TRAGIC IMPACTS OF MISGUIDED CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION POLICY
TRAGIC IMPACTS OF MISGUIDED CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION POLICY
The French have treated revolution as a National pastime, for much of their history: storming the Bastille in 1789; and the streets of Paris in 1969, to name a couple of people-power-hits.
Today, the target of the seething masses is these things; or to the French: éoliennes.
And – with a burning desire to Stop These Things – the French follow events here, with a keen interest. See this story, for example (you’ll need High School French or better): Les effets néfastes de fermes éoliennes sur la santé sont réels – STT followers will recognise STT Champions, Dr Sarah Laurie and Senator John Madigan, as the stars of that post.
The wind industry in France is equipped with same snake-like ‘charm’, as elsewhere. As we reported earlier this year, French wind power outfits are hell-bent on destroying the final resting places of thousands of Australian soldiers, who perished defending French soil a Century ago:
Now to a tale of a French farmer fighting to regain the health of his previously happy herd.
French farmer sues energy giant after wind turbines ‘make cows sick’
18 September 2015
Yann Joly is suing CSO Energy for €356,900 (£260,000) over wind turbines which he alleges have led to a dramatic fall in cows’ milk output
A French dairy farmer is suing a wind energy company whose turbines have allegedly made his cows sick and led to a dramatic fall in their milk output.
An expert brought in to provide evidence to a Paris court confirmed that the 120 animals had been drinking much less water since the turbines were installed in early 2011.
This had led to a large drop in milk production, as cows need to drink at least three litres of water for every litre of milk they produce, and has damaged the cows’ general health, the expert said.
“The farmer is ruined,” Philippe Bodereau, his lawyer, told The Telegraph. His client, Yann Joly, is suing CSO Energy, which operates wind farms in France and Germany, for €356,900 (£260,000). Mr Joly wants the firm to remove its turbines.
He says he is being forced to sell his cows and will grow crops on his land instead.
“I am now in the process of selling the cows because it is not profitable to keep them,” he told The Telegraph. “I had an employee on the farm and am having to let him go. I will have to get a job outside the farm in order to try and keep it. I will also use my fields to grow crops instead: beetroot, wheat and colza.”
Mr Bodereau said: “This is the first time in the world that there is a document from an expert concluding that there is no other reason but wind turbines that could be to blame for animals being sick.”
Christiane Nansot, an agricultural expert, who wrote the report, said the drop in milk production began when the 24 turbines were installed next to the family farm, in Le Boisle district, near the Abbeville, northern France.
“The geologist said that a geographical fault in the underlying rock could be leading to an amplification in the waves emanating from the turbines,” she said.
But she cautioned that other farms where turbines are installed near faults would have to be studied before it could be definitively concluded that the turbines were making the Le Boisle animals sick.
The report says that the cows are also prone to mastitis – udder inflammation.
It does not decisively lay the blame on the turbines for the milk yield drop or the symptoms, but says all other possible causes have been ruled out.
A ruling is expected next spring.
CSO Energy did not respond to requests for comment.
Wind turbines have been blamed for killing large numbers of wild birds and bats but there have been few other claims of them damaging animals’ health.
Critics insist they are damaging to human health because they create infrasound – sound at such low frequency that it cannot be picked up by the human ear, but can carry through the atmosphere for great distances.
That incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound causes adverse health effects – such as sleep deprivation – is a FACT – and it’s been known by the wind industry (lied about and covered up) for 30 years:
That dairy cows set upon by the same forces of noise and vibration should also react unfavourably should – to those gifted with our good friends ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ – not come as any great surprise.
STT has reported on the impact of turbine noise on horses and dogs once or twice:
As to the impact on humans and dogs, AGL operates a non-compliant wind farm called Oaklands Hill, near Glenthompson in Victoria – where the neighbours began complaining about excessive turbine noise the moment it kicked into operation in August 2011.
Complaints from neighbouring farmers, Bill and Sandy Rogerson, included the impact of turbine noise on their hard working sheepdogs.
