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back to article 'Gaia' Lovelock: Wind turbines 'may become like Easter Island statues'

Former climate change alarmist Dr James Lovelock, famous for popularising the "Gaia" metaphor, continues his journey back to rationality. Lovelock is objecting to a "medium sized" (240ft high) erection planned for his neighbourhood in North Devon by infamous windfarm operator Ecotricity. The UK currently has 3,000 onshore …

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Anonymous Coward

Lovelock

A clarification please. Is Lovelock objecting now because they want to build the things near him, or has he previously made public his objection to the nonsense of wind turbines?

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Re: Lovelock

One does not exclude the other.

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Re: Lovelock

Well, he wrote this in March 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/29/lovelock-wind-farms. The eoctricity link says they only started planning this particular turbine last year. So, no, this is not NIMBYism.

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Mushroom

Re: Lovelock

Has has been an advocate of nuclear long before this IIRC...

Wind has its place, but not in destroying our countrysides... If they start to build the 3 planned turbines near me, I'll actively protest (well unless they give me free electricity for life)

... and in the 'consultation' that was taken, the only advocate of it i spoke to was a 16 year old girl who was misinformed about nuclear power....

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Joke

Re: Lovelock

> If they start to build the 3 planned turbines near me, I'll actively protest (well unless they give me free electricity

> for life

If they do that there'll be none left to give to the grid :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lovelock

So, no, this is not NIMBYism.

Well, one way to tell would be to see how happy Lovelock would be if a nuclear power plant was being built on the site instead of a windfarm.

It may be odd on El Reg, but I am actually a fan of windfarms (I think they enhance the landscape more than coal power plants and I love watching them rotate off shore) and I am actually a fan of nuclear power - I am even not particularly concerned about the fact I live near a plant.

What does make me laugh, however, is that the majority (not necessarily here) of complaints about (insert green power choice) is that they tend to be sited in locations not traditionally used to hosting power generation plants.

So it seems that the people living in idyllic Devon are happy to use any source of energy as long as people in East Anglia live near the source or as long as the people in the grim North suffer the filthy outpourings of a coal-fired station.

But I do agree that this one statement might not be entirely NIMBYism (unless he had some advance warning, which is fairly likely).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lovelock@ Vladimir

"One does not exclude the other."

I didn't think that it did, but my question was an honest (if lazy) one. There was no intent to imply that Lovelock was a nimby, although I would certainly have used the term if this were his first rant against wind turbines. Thanks to AdamT for the clarification.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lovelock

"Well, one way to tell would be to see how happy Lovelock would be if a nuclear power plant was being built on the site instead of a windfarm."

Well, as far as I know he's not spoken against the proposal for a new NPP at Hinkley Point, which is only about fifteen or twenty miles along the coast. Your argument about power stations in picturesque places rather ignores many of our NPP locations being thus located.

I'm pleased that you like the view of wind turbines, as it proves that they do have a useful function. Personally I don't see that as sufficient return on the circa £20billion this far spent on them in this country.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lovelock

Your argument about power stations in picturesque places rather ignores many of our NPP locations being thus located.

Sorry, I wasnt aware that I had implied that Nuclear Power stations were not in picturesque locations. I did say that the places which are now being asked to host Wind (for example) farms and are now in uproar about it tend to be places which have never been asked to host any form of power plant previously.

Maybe we should dismantle the national grid and make every community responsible for generating its own power - while it may not be completely efficient, it may well refocus people's opinions on what sources of power they like and what they dont.

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Re: Lovelock

"Well, one way to tell would be to see how happy Lovelock would be if a nuclear power plant was being built on the site instead of a windfarm".

Logically, he shouldn't be too concerned. But then nothing done by human beings is really trustworthy... as Immanuel Kant noted 230 years ago, "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made". Nuclear power *should* be safe, if only it were done properly. We have the knowledge, we have the technology. What we lack are the social and political systems to make sure things are done properly, without skimping, skimming, cheating, lying, exaggerating, and stealing.

Ignorance is a huge problem, too. Look at the following article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/chernobyls-real-horror-show-isnt-the-radiation-its-the-economics/257842/

The author explicitly admits that

"Living near Chernobyl or Fukushima is probably safer than a long list of other activities (including, for example, living in places with high levels of air pollution). While there are places close to the Chernobyl plant you wouldn't want to go, and hotspots scattered throughout Belarus, most of the contaminated areas of both Chernobyl and Fukushima represent levels of radiation exposure that aren't substantially different from the higher natural background levels of radiation present on some parts of Earth (like ultrahealthy Boulder, Colorado, say)".

