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Robert Bryce

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This is an inadequate discussion of the issue. The message Mr. Bryce tries to convey is entirely biased and slanted towards his opinions on the necessity of density with little consideration for the entire picture. For one, Mr. Bryce's automatic conclusion that organic agriculture has no merits because it produces less per acre than industrial agriculture is terribly myopic. On this issue, no mention is given to the massive amounts of pesticides and nitrates which are needed to keep land fertile year after year by practicing high density agriculture. Those same petrochemicals and pesticides, by the way, require lots of energy to create, transport, and spread over the fields. No mention was made of that either. Furthermore, the entire article was laced with ill-founded potshots to bolster Mr. Bryce's hastily-made points. Conclusions like people can't live on the same land as wind turbines because they emit low-frequency sounds which cause health problems do not accurately depict the findings (http://host.madison.com/news/local/environment/study-suggests-wind-turbines-low-frequency-noise-could-cause-health/article_835ba89e-5609-11e2-8b02-001a4bcf887a.html). Much of this article smacks of either a laziness towards doing thorough research and presenting an unbiased discussion or an ulterior agenda which disregards any critiques of its own conclusions.
"Get dense" is stimulating and enriching in many ways, but nuclear waste deserves some comment.

Despite its "virtues of density", which would theoretically allow the storage of all high-level nuclear waste (HLW) generated in the USA in a facility "the size of one football field", such a storage facility has jet to be realized. The reasons are in part geological, since self-heating HLW would have to be emplaced deeply underground for millennia, which causes safety concerns related to groundwater, and in part political, because these safety concerns generate acceptance problems.

In the meantime, spent nuclear fuel remains where it is generated, i.e. in or near the "104 nuclear power reactors in 31 states, operated by 30 different power companies" (World Nuclear Association, Updated November 2012). Recently this practice gave rise to serious safety concerns, since a loss-of-water accident in each of these more than hundred storage sites could theoretically trigger a Fukushima-like catastrophe.

Did France much better? It's true that almost "all of its high-level waste is stored in a single building about the size of a soccer field," but it's also true that all this HLW must eventually be placed in a geological repository, which is far from realization and causes the same concerns as mentioned above.

Almost 60 years after Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace speech, it can be said that "radioactive waste is toxic and long-lived, [and that] it can be stored safely" over few decades under strongly controlled conditions. But it has jet to be demonstrated that extremely radioactive, thermogenic HLW can be stored safely over many thousands of years in a geological repository, without threatening groundwater resources.
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Amen. You only forgot to attack urban agriculture as another false environmentalism that seeks to makes cities lower density.
Environmentalist theories violate the law of conservation of energy which holds that energy can be neither created nor destroyed and can only change form viz. one can not derive more energy from a system than it initially presents. A more salient point may be that if the entire Washington Mall were covered with photo-voltaic solar cells the energy produced could not power the lobbies of the three buildings that make up the Environmental Protection Agency
I guess if you like rives filled with toxic waste, GMO food that will render humanity infertile - if they live long enough to try to reproduce, then go ahead and maintain the status quo. I do think that bio fuels are a waste of time and that we need to be opening up our own lands for drilling - but with safeguards in place that make sure we aren't poisoning the earth. You can also go ahead and live in the cities and deal with the crime and pollution that goes had in hand with that. I will take the suburbs or better yet, rural America. Oh - and you keep the nuclear waste!
Great article. I just want to mention that solar and wind are only an effective replacement for other power sources if green power can be stored. This is done most effectively by pumping water to mountain-top reservoirs and recovering the energy by letting the water run down hill through turbines and generators. That, in turn, uses even more land and resources. (See "pumped-storage hydroelectricity" in Wikipedia).
And for more news on the demise of solar power, there's the fight over how fast to reduce the ruinously expensive subsidies the German solar power industry gets. Fast or slow seems to be the only issue of contention.

Of course Spain and Portugal have already pulled back on solar and wind since neither makes economic sense and both countries are teetering on insolvency precisely because of policies just like those that have subsidized the wind and solar industry into something approximating commercial success.

Here's the link to the article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-25/german-solar-subsidies-at-stake-as-ministers-clash-over-cuts.html
((And yet you are making claims regarding that book that are not in it. The book never called for a ban on DDT. ))

Feel free to point to where I claimed Rachel Carson called for a ban on DDT. Of course you can't so we have the childish repetition of the unsubstantiated charge.

In any case, wind and solar aren't long for this earth. Oh yeah, both will find some niche markets where what few strengths the two technologies actually possess overcomes the inherent costliness of "free" wind and sun but in the main it's that costliness that'll cause your alternatives to fall by the wayside.
((
((Here's a hint: nowhere in Silent Spring does Rachel Carson call for a blanket ban on DDT.))

And the usual misrepresentation.

Nowhere did I claim that Rachel Carson called anywhere in "Silent Spring" for a blanket ban on DDT. She did, however, create the atmosphere of hysteria that led directly to the ban. So, Rachel Carson, scientific fraud, is responsible for the ban on DDT and the subsequent death of millions of poor children.))

No, all she did was write her book, and write the words that are in it. There is nothing hysterical about what she wrote.
((((Then you clearly have not read Silent Spring, and are instead just regurgitating propaganda against it.))

Actually, I read it not all that long after it was published and while the furor the book whipped up was still fresh. ))

And yet you are making claims regarding that book that are not in it. The book never called for a ban on DDT.
((Then you clearly have not read Silent Spring, and are instead just regurgitating propaganda against it.))

Actually, I read it not all that long after it was published and while the furor the book whipped up was still fresh. In retrospect it's clear the book was the textbook for whipping up public fear by aping science. Carson's pioneering work of propaganda has been emulated ever since although with gradually decreasing effectiveness I'm very pleased to write.

((Here's a hint: nowhere in Silent Spring does Rachel Carson call for a blanket ban on DDT.))