The Rogersons – whose prized paddock dog goes ballistic every time AGL’s Suzlon s88s kick into action – complained bitterly about the noise impacts on them and their 5 working dogs: one of them became disobedient and extremely timid, hiding in her kennel whenever the turbines were operating.
In an effort to provide a little respite to the affected Kelpies, AGL stumped up $20,000 for a deluxe, soundproof dog kennel. AGL doesn’t give money away without a reason, so you’d tend to think there was something in it.
The Rogersons gave evidence to the Australian Senate earlier this year about the noise impacts on them and their prized working dogs, covered in this post:
In France, it’s not just a bovine revolt that’s brewing; French men, women and children are fighting back too. As this clever – and very French – little video details.
Wind Turbines Make People Ill: Fact not Fiction Dr. Pamela Kenny Would I say this?: “Hundreds of thousands of people around the world live near and work at operating wind turbines without health effects. Wind energy enjoys considerable public support, but wind energy detractors have publicized their concerns that the sounds emitted from wind turbines cause adverse health effects. These allegations of health-related impacts are not supported by science. Studies show no evidence for direct human health effects from wind turbines.” It is certainly not me talking. It is the claim of The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry. Wind power developers and their lobby groups around the world are shouting the same message – that the noise and vibration (infrasound, sound pressure, and low frequency noise) produced by large-scale wind turbines produce no direct health effects. In reality, their claim is a lie. There is an ocean of documented evidence to support the assertions of anti-wind campaigners that the noise and vibration from wind turbines causes a range of health problems in significant numbers of people. If you search for just a couple of hours online, you can find personal stories by the thousand, and also numerous highly technical research papers by eminent medics and scientists detailing, amongst others, these symptoms: Chronic sleep deprivation Sleep disturbance Increased blood pressure Increased blood sugar (dangerous for diabetics) Poor concentration and memory Depression Headaches and migraines Dizziness, unsteadiness, ear pain and vertigo Vibration in the body, particularly the chest Nausea / “seasickness” Tinnitus Sensations of pressure or fullness in the ear Stress Panic Annoyance, anger and aggression Increase in agitation by those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and ADD / ADHD Some of these symptoms can be attributed to sleep deprivation. It is increasingly clear from peerreviewed medical papers that night noise interrupting sleep has an adverse effect on both cardiovascular health and stress levels. Interrupted sleep can also have serious effects on daytime concentration leading, potentially, to increased risk of industrial accidents and road traffic collisions. As these problems are likely to occur at locations remote from the cause of the interrupted sleep they are difficult to attribute to their actual cause. Dr. Christopher Hanning, a now-retired Consultant in Sleep Disorders Medicine to the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, writes: In the short term… deprivation of sleep results in daytime fatigue and sleepiness, poor concentration and memory function. Accident risks increase. In the longer term, sleep deprivation is linked to depression, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. 1 I do not pretend to be an expert in the effects of noise, but I do know that in over 30 years as a GP I have seen countless patients presenting with the effects of insomnia, and shift workers in particular suffer far more than the general population with the effects of disturbed sleep. What I find astonishing is that the noise regulations for the wind industry permit MORE noise to be generated by the turbines at night than during the day. This is completely contrary to noise pollution legislation, World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines – and common sense. Other symptoms listed above are likely to be a response to exposure to infrasound (sound with a frequency of less than 20 Hz) and low frequency noise (sound with a frequency of less than 200 Hz) produced by the turbines. Both low frequency noise and infrasound occur naturally in the environment (for instance, from household appliances and machinery in the case of low frequency noise, and ocean waves in the case of infrasound). In periods when the wind is blustery, large wind turbines generate both very low frequency sounds and infrasound which can travel much greater distances than audible sound. These sounds are not audible to the human ear, but our brains certainly detect them and some susceptible people suffer some of the unpleasant symptoms I have listed, such as tinnitus, ear pain and vertigo. If you feel up to reading some technical, but very interesting, research on this subject, take a look at Wind-Turbine Noise. What Audiologists Should Know by Punch, James and Pabst, published in the