Then he goes on to say, "The thing is, that doesn't matter". Because governments evacuate those zones anyway, thereby both caving in to popular ignorance and reinvigorating it. (After all, "the government obviously doesn't think it's safe").

We've allowed population to grow so much, and lifestyle expectations to balloon, that now the path to maintaining what we've got is getting very narrow, twisty, and dark. The best minds we've got could probably manage to find a way through - but instead we have to kow-tow to the prejudiced, ignorant demands of an increasingly uneducated populace. Oh well, too bad.

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Devil

Re: Lovelock

Well the real reason that he is protesting is that Wind Generators, are "Instruments of the Devil".

When the single blade is pointed down, and the other two are up in the air, one can see the face of Satan and his curley goat horns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Masons_baphomet.jpg

Satan is a spirit of the air, so in using the face of Satan to generate power from the spirit and kingdom of the devil, we are actually channelling demonic powers into our very homes - lighting out lives with the light of hell.

The only solution is to burn all Wind Generators at the stake, with the obligatory priests, holey water, the bible and the compulsory reading of the Malleus Maleficarum - the authority on witchcraft and sorcery.

Satan - "Loves a good larf".

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Anonymous Coward

If your names not down your not coming in..

The anti global warming rants are now getting tedious, your name has been crossed off the list of names who have a space reserved on the ark for when the floods do finally arrive.

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

You sure you've posted in the correct thread? This one is about wind farms, not global warming.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

well, a little off topic perhaps, but its all related, we need wind farms for greener energy, although concrete support bases are not that green I admit. Either way, people need to wake up, we're all going to drown sooner or later.

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FAIL

Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

Actually we don't "need" wind farms specifically for greener energy. There are many other methods of energy production that are greener than the current most commonly used methods; OK they may not be 100% "green" but neither are wind turbines (think manufacturing costs in green terms vs productive life of the turbine).

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

I'd much rather we had green energy from nuclear powerplants

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If your name's not down, you're not coming in... [sorry, but the mistakes were driving me nuts]

i think you've missed the point. you should probably try actually reading the article, because in it lovelock clearly states that nuclear and/or lower-emission natural energy sources (e.g. fracking, gas) would be far more beneficial than wind turbines. the facts and figures also agree with this assessment.

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Joke

Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

"I'd much rather we had green energy from nuclear powerplants"

Precisely, you cannot beat nuclear for that nice green glow

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If your name's not down, you're not coming in... [sorry, but the mistakes were driving me nuts]

But shirley, as the people of Cumbria have just decided, the disposal of the nuclear left overs is a major problem, its fine saying we need a number of new nuclear plants to meet energy requirements for the next 50 years, but after that, where does the crap go? Yes, everyone reading this article and making these decisions will likely be dead by then and we can perhaps assume we'll of discovered some amazing way to dispose of the waste, but maybe we should just actually plan now what to do with it or even not have it at all?

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

" we need wind farms for greener energy,"

I'm not sure I know exactly what 'greener' means and (therefore) I'm also not sure it is an inherently Good Thing.

If it is just energy production with lower CO2 emissions then I'm in favour assuming all other things being as near equal as they can be.

If it means energy production that satisfies all people who would describe themselves as being in favour of "Green" things then it is much less clear that we need it at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If your name's not down, you're not coming in... [sorry, but the mistakes were driving me nuts]

" but after that, where does the crap go?"

Bury it deep underground on a subducting plate.

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Mushroom

Re: If your name's not down, you're not coming in... [sorry, but the mistakes were driving me nuts]

This is why I like the concept of buried self contained nuclear generation systems, I believe most concepts are breeder based.

You build a 20-500MW reactor, bury it deep underground (ooh what about all those disused coal mines ;) ) and feed cables to the grid.

When it needs decommissioning, you turn it off, done. No clean up, no overheads. At least that is the theory.

If there is a problem, it's well away from people and while there is obviously a financial loss, it will be nothing like the clean up costs being experienced at say Fukushima or Chernobyl.

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

"...one nuclear power station provides as much power as 3,200 industrial wind turbines, without the environmental damage..."

Mind you, the ex-residents of Pripyat and Fukushima Prefecture may have a different opinion...

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

Drown, really. The latest alarmist picture on my fb timeline shows a planet baked to dust with cracked deserts where the oceans are. You lot really need to make your mind up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

You sure you've posted in the correct thread? This one is about wind farms, not global warming.

And strangely it was posted in the "security" section.

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

" Either way, people need to wake up, we're all going to drown sooner or later."

Speak for yourself -- according to even the most scaremongering stats I'm still dry.

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

wind farms aren't green they are red... herrings.

