Quite a Plan

There was an important appearance by Mark Jacobson on David Letterman recently, during which Jacobson extolled the virtues of “wind, water, solar.” The spot is here.

Mark Jacobson


Of special note: Jacobson explaining the plan that his team at Stanford have come up with to make New York state 100-percent renewables powered. This will, Jacobson explained, require 15,000 turbines, 12,700 of them off Long Island. I asked Jacobson if he’d consulted with anyone in the maritime trades, or any recreational fishermen, or any biologists about the impact that almost 13,000 turbines just off Long Island might have. His answer: the bulk of in-shore New York waters would become “exclusion zones.”

No group of impacted animals will understand these zones up to the moment that they fly or swim into them at their peril. Leaving behind the known, and unknown, environmental risks of 15,000 wind turbines, they do not make any kind of economic sense, as recent European forays confirm.

And yet Jacobson is clearly sincere in his insistence that converting the entire U.S. economy to green power will not generate higher energy bills for anyone. He would evidently have his fellow U.S. citizens ignore the skyrocketing energy bills in the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, and Germany, all countries that have ramped up wind and solar power production in the last decade. The European experience of “green” power generation, if Jacobson’s plan is brought to fruition, is exactly what will be duplicated on American soil.

Speaking of the future, New York’s 15,000 turbines are just a tiny piece of a “50-state plan” under development at Stanford.

I asked Jacobson as well whether he could envision Stanford itself becoming an exemplar of sustainability to the 100-percent level with wind and solar, owning as it does thousands of acres of foothills running up to Skyline Boulevard in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Stanford campus. His answer was that Stanford was not well-situated to harvest wind.

Premature conversion to renewables is killing people in Europe, and to a lesser extent the United States, already, due to the increased prices that it carries, and the cold-weather mortality that the increased prices produce. That animals are heavily impacted by wind and solar only makes the entire enterprise that much more of a tragedy.

Will the public eventually come to recognize that expensive power generated in an attempt to put a dimmer switch on the climate system was not only wrong, but dangerous? One can only hope.

About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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