American publication Audiology Today in 2010.2 Other reasons why people experience health impacts from wind turbines include the swishing or thumping of the blades, which is highly annoying as the frequency and loudness varies with changes in wind speed and local atmospheric conditions. This is not at all like the sound of a passing train, aeroplane or tractor which moves on rapidly to be replaced by less intrusive background sounds. The noise of wind turbines has been likened to a “passing train that never passes” which may explain why it is prone to cause sleep disruption. Some of those with heightened sensitivity to specific repetitive stimuli, such as those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD / ADHD), can be seriously affected by the noise. Consultant clinical psychologist Dr. Susan Stebbings, from the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust, said more research was needed into wind turbine noise and these disorders: Because it is clear from our clinical knowledge of the condition of autism that the sensory difficulties individuals can have are possibly going to be impacted on by the presence of such large sensory objects in their environment. 3 Indeed, there is at least one case on record of a wind farm application being turned down because of the proven impact on children with autism.4 Then there is shadow flicker or strobing which occurs when the rotating blades periodically cast shadows through the windows of properties. This can be truly unpleasant to live with and can trigger
1 http://www.algonquinadventures.com/waywardwind/docs/Hanning-sleep-disturbance-wind-turbinenoise.pdf 2 http://docs.wind-watch.org/AudiologyToday-WindTurbineNoise.pdf 3 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-19374360 4 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/humber/8646326.stm
migraine and – much more rarely – epileptic fits in those suffering from photosensitive epilepsy. 5 At night, the red warning lights on the tops of some turbines can cause blade glint and strobing effects, so it is not just a daytime phenomenon. Then there is the effect of stress. If you live in a tranquil rural area like ours, where the daytime and night time noise levels are almost always very low, you may well suffer varying levels of stress from the imposition of industrial-scale wind turbines into the landscape. The stress can occur long before the turbines are erected: during the planning process; during the noise and disruption of the construction; when you see the turbines for the first time and cannot believe the scale of them; and, then, during their operation when your sleep is disrupted and other physical and mental symptoms present themselves. The effects of wind turbine noise have been known for several years now. In February 2007, a Plymouth GP, Dr. Amanda Harry, published a report Wind Turbines, Noise and Health.6 The report documents her contacts with 39 people living between 300 metres and 2 kilometres from the nearest turbine of a wind farm. She discovered symptoms such as those I have outlined experienced by people living up to 1.6 kilometres from the wind farms. The wind industry has repeatedly tried to discredit Dr. Harry’s report, and another – published in 2009 – by a leading American Pediatrician Dr. Nina Pierpont, who coined the phrase “Wind Turbine Syndrome” to cover the range of health problems she investigated over five years in the US, the UK, Italy, Ireland and Canada.7 The global wind industry also spends vast sums attempting to discredit scientifically sound research studies, and the papers of experts in the physiology of the ear that prove infrasound can have adverse effects despite it not being audible. It is true that both Dr. Harry’s and Dr. Pierpont’s research is largely anecdotal and does not reach the high standards needed for statistical validity. However, that also applied to reports on the association between lung cancer and smoking, and asbestos and asbestosis, in the early days. We have now reached the stage in the debate when there can be no reasonable doubt that industrial wind turbines – whether singly or in wind farms – generate sufficient noise to disturb the sleep and impair the health of those living nearby.8 In fact, our own Government has long been fully aware of the problems, as demonstrated in a 2008 Economic Affairs Committee Memorandum by Mr Peter Hadden, which concludes:9 …onshore wind turbines built within 2km of homes offer no benefits and should not be part of a plan to provide the UK with a viable, secure, predictable supply of electricity. Indeed, onshore wind turbines ensure an unpredictable energy supply, by the very nature of the wind, with a long list of adverse impacts that diminish their supposed usefulness. Other renewables, such as solar and hydropower, offer more options and more predictability, especially combined with the still necessary (and technologically advancing) conventional sources of energy. I find it unbelievable that the wind industry is permitted to inflict health nuisance such as sleep disturbance, stress, and headaches on our communities – let alone more serious health issues such
