WIND POWER

Dan Nachbar: “The concern that ‘wind turbines kill birds’ is something of a red herring. (Sorry to mix species.) Sadly, some birds are indeed killed by wind turbines. But we should keep those loses in perspective. According the the National Academy of Sciences, only 3 of every 100,000 of human-caused bird deaths come from wind turbines. Wind now provides about 2% of U. S. electricity. Wind energy’s most avid boosters are pushing for an increase to 20%. If that comes to pass, then wind energy related bird deaths would likely be only 3 of every 10,000 of the human-caused total. Cars, tall buildings, power lines, and house cats kill about a billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) birds per year and nobody is suggesting that we do away with them to save the birds. It’s always the ‘new kid on the block’ that gets the scrutiny.”

Emerson Schwartzkopf: “I’d give a big thumbs-up to wind power as a partner technology to augment U.S. energy needs. As someone who lives near one of the largest wind-generation fields in the country (San Gorgonio Pass), it’s great to see those turbines giving us power. The problem is that wind-power generation is erratic and cyclical. While the data in this report is a bit stale (a 2003 report on 2001 figures), you’ll see that pattern. In reviewing San Gorgonio (Palm Springs), Altamont (East SF Bay) and Tehachapi (Bakersfield) – three distinct geographic sites – normal weather patterns dictate that power generation decreases in the first and fourth quarters of the year (basically, winter) at all three sites by some 50 percent. (There’s also a map in the document that shows wind-speed averages in the state, and it’s revealing to see how few accessible area are available for effective generation.) . . . Wind turbines, I might add, are not exactly friendly neighbors. Wind-farm expansion here is somewhat hampered by residents near the turbines, who fear more of the structures. Just like a house fan, these things generate noise, and a blade that’s a couple-hundred-feet-long makes a pretty big swoosh that’s not exactly endearing background white noise. . . . Again, there’s great potential for putting wind power in the mix to meet future energy needs by utilizing its generation at optimum times to decrease output from other methods. But, it’s never going to be the sole answer. . . .”

☞ True.

HORSE POWER

Stewart Dean: “Dana writes: ‘The guys who invented automobiles thought cars were pretty safe. If somebody had been able to say, “This newfangled invention is going to kill 40,000 people every year,” that would have been the end of the car.’ Um Dana, do you have any idea how many people were killed in transportation related accidents with horse and carriage that the car was to replace? The only safety features of the horse are that they really don’t want to run into things and they will get you home when you’re falling down drunk. OTOH, the (horse) brain that achieves that is also small and given to panic and disastrous response to such dire threats as horse-eating squirrels and fluttering pieces of paper. My wife loves horses and has poured endless amounts of money into her horsey buddies, been injured many times. And boy oh boy, is the use of them a chancy proposition: they are always going lame or sick or either too tired or too fresh. For a hobby, they can be wonderful; I can’t imagine how a society ever ran based on them.”

IS FOX “NEWS,” ON THE RIGHT, MERELY WHAT MSNBC IS ON THE LEFT?

It’s an easy shorthand to fall into – that the two are mirror images – and deeply false, as documented here. This is important, because the media shape the electorate’s sense of reality (how else did 70% of Bush voters in 2004 “know” Iraq had a hand in attacking us on 9/11 even though it didn’t?) and thus shape our future.

 

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