The Risk-Monger

Environmentalist James Lovelock wrote an interesting email in December in protest to the plans to build a wind farm in the UK. He was arguing that such abundant evident symbols of industrial power plants in an ecologically sensitive area would make the region vulnerable to urban development. These words: “vulnerable to urban development” got me thinking about what it is about wind turbines that I find so offensive. In other words, for me, the visual eyesore of wind turbines is not the turbine itself, the noise or the threat to birds, but rather it is the message it sends to the public about energy production that invites further economic development and exploitation. Each turbine (and we need hundreds of thousands of them) sends a message: “we are generating, so consume away, guilt-free, develop, drive your electric cars and do not worry about conservation … and since we are here and using nature, why not develop this area more … maybe a strip mall?”. This is one more reason why I feel “green energy” is so environmentally destructive.

A wind turbine on an ecological landscape is profane – strutting its stuff for all to see much like a prostitute on the street corner. If, as a child, I had grown up in a neighbourhood with prostitutes in windows and on street corners, I would most likely have a cheapened view of women, sex and human dignity. The continued reminders of human consumption, carnal plenitude and exploitation of women would make me think less about, and value less, human worth. Like that prostitute, each wind turbine stands on the horizon, reminding me that energy is ours for the taking, carnal plenitude for developing new gadgets, guilt-free and without any feeling of sacrifice. It vulgarises the environment and links our landscape to exploitation and development. Why should I consider cutting my consumption or conserving energy? But like sex with a prostitute, that quick feel-good feeling ultimately leaves a greater emptiness. In a twisted manner, and against their intentions, the Story of Stuff series seems to confirm this.

When will public officials get this message? They moved brothels out of cities and away from citizenry in order to preserve a perception of human worth and dignity. Yet turbines are everywhere now, in full view (moving them off-shore is too expensive and too limited), cheapening the environment and inviting further exploitation for our carnal pleasures. This mixed message lacks authenticity, and although counter-intuitive, I would respect nature more, consume less and be aware of my need to act sustainably if I did not have to see that three-pronged whore trying to tempt me.

OK, I understand this is completely offensive and that the Risk-Monger may have gone too far with this comparison. Indeed, the women forced into prostitution have little choice and are the victims of exploitation and profiteering. Those pushing wind farms on us (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Vestas, WWF, Al Gore …) are like pimps, trying to persuade us that it is OK to consume, without concern or the need to sacrifice our lifestyle (in much the same way they try to peddle recycling, electric cars and organic food as manipulative attempts to make us feel good about ourselves, thinking our consumption can come cheaply). With so much environmental exploitation in our face, our mindset can change for the worse while we still think of ourselves as green.

For many people with self-confidence issues, prostitutes are nice to look at, but they would never want to live with one. Similarly, for wind turbines, environmentalists like to look at them from the comfort of their electric cars. We should call these people ecological voyeurs or NIMBY Johns.

And Wind Turbine Syndrome looks to be the new gonorrhoea.

Let me conclude with a couple astonishing quotes from Lovelock’s above-linked email:

Even if there were no alternative source of energy to wind we would still ask that this 84 metre high industrial power plant was placed in less ecologically sensitive areas. Better still we should look to the French who have wisely chosen nuclear energy as their principal source; a single nuclear power station provides as much as 3200 large wind turbines.

I should not dare to correct such a great man, but 3200 wind turbines assumes an optimum wind condition (nameplate capacity), while most turbines operate at only around 30% efficiency (so that is 10,000 continuous messages of environmental exploitation for every nuclear reactor). In any case, Lovelock expressed shame at what the environmentalist movement has become, closing his letter in stunning style:

We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.

I could not end this blog better myself. Another environmentalist with integrity.


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  1. I could not disagree more with this statement. In my view turbines remind us all that we do not have limitless energy supplies and that we all need to consume less. It is also a reminder that electric cars do not remove the other disadvantages of personal mobility when used in towns and cities.

    The accidents in Japan, USSR, USA and other places have proven that nuclear power is like oil, coal and gas a energy supply that will run out and causes pollution.

    Turbines are only one part of a balanced sustainable power supply system. The numbers could be greatly reduced if we generated energy from our buildings, gardens and organic waste.

