Free Markets, Free People

A couple of enviro myths and reality

Myth one – wind power has no down side.  Well, except for the fact that wind power needs fossil fuel backup to give it any consistency and thus can be hardly called strictly renewable or “clean energy”.

But in this case, I was thinking more on the endangered species side of things.  The assumption is that wind power is an entirely eco-friendly way of generating power.  Yeah, not so much if you’re a bird – especially, in the case of California, a golden eagle:

The death count along the ridgelines of the Bay Area’s Altamount Pass Wind Resource Area has averaged 67 a year for three decades.

The 200ft high turbines, which have been operating since the 1980s, lie in the heart of the grassy canyons that are home to one of the highest densities of nesting golden eagles in the US.

‘It would take 167 pairs of local nesting golden eagles to produce enough young to compensate for their mortality rate related to wind energy production,’ field biologist Doug Bell, manager of East Bay Regional Park District’s wildlife programme, told the Los Angeles Times. ‘We only have 60 pairs,’ he added.

Interesting – the enviro-crowd will go to war for some tiny fish no one is heard of to stop a dam or some other project, but when something they mostly support grinds up endangered golden eagles at a rate at which they can’t replace themselves, crickets (endangered crickets, of course).  In CA only the Audubon Society is speaking out. 

And nationally:

Nationwide, about 440,000 birds are said to be accidentally killed at wind farms each year, as well as thousands more bats. With the government pushing for more wind energy farms, that statistic is likely to rise.

Can’t wait to see what comes of the Cape Wind project off of MA.  The toll of birds is sure to rise, and my guess is it will become a favorite hang out for sharks – with the automatic chumming and all.

Myth two – we’re “deforesting” the earth and that is a major reason that the climate is changing and getting warmer (more CO2 generated by man , minus less CO2 capture by forests).

A new study says not so fast:

For years exponents of climate change theories have used images of deforestation to support their cause.

However, the density of forests and woodland across much of the world is actually increasing, according to a respected scientific study.

The change, which is being dubbed the ‘Great Reversal’, could be crucial in reducing atmospheric carbon, which is linked to climate change.

Seems that the density has in fact increased significantly enough to actually reverse what was claimed as irreversible a decade ago:

In countries from Finland to Malaysia, the thickening has taken place so quickly that it has reversed the carbon losses caused by deforestation between 1990 and 2010.

Of course, even if they acknowledge the results of the study, enviro types aren’t happy with the mix of the new density.

Environmentalists expressed concerns, however, that much of the increasing density is driven by huge new monoculture plantations.

In China, an ambitious reforestation programme has added three million hectares to the country’s forests every year over the past decade, but green campaigners believe this is predominantly composed of one species – eucalyptus.

But the study says the density, regardless of species, is having the effect of taking in more carbon that forest were taking in during the previous decade, regardless of species.

The research, carried out by teams from the University of Helsinki and New York’s Rockefeller University, shows that forests are thickening in 45 of 68 countries, which together account for 72 per cent of global forests. Traditionally, environmentalists have focused their concern solely on the dwindling extent of forested areas, but the authors believe evidence of denser forests could be crucial in reducing the world’s carbon footprint.

So – if you’re one of the global warming alarmists who want to do something about your carbon footprint – go plant a tree or two.  As for the myth of deforestation – well, it’s just that, a myth.  10 million hectares of “new forest” are planted each year on newly felled woodland or reclaimed land.  And, per the study, the density in which it is planted has, within a decade, “reversed” any theorized damage and has the world in a net positive situation for CO2 capture.    That means, of course, that the alarmists no longer have this particular issue with which to hammer industries that use forest products – well except whine about what they’re planting.


Twitter: @McQandO


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5 Responses to A couple of enviro myths and reality

  • “Myth two – we’re “deforesting” the earth and that is a major reason that the climate is changing and getting warmer (more CO2 generated by man , minus less CO2 capture by forests).”
    Also, old growth forest is a crappy carbon sink and the deification of old growth forest is mostly garbage.  Young forests grow much faster and so sequester carbon at a much higher rate.  Logging is fine as long as care is taken to replant sustainably.

  • Regarding deforestation – personal anecdote I realize, and no ‘proof’ other than what one can see for themselves.
    growing up I worked in a library in Massachusetts – lots of ‘old’ paintings of the area done back before/slightly after the Civil War – pastoral scenes – farms, fields, the requisite New England stone walls bordering all the fields, very little of what we called ‘woods’ in any of them.  For years growing up I was also a frequent hiker both around home north of Boston, and any other place I could venture to further afield.  What always puzzled me when young was the amount of effort the occupants of Old New England made to build stone walls IN THE WOODS.  I figured they were merely boundary markers, as they say, good fences make good neighbors.  Not a one of those walls I saw was ‘new’.  They were moss covered, leaf and dirt piled, fallen tree limb shrouded and in places where trails or tracks passed over them, frequently knocked down where the path was.  Ask any native of New England, the walls are virtually EVERYWHERE there aren’t homes – wander into a woods in a given direction for more than about 200 yards, you’ll probably cross a wall at some point in your line of travel (except in parts of Maine I frequented…man, you could wander in one direction all day and almost never see sign of man….)
    When I started working professionally, and started to fly, one of the things that struck me traveling by air from Logan airport out towards the rest of the country was the amount of tree covered land that makes up the New England states.  At some point my brain managed to make the connection between the walls, the woods, and the old paintings I used to stare at between intervals of telling kids in the Library to be quiet and stop snapping their gum.   The paintings were the New England that was, farm fields, bordered by walls, with the trees taken DOWN.  The New England I grew up in from the mid 1950’s was reverting in most places to the way it was before the Pilgrims landed and cleared the land.
    No one thinks of it as ‘forest’ – it’s just a ‘woods’ (a biiig freakin woods….) but I’ll bet, if you’re careful, it’s a woods that you can probably walk from the coast of the state to the western edge.  Sure, you’re going to have to cross some streets, roads and highways now and again, but I’m betting you can manage it without crossing on the paved road for any more than 2 minutes at the most.   Think about that.  There was a time when it was largely cleared, no more.  That holds true for a large portion of the eastern US.
    No one pays attention to it, it’s like the sky, it’s just there, it’s not exotic (unless you’re a Steven King fan….), no movies about Sean Connery finding magic ants that cure disease, no anacondas that swallow people whole, no Mosquito Coast Harrison Ford and his ice machine, no pygmies, no blow darts, no lost Inca ruins.  Just a ‘woods’.

  • McQ –  [T]he enviro-crowd will go to war for some tiny fish no one is heard of to stop a dam or some other project, but when something they mostly support grinds up endangered golden eagles at a rate at which they can’t replace themselves, crickets (endangered crickets, of course). 

    But… but… but… Algore says that global warming will make birds extinct in another ten thirty twenty years!!!  So, like, that’s worse!!!

    / sarc

    As you say, the greenies are only “green” when it’s politically (or personally) expedient for them to be so.  cf. Algore’s megamansions and private jet…

  • We used to burn trees to stay warm. Then we figured out distributed natgas and electric power systems so we no longer burn trees to stay warm. Technology saved the trees!