And the usual misrepresentation.

Nowhere did I claim that Rachel Carson called anywhere in "Silent Spring" for a blanket ban on DDT. She did, however, create the atmosphere of hysteria that led directly to the ban. So, Rachel Carson, scientific fraud, is responsible for the ban on DDT and the subsequent death of millions of poor children. Us rich westerners could just dig a little deeper into our pockets for more expensive, and dangerous, pesticides but in the poorer nations they didn't have that option. They just died.

((And if you're going to talk like this about a book you clearly have not read, then you simply are a very stupid person.))

Drawing a convenient conclusion from your own, unsupported and wrong, assertions. Seems to be a pattern with the irresponsible zealots who espouse wind and solar power. That is, those other then the mercenary supporters of wind and solar power like Solyndra and General Electric. But their motives are positively noble by comparison to those of someone who pursues such ends for no better reason then the support of their venal conceits.

((Wow, what a contemptibly stupid argument to make.))

Yeah, that would be why you didn't even try to address the argument that government regulation's no panacea and briskly moved on to a tack more to your liking.

By the way, you've used the word "stupid" three times in just the last two posts.

Just thought I'd bring your repetitiousness to your attention.

Oh, the subsidization of wind and solar power will come to a halt. You might want to start getting used to that eventuality now to avoid the last minute rush.
((
You know as well as I do that DDT was banned not on the basis of extant science but on the basis of the hysteria whipped up by that scientific fraud, Rachel Carson and her fraudulent book, "Silent Spring". ))

Then you clearly have not read Silent Spring, and are instead just regurgitating propaganda against it.

Here's a hint: nowhere in Silent Spring does Rachel Carson call for a blanket ban on DDT.

And if you're going to talk like this about a book you clearly have not read, then you simply are a very stupid person.

((
((Polluters have a longer and worse record of pushing back against regulation of their activities, on the basis of fraud.))

Oh sure. Where there no "polluters", i.e. were there was no private enterprise, it was an environmental paradise. Like the old Soviet Union. Like China.))

Wow, what a contemptibly stupid argument to make.

Fact is, every company that's made a product with an environmental impact has had been tempted to try to deny that impact, and engage in scientific fraud to deny that impact. Not every company's succumbed to that temptation, but there are many famous examples, such as Du Pont and leaded gasoline.

If you don't already know this, then there is no denying that you simply are stupid. And your choice of rhetoric here establishes that much beyond a doubt.

And yes, big coal is engaged in a propaganda campaign to whitewash its effect on the environment. In the meantime, similar fraud is being used against wind turbines, and idiots like you are falling for it.
((You're still pushing the idea that wind turbines cause health effects. There is only one plausible explanation for that: you really are that stupid.
))

Actually, I never pushed the idea that wind turbines have deleterious health effects but thanks for nakedly misrepresenting my opinions for your convenience. Displays the credibility of your arguments.

What I wrote was that wind turbines make no economic sense, cover vast amounts of land area meaning lots and lots of people will, necessarily have an opportunity to discover what health effects, if any, wind turbines have, and since wind turbines produce electricity at a significantly higher cost then other technologies wind turbines will result in an impoverishment of the citizenry. That's what I wrote. Try responding to that.

((Polluters have a longer and worse record of pushing back against regulation of their activities, on the basis of fraud.))

Oh sure. Where there no "polluters", i.e. were there was no private enterprise, it was an environmental paradise. Like the old Soviet Union. Like China.

Socialists of whatever stripe are the worst polluters because you hold yourself above others. Your natural, and unquestionable, superiority means that when you get your grasping hands on the levers of power disaster follows.

((And yet more proof of your being dim witted. Read up on what actually happened with DDT. ))

I did as, most likely, did you which is why you're being deliberately vague.

You know as well as I do that DDT was banned not on the basis of extant science but on the basis of the hysteria whipped up by that scientific fraud, Rachel Carson and her fraudulent book, "Silent Spring". You probably know that William Ruckleshaus, then administrator of the EPA, ignored the available science in favor of the unsupported, or fraudulent, case against DDT. You also know that the banning of DDT resulted in it being largely unavailable in third world countries wherein untold numbers of poor people died as a result. You probably know all that but you don't care.

((Right, because we all know what an awful repressive antidemocratic regime holds Denmark in its terrifying clutches.))

The sort of awful, repressive, anti-democratic regime you'd impose - have imposed - on the U.S. were you to have the opportunity. Fortunately the political momentum that foisted these idiotic technologies on the public is dissipating, and as the companies suckling at the governmental te*t one by one go belly up, the entire, ludicrous enterprise grinds to a halt.
"Thanks for going to the "you're too stupid" defense which is the inevitable result of challenging taboos based on conceits."

You're still pushing the idea that wind turbines cause health effects. There is only one plausible explanation for that: you really are that stupid.

But thank you for providing yet more evidence of the same.

"
As for the rest of your post, government regulatory agencies have a long, unpleasant history of expanding their power on the basis of fraud. "

Polluters have a longer and worse record of pushing back against regulation of their activities, on the basis of fraud.

" The EPA's banning of DDT comes to mind"

And yet more proof of your being dim witted. Read up on what actually happened with DDT.

"
As for those happy, wind turbine-hugging Europeans, I doubt they, like similarly situated Americans, had much choice in the matter. "

Right, because we all know what an awful repressive antidemocratic regime holds Denmark in its terrifying clutches.


Game, set, match. Thanks for going to the "you're too stupid" defense which is the inevitable result of challenging taboos based on conceits.

As for the rest of your post, government regulatory agencies have a long, unpleasant history of expanding their power on the basis of fraud. The EPA's banning of DDT comes to mind and if I were so inclined I'd dig up the evidence for the fraudulent nature of the FDA's mercury advisories. But I'm not so, lucky you.

