Wind farms, resistance and the AF

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Jan 15 2007 15:20
Wind farms, resistance and the AF

I read ages ago this article in the AF's Resistance about wind farms (half way down page):
http://afed.libcom.org.uk/res/resist74.html

I was reminded of it by someone advertising an anti-wind farm campaign.

It basically states that it supports resistance to these farms, at least in rural areas. It also repeats the oft-used slur that they "blight the landscape", which is a bit silly in my opinion.

The reasons given for opposing them seem to be mostly that:
- they are built by capitalists for profit
- they're rural and yet will produce energy for urban areas (why's that a problem?)
- they will "encourage us in the illusion that we can go on consuming endlessly without any energy worries." (I don't see how this one is true at all.)

One I can see would have a bit of truth to is this one:

Quote:
The governments’ Renewables Obligations scheme means that companies can come to Scotland, build a wind farm and get green certificates that they can then use to offset the limitations on their production of carbon emissions.

In any case they seem like pretty shaky ground to oppose wind farms, which if we don't build fucking shitloads of them in the next few years will allow climate change to keep on accelerating. The only problem with wind farms that I can see is that there aren't nearly enough of them.

Do other people in the AF agree with the article? What about everyone else? I know it's not our job to manage capital or society or anything, it's to forward workers' interests, but I can't see how opposing wind farms does this.

anarchol
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Jan 15 2007 15:29

opposing wind farms is possibly the stupidist protests in recent memory.

Except for all the religous ones, oh and the pro-foxhunting ones.

Actually the worst is 'save our scarlets' (still hope they go bust!)

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Jan 15 2007 15:41

Well, and the "Behead/massacre those who say Islam is violent" protests were also pretty dumb...

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Jan 15 2007 15:42

redeeming comic value though. 'death to those who say islam is intolerant!'

Dundee_United
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Jan 15 2007 17:23

Wind Farms should by and large be opposed actually. But absolutely not for the reasons the AF have given, which are romantic balls; rather because in many cases they can contribute more to CO2 emissions than a regular Coal Fired Power Station. The reason the authorities like them has fuckall to do with them being green (although if they are well planned they are capable of providing renewable green energy) it's due to the energy crisis.

What happens a lot in remote places (eg the UK is to build 500 Wind Turbines on Lewis, which is a World Heritage Site because of its peatbogs) is that the turbines are built atop peatbogs. They tend to create a microclimate around the base of the turbines which can dessicate peat. Now peat is one of the best carbon sinks going, and when it dries out it releases fuckloads of CO2. Therefore it is a really fucking bad idea that windfarms get placed on peatbogs. However throughout Scotland I can testify that a number of major windfarms have been built over peatbogs, and many more are planned; I'm sure when these things are decided somebody just looks at a map says "There's high winds there, and the land's cheap" and that's the end of it - big mistake, these things take much more serious planning if mistakes like the Lewis megafarm are to be avoided. Campaigners in Lewis against windfarms there have had some boffins back them up so far as to say that the net effect on Co2 emissions for the energy generated might end up being worse than if they'd just built a Coal Fired Power Station. That's something to consider, and really get the heebie-jeebies about. Right near me 250 are planned on a Muirshiel nature reserve that is awash with peat.

To be honest I think the best solution has to be a bit of mixture of burying Carbon emissions, parabolic dishes and heat capture from the sun for boiling water to power turbines (as has recently been done in Spain on an industrial scale), current turbines where there is an archipelago and a problem of coastal erosion, and Helium3 Fusion. Wind Trurbines are always going to be a bit marginal, and placing too much hope in them is borderline primitivist as there's fuckall chance of ever generating enough environmentally friendly energy from windturbines to make them anything more than a neat thing to stick in towns and cities and out at sea for marginal energy generation. What's very clear is that under capitalism there isn't the spare capacity in the world's energy grid to develop serious green alternatives to Petrochemicals; we're going to have to use coal in the meantime.

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Jan 15 2007 17:36

Haven't seen this before. I agree, its wrong - although it makes its argument well. I hoped this was about a pro-windfarm piece or something about how to organise to GET windfarms.

Quote:
It is understandable that many working class people would see wind farms as a way to bring in much needed work rather than being reliant on the low-wage tourist industry.