5 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18397297 6 http://www.savewesternny.org/pdf/wtnoise_health_2007_a_barry.pdf 7 http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/wind-turbine-syndrome/ 8 http://www.noiseandhealth.org/article.asp?issn=1463- 1741;year=2012;volume=14;issue=60;spage=237;epage=243;aulast=Nissenbaum 9 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeconaf/195/195we34.hm
as depression, and heart and diabetes problems. To suggest, as the wind industry does, that there is “no problem” when faced with the huge body of evidence from around the world is perverse. What sums up this entire problem for me is the quote below. It is by Dr. Noel Kerin of the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada. He was attending the First International Symposium on Adverse Health Effects and Industrial Wind Turbines, held in Canada in October 2010. He was shocked by the overwhelming evidence on the harmful effects of wind turbines: First we had tobacco, then asbestos, and urea formaldehyde, and now wind turbines. Don’t we ever learn? Our public health system should be screaming the precautionary principle. The very people who are sworn to protect us have abandoned the public.10 My extensive reading into the harmful effects of wind turbines leaves me in no doubt that, to protect our community, we need to oppose the erection of three 125 metre turbines on Berry Fen. Quite aside from the damage to our beautiful landscape, our tranquillity, our tourism industry, and wildlife, this wind farm would have serious implications for the health of many who live and work here for the entire 25-year life of the wind farm, and well beyond. There is still time to object to the planning application. You do not have to write a long letter – just a couple of points outlining why you object will be perfect, and every single person in your household should write individually as the number of objections will make a difference. Whichever method you choose, please include your name and full postal address, and the Planning Application Number 14/00728/ESF: Send your objection by email to firstname.lastname@example.org Or write to: Mrs Penny Mills, Planning Officer, East Cambs District Council, The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, CB7 4EE Or drop off to the following addresses: Simon Monk, Dunelm House, 4d The Borough, Aldreth and Ian Munford, 4 Orchard Way, Haddenham. About Dr. Pamela Kenny MB.BS.,MRCS.LRCP.,FIMC RCSEd. Dr. Pamela Kenny was a founder of the current Haddenham and Stretham GP surgeries in 1986. She retired from practice there in 2006, but continued to work in Cottenham and St Ives and is a Trustee of the emergency medical service MAGPAS. Dr. Kenny has always had an interest in how lifestyle factors affect patient’s health, and continues to do so in the interests of the community. She has immense sympathy with anyone who might be affected by any form of flicker as she has always suffered from flicker-induced migraine. She also has the kind of hearing that is super-sensitive to both high and very low sound.
Click on to read…
Environmentalists often talk about people whose lives are ruined by man-made global warming.
But they never mention the lives that are devastated by misguided climate change policy.
There is no better example than the debilitating human health impacts of the hundreds of thousands of industrial wind turbines (IWTs) that are being erected around the world to supposedly mitigate climate change.
In “Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines,” a 2013 paper in the magazine of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Dr. Roy D. Jeffery, Carmen Krogh, and Brett Horner explained, “People who live or work in close proximity to IWTs have experienced symptoms that include decreased quality of life, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction.”
“The problem is not just cyclical audible noise keeping people awake but also low frequency infrasound which can travel many kilometres,” notes Dufferin County-based Barb Ashbee, who says she was forced out of her Amaranth, Ontario home by the siting of IWTs too close to it.
“Infrasound goes right through walls,” said Ashbee, operator of the Wind Victims Ontario website. “It pummels your body.”
Tens of thousands of complaints have been received by governments around the world.
Sherri Lange, CEO of North American Platform Against Wind, said, “I have personally received hundreds of phone calls from distressed people who need to vacate their homes [because of IWTs].”
Lange contended governments try to not address the issue.
“It is my experience from talking to doctors, researchers and other high-level professionals, that governments seem to be (under the influenced of) the industry.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promised her government would not force any of the 6,736 IWTs being erected by the province into “unwilling communities”.
To date, 90 communities have declared themselves as “Unwilling Hosts”, yet construction is underway, or planned, in many of these areas.
For example, in West Lincoln and surrounding regions, wind developers have received approval to install at least 77 three-Megawatt IWTs, each as tall as a 61-storey building, despite strong public objections.