As for those happy, wind turbine-hugging Europeans, I doubt they, like similarly situated Americans, had much choice in the matter. The benign nature of wind turbines is assured by people who have an ideological axe to grind. I'm sure such people wouldn't be dismissive of the concerns, or any problems that arose, from living in close proximity to a gigantic wind turbine.

Lastly, although not leastly, they suck economically. Since you're so knowledgeable on the subject of wind turbines you should be familiar with all the wind turbine projects that've been built with private funds and are turning a profit.

Go ahead, give us *that* list.
"
So, coal releases mercury, but not to the extent that you'd like to imply it does in your repeated claim that walleye are being turned into toxic popsicles."

http://www.pregnancy-calendars.net/fish.aspx

The FDA begs to differ. Mercury concentrations in walleye are high enough that women seeking to bear children are advised to avoid eating it altogether.

But clearly that is not at all important compared to a turbine's vanes flickering against the setting sun. That's a grave concern, but our freshwater fish becoming inedible is "hyperbole."

Just what are you smoking?

I'll repeat, since you are clearly too stupid to understand it once:

There are thousands of large wind turbines deployed all over the world.

In Europe, people live right underneath them.
They hum, but the noise from them is nothing compared to the noise from nearby roads.

Only in America, where we have a well funded lobby exploiting dim witted people like you to go around repeating canards about health concerns to supress wind power in favor of power sources that actually are a grave health concern.
Apparently, surrounding text with greater then and less then symbols is a bad idea. OK, let's use parens.

((I misrepresented nothing. There are large deployments of wind turbines all over the world now: Holland, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Iowa, Kansas and that's just the beginning, and there is lots of experience on what that means. Which is simple the turbines have to be spaced far from each other, but underneath them, life goes on just fine.))

No, that was Tom@AWEA who tried to downplay the amount of land necessary for a wind turbine installation. You've merely risen to the defense of the misrepresentation by maintaining that there's absolutely nothing wrong with living in close proximity to a large wind turbine. Sorry, as an obvious proponent of the technology your credibility on the subject is questionable and, by the way, what you find perfectly acceptable isn't necessarily what other people, with equal say in the matter, might not find acceptable.

((You know who also wasn't enthusiasticc about the prospect of wind power in his neighborhood?

Frederick the Great. He tried to confiscate a windmill that was visible from his palace and whose vanes were crossing the sun at sunset. He failed.))

Yeah and neither was Ted Kennedy. But was Fredrick the Great the sort of hypocrite Ted Kennedy was thrusting a technology on people that he found objectionable himself?

((And we can see to our lovely views or we can see to keeping the lights on without contaminating groundwater through irresponsible natural gas drilling, turning West Virginia into Mordor, or putting more mercury into the air to have it come back through our freshwater fish.))

Or, we can see your frantic hyperbole for what it is and accept that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But, some lunches are cheaper then others and it ought to be up to the buyer to determine which trade-offs are most to their liking. It's that hyperbole that undermines your case but then it's a necessary hyperbole since all these technologies are inherently less efficient then the technologies you'd replace resulting in a more expensive "lunch".

So, coal releases mercury, but not to the extent that you'd like to imply it does in your repeated claim that walleye are being turned into toxic popsicles. And your nuclear bogeyman consists of one incident which resulted from the not uncommon incompetence of government employees and another from a tsunami. Too bad a nuclear powerplant wasn't hit by a tornado. You could have gone all bug-eyed about both nuclear power and anthropogenic global warming, uh, climate change.

As for who made the appeal to authority, who cares? The political force that created the alternative energy industry is petering out, having been brought to an end in a couple of countries which can no longer afford the idiotic affectation, and as more nations take a hard look at the economics of wind and solar more of the projects will be terminated or shelved. There's the real measure of the value of these alternatives; when the budget has to be cut, since wind and solar require subsidies, they'll be jettisoned. Heck, I don't even have to go across the Atlantic.

Here in my own Michigan when our previous governor, anxious to establish her environmentalist credentials, sought to do so with tax money the cupboard was bare so the $300 million dollar wind turbine wafted away like a cool breeze on a hot day. Turns out the project's not economically viable and without enough in the way of revenues, not buildable. Good. An idiotic idea when you're poor is an idiotic idea when you're rich.


No, that was Tom@AWEA who tried to downplay the amount of land necessary for a wind turbine installation. You've merely risen to the defense of the misrepresentation by maintaining that there's absolutely nothing wrong with living in close proximity to a large wind turbine. Sorry, as an obvious proponent of the technology your credibility on the subject is questionable and, by the way, what you find perfectly acceptable isn't necessarily what other people, with equal say in the matter, might not find acceptable.



Yeah and neither was Ted Kennedy. But was Fredrick the Great the sort of hypocrite Ted Kennedy was thrusting a technology on people that he found objectionable himself?



Or, we can see your frantic hyperbole for what it is and accept that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But, some lunches are cheaper then others and it ought to be up to the buyer to determine which trade-offs are most to their liking. It's that hyperbole that undermines your case but then it's a necessary hyperbole since all these technologies are inherently less efficient then the technologies you'd replace resulting in a more expensive "lunch".

So, coal releases mercury, but not to the extent that you'd like to imply it does in your repeated claim that walleye are being turned into toxic popsicles. And your nuclear bogeyman consists of one incident which resulted from the not uncommon incompetence of government employees and another from a tsunami. Too bad a nuclear powerplant wasn't hit by a tornado. You could have gone all bug-eyed about both nuclear power and anthropogenic global warming, uh, climate change.

As for who made the appeal to authority, who cares? The political force that created the alternative energy industry is petering out, having been brought to an end in a couple of countries which can no longer afford the idiotic affectation, and as more nations take a hard look at the economics of wind and solar more of the projects will be terminated or shelved. There's the real measure of the value of these alternatives; when the budget has to be cut, since wind and solar require subsidies, they'll be jettisoned. Heck, I don't even have to go across the Atlantic.