We find ourselves in this ridiculous position because nulab ran away from making the politically difficult choice of comminting to a new nuclear programme.

on a personal note, speaking as a transmission line designer, i'd just like to thank everyone for putting my kids through college :-D

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Flame

Re: Green Concrete

Concrete can be green if you use a solar furnace to make the cement for it. I plan to prototype such a furnace in the near future.

Background: The reason for concrete being considered not green is the large amount of energy needed to calcine (burn) limestone and shale to make the cement. This energy usually comes from fossil fuels in a cement kiln. The rocks you are heating don't care how they get hot, so a solar furnace works just as well, so long as you can get it hot enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If your name's not down, you're not coming in... [sorry, but the mistakes were driving me nuts]

A reasonable proposition if we actually had any feasible way of doing it. Of course, given enough time, the Lake District will doubtless be on a subducting plate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

wow 15 thumbs down, if I'd of used my name instead of being scared and hiding behind the anonymous tag would I of received a special badge? maybe some kind of nuclear glowing one?

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Re: If your name's not down, you're not coming in... [sorry, but the mistakes were driving me nuts]

The amount of dangerous waste from a NPP is tiny - yet look at the mountains of waste from coal mining and coal-fired stations (and the numbers of deaths related to coal production).

As yet, it has been uneconomic to provide dedicated nuclear waste disposal of the small amounts concerned.

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Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

The problems in Japan were started by a tsunami/earthquake.

These exposed multiple bad practices, and plain laziness, in the security and administration of the NPP.

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FAIL

Don't include me in that !

>> But shirley, as the people of Cumbria have just decided, the disposal of the nuclear left overs is a major problem, its fine saying we need a number of new nuclear plants to meet energy requirements for the next 50 years, but after that, where does the crap go?

Actually it wasn't "the people of Cumbria", it was the County Council. I didn't ask them to vote that way, in fact I'm for the repository (sort off, read on). Quite frankly, listening to the locals on the news last night, I found myself what scheme they'd been looking at because they seemed to be objecting to a lot of stuff that's not being proposed.

All this crap about "it'll ruin the landscape in the Lake District" is complete and utter tosh. Complete rubbish put forward by pressure groups who (being polite) seem intent on not understanding anything lest it interfere with their fear of it. Not all are like that, but some are (I've met some of them), and some eco people are not capable of having a rational discussion with anyone who doesn't 101% support their position (and I have to wonder even then).

The actual effect would be something akin to a large factory site, on the West Coast, outside the Lake District, and not actually visible from most of it. I can't see traffic being any worse than it is now - Sellafield creates a fair bit of traffic as a lot of people work there.

And one thing a lot of these "it'll ruin trade" people fail to realise is just how much the local economy gets from Nuclear. I suspect losing it would hurt trade a lot more.

Now, I'll come to why I'm only "sort of" for the repository. If that's what we're going to do with "the material" then I see no problem with the repository - for one thing I think the design should allow it to be removed later when we decide we can use it. However, the issue is with what we call waste - ie a large quantity of what would, in better times, be described as fuel. The technology exists to turn this so called waste into fuel, and run it through a different type of reactor - both releasing energy (it's not creating it, just releasing it) and reducing the quantity, drastically reducing the quantity. I believe it also reduces the "nastiness" as well. So we could take a lot of this waste, use it as fuel, and up with a much smaller quantity of less problematic waste.

Unfortunately, the anti-nuclear lobby have stymied that as well - if just saying "nuclear" is enough to get a lot of people into a lather, mentioning "plutonium" will well froth things up. The fact that the plutonium produced is itself fuel for further use is by the by - it's verboten by the anti-nuclear brigade and so far the politicians seem unable to see the long term view.

And before i leave that bit, the anti-nuclear lobby are also responsible for creating some of the waste in the first place. Take a Magnox station and turn it off - for a while it's "quite hot" and highly active. Now, what the majority seem unable to grasp (unwilling I suspect) is that if something is highly active then it has a short decay time, if it has a long decay time then that means it isn't that active. AIUI, the plan was to shut down a station, cool it for a few months while the worst of the highly active stuff burns out, defuel it, and then leave it - take away all the support stuff (cooling systems, machinery houses etc, and just leave the core and containment. Wrap that in concrete, post a few guards to protect it from graffiti (about the biggest risk it faces), and leave it for 100 years - so something about the size of a large house. After a century, the most active materials will have decayed and it can be dismantled by people walking in and picking up the graphite blocks from the core. Littel by way of a disposal problem.

Instead, by insisting on "get rid of it **NOW**" it has to be handled while active, thus actually creating a problem (at great expense) where there was none before.

