‘Wind Farms’ Some Deep Ecology Considerations

By David Orton, with contributions from Billy MacDonald of Redtail Nature Awareness and Helga Hoffmann-Orton

This Green Web Bulletin is a criticism of large scale industrial wind turbine sites in rural areas, from a deep ecology perspective. This critique looks at a site near to where we live in Pictou County, Nova Scotia – the Dalhousie Mountain Wind Farm. The project comprises 34 wind turbines and is supposed to provide 51 megawatts of power in the first phase. The proponent has mused that the site has the “potential” for 150 megawatts. (For comparative purposes, we include some critical comments about another site, the Glen Dhu project, located on the border of Pictou and Antigonish counties, which proposes building 30 wind turbines totalling 60 MW in its “first phase”, with potential expansion to 230 MW.)

Those of us who try to follow climate change discussions know that in industrially developed societies like Canada, greenhouse gases need to be reduced by 80-90%. But this is not happening. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, increases in the atmosphere every year. Presently, the only thing modifying this, is when the world economy goes into recession.

Here in Nova Scotia there are moves to expand coal mining. Fossil fuel exploration and extraction are pursued vigorously offshore on the Scotian Shelf. The exploitation of the Alberta tar sands symbolizes the undermining of any belief that climate change is taken seriously at a federal government level in Canada. There is no apparent major societal reduction in fossil fuel use to cut back on greenhouse gas production, just as there is no overall program to reduce energy consumption, by citizens living more frugally.

As we have used up easily accessible fossil fuels and minerals, more energy is required to maintain society’s consumption level. Alternative energy paths are now being considered, yet there is no concern with reducing consumption or controlling human population growth. We need to see energy production and consumption in such a context, as we go on the quest for an appropriate renewable energy path.

If we are to embark on this path, Schumacher’s comment in his book Small is Beautiful: A Study Of Economics As If People Mattered of “appropriate scale” has to be kept in mind. Industrializing the rural landscape with large wind turbine ‘farms’ is not an appropriate scale. We also need to appreciate that what is happening in Nova Scotia, and elsewhere, with the installation of industrial turbines – what Nova Scotia Power calls “Putting The Wind To Work” – is just a beginning. This Green Web bulletin on wind turbines is meant to assist a needed activist call to action.

continued at http://home.ca.inter.net/~greenweb/Wind_Farms_and_Deep_Ecology.pdf

9 thoughts on “‘Wind Farms’ Some Deep Ecology Considerations

  1. I found myself quite confused by the PDF article at Greenweb as it speaks of the need to reduce CO2 — yet wind power does not mitigate CO2 emissions — WindPower makes the emissions worse.

    The article reads like an apology for complaining about something that does not work.

    Before you read the PDF may I suggest you read the following article…

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/06/subsidizing-co2-emissions/

    Then see if you can agree with the quote below — then look at their article.

    ***********************************
    Those of us who try to follow climate change discussions know that in industrially developed societies like Canada, greenhouse gases need to be reduced by 80-90%. But this is not happening. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, increases in the atmosphere every year. Presently, the only thing modifying this, is when the world economy goes into recession.

    Here in Nova Scotia there are moves to expand coal mining. Fossil fuel exploration and extraction are pursued vigorously offshore on the Scotian Shelf. The exploitation of the Alberta tar sands symbolizes the undermining of any belief that climate change is taken seriously at a federal government level in Canada. There is no apparent major societal reduction in fossil fuel use to cut back on greenhouse gas production, just as there is no overall program to reduce energy consumption, by citizens living more frugally.

    As we have used up easily accessible fossil fuels and minerals, more energy is required to maintain society‟s consumption level. Alternative energy paths are now being considered, yet there is no concern with reducing consumption or controlling human population growth. We need to see energy production and consumption in such a context, as we go on the quest for an appropriate renewable energy path.
    *****************************************

    I will not be one of the people to apologize form complaining about wind power. It does work so I refuse to say “I’m sorry about my complaints!”.

    Wind Power does not work.

    There is no need for their gyrations!

    Why should we reduce our emissions of CO2? It makes plants grow faster and hence is likely to correct any overproduction of CO2 — as if it mattered anyway!

    My $0.02 worth!

  2. This was posted for open debate. Feel free to agree or disagree.

    I do like their use of the word “eco-capitalist”. It kind of takes the shine off the developer’s halo, doesn’t it?

    I do have a problem with some of these ideas though. CO2 is not going to kill the planet…far more serious problems should be given higher priority. It comes off abit like flagellation and we must do penance for our sins. That attitude is no more sound or reasonable than reckless consumption.