Here in my own Michigan when our previous governor, anxious to establish her environmentalist credentials, sought to do so with tax money the cupboard was bare so the $300 million dollar wind turbine wafted away like a cool breeze on a hot day. Turns out the project's not economically viable and without enough in the way of revenues, not buildable. Good. An idiotic idea when you're poor is an idiotic idea when you're rich.
Could you tell me where in the Kansas the photo was taken? Thank you.
"
I assume you meant "countries" not "counties" since "taking out" a county's hardly the catastrophe you need if you're engaging in the sort of hyperbole that's necessary to try foist an uneconomic and unreliable source of power like the wind off on the public."

Correct, I meant counties. Since that is roughly the size of the exclusion zone created when a nuclear plant goes t*ts up. It's happened twice so far, so it's hardly hyperbole. Chernobyl and Fukushima both resulted in exclusion zones the size of a handful of Midwestern counties.

"
As for the amount of land necessary for wind power, that's a function of physics which is why the amount of land was misrepresented in the specious example by"

I misrepresented nothing. There are large deployments of wind turbines all over the world now: Holland, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Iowa, Kansas and that's just the beginning, and there is lots of experience on what that means. Which is simple the turbines have to be spaced far from each other, but underneath them, life goes on just fine.

" Tom@AWEA and by your curt dismissal of the impact of having to live close to huge wind turbines."

I live close to two of them. I also live close to an interstate. The latter has far more impact.

" It's a lot of land, you know it and you also know the number's large enough to alarm people who aren't enthusiastic about the prospect of a massive wind turbine in their neighborhood."

You know who also wasn't enthusiasticc about the prospect of wind power in his neighborhood?

Frederick the Great. He tried to confiscate a windmill that was visible from his palace and whose vanes were crossing the sun at sunset. He failed.

"
People needed to eat and millers could either see to their souls or to the community's bellies. "

And we can see to our lovely views or we can see to keeping the lights on without contaminating groundwater through irresponsible natural gas drilling, turning West Virginia into Mordor, or putting more mercury into the air to have it come back through our freshwater fish.

Priorities.


"The unreliability of wind power, even on the North Sea coast, is the reason for the exemption and sorry, but I don't feel like electing a source of power which comes with that sort of shortcoming your hyperbolic claims about taking out countries, poisoning walleye and the oceans rising notwithstanding."

The Chernobyl zone was taken out. Fukushima's county is taken out.

Coal emissions result in mercury showing up in the walleye. Again, it is not hyperbole. It is fact. This is why the government has to warn people to limit the amount of Great Lakes walleye they eat.


It's happened. It's not hyperbole. What is hyperbole is the claim that the vibrations from a wind turbine are somehow worse than the far more pronounced vibrations from local car traffic.

"As for your appeal to authority"

No, you made an appeal to authority by claiming that the proponents of wind power lack it. So I am bringing in the IEEE to show you and those who read your drivel just who it is that has authority, and who it is who lacks it.

Ah, right. Hyperbole.

"Add in the fact that wind turbines won't poison your walleye with mercury or take out entire counties, and you can see why some of us like them."

I assume you meant "countries" not "counties" since "taking out" a county's hardly the catastrophe you need if you're engaging in the sort of hyperbole that's necessary to try foist an uneconomic and unreliable source of power like the wind off on the public.

As for the amount of land necessary for wind power, that's a function of physics which is why the amount of land was misrepresented in the specious example by Tom@AWEA and by your curt dismissal of the impact of having to live close to huge wind turbines. It's a lot of land, you know it and you also know the number's large enough to alarm people who aren't enthusiastic about the prospect of a massive wind turbine in their neighborhood.

But to get back to the unreliability of wind power, it's convenient of you to offer a historical example of that reality.

People needed to eat and millers could either see to their souls or to the community's bellies. The unreliability of wind power, even on the North Sea coast, is the reason for the exemption and sorry, but I don't feel like electing a source of power which comes with that sort of shortcoming your hyperbolic claims about taking out countries, poisoning walleye and the oceans rising notwithstanding.

As for your appeal to authority, the IEEE is perfectly entitled to endorse whatever moves whatever percentage of the membership is necessary to pass the endorsement. Engineers, it turns out, are only paragons of rationality within their area of expertise and sometimes not even there. Outside those areas of expertise they're entirely amenable to the sorts of self-referential and self-congratulatory positions as non-engineers. Besides, this isn't an engineering issue but a economic/political issue. We have ways of deciding such issues which may, or may not, pay attention to the opinions of experts.
Finally, Allen:

"The ludicrous nature of the idea argues against a rational thought process and for an irresponsible desire motivated by sources outside the scope of this discussion. "

Your own hyperbole is what argues against a rational though process. Wind power has the endorsement of the IEEE and every other organization for electrical engineers. It has been studied in depth, including the intermittency problem. In fact, the intermittency of wind has been acommodated for since the 1500s when the Church in the Netherlands exempted millers from having to go to Mass on Sundays.

Add in the fact that wind turbines won't poison your walleye with mercury or take out entire counties, and you can see why some of us like them.
"
Besides, let's not overlook the fact that you, and Omri, appear to be arguing that the wind's more reliable a source of power then nuclear or carbon-based power sources."

No, that is not what I am arguing. This article tries to gauge the merit of various powers sources by calculating their output in units of Watt per unit area. I pointed out that while that is a worthwhile comparison, you have to take into account all the area affected by each power method, not just the size of the plant: a nuclear plant that goes pear shaped turns from a 200 acre facilty into a 400000 acre exclusion zone, and so its power density immediately declines by a factor of 2000. And if it doesn't go pear shaped, you still have to take into account the area affected by uranium mining and refining (far more than 200 acres) and by waste storage.

