren’t pretending to be green. Large industrial wind turbines are becoming the ugliest evidence of the Anthropocene, creating an unprecedented visual plague with over 341,000 already installed as of 2016. 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 there’s no precedent for machines of this size and quantity, especially in scenic areas. 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.

Below is a list of wind industry propaganda tactics and rationalizations, with responses.

  1. We think wind turbines are beautiful.” Why should the alien aesthetics of a subsidy-chasing industry be accepted as the new normal? Natural scenery is integral to quality of life and should never be disrespected. They started building these mutant thistles without a real vote, knowing the impacts would be major. When you call something beautiful you must do it in the context of what it replaced, altered, devalued or ignored. Wind turbines at a distance may look slender and elegant compared to blocky oil rigs but it’s absurd to only mention that angle when there are so damned many, and their size, albedo and motion make them impossible to unsee. The axiom “everything in moderation” has never been truer. Rare wind turbines in urban settings can look interesting but most end up in rural or wild areas where they upset the historical sense of place and cause anger, sadness and depression. When a smug shill tells you to adapt and get over it, you realize what the industry is really about. Some turbine-lovers say power lines are ugly even though new transmission corridors are built for wind sites through remote lands. It’s impossible to avoid environmental hypocrisy in the wind business. Certain 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? If wind factories are intrinsically attractive, why would anyone reject them anywhere? The cases of Crescent Peak, NV and Ocean City, MD prove that wind developers are indifferent to scenery, and often live thousands of miles from their projects. 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 natural. This author’s gut reaction to “they’re beautiful” isn’t fit to print, but this picture will suffice.
  2. Would you rather live near a coal mine or wind farm?” This is a tiresome diversion, since far more people are dealing with visible wind turbines now, and coal mines are known damage. Mines also tend to be hidden at depth or obscured by ridges, whereas three-armed bandits are deliberately prominent. The effect is profoundly unnatural, with circular motion being a major component. They don’t sway like trees or break like waves, and their noise and red lights grate on nerves. Unlike fossil fuel development, wind projects aren’t limited by geology so they affect districts that never expected to see urban mega-sprawl. Zoning laws are relaxed because they’re “green” and few people predicted their eventual size. As of this writing, the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign is run by a woman who fought mountaintop removal but is OK with miles of giant spikes adorning similar Appalachian peaks. Even fracking is much less vertically intrusive and its sites can be restored (water is a separate issue; this isn’t a fossil fuel apologist site). The wind mob knows many people resent their unexpected invasions but they keep rationalizing the spread. Their money/subsidy motivations are covered in depth elsewhere.
  3. We’ve built silos, water towers and pylons in the countryside for decades. Wind turbines merely continue that tradition.” This is the mealy-mouthed, greenwashed equivalent of “the climate’s changed before, so why worry now?” Nobody who respects scenery can ignore what’s really happening. Who would pretend there aren’t exponential scale-increases in the wind power domain vs. older structures? There was no ability to build blades and cylindrical towers so large in the old days. Nothing with this uniquely visible combination of size, color and quantity was ever seen in rural areas. Even taller radio towers are less contrasty and fade better into the distance, with far fewer of them. You have to wonder if some wind-pushers have lousy scale interpretation. Are they blinded by perspective and see them like this? That’s doubtful. The most likely explanation is apathy about the loss of rural aesthetics, plus standard shill-spin.
  4. 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 grab a less consistent form of energy (there are parallels to a hydrogen economy that needs energy to isolate it from water, gas or biomass). True wind power ERoI calculations can be complex, with mountaintop trees and other carbon sinks lost during construction. 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 it’s been shown that CO2 emissions have actually risen as backup plants are installed in new areas to accommodate fickle winds. Some historical wind patterns are already changing along with the climate and we could see many more idle turbines. If you think Germany’s ambitious Energiewende is an economic or popular success, watch this “wind turbine battle” video and research their CO2 balance sheet.
  5. 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. In 2007, before the U.S. wind industry exploded, the National Academies Press published a detailed analysis of all the problems discussed here. Wind turbines back then were smaller in size & scope but it was clear that they were an “invasive species.” Now, 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 when 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.
  6. Wind turbines occupy relatively little acreage.” A popular scientist repeated this deception in the 2014 Cosmos remake (plus the fable of “100% renewable energy”). He perpetuated the myth of wind tower-bases as the only intrusions among vast arrays of preternaturally large machines (like only noticing the first floor of a skyscraper). 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 Scientists also 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 greater separation of wind towers as heights increase just widens the sprawl zone. 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, even when decommissioned, 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.
  7. 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 (insincere language trips over itself). When Donald 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, 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. Just as with oil & gas, weak land use regulations in Texas have allowed the rapid spread of wind projects. The conflict between the King and Kenedy ranches was a good example.
  8. Cats, cars and windows kill more birds than wind turbines.” People who parrot that excuse show the same glibness toward life as they do 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 pass by, and few other machines can duplicate that effect. Why would any “green” technology be killing animals on a regular basis? A job description for a fatality monitoring technician near Minot, SD is frank about the problem. Even with growing evidence that wind turbines function as apex predators, the rationale is that AGW could eventually kill more wildlife, stacked on the assumption that wind energy will stop AGW, so let’s keep building more; a Faustian bargain at best. Given human greed, the most likely outcome is a warmer and uglier planet with more dead wildlife.
  9. 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. Just two large turbines in Falmouth, MA angered enough people to get them shut down. 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?
  10. Some right-wing climate change 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.
  11. 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 (a monomaniacal reaction). 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. Corporate sellouts like The Nature Conservancy equate ruined hilltops with positive climate action, ignoring how futile the blight really is. 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.
88.4m turbine blade denmark