Local resident Shellie Correia is particularly concerned.
Her 12-year-old son, Joey, has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and it is crucial that he live in a quiet environment.
But now, as part of the Ontario government’s climate change plans, an IWT will be sited only 550 metres from his home, the closest “setback” allowed in Ontario for residents who do not sign lease agreements with wind companies.
The province, which cites a 2010 report from its Chief Medical Officer of Health that found no direct causal links between IWTs and adverse health effects, has claimed the province’s setbacks are “the most stringent in North America”.
In reality, most jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and Europe require greater setbacks. Two kilometres is commonplace.
As Correia explained in her January, 2015 presentation before the government’s Environmental Review Tribunal, “On top of the incessant, cyclical noise, there is light flicker, and infrasound. This is not something that my son will be able to tolerate.”
Correia is supported by her son’s pediatrician, Dr. Chrystella Calvert, a specialist in the care of children with developmental and mental health problems.
Calvert says, “I, as a ‘normal brain’ individual would not want this risk [of an IWT] to my mental health (or my children’s) in my neighbourhood.”
Like most governments, Ontario officials insist the adverse health effects of IWTs are minimal, citing various studies.
But there is much scientific evidence to the contrary and studies are lacking with regards to children.
Krogh, one of the authors of the report on health problems linked to IWTs that appeared in the magazine of The College of Family Physicians of Canada, wrote in a May 13, 2013 open communication to Canada’s health minister, “Vigilance and long-term surveillance systems regarding risks and adverse effects related to children are lacking. … This evaluation should take place before proceeding with additional approvals.”
But the approvals go ahead regardless.
As Correia notes, “Wynne speaks about ‘protecting’ her granddaughter’s future (in defending her government’s plan to introduce carbon pricing through cap-and-trade.) Why then, is it not important for her to protect my son, now?”
Please listen to this interview, with Ron Stevens, of Canada Live Radio. We discuss the wind scam, and how it all relates to our problems with the UN and Agenda 21. Not to be missed!
Tom Harris has used the situation with my son, Joey, to show that the way the climate alarmists are going about pushing senseless solutions, (for problems they can’t prove will ever occur), is harming people here, and now. This is obscene, and has to stop! Please read this article, and share!
The only reason that Western economies have entertained the infantile nonsense of wind power, is that the rich world can afford (at least in the short term) to throw $billions in subsidies at a wholly weather dependent “system”, that will never stump up as an “alternative”, unless your starting point is sitting freezing (or boiling) in the dark; and you’re happy with that as your status quo (see our post here).
Some, however, might call backing wind power a form of wanton waste, aimed at satisfying the political vanity of the naive and gullible.
Then there’s the moral bankruptcy of a policy that’s aimed at wind power producers to (notionally) add more electricity to the system, notwithstanding that, in Australia, there is NO shortage of power – what there is a shortage of, however, is affordable power; and wind power will never provide that (see our post here).
Australia’s wind industry depends entirely on the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target – which has already transferred $9 billion, and is set up to transfer $50 billion more, from power consumers (in the form of the REC Tax on retail power bills) to subsidise wind power outfits, at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable who, as the policy bites in the next 2 years and beyond, will simply be denied access to power (see our post here).
When the concept of directing $50 billion worth of Australian taxes springs to mind, it doesn’t take long to think of groups within Australia that could easily be considered more worthy recipients, than foreign owned wind power outfits, backed by Union Super Funds.
STT’s first picks would be Aboriginal health and education; where standards in many regional and remote communities are positively third world. A fraction of what the wind industry is clamouring to pocket by keeping the LRET alive would, if well-managed, go a long way to giving a lot of under-privileged Australians an opportunity to improve their lot; and the lives of their children. Healthy kids have a better chance of learning; and educated kids have a better chance, all round.
But Aboriginal health and education hardly rates a mention from inner city “greens” – instead, their present obsession is “wonderful wind power” and ‘saving’ the RET.
Their worship of wind turbines, as some kind of Divine gift from the wind Gods, is a form of mania, akin to a deluded, religious fanaticism.