Arse about tit. Many sane people would see wind farms as a way of not cornholing the planet. Why does it have to be about jobs or even class?

Quote:
These large companies stand to make immense profits and very little of these profits will go back into the local community.....
The absentee landowner of Dunmaglass Estate in the Monadhliath Mountains stands to make £9 million.

The AF stands to confiscate his property and destroy his class though....?

Its very confused. I am certain production and consumption have to be - and will be - slashed by workers control. That doesn't mean we can write off ecological energy cos it might be done for financial gain.

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Jan 15 2007 18:11

Not everything that goes in R3esistance is always brilliant, we sometimes make mistakes.

But wind farms aren't always brilliant either. I read one piece that suggested that the ones out at sea lose so much power when it's transmitted that they end up costing a fortune.

nastyned
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Jan 15 2007 18:17
John. wrote:
It also repeats the oft-used slur that they "blight the landscape", which is a bit silly in my opinion.

The person who wrote the article is a mountaineer and very fond of the Scottish countryside, so it's important to her.

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Jan 15 2007 18:23

maybe thats why they should be built inland?

Seriusly i know a welshman (no shit, i did. properly frm wales) and he was incensed about WF's destroying the picturesque welsh valleys. But he was from the mining communites and also hated thatcher for destroying them and beleived mining should never have stopped. So: pretty, world-saving windmill: blight on landscape. Huge hole in ground and heavy industrial zones: fine.

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Jan 15 2007 19:07

Hi

I’m given to understand, much to the delight of the anti-lobby, that windfarms are pretty rubbish power-stations (compared to sea wave based generators, say). Having said that, things need to be developed incrementally and there are scientists and engineers who think they can make something useful in the longer run if they can get some prototypes up and running now.

I live close to a couple of proposed wind farm sites, and the people who’re strongly enough against them to object to planning permission would be against any large scale industrial structure on that land, especially if they don’t own it.

Luckily enough, planning appeals don’t take arbitrary public opinion into account, and stick to a policy when overturning the decisions of local councillors whenever they’re dopey enough to do what their petit-bourgeois patrons demand. Anyway, because it's a power station of a certain Wattage, Central Government will have the final say.

Love

LR

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Jan 15 2007 19:33
John. wrote:
Well, and the "Behead/massacre those who say Islam is violent" protests were also pretty dumb...

Bloke who can't spell religious wrote:
Except for all the religous ones

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Jan 15 2007 20:32
nastyned wrote:
John. wrote:
It also repeats the oft-used slur that they "blight the landscape", which is a bit silly in my opinion.

The person who wrote the article is a mountaineer and very fond of the Scottish countryside, so it's important to her.

Yeah John, it's a really easy thing to say and in a few examples it probably is just a case that it's a middle-class ponce who doesn't like a far-off windmill. I think they can be really beautiful (and fun to lie under) like in one of my favourite ecovillages they just put up some, painted them and gave them names wink.

In the case of Lewis however, you've got an incredibly rural area with great natural value and the plan is to plant 200 windmills that, if memory serves, will be the biggest in the UK at least. One of these alone would be seen for miles around. I'm a total environmentalist but with that in mind, the fact that the communities (who've incidentally just achieved a community buy-out of their land) are majorly against them, that they won't be at all controlled by local people, the power going elsewhere etc. I can't see how this is a great advert for desperately renewables.

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Jan 15 2007 21:41

Hi

Indeed. Personally, I don’t think it’s any worse than strings of electricity pylons, but if the majority of the local population are against it (even if only though emotion or dubious science) it makes more sense to draw attention to general limitations of the current planning system rather than make a bone of contention out of their requirement for an unspoiled landscape.

Presumably though, in a federal economy, a territory is at some point likely to have to yield to the wider federation, despite local sentiment; either that or leave and attempt self-sufficiency or commercial trade.

Love

LR

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Jan 15 2007 21:51
Volin wrote:
the fact that the communities (who've incidentally just achieved a community buy-out of their land) are majorly against them, that they won't be at all controlled by local people, the power going elsewhere etc.

This local control/power going elsewhere is an odd argument, presumably rural people don't have a problem with stuff made in cities being sold in the countryside? confused

dara
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Jan 15 2007 22:54

i'm surprised that Dundee's post wasn't discussed, that's pretty amazing, but not surprising for politicians to overlook it in lieu of getting green cred and supplying energy.

dundee, can you give a link or a source for some scientific studies on that?