>> "...one nuclear power station provides as much power as 3,200 industrial wind turbines, without the environmental damage..."

>> Mind you, the ex-residents of Pripyat and Fukushima Prefecture may have a different opinion...

Actually, I believe a lot of people from the Chernobyl area were really happy - they got evacuated from run down slums and housed in brand new houses. The old towns aren't deserted because they are dangerous, they are deserted because they were run down slums that no-one wants to move back to.

And for both places you mention, if you imposed the same exposure limits over here, then large parts of the UK would be evacuated because of the background radiation. And don't get me started on the amount of uranium spread around by burning coal because we didn't build new nuclear power stations to replace the coal fired ones.

NB - before anyone accuses me of being a nuclear industry shill ... I don't work in the industry (though I would object to doing so). Also, there is no element of NIMBY here - as the crow flies I have an active nuclear power station now far away in one direction, and Sellafield not far away in the other (and also the nuclear submarines aren't that far away either when they are under construction - no I don't work there either).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

Sooo... That would be the "B" ark you're on then?

Hurry, I hear a mutant star goat is coming too....

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Thumb Up

Operating "Up to" 25% of the time.

That would be like your ISP's broadband claims of "up to 10 Gbs" (for 1 sec at 4am on Thursday morning).

You'd think windmills in the UK would be quite reliable.

But they're not.

He sounds environmentally concerned but pragmatic.

The best sort of green?

Thumbs up for his PoV. Reliable, consistent renewable energy sources exist, but wind is not one of them and re-structuring the entire national grid to make so seems ludicrous.

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Re: Operating "Up to" 25% of the time.

> You'd think windmills in the UK would be quite reliable.

700 years of pre-industrial technology demonstrated quite clearly that in Britain wind power is only useful where water power is unavailable.

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Re: Operating "Up to" 25% of the time.

"Up to" means "Less than".

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Happy

Re: Operating "Up to" 25% of the time.

""Up to" means "Less than"."

My point exactly.

Hence my comparison with ISP's (and no that G instead of an M was deliberate because I'm sure some ISP will roll out some BS about that in due course).

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Pint

Re: Operating "Up to" 25% of the time.

"You'd think windmills in the UK would be quite reliable."

They're not located near Parliament. Obvious.

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Boffin

Re: Operating "Up to" 25% of the time.

> Hence my comparison with ISP's

It's not quite the same thing though(*). The 'up to' used by ISPs mainly refers to the connection speed between your modem and the DSLAM. In most cases this doesn't vary by much from day to day. So when you buy an 'Up to 24Mb/s' connection you're not buying a connection that sometimes reaches 24Mb/s. You're buying a connection that on some lines will connect at 24Mb/s. It's a different thing. If you only connect at 6Mb/s but always get 6Mb/s of throughput then your line is giving you 100% and doing what you have paid for it to do.

It's the difference between:

'Speeds on the M25 can reach up to 90mph'

and

'Vehicles powered by internal combustion engines can travel at up to 300mph'

What's important is that the latter does not allow you to complain if you drive a Nissan Micra and struggle to get above 90mph :)

(*)Congestion would be the same thing but usually what people complain about are crappy line speeds.

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Green fundamentalists stampede the herd!

...get run over by stampeding herd.

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I am very dissapointed.....

...that in an article about wind which also mentions methane there appears to be not one single fart gag or even oblique reference to a fart gag. For shame.

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Joke

Re: I am very dissapointed.....

Umm.. trying hard here... 'Trumped Up' statistics?

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Re: I am very dissapointed.....

"Wind broken", "guff", and "hot air" all ought to have been used at some point.

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Mushroom

Spin This

Give it ten years and the Greens will be clamoring for Fusion power as the only way to save the planet.

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Facepalm

Re: Spin This

And leccy will be ten quid per kWh because of them.

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Unhappy

Re: Spin This

Some people still remember the nuclear "too cheap to meter" promise...

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Coat

Re: Spin This

And if they continue with Tokamak, it will be the size of the Moon and use, 3 * 10^9 kg of Deuterium and Tritium a year, require 300 3GW Fission plants to make the Tritium to run it.

Increase global warming due to thermal inefficiencies.

All to power New York.

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Pint

Re: Spin This

Fusion *is* the thing I'm clamouring for and which is a potential problem solver for once and for all... IF we can get it to work. So it'd be nice to see a bit more funding shoved that way. And when I say 'bit', I mean 'lot'.

Ultimately, tying our energy needs to black stuff that we burn is a dumb idea. Currently, in the UK it's a better investment to just buy a tanker-full of petrol than it is to put it into a bank, and we're not even close to running out yet.

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