Similarly with carbon. Add in the acreage that is affected by localized pollution near the plant, and near the coal mine, and, oh, Bangladesh sinking between the waves, and all of a sudden coal's power density isn't looking so good.

And then there's the humble wind turbine. Mr. Bryce overestimates the area required for wind farms by ignoring the fact that wind farms allow for all sorts of activities around the turbines, such as farming and plain old human habitation, in order to come up with a low figure for wind's power density.

Power density is a useful accounting method, but Mr. Bryce applies it in a fashion worthy of the boys at Enron.

Now, if you want to talk about intermittency, that is besides the point of this article. But you should be aware that fossil fuel plants and nuclear plants have to go down for maintenance too, some of it scheduled, some of it unscheduled. The intermittency of wind power is nothing new to the power industry. It is a difference of degree, not kind.

Sorry Terry but the event to which I'm referring occurred August 2, 3, 4 of 2011 and wind power dropped from its advertised power capacity of 10,135 megawatts to 1,500 megawatts - http://www.ercot.com/news/press_releases/show/413

Besides, let's not overlook the fact that you, and Omri, appear to be arguing that the wind's more reliable a source of power then nuclear or carbon-based power sources.

The ludicrous nature of the idea argues against a rational thought process and for an irresponsible desire motivated by sources outside the scope of this discussion. It's the wind. Where, when and how hard it blows is dictated by processes over which we have no control and to which an enormously expensive accommodation must be made if any degree of reliability is to be expected.

And, I'd rather not leave unresolved the matter of Tom @AWEA's pointless misrepresentation of the amount of land necessary for wind power.

Any reasonably-sized wind power installation will cover a huge amount of land area and the cavalier dismissal of attendent complaints along with bland, but not accountable, reassurances that all will be well bespeaks a desire to advance some policy regardless of complaints, shortcomings and costs.

Using Tom's line of reasoning, billboards alongside freeways cover practically no land, produce no pollution, make no noise and if you don't like what you see, keep your eyes on the road. I appreciate his honesty in revealing his affiliation with AWEA which makes his advocacy an understandably mercenary and his misrepresentation equally understandable. But that just moves the responsibility along to whoever Tom's intended audience might be - the people who want sources of power that are inherently expensive, inherently unreliable or both.
To Tom Davis:

0.4*200 is 80 megawatt-hours. A turbine with a 4 megawatt capacity would pay that back in 20 hours of a stiff wind. Which on average is under a week. Wind power can power its own manufacturing.
Mr. Bryce's article provides an interesting way to evaluate the
merits of different ways to obtain energy and food from our natural reasources.
Interesting, but incomplete, however.

Let's begin with nuclear plants. A properly functioning plant has indeed a very small territorial footprint, e.g. 250 acres. But if disaster strikes, that footprint will expand to the size of the resulting exclusion zone. Chernobyl's exclusion zone is over 400,000 acres. Fukushima's future exclusion zone is not yet settled, but the price of relocating people and activity and forgoing the use of the land will be high. That's a difference of three orders of magnitude. Add in the footprint of land degraded by uranium mining, and

Or how about coal plants? Well, the average plant takes even less than 250 acres. But when you also look at how many acres of land are devalued by the emissions of soot, sulfur, nitrogen oxides, and mercury from the plant, and that footprint becomes far larger. Add the acreage of freshwater lakes whose fish become inedible from the mercury, and the footprint expands, and the power density of the coal plant declines. Let's also add the footprint of the moonscapes created by mountaintop removal, and the lands degraded by tailings contamination in the Appalachians.

Compare to the humble windmill. In order to be useful, a windmill does occupy some land, and it must be at least some distance from the next windmill. Except that the turbine does not exclude other uses for the land. As the picture accompanying the article shows, they have no impact in farming, and can rely on the same service roads farmers themselves use. The low level hum they produce is easily dwarfed by the din of traffic on the roads nearby, and is really a matter for hypochondriacs.

The same nuances also apply to your comparison of organic versus inorganic farming. Organic fields do produce lower yields on a per acre comparison. But to the footprint of a conventionally farmed field, add the footprint of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, where there is no longer any worthwhile fishing thanks to the phosphorus and pesticides flushing in from the Midwest. Now which is more dense?
Allen, I don't think you're representing what happened in Texas correctly. While wind farms did produce 80MW less than anticipated, there was also an unanticipated 350MW drop in conventional generation along with demand coming in 1185MW higher than ERCOT had planned. So, while the decrease in wind production did nothing to help, it did not cause the reliability event. And the event itself only lasted for 40 minutes; not several days.

You can read the ERCOT report yourself: http://interchange.puc.state.tx.us/WebApp/Interchange/Documents/27706_114_577769.PDF

ERCOT commissioned the Perryman Group to determine if building new transmission to allow more wind onto the Texas grid would be economical. They found that more wind generation would depress power prices to the point that the transmission upgrades were justified. ERCOT did include spinning reserves as part of the economic calculation and the new transmission was still justified. You can read the report here:

http://www.perrymangroup.com/reports/Winds_of_Prosperity_Final.pdf

Terry, I understand Tom perfectly. He's trying to soft-pedal the gargantuan amount of land necessary to generate any substantial amount of power by misrepresenting the actual amount of land necessary and then by claiming that wind turbines are fine neighbors and don't really bother anyone who lives within earshot. Finally, it's really advantageous for everyone to support wind power.

Balderdash.

The wind's an inherently unreliable source of power as Texas proved a couple of years ago when the wind just stopped blowing for several days. That means that a reliance on wind power necessitates investment in alternative power to supply electricity when the alternative power stops supplying power.

Do proponents of wind power figure the cost of backup of some sort into their cost calculations? I rather doubt it since they certainly don't mention the fact.

Then there's maintenance costs which were wildly underestimated for the first and second generation of wind turbines which is why so few of them are operating. The third generation appears to be somewhat better but whether that's true or not will only be determined over the next couple of years.