An 88.4 meter blade is elaborately hauled in Denmark via fossil fuels, which also power the rest of the process. The EROI seems nil in terms of replacing oil, at least.

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A lot of blasting, logging, road building, concrete and crane rigging is needed for each tower. All of it requires fossil fuels, as does initial manufacturing and maintenance.

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Oceans should represent limitless horizons, not industrial growth. It’s impractical to hide all these giants from the mainland, so don’t be fooled by offshore wind panaceas.

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Cutesy graphics rarely show the full scale of wind turbines and a “Green New Deal” logo depicts a broken vista as uplifting. Oil platforms are similarly spun as marine habitats.

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Propagandists use photos of cherry-picked locations with few or no turbines, or false perspective to hide their scale. Why are they afraid of showing the true context?

Below is an example of wind industry propaganda and arrogance from wind-energy-the-facts.org, which echoes awea.org. The .org domain is also a ruse since wind power is clearly commercial.

“The effects of landscape and visual impact cannot be measured or calculated and mitigation measures are limited. However, experience gained recently suggests that opposition to wind farms is mainly encountered during the planning stage. After commissioning the acceptability is strong.” (source)

They start with the specious claim that blight “cannot be measured or calculated” in a technical sense, which ignores aesthetic gut reactions. There is no official ugly scale but ugly is still ugly! Ski lifts and office buildings (like LG’s 143-foot proposal on the Hudson River) have often been protested as environmental blight. Much smaller cellular towers can spoil views and are disguised as trees or shrunk to fit their surroundings. You can’t do that with wind turbines so they resort to propaganda. That first lie sets up the ruse that opposition to industrialized scenery is mostly temporary. They claim “after commissioning the acceptability is strong” but cite no objective polls. A more likely scenario is that people give up fighting and just try to cope, like Indians beaten down and trapped in reservations. At least that article admits that “mitigation measures are limited,” which is a dry way of stating that you can’t un-see or un-hear huge towers all over the place, so you either cope or move.

The wind business forces itself onto rural communities and expects them to adopt a Stockholm Syndrome mindset. Gag orders are placed on landowners as part of their turbine-hosting agreements (almost everyone has a price) and upbeat polls ask if people favor “renewable energy” without specifying its ugliest component. Articles and forums supporting wind power are constantly ignoring or downplaying its aesthetic damage to scenery and the animals it kills. A truly green business wouldn’t need so many cover stories. They’re filling the fields, mountains and oceans with colossal, noisy, flashing towers and acting like it’s easily ignored (see cognitive dissonance). Engineers are generally not stupid people, so they’re either lying to themselves or have chosen to disrespect nature.