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Jan 16 2007 00:00
Dundee_United wrote:
Wind Farms should by and large be opposed actually.

The rest of your post doesn't actually prove this I don't think.

Quote:
But absolutely not for the reasons the AF have given, which are romantic balls; rather because in many cases they can contribute more to CO2 emissions than a regular Coal Fired Power Station.... They tend to create a microclimate around the base of the turbines which can dessicate peat. Now peat is one of the best carbon sinks going, and when it dries out it releases fuckloads of CO2.

This would be an argument against building them on peat bogs, if true (you got a link to more info on this btw? I'm interested), not an argument against opposing most of them.

For example the hundreds of offshore ones being planned in the thames estuary, that lots of people are apparently moaning about according to the papers.

Quote:
To be honest I think the best solution has to be a bit of mixture of burying Carbon emissions

Er, that doesn't work though does it.

Quote:
parabolic dishes and heat capture from the sun for boiling water to power turbines (as has recently been done in Spain on an industrial scale)

I've not read about the feasibility of this

Quote:
current turbines where there is an archipelago and a problem of coastal erosion, and Helium3 Fusion.

Fusion is a good way off working, if it ever does. If it does we're sorted for ever. Fingers crossed!

Quote:
Wind Trurbines are always going to be a bit marginal, and placing too much hope in them is borderline primitivist as there's fuckall chance of ever generating enough environmentally friendly energy from windturbines to make them anything more than a neat thing to stick in towns and cities and out at sea for marginal energy generation.

what's your source for this? In Denmark, a tiny country, it provides 23% of their energy, with a high standard of living. And of course the more turbines are made the cheaper and more efficient they'll get, no? I'm not saying they can replace everything, but they're pretty good.

Quote:
What's very clear is that under capitalism there isn't the spare capacity in the world's energy grid to develop serious green alternatives to Petrochemicals; we're going to have to use coal in the meantime.

Who's "we"? I think the widespread use of coal should pretty much always be opposed by communists.

nastyned wrote:
John. wrote:
It also repeats the oft-used slur that they "blight the landscape", which is a bit silly in my opinion.

The person who wrote the article is a mountaineer and very fond of the Scottish countryside, so it's important to her.

The countryside won't look too nice under water though. Mountains won't either:

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Jan 16 2007 00:08
Lazy Riser wrote:
I’m given to understand, much to the delight of the anti-lobby, that windfarms are pretty rubbish power-stations (compared to sea wave based generators, say).

Wave and tidal energy generators don't work consistently yet, as far as I know.

(Incidentally did you know that converting tidal energy into electrical energy effectively, slowly, pushes the moon away from the Earth?)

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Jan 16 2007 01:01

why is that problem? I never really saw what all the fuss what about.

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Jan 16 2007 11:36
Tacks wrote:
why is that problem? I never really saw what all the fuss what about.

It's not a problem, just interesting.

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Jan 16 2007 12:04

No, it would probably not counter the natural decay of the moon's orbit. In fact- we probably need more tidal power stations to counter it. More I say.

This thread has so much evidence-free pontificating toss written on it that I am not going to read it again. Fucks sake- some people need to understand that pretending to know what you are talking about when you don't makes you look pretty stupid.

I know that if I show this thread to my mate who is doing a PhD in this stuff he will think we are all morons.

John: Carbon capture actually is quite a good idea: If the natural gas fields were sealed layers that kept the gas pressurised for tens of thousands of years, CO2 can safely be stored in them. Same with emptied oil fields. In fact, pumping CO2 into them actually increases the rate at which they can extract the oil, which is quite clever.

Dundee: why would peat drying out release vast amounts of CO2? Do you mean that the water in it contains lots of dissolved CO2?

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Jan 16 2007 12:16
magnifico wrote:
This local control/power going elsewhere is an odd argument, presumably rural people don't have a problem with stuff made in cities being sold in the countryside? confused

Not really, it means all profits go to some private energy company and the community has no real say on access, land use, scale, how and where the power is used - and, instead of allowing the energy to be directly put to use in the local area where it's produced (which is more effective anyway) you get the idea of these centrally-governed wind colonies that are grossly massive precisely because they're not for the rural area, all being linked to a huge energy framework. A lot of people like to point out though, that the Highlands and Islands already are almost completely self-sufficient on renewable energy in the form of hydroelectricity, which also goes to cities, rather than the other way round. That's not to say that there shouldn't be a lot more focus on renewables here but not the way it's being done - which is neither 'democratic' nor a real answer to the removal of all fossil fuel consumption.