Proponents of wind power, and solar power, have to engage in these sorts of deceits because the truth doesn't support their burning desire to impose their technological solutions on those who have an unfortunate tendency to consider costs.
@ All

I think you're misunderstanding Tom@AWEA. While the wind farms need to be spread out over a large area, as you stated, they don't reduce the use of the land in between them. So, each wind turbine takes about an acre of land out of production (this includes the grave road leading to the wind turbine). The remaining land can be used however it was before the wind farm was constructed.
Apparently, there are some out there who still believe that the production of ethanol reduces the food supply. Ethanol production does NOT reduce food supplies. Let's put this misconception to rest. Ethanol production actually INCREASES the food supply.

When ethanol is produced from corn 19% of the corn is consumed and 81% of the corn used for ethanol production is converted to brewers mash. Brewers mash is a high protein product which is used to feed animals. The brewers mash is more digestible and thus has more available food value than the corn from which it was produced. In other words, 81 pounds of brewers mash provides more nutrition to livestock than does 100 pounds of raw corn.

I refer you to a National Public Radio segment (http://www.npr.org/templates/ story/story.php?storyId=89598524). In the NPR story cattle ranchers are quoted as saying that the increased ethanol production has resulted in a large increase in the availability of brewers mash at reduced prices. The reduction in the price of the brewers mash used for animal feed has resulted in a $40 to $50 per animal reduction in the costs of raising livestock. A cattle rancher quoted in the NPR segment commented that ethanol production has resulted in him saving $200,000 per year to raise his herd due to the wide availability of brewers mash at very reasonable prices.

Several years ago, Merrill Lynch produced the results of a study in which they determined the effect of ethanol production on the retail price of gasoline and diesel fuel. The Merrill Lynch study determined that the availability of ethanol reduced the retail cost of gasoline by $.50 per gallon. In other words, the retail price of gasoline would have been $.50 more per gallon if ethanol had not been available as a fuel additive.

The Merrill Lynch study concluded that as ethanol production ramps up to a projected 20 billion gallons the negative pricing effect of ethanol will increase and further moderate the retail price of gasoline.

Ethanol is a Win/Win for everyone. Farm income is increased. Fuel supply is increased. Reliance on foreign fuel is decreased. Fuel price is moderated. And most important of all, food supply is INCREASED.
I believe that, despite Fukushima, the world should not give up on nuclear power. I am happy to see there's someone out there who agrees with me.
Tom @AWEA

If wind power were such an effective and economical source of electricity then proponents such as yourself wouldn't have to engage in rhetorical sleight of keyboard to make the idea seem a bit less nuts.

For instance, without even leaving the first paragraph we have the deliberate falsehood "wind power provided 20% of America's electricity, the actual space occupied by wind turbines, related equipment such as electrical substations, and service roads would be less than half the size of the city of Anchorage, Alaska."

Of course what you actually mean is that if all the components of a wind power installation that "provided 20% of America's electricity" were crammed cheek by jowl they'd cover less then half size of the city of Anchorage, Alaska. But that's not the area necessary for the actual installation of the those wind turbines, is it?

I'm not going to bother to dig up that actual area that would be necessary for such a stupendous number of wind turbines since your dishonesty is the real issue. In fact, from one topic to the next proponents of wind power are forced to misrepresent, tailor, edit and slant to put their favorite form of electrical power generation into a marginally favorable light. Obviously, I'm not the only person to notice how the issue's relentlessly and dishonestly framed by enthusiasts because support for all this nonsense continues to diminish.
@Ken Royall:

Sir, I believe you have contradicted yourself. You said "...there is no trend in the US for them to do the opposite." and "The few urban areas that worth living in are unaffordable to average people".

Do you not believe that high housing prices indicate a high demand for people to live in a place?
Andrew F. Grisham January 31, 2012 at 1:01 PM
Excellent article. Look how we have bent ourselves out of shape to accomodate the ficticious carbon issue! That one issue promoted by the guy who invented the internet, Al Gore, among many other misguided individuals, has permeated our economy in unbelievable ways.
The actual amount of land used by wind power is very small. The U.S. Department of Energy's 20% Wind Energy by 2030 Technical Report found that if wind power provided 20% of America's electricity, the actual space occupied by wind turbines, related equipment such as electrical substations, and service roads would be less than half the size of the city of Anchorage, Alaska. That is because 95% to 98% of the land within a wind farm's boundaries remains available for ranching, farming, wildlife habitat, recreation, or other compatible uses. Furthermore, wind's benefits, in the form of land rental payments to farmers, are spread as widely as the turbines, providing badly needed income to rural towns and counties across the U.S.

Other energy sources also use land, particularly in the production of fuel. Gas, coal, and nuclear power plants all depend on fuel that must be drilled for or mined. In their land use calculations, critics of wind regularly ignore fuel production and transportation (e.g., gas pipelines) land use requirements for other types of power plants.

Wind power's steel requirements can easily be met. Requirements of wind power for steel and other raw materials are also addressed in the 2008 Department of Energy report mentioned above. Regarding steel, the report comments: "The steel needed for additional wind turbines is not expected to have a significant impact on total steel production. (In 2005, the United States produced 93.9 million metric tons of steel, or 8% of the worldwide total.) Although steel will be required for any electricity generation technology installed over the next several decades, it can be recycled. As a result, replacing a turbine after 20+ years of service would not significantly affect the national steel demand because recycled steel can be used in other applications for which high-quality steel is not a requirement (Laxson, Hand, and Blair 2006)."

Wind turbine sound has no direct effect on human health. Multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies, the most recent by an independent expert panel commissioned by the Massachusetts departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health, have found no human health effects from wind turbine sound. At distances of 1,000 feet or more, sounds from wind turbines fall well below existing standards previously established for other types of equipment and are lower than ambient sound in a typical home or office. While some people--particularly those who dislike the appearance of wind turbines--may find their sound annoying, thousands of people around the world and across America live near or within wind farms without concern.