Stop calling this growing blight progress.

Globally, there were over 341,000 of these eyesores as of 2016 and some wind zealots want to see up to 3.8 million. They’re far more interested in megawatts than rural scenery.

ardrossan-scotland-wind-turbines-looming

If these were suddenly looming above your town and spewing noise, would you call them magnificent or maleficent? If ancient hills could speak would they choose such defilement?

john-muir-trust-home-value

The wind power industry claims home values aren’t affected by horizons full of machines that hijack serenity. Just apply some common sense here! Many people simply move.

Propaganda sites dismiss the downsides with “careful siting” lies and implausible schemes to discourage birds & bats from entering their expanding gauntlets. They won’t explain why they find landscapes non-integral to the environment, except to insist that AGW dwarfs other concerns based on feeble evidence that wind turbines can actually stop it. Here are some random samples:

awea.org (money clearly motivates them, just like the fossil fuel business)
wind-works.org (wind advocate since the 70s, pretends the scale hasn’t grown ugly)
windustry.org (lists the downsides but gives them little weight; common shill tactic)
climatecrocks.com (“wind turbine syndrome is bullshit” sums up the smugness of that site)
cleantechnica.com (see no evil, hear no evil; bans anyone who criticizes wind power in a forceful way)
ramblingsdc.net/windenergyopposition.html (rambles about the “benefits” of rural ruination, claims to respect nature)
thestranger.com/…/rural-people-who-hate-wind-power (insults rural folk, ignores wind energy’s futility; see arrogant quote)

You can’t reach hardened wind power advocates with aesthetic arguments. Many of them don’t intrinsically respect nature because they’re anthropocentric technophiles and neo-environmentalists. They probably spend far more time looking at computer screens than physical horizons. Maintenance of the technological world and its power grid is their top priority, with nature as a quaint distraction, or a backdrop for extreme sports. The height of wind turbines plays into the bungee-jumping, thrillseeker mindset and they get fascinated with the ability to build something that large. Ancient concern for nature is lost in their awe of Man’s hubris (not unique to wind turbines but they’re top dog now). Windnuts share many traits with the wingnut climate deniers they claim to despise; always pushing for more gigawatts and construction projects. Instead of protecting nature from people, now it’s about sustaining what people built with fossil fuels, using much weaker forms of energy that require vast acreage. If landscapes must be trashed for the “greener good,” they’re fine with it. Way to go, you soulless idiots! Pursuing a nature-wrecking technology in the name of environmentalism is dystopian irony at its worst. Wind power just escalates Man’s historical plundering of nature and the Manifest Destiny mindset. It squanders our last chance to downsize per countless warnings about carrying-capacity overshoot.

Wind turbine manufacturers compete to see who can build the biggest eyesores. Watch some of these videos where they take pride in looming as tall as possible over the countryside. Anything green is long forgotten in those brag-fests. It’s become a bloated excuse for manufacturing, mining, logging, blasting, road building, trucking and crane rigging jobs. That’s what it takes to get huge machines installed in the hundreds of thousands, eventually millions if madness prevails. Too bad they can’t try it on a different planet instead of experimenting on the public and wildlife. Maybe there’s a planet Enercon (emphasis on the con) or a planet Vestas with no natural vistas. There’s also something sinister about the word Iberdrola, like a disease that’s also a corporation. Not only are they in the wind business, they’re vested in a controversial hydroelectric dam in Brazil. Groups like Greenpeace oppose them for that but not for wind power blight. Where’s the moral consistency?

Interactive map of U.S. wind projects. This is a good way to see the total sprawl of these “farms” and debunk minimal land use claims (points 5 & 6 above). You can drive for hours in some places and always see turbines. The industry wants to keep making them taller so they’ll work in lower wind areas. Scenery be damned is the general consensus. Be mindful of the 360-degree viewshed, not just their exact placement.

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Map of U.S. wind projects, totaling over 57,000 turbines as of 2018 (source). They want to invade lower wind regions with even taller, uglier machines.