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Jan 16 2007 12:20
pingtiao wrote:
Dundee: why would peat drying out release vast amounts of CO2? Do you mean that the water in it contains lots of dissolved CO2?

Yeah, I find this pretty hard to believe. I mean is the rate of release of CO2 somehow greater than it would be if it was burned, which is still quite common?

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Jan 16 2007 12:23

No, impossible. The volume of CO2 dissolved in the water in the peat is orders of magnitude smaller than the CO2 released by burning.

this is a red herring I think.

Terry
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Jan 16 2007 13:20

John, the point of the article is, as far as I see it, that the routes of the environmental crisis are in the organisation of society, not in this or that particular technology (as if a form of technology can be abstracted out from society).
Thus even the introduction of supposedly ‘alternative’ renewables is in a destructive fashion, basically cause the form of their introduction is conditioned by profit and the grow or die nature of the capitalist economy. Therefore they have the same problems as any other technology, that is, simply, they are there to make a buck and fuck everything else.
Having never been to Scotland and knowing nothing about the particular instance I can’t comment too much on that, but there are two recent or ongoing campaigns in Ireland connected to renewable energy projects which I would support (and indeed to a very very very minor extent have).
One is concerned with the building of wind farms on a mountainside - which has caused landslides, this is in a place called Derrybrien, and the other is in Bantry, where the entire re-development of the area is planned for the post-oil future, in this case it was not the wind farms being opposed, but the high tension pylon lines taking the power from them to the national grid.
The point being that there is no technical magic bullet which will zap away environmental crisis like a puff of smoke, even if capitalism ever manages to addressing global warming (and a massive switch over to nuclear power is the most likely result of that) - which has been the subject of this official report after that official report for almost 20 years now, with inaction.
The problems resulting from the small scale introduction of renewables demonstrates this, the large scale introduction could open up a vista of whole other forms of environmental destruction.
In your post on the other hand you seem to propose technical solutions to the environmental crisis, which actually puts you to the right of the UK Green party on this issue. The de-politicisation of environmental crisis, and its reduction to a mere technical issue makes for the maintenance of capitalism, and doesn’t make for solving the problem.
The fact you are taking this stance serves to demonstrate the lack of engagement by much of the class struggle anarchist milieu with environmental issues, as I mentioned in passing on these boards before, much to your disdain.
Boockhin writes about alternative technology and renewables in ’towards an ecological society’.
It is an important issue, the bulk of expressly environmental activism in Ireland is concerned with the promotion of technologies.
On the other hand - though I havn’t investigated this yet, there does appear to be an oil industry supported anti-wind farm group.

On the ‘conservation’ part of the issue, ie don’t build there cause it is a pretty place. This is often dismissed as romanticism and so on. As I understand it national parks in Britain were either started, or expanded greatly, as part of the post-war welfare state/expansion of the education system/bringing trade union leaders into Number 10 for tea and cake thing which, partly, sought to blunt working class resistance through reforms or reforms were won by working class resistance, depends on which way you look at it.
The Peak District National park, for instance, a sort of respite for the people living in the nearby industrial centres, somewhere they could go to experience and enjoy an environment which wasn’t one of belching smoke and grey concrete. Now if defending a park in an urban area say against Olympics re-development, which I read about elsewhere on libcom, can be a defence of working class interests, it follows that so can defending beautiful places elsewhere. They are amenities. (in fact the wholesale construction of wind farms in such a place could be seen as capitalism forcing the working class to pay for its environmental crisis).
Indeed was there not a struggle in the 1930s around access to land held by the gentry for rambling (don’t know much about it).

None of the above should be taken as meaning that any campaign against any development is a good thing, they often have all sorts of different interests bound up in them.

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Jan 16 2007 14:20
Dundee_United wrote:
Wind Farms should by and large be opposed actually. But absolutely not for the reasons the AF have given, which are romantic balls; rather because in many cases they can contribute more to CO2 emissions than a regular Coal Fired Power Station. The reason the authorities like them has fuckall to do with them being green (although if they are well planned they are capable of providing renewable green energy) it's due to the energy crisis.

