A Free-Market Energy Blog

An Environmentalist’s Protest (McKibben’s wind power hypocrisy)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 3, 2017

Here is an energy joke that gets laughs from just about everyone except for the climate alarmists/energy coercionists:

“When is an environmentalist not an environmentalist?”

Answer: “When it comes to windpower.”

The mainstream environmentalist quandary, indeed, is lobbying for the most dilute and unreliable energies versus the real thing: dense, storable, and portable oil, gas, and coal.

The DC-based eco-crowd dismisses nuclear power as an alternative to carbon-rich energies, which led Michael Shellenberger of Environmental Progress to urge readers to not participate in last Saturday’s climate march. It’s an interesting public policy world….

Jones vs. McKibben

I was reminded of eco-tradeoffs recently when reading a grassroots challenge to activist Bill McKibben, the founder of the war-on-fossil-fuel organization 350.0rg.

The op-ed in the Vermont newspaper The Daily Digger was published back in February 2013. Author Suzanna Jones is described by the paper as “an off-the-grid farmer living in Walden. She was among those arrested protesting the Lowell wind project in 2011.” Her challenge remains as pertinent today as when it was written.

Here is the op-ed in full:

Jones: What happened to Bill McKibben?

What happened to Bill McKibben?

In his 2008 book “Deep Economy,” Bill McKibben concludes that economic growth is the source of the ecological crises we face today. He explains that when the economy grows larger than necessary to meet our basic needs – when it grows for the sake of growth, automatically striving for “more” – its social and environmental costs greatly outweigh any benefits it may provide.

Unfortunately, McKibben seems to have forgotten what he so passionately argued just five years ago. Today he is an advocate of industrial wind turbines on our ridgelines: He wants to industrialize our last wild spaces to feed the very economy he fingered as the source of our environmental problems.

Environmentalism has been successfully mainstreamed, at the cost of its soul. This co-opted version isn’t about protecting the landbase from the ever-expanding empire of humans. It’s about sustaining the comfort levels we feel entitled to without exhausting the resources required.

His key assumption is that industrial wind power displaces the use of coal and oil, and therefore helps limit climate change. But since 2000, wind facilities with a total capacity equivalent to 350 coal-fired power plants have been installed worldwide, and today there are more – not fewer – coal-fired power plants operating. (In Vermont, the sale of renewable energy credits to out-of-state utilities enables them to avoid mandates to reduce their fossil fuel dependency, meaning that there is no net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.) At best, industrial wind simply adds more energy to the global supply. And what for? More! More energy than the grid can carry, more idiotic water parks, more snowmaking, more electronic gadgets, more money for corporations.

Why should we spend millions of dollars to destroy wildlife habitat, kill bats and eagles, pollute our headwaters, fill valuable wetlands, polarize our communities, make people sick, mine rare earth metals – just to ensure that we can consume as much or more next year than we did this year?

The costs of industrial wind far outweigh the benefits … unless you are a wind developer. Federal production tax credits and other subsidies have fostered a gold rush mentality among wind developers, who have been abetted by political and environmental leaders who want to appear “green” without challenging the underlying causes of our crises. Meanwhile, average Vermonters find themselves without any ability to protect their communities or the ecosystems of which they are part. The goal of an industrial wind moratorium is to stop the gold rush so we can have an honest discussion on these issues. Why does this frighten proponents of big wind? Because once carefully examined, industrial wind will be exposed for the scam that it is.

McKibben’s current attitude towards the environment has been adopted by politicians, corporations, and the big environmental organizations. Environmentalism has been successfully mainstreamed, at the cost of its soul. This co-opted version isn’t about protecting the landbase from the ever-expanding empire of humans. It’s about sustaining the comfort levels we feel entitled to without exhausting the resources required. It is entirely human-centered and hollow, and it serves corporate capitalism well.

In “Deep Economy,” McKibben points out that the additional “stuff” provided by an ever-growing economy doesn’t leave people happier; instead, the source of authentic happiness is a healthy connection to nature and community. As Vermonters have already discovered, industrial wind destroys both.

What industrial wind represents should be obvious to everyone: this is business-as-usual disguised as concern for the Earth. Far from genuine “environmentalism,” it is the same profit- and growth-driven destruction that is at the root of every ecological crisis we face.

The good news is that energy coercionists such as Bill McKibben are being challenged to face up to the environmental destruction from industrial wind turbines. The not-good-news is that Suzanna Jones, and so many like her, do not understand the benefits of fossil fuels for the environment, not only for the economy, relative to its inferior, government-enabled substitutes.

There is much work to do by those grassroot ecologists who have come to understand the false narrative behind the government-enabled wind industry.

6 Comments


  1. John W. Garrett  

    Vermont is ground zero of the trust-funded, faux farmer and home to a truly astounding number of innumerates and economic illiterates.

    That McKibben is a blithering idiot is a given; nevertheless, “hypocrisy” is the correct spelling of the word.

    Reply

  2. Mark Krebs  

    McKibben is being credited for coining the term “Renewables Denial”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447215/climate-change-activists-science-deniers-environmentalism-public-policy

    That’s a new one for me.

    Reply

  3. Daniel B. Ulseth, O.D.  

    First, I applaud Jones for taking on McKibben and the Enviro-Industrial Complex. She’s stirring up a hornets nest. Second, on what basis are either of them declaring that economic expansion causes greater environmental harm than a stagnating economy or one of the kind in developing countries? From what source are the electrons they use to power their computer-linked posts and wouldn’t it make the most environmental and economic sense to employ the most energy-dense and least land-use intensive method to produce that power?

    Unfortunately for Vermonters, the closure of Vermont Yankee assures those same consumers that they will be forced to use diffuse, unreliable, uncontrollable, weather-dependent sources to generate the electricity they have taken for granted at an affordable price. I can’t seem to conjure any sympathy for you.

    Reply

  4. The Philosophic Roots of the Paris Agreement Part II: The Malthusian People Problem | Raymond Castleberry Blog  

    […] agreement has been exposed on the Left as “a fraud … a fake … worthless.” And the grassroots revolt against industrial wind turbines and solar farms is […]

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  5. The Philosophic Roots of the Paris Agreement Part II: The Malthusian People Problem | Raymond Castleberry Blog  

    […] has been exposed on the Left as “a fraud … a fake … worthless.” And the grassroots revolt against industrial wind turbines and solar farms is […]

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