  3. I can’t wrap my head around these kinds of people who think they are so “omnipotent” that they say that humans must be controlled and there has to be a reduction of CO2 which is what we breathe out, to save the planet……from what?………….from US?………..we ARE the planet…….I’m really sick of these “great thinkers” and elitist idiots who think THEY are the only ones who should live her and the rest of us just disappear!……….Suzuki is one of them, Gore is one of them, Bill Gates is one of them………………..what do they all have in common?……………someone else had better answer that because my answer is unprintable here!

    Disgusting is the beginning word!

  4. The greens that understand Earth Hour is greenwash also know industrial wind is nothing different. A comment from the Whats Up With That? site provides an insight as to why Earth Hour is greenwash: “ the greens don’t seem to realize that no power plants get switched off, so there’s really no CO2 savings. The power plants are run based on demand forecast. Short term spikes from well intentioned stunts really don’t make a blip of difference to Co2 emissions.”
    This comment holds true for industrial wind turbines as power production is nothing more than short term spikes. The randomness of wind cannot be used to alter demand forecasts based on past user trends. The short term spikes of power from wind cannot be forecasted with enough precision and reliability to shut down any power plants therefore a spike of power produced by an industrial wind complex does not mean a reduction in power produced by the reliable generation sources.

  5. There is a false assumption that power produced is the same as power consumed with comments like industrial wind provides “X” percentage of power to a region. Consider this: Of the spikes of power produced by wind, what contributed to keeping lights on? That is an answer no one can provide as power used has no marker to distinguish the source when a light is turned on. Reliable power generation sources must be available to meet a 100 % of demand; therefore industrial wind power is in addition to what is required. The contribution of wind to consumed power should not be assumed to be related to power produced due in part to the erratic nature of wind and in part to the amount of power generated not accounted for by consumers. The spikes and erratic production of industrial wind power is the type of occurrence that increases the amount of power not accounted for by consumers.

  6. And now for your morning entertainment. A story about a little island that could — almost…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291040/Will-eco-island-sink-green-dream.html

    It’s not that bad on an island where people never had power, anything is better than nothing, but does everyone want to live like this?

    “Because thanks to an energy shortage on what claims to be the ‘world’s greenest island’, use of toasters, electric kettles, fat fryers, washing machines and ‘pretty much anything with a heating element’ that could drain Eigg’s dwindling electricity supply is strictly rationed until further notice.

    And down by the pier at the island’s southern end, bright red notices flutter in the wind, warning that power levels are critically low.”

    … in summary …

    “Right now, however, their award-winning and highly complex eco-energy system, which allows each household access to a maximum of 5kW of energy at a time (enough to power a washing machine, a small heater or a kettle, but not all at once), is lying largely idle.

    So the wind turbines are still and silent. The hydro turbines in the rivers and dams are quiet. And toasted teacakes and hot tea are off the menu at the Eigg Tearooms.

    So what on earth’s going on? Have the Eigg eco-innovators been victims of some act of jealous vandalism? Has their award- winning electricity system blown a fuse?

    Er, no. It turns out that when the good people of Eigg put their faith in strong winds and pounding rain to provide all their electricity needs, they overlooked one possibility – a spell of lovely weather.”

  7. Some of the good people of Eigg appear to be happy with what they have, which is good for them and for anyone else who is happy with getting electricity now and then and only a bit here and there. There are those not happy with that kind of situation. If Eigg had access to a reliable non-green source of power they would be using it 100% when green was not producing, but would keep up a strong illusion of green. No one would question their ability to provide power from green sources. They don’t have easy access to reliable power so the limitations of green cannot be hidden on their island. Those with fuel generators on Eigg most likely have them fired up and going strong every time there is a green power shortage. The wind turbines on Eigg are not the power sucking industrial wind turbines we are dealing with so a clearly different situation. Wind has applications but trying to get power from industrial wind turbines to put onto the grid is not one that makes much environmental or economic sense to consumers who need access 24/7 to reliable power.

  8. Alternative energy paths are now being considered, yet there is no concern with reducing consumption or controlling human population growth.”

    Well since you live in Canada, you already know that the average age of your population is rising. You also know that in most industrial nations the average age is rising, especially in countries like Japan and China. In 10 or 20 years these countries populations will actually be falling, this spells impending economic and social upheaval. So population control really only applies to poor underdeveloped nations, where average age is low and populations numbers are still rising. I have no interest in dictating population control for these countries simply because we have this unfounded fear that the world will come to an end unless they stop having kids; they can reproduce to their heart’s content, we have lots of room here if they want to immigrate. They are welcome.

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