    1. Thanks for your comment Clive and I think we can agree to disagree (and be aware that you are also disagreeing with the founder of the Green Party). I think the best way to get people to conserve is to let the lights go out, and we are heading in that direction. Electric cars are worse than fuel driven cars when you take total CO2 into account (see several earlier blogs on this) and like wind turbines, only let people believe they are being ecological – my view is that unless they take the bus, bike or walk, they have no right to feel ecologically superior to others.
      Everyone has a right to believe what makes them feel good, but when people start to try to influence others and policy, they had better use numbers rather than just repeating things they hear from others they like on Facebook (did you hear the one about cats killing more birds than windmills?). So here are some numbers – natgas supplies in known reserves (conventional or unconventional) are more than 300 years – similar for uranium. For the nuclear holocaust fear-mongers, according to the WHO, 20 years after Chernobyl, they counted 59 dead to date and predict 4000 people with lives shortened from exposure, but still living to date. This can be found at Fukushima had one person to date die from the accident. Now these are tragedies, any life lost is regrettable, but withing the scheme of environmental catastrophe (eg, equivalent to less that 36 hours of human loss from malaria), there are other issues we should focus on. No doubt Greenpeace has larger numbers (and if you prefer to believe them than the WHO), but their campaigns depend on people being afraid and donating to them. And I think we can also agree they are very good at that.
      People will say anything for money, which gets me back to those prostitutes 😉

  2. Risk Monger, your reply to Clive is excellent. You’ve summarized what are easily verifiable and undeniably true, yet hardly known, facts. Our mass media should collectively be ashamed for allowing this travesty of justice to continue. Real people. especially kids, at home and around the world really need some of this money to save them from disease, malnutrion and worse.

    I have written a book, Kids Before Trees, commenting on these and other facts, that anyone is welcome to download free at, using coupon code HX57M

    1. Thanks Geoff – had a quick look at your book and need to find time to read it. Unfortunately, most of the people who lead campaigns don’t read but rather look for data that confirms their belief structure. If you are new to my blog, you may find some familiar thinking.

  3. I don’t have as much education as you David, or many of your readers, but a little simple logic and objectiveness counterbalances that. Re: belief structure, I used to buy ethanol blended gasoline because I thought it was good for the environment and might help farmers, but through reading and reasoning I discovered that isn’t the case at all. In fact, since ethanol takes more energy to produce than it releases, using ethanol MUST increase emissions! In spite of the claims to the contrary, if ethanol released more energy than is required to produce it (positive energy balance) then everyone would be doing it and we would have plentiful supplies of very cheap ethanol! If that were possible, people would be doing it, but nobody is. Yet we’re forced to subsidize ethanol production through higher taxes and gasoline prices, because our politicians are heeding the enviro-zealots who end up doing more harm than good. Meanwhile, another child dies for lack of simple medical care. and Al Gore gets richer. What a sad state of affairs.

    1. Don’t despair Geoff. We are in a world where facts don’t seem to matter and people have stopped thinking. People are using emerging communications tools to win arguments for the sake of winning (and fundraising) and policymakers mistake compromise and consensus-making for leadership. What does all of this mean? Fantastic challenges and challenges mean opportunities. I sense the eco-religion has hit its plateau and people are waking up to the foolishness of their campaigns. In the last month, two leading environmentalists, Lovelock and Lynas have turned on the fundamentalists. As donations diminish, and more people start pointing out that a bit of evidence and science should be used in their clever campaigns, things will change. … Or we will be condemned to watching a serious parade of stupid for the next generation.

  4. Yes, but the media will move on to the next panic, without ever apologizing or acknowledging their part in it. How do we change their behaviour or their impact on people?

  5. The Chernobyl accident displaced 350,000 people and cost around $587,035,800 to “contain.”
    With Fukushima 380,000 were ordered to evacuate.

    “In January 2013, the mayor of Futaba, where Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is located, said that residents of the town can expect to return home in 30 years”

    1. Thanks for your numbers Bryan. Indeed Fukushima was an unfortunate accident, and nothing in the playbook could have prepared nuclear engineers for a 9.0 earthquake followed by a 10m high tsunami making a direct hit on the installation. We learnt a lot on how to improve safety following this event (safety is not an exact or perfect science, no matter how much humans insist on that). It is sad that people have lost their homes. Was it a tragedy? For a tragedy, people would have to have died – the five who died in Fukushima were from other tsunami related events. Authorities have released data to show that any increases in cancers post-Fukushima will be insignificant over the next generation. The tragedy for me happened a week before, with over 19,000 confirmed deaths from this combined act of nature. That NGOs continue to harp against nuclear and distort the reality of the real victims, those who are still struggling today across Japan, it strikes me not only as opportunism, but also disgusting (read my earlier blog on why Greenpeace disgusts me). Since you like numbers, Bryan, here are some to consider. The average wind turbine can produce at optimum levels 1.8 MW energy per year (while operating at an average of one-third optimum, thus 0.6MW). Japan’s nuclear contribution to the grid pre-Fukushima was 47,000 MW. To replace nuclear with wind, Japan would need to build more than 78,000 wind turbines. I guess this world needs its dreamers, but the new Japanese government has common sense.

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