While there are a noisy few who oppose wind power, public support for it remains strong. I've noted in the past the remarkable irony of Mr. Bryce, a strong proponent of nuclear power, applauding NIMBY (not in my back yard) opposition to wind farms. Be careful, Mr. Bryce: your pet technology cannot even find a place to dispose of its radioactive waste because of NIMBYs.

Certainly there are more groups in more places expressing concern about wind (and solar) projects than there were a decade ago, but in large part, that is probably because there are so many more wind projects. The numbers don't lie--during the 2000s, wind projects around the world expanded by more than 1,000 percent, from 17,000 megawatts (MW) installed at the end of 2000 to 197,000 at the end of 2010. Clearly, someone out there likes wind power.

Who would that be? Well, according to all the polling we've seen, pretty much everyone. A most recent poll, in the Presidentially pivotal state of Iowa--but also a state that is getting nearly 20 percent of its electricity--shows a mere 85 percent of voters having a favorable opinion of wind companies, including 62 percent "very favorable." Other polling data, both national and state, tell the same story.

And why would that be? My guess is because most people understand that our society needs energy and would prefer that it come from an energy source like wind power that produces no air pollution, water pollution, or hazardous waste, uses virtually no water, revitalizes rural communities, and creates new manufacturing jobs.
Alena Hromádková,Prague January 31, 2012 at 7:05 AM
Very well argued, indeed.Unfortunately, the mindless imitation of the trendy enviromentalist policies reached Central/Eastern Europe too. Countries empoverished by Nazi and Communist economic regulations/devastations have been very vulnerable and failed to copy with the ideological import effectively.
I think you misunderstand Schumacher. His Small is Beautiful was a critique of Western foreign aid the 3rd world countries. Giving them High tech water purification plants that could not be reparied if they ever broke down. He recommended an intermediate step where the locals could use local materials in a way that was easier to grasp was an example. manually dumping in chlorine rather than having a machine do it made more sense.
Mr. Bryce misses the point that the high density agriculture he extolls is based on cheap and available fossil fuels - the gas used to make the fertilizer, the diesel fuel used to run the tractors and irrigation pumps and the gasoline used to haul the resulting crops vast distances. How is this dense agriculture going to work when fossil fuel prices spike after Peak Oil?
70% of Americans prefer to live outside of cities and there is no trend in the US for them to do the opposite. Especially when most cities are mismanaged, have poor public safety, lousy schools and come with another significant layer of government that must be paid for and dealt with. Witness the nutcase Bloomberg in NYC for an example. The few urban areas that worth living in are unaffordable to average people. I put moving to the city under the heading of "things that are never going to happen".
The analysis of power is spot on. How many supporters of "green energy" realize that for each solar/wind farm, countless natural gas plants must be kept running well below efficiency to the order of 40% capacity? It's a truly foolish waste of resources.

However, much of the burden must be placed on the consumerist culture that does not produce things of value. The have appliances designed for a 2 year life cycle is ridiculous. Ditto the absurd amount of packaging found in almost every product we buy...

While organic methods of growth may be more inefficient, perhaps their general commitment to a smaller footprint (more local, less packaging etc.) could counterbalance it? There's very little true study of the entire lifecycle impact of consumer goods, so it's hard to tell...

One key though would be to hold organic produce to lower *visual* standards than conventual goods. The amount of waste this produces is rather staggering, especially as a slightly mishapen carrot won't cause irreperable harm to the consumer. My frequent forays to the nice and cheap Chinese grocery store is testimony to that.
I'm sorry, the idea that organic production would starve half the world---it's just flat-out false. For starters, check this one out (it's from the Rodale Institute, which you mentioned in the article):

http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years

The studies wherein "land devoted to organic farming" produced less crops were most likely based upon the model where conventional farming is given countless synthetic inputs---chemical fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, etc---while the organic crops were planted in barren, chemical-ruined ground and given no natural inputs at all, such as manure. You end up with prosperous conventional crops and wasted organic crops, and suddenly it seems like organic is a suicide rap. It's completely bunko.

More importantly, industrial agriculture (fruits, vegetables and animals alike) is critically dependent upon cheap fossil fuel to support itself. Once the fuel prices start going up, the entire system will crash. An ideal organic system---preferably a local one---will not get hit nearly as hard by rising fuel prices. When the oil runs out and industrial food prices are skyrocketing around the world, it'll become clear.
Your version of an environmentalist is a little skewed. Environmentalists care about the state of the natural environment in all facets, keeping the natural cycles of ecosystems in tact - not just how much rural land exists.

Organic farming keeps unnaturally high amounts of fertilizers and pesticides from overwhelming ecosystems and destroying life. Using wind power to power a vehicle doesn't create the pollution that coal-burning plants and combustion engines produce (not to mention the environmental degradation in extraction and production of coal, oil, and gas for use.) Even better, let's ride a bike, enjoy the fresh air and use human power!

You talk about "storing safely" the waste from nuclear. That seems to be our way of compartmentalizing waste we create that doesn't integrate into a natural cycle of reuse. (Plastics that sit in landfills for centuries....) This isn't an acceptable solution because the cycle stops when it's "safely buried" in otherwise untouched land to become contaminated for centuries.

You seem to have a bone to pick with wind power because it ruins the view. That's no reason to rely on the energy sources of the past while their availability dwindles. Our lifestyles of high energy use will most likely require multiple energy sources as well as energy-conservative technologies as more people in the world gain access to more energy-intensive lifestyles.