What happens a lot in remote places (eg the UK is to build 500 Wind Turbines on Lewis, which is a World Heritage Site because of its peatbogs) is that the turbines are built atop peatbogs. They tend to create a microclimate around the base of the turbines which can dessicate peat. Now peat is one of the best carbon sinks going, and when it dries out it releases fuckloads of CO2. Therefore it is a really fucking bad idea that windfarms get placed on peatbogs. However throughout Scotland I can testify that a number of major windfarms have been built over peatbogs, and many more are planned; I'm sure when these things are decided somebody just looks at a map says "There's high winds there, and the land's cheap" and that's the end of it - big mistake, these things take much more serious planning if mistakes like the Lewis megafarm are to be avoided. Campaigners in Lewis against windfarms there have had some boffins back them up so far as to say that the net effect on Co2 emissions for the energy generated might end up being worse than if they'd just built a Coal Fired Power Station. That's something to consider, and really get the heebie-jeebies about. Right near me 250 are planned on a Muirshiel nature reserve that is awash with peat.

Er so surely the solution would be not to build them above peat bogs? Rather than just always oppose windfarkms because some of them are built above peat farms, which seems to be among the most utterly retarded logic i've seen in quite a while.

I don't think anyone except the most loony tunes environmentlaists claims that green turbines are 'the only'' solution to energy problems so you are pretty much just argueing against a strawman, just like no realist would ever want to generate the entirety of britians energy needs from nuclear power either because it woul;d neer be publicly acceptable to build that many nuclear power stations. But its pretty obvious we can supply a sizeable percentage of our consumption through wind turbines.

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Jan 16 2007 14:49
Terry wrote:
Indeed was there not a struggle in the 1930s around access to land held by the gentry for rambling (don’t know much about it).

Here's a report on the mass trespass on Kinder Scout from the Guardian in 1932:

"Four or five hundred ramblers, mostly from Manchester, trespassed in mass on Kinder Scout to-day. They fought a brief but vigorous hand-to-hand struggle with a number of keepers specially enrolled for the occasion. This they won with ease, and then marched to Ashop Head, where they held a meeting before returning in triumph to Hayfield.

... As they marched they sang the "Red Flag" and the "International." ..."

The kinder scout mass tresspass in generally taken as the thing that ultimately lead to the creation of the national parks and the start of the 'right to roam'.

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Jan 16 2007 14:58
pingtiao wrote:
No, impossible. The volume of CO2 dissolved in the water in the peat is orders of magnitude smaller than the CO2 released by burning.

this is a red herring I think.

aye, though the methane emissions from peat lands are considerable if they start drying out, same argument goes to positive loopback risks when global warming causes land mass areas like siberia to heat up and the methane is released from them -> more global warming.

By the way, they are not carbon sinks, just carbon stores, i dont think they are actively tying any new carbon.

I'd like to see more evidence on wind farms altering the microclimate enough to change the peatlands behavior.

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Jan 16 2007 19:20
Terry wrote:
...the routes of the environmental crisis are in the organisation of society, not in this or that particular technology (as if a form of technology can be abstracted out from society).Thus even the introduction of supposedly ‘alternative’ renewables is in a destructive fashion, basically cause the form of their introduction is conditioned by profit and the grow or die nature of the capitalist economy.

Aye, good points.

Spikymike
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Jan 16 2007 20:56

Terry makes the right points in this debate but unfortunately this approach probably did not come out in the Resistance article as I recall. Maybe thats a result of only having limited space, but perhaps such articles could be linked to something more substantial in Organise or on the Net, otherwise such articles may fall into, the same trap which Terry suspects Dundee of.

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Jan 16 2007 21:48

By the way, the Lewis Peatlands are a Special Protection Area for birds. Populations of golden eagle, red and black throated divers and merlins would be severly affected by damage to the structure of the peat, and damage to the water pattern and soil make up. This fragile peat land is only found in a few areas in the world, and it is hard to see how damage to dunlins and golden plovers, which breed in large densities, can be avoided.

Just thought i'd let you know.

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Jan 16 2007 22:02
Lab Rat wrote:
red and black throated divers

if that is one thing not two, i think libcom's found a mascot cool