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Nothing else looms on rural horizons like these glaring, spinning machines. Views are affected from many angles and distances. Farmers mainly tolerate them for revenue.

water-vs-air-dams

The environmental impact of water dams is rarely disputed but air dams are praised as progress. If giant wind machines had been built first, would people think the opposite?

People who oppose the damming of water yet support the mass-disruption of airspace are a hypocritical bunch. You can put large generators at ground level or small ones inside large towers in much greater numbers. A high percentage of existing dams merely hold back water and could be retrofitted to generate electricity, which should be considered instead of more wind projects. Water is 784 times denser than air and creates a lot more power per unit area. Water dams kill swimming animals and wind dams kill flying ones. They both disturb nature in big ways, so if you’re against damming rivers, why make excuses for damming the sky? At least hydro-power makes lakes, which are also formed by natural landslides and lava. Nothing in nature looks like wind machines jutting into the sky. Wind power is a hasty reaction to the fossil fuel dilemma, not our sole choice on this scale (see wind energy vs. oil’s density). The definition of the word clean contains “morally uncontaminated; pure; innocent,” which is the opposite of scenery fouled by wind turbines.

The anti-fracking movie, Promised Land, was originally going to be about wind turbines. They ought to do a sequel since the public is still largely duped by wind hype, thanks to media soft-pedaling. Both industries convert scenic, quiet places into energy factories and know it will disrupt lives, so they use slick propaganda. But fracking is much less visible at a distance than wind power and its lands can be restored, though water issues plague it.

* It’s unlikely that famous conservationists & naturalists like Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Ansel Adams, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, et al., would have welcomed this assault on landscapes. As an example, the John Muir Trust (a Scottish legacy charity) is against wind turbines in any sort of wilderness area but they’re fighting a tough battle. In America, Muir founded the Sierra Club, which has sold out to green-tech, dodging the evidence and calling for “appropriately sited” renewable energy projects. Do they think the planet has endless places to hide huge towers, with so many projects already resisted? Even iconic Loch Ness is threatened by wind energy now. It’s discouraging to see modern environmentalists buy into the weak benefits of a bloated, unreliable power source.

In case you think this is a rant with no hope, I’m all for rooftop & parking-lot solar panels or putting them over train tracks and canals. They are much greener than wind monsters because they don’t increase the human footprint, which was never solely about carbon until recent attitudes took hold. Geothermal is another good renewable source, along with small, non-dense wind turbines (under 50 feet tall) and safer forms of nuclear power. The whole centralized model of building “energy farms” and moving electricity over long transmission lines (additional sources of blight) needs to end. Anything truly green should have a minimal footprint, like cargo ships assisted by rotor sails. Unless people practice restraint and use more birth control, our long-term existence on this planet isn’t assured by any technology. Fossil fuels built this whole mess and it’s hard to sustain without them. The whole notion that there “must be a solution” is countered by historical evidence of human greed and shortsightedness. The modern energy quagmire vs. the scale of growing wants & needs is unprecedented. Very large machines in the countryside are a new phase of urban sprawl that leaves many of us speechless. Ecocide, Phase 2 is a good term for it. If these were housing developments or freeways, most environmentalists would oppose them for destroying open space! In light of these inexplicable new values, some ecological thinkers have resigned themselves to the continued destruction of nature by old and new technologies. Wind power is actually an old technology, rebooted in the worst way.

It’s easy to find wind energy opposition groups and antidotes to industry propaganda. The media has done a poor job of reporting both sides of the wind energy story but the tide seems to be turning as these machines reach a critical mass. Hopefully there will be a global moratorium on further construction, at least on mountaintops, where wind turbines are the most disrespectful. Subsidies in various nations have already been cut back as the ruse reveals itself but there needs to be an “outrage clause” that stops them for nature’s sake alone. With all the talk of Climate Justice, why not mention Landscape Justice?

https://youtu.be/CEzK2KxNP7Q

wind turbines - ugly noisy lethal futile (blight for naught)

Anti wind power bumper sticker: UGLY, NOISY, LETHAL, FUTILE (click for large version)

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