We need better solutions, true. But that's no reason to rest on old polluting technologies (in the name of environmentalism, nonetheless!) You forgot to address how resource-intense solar technology is. That doesn't mean we should stop trying though - just because we haven't gotten it right yet. We need more research, and less incentives for old, unsustainable technologies like coal, gas, and oil. At least that would level the playing field and contribute to quickly finding more sustainable, resource-wise sources of energy creation.
I'm disappointed to see the City Journal supporting Nina Pierpoint's well discredited "wind turbine syndrome." Wind turbines do not emit low frequency noise and wind turbine syndrome is made up. Please see this independent review:

http://www.bwea.com/pdf/publications/HS_WTS_review.pdf [warning: pdf]

In response to Mr. Tom Davis: you are comparing power and energy, which are not equivalent. The wind turbine produces 0.02 MW/ton of steel, but it is producing that MW every hour. So it is generating enough power to produce that ton of steel in 20 hours; less than one day.
Without a single word on Palm Oil or Diesel engines the article totally lacks of balance.
Great article, I wonder how many people managed to avoid the popular group think when it comes to renewable sources of energy. I cannot agree on using farmland for fuel production either, not only because of terrible inefficiency of such production, but also because of its effect on environment when it comes to water balance. Energy is not the only resource which is globally in short supply. The second, even more important one is water. Water is best sold and best transported as …food. There are some very interesting promising sources of energy which can prove cost-efficient and practical in the future, such as energy of algae, the use of existing road surfaces for production of solar energy, and some molecular inspired systems (NAP: Molecular-Level Learning from Natural Systems: A Workshop). I would not underestimate the potential power of tide in certain areas either. There is one hidden cost of oil and gas which has to be incorporated in the price of the final product: defense expenditures and all that diplomatic dancing around supplies from countries rich in resources to…Europe! Actually, America is doing pretty well when it comes to energy independence. The real problem is Europe and its inability to secure its own energy in a way which does not threaten its very existence. Let’s remember a few points from the Cold War. Reagan’s administration came up with the idea of starving Russia from cash by denying them access to western markets. Europe was not that eager to participate in this strategy and preferred cheap energy from Russia if I remember it well. Let’s have a look what options Europeans have got to secure energy for themselves: Russia, Norway, Middle East. What is the obvious solution to this problem? To exchange of precious resource which is in short supply in Europe abundant in the Middle East (oil) for precious resource that is in short supply in the Middle East but abundant in Europe (water, meaning food). Why this is not happening to the extent which would ensure lower vulnerability of Europe on energy blackmail? I can see that the problem is the EU system of subsidies in agriculture which promotes “organic production” and completely ignores the strategic value of food as a resource. Some nice graphs are here: http://www.energy.eu/. This lack of common energy strategy in Europe and over-reliance on somebody else to defend their own access to vital resources has to be incorporated in the cost of energy, too. Yes, looking at the defense budget.
"Installing a single wind turbine requires about 200 tons of steel. The newest turbines have capacities of about 4 megawatts. Divide four by 200, and you’ll find that such a turbine can produce about 0.02 megawatts of electricity per ton of steel."

Interestingly, a modern electric arc furnace uses about 0.40 megawatt hours to produce a ton of steel. Using wind power to manufacture the steel for using wind power (using windmills to power furnaces to make windmills) would yield a negative rate of return of 20 to 1 (0.40 to 0.02). In other words the wind power industry is highly dependent on electricity from sources other than wind power to survive.
I am always fascinated in Robert Bryce, but I must correct some misimpressions about corn ethanol.

Bryce alludes to a fairly liberal rather than conservative argument that bioethanol shortchanges humanity of food. there is no credible evidence to that effect, inasmuch as no country is obliged to export food, especiallyon the open-ended terms promoted by the USDA -- the financing of exports is not being paid for by the consumers, but rolled over forever. Otherwise private financing by China and other consumers would replace govt finacing in full, and grains would follow a world objective price.

Subsidies hurt the case for ethanol another way. The fermentation residue of corn, known as DDG or DDGS is better animal feed than corn -- you have your fuel and eat it too. Use of bacteria, the tall configuration of distilleries, the possibilities of cogenerated energy to run the distillation from power plants that take up land anyway -- this counts for very much in space economies.

The vast majority of corn subsidies have gone into the forgotten US grain reserve, not ethanol. Issues of food prices and federal spending can be solved simply by giving the reserves away to distillers for free, and demanding a quota of DDGS returned to the market as feed. Corn production will drop as a relative share to wheat, barley, and other direct consumables, which will lower food prices (more acreage will be devoted to a greater variety of foodstuffs), but corn will still prevail for its overall energy value delivered per acre, whether it is turned to vehicle fuel or not. It's use in cattle and chicken husbandry is still paramount, and likely to expand, given the comparative US advantage in animal protein production for export (which our trade partners recognize, and do everything to prevent).

And there's nothing against rotating corn with a cheaper biofuel related crop such as barley,if it will squeeze more profitablity out of land. We can agree that leaving corn residue on the ground is a 'sustainable' practice given to us by our forebears, and getting long in the tooth, considering that there may be other things to do with it.
I hope that the mass media outlets get this informaion into the hands of the hoi poloi. Density is a factor that must be calcualted into the efficacy of these green initatives.
The windmills in Kansas, cited as an example of "the opposite of dense", are a poor example.

The land used for those windmills is too hilly and rocky to make good farmland. It does make good pasture, and that is what it was used for before the windmills were built.

Now, it is used for both windmills, and pasture. The density of human use of that land has increased.

What's more, the windmills do not convert fossil fuels to CO2, which is then distributed throughout the planet's atmosphere, there to remain for centuries. (Individual CO2 molecules don't stay in the atmosphere nearly so long, because they tend to get cycled through the yearly growth and decay of spring and fall, but that averages out.) This means that the footprint of each coal-fired electric generating plant is much bigger than we generally realize.
It has been so long ago that "Small is beautiful" was the featured thought in an article on the environment. It says it all