The mania extends to pumping up the fiction that the world can obtain 100% of its electricity needs from wind and solar power.
If left unchallenged, the end result of the ‘Greens’ ludicrous push for 100% ‘renewables’, will be to prevent the poorest and most vulnerable in developed economies from ever affording power again; and to simply deny power to under-developed economies and the poorest on the planet, altogether.
Steadily, though, the fiction that developing Nations can pull themselves out of poverty using insanely expensive and utterly unreliable wind power is being challenged. Here’s The New York times, throwing down the gauntlet.
Then there is the fridge in your kitchen. A typical 20-cubic-foot refrigerator — Energy Star-certified, to fit our environmentally conscious times — runs through 300 to 600 kilowatt-hours a year.
American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries — including Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh — have flocked to join China’s newinfrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States.
The reason for the defiance is not hard to find: The West’s environmental priorities are blocking their access to energy.
A typical American consumes, on average, about 13,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. The citizens of poor countries — including Nepalis, Cambodians and Bangladeshis — may not aspire to that level of use, which includes a great deal of waste. But they would appreciate assistance from developed nations, and the financial institutions they control, to build up the kind of energy infrastructure that could deliver the comfort and abundance that Americans and Europeans enjoy.
Too often, the United States and its allies have said no.
The United States relies on coal, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power for about 95 percent of its electricity, said Todd Moss, from the Center for Global Development. “Yet we place major restrictions on financing all four of these sources of power overseas.”
This conflict is not merely playing out in the strategic maneuvering of the United States and China as they engage in a struggle for influence on the global stage.
Of far greater consequence is the way the West’s environmental agenda undermines the very goals it professes to achieve and threatens to advance devastating climate change rather than retard it.
“It is about pragmatism, about trade-offs,” said Barry Brook, professor of environmental sustainability at the University of Tasmania in Australia. “Most societies will not follow low-energy, low-development paths, regardless of whether they work or not to protect the environment.”
If billions of impoverished humans are not offered a shot at genuine development, the environment will not be saved. And that requires not just help in financing low-carbon energy sources, but also a lot of new energy, period. Offering a solar panel for every thatched roof is not going to cut it.
“We shouldn’t be talking about 10 villages that got power for a light bulb,” said Joyashree Roy, a professor of economics at Jadavpur University in India who was among the leaders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
“What we should be talking about,” she said, “is how the village got a power connection for a cold storage facility or an industrial park.”
Changing the conversation will not be easy. Our world of seven billion people — expected to reach 11 billion by the end of the century — will require an entirely different environmental paradigm.
On Tuesday, a group of scholars involved in the environmental debate, including Professor Roy and Professor Brook, Ruth DeFries of Columbia University, and Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, Calif., issued what they are calling the “Eco-modernist Manifesto.”
The “eco-modernists” propose economic development as an indispensable precondition to preserving the environment. Achieving it requires dropping the goal of “sustainable development,” supposedly in harmonious interaction with nature, and replacing it with a strategy to shrink humanity’s footprint by using nature more intensively.
“Natural systems will not, as a general rule, be protected or enhanced by the expansion of humankind’s dependence upon them for sustenance and well-being,” they wrote.
To mitigate climate change, spare nature and address global poverty requires nothing less, they argue, than “intensifying many human activities — particularly farming, energy extraction, forestry and settlement — so that they use less land and interfere less with the natural world.”
As Mr. Shellenberger put it, the world would have a better shot at saving nature “by decoupling from nature rather than coupling with it.”
This new framework favors a very different set of policies than those now in vogue. Eating the bounty of small-scale, local farming, for example, may be fine for denizens of Berkeley and Brooklyn. But using it to feed a world of nine billion people would consume every acre of the world’s surface. Big Agriculture, using synthetic fertilizers and modern production techniques, could feed many more people using much lessland and water.
As the manifesto notes, as much as three-quarters of all deforestation globally occurred before the Industrial Revolution, when humanity wassupposedly in harmony with Mother Nature. Over the last half century, the amount of land required for growing crops and animal feed per average person declined by half.
“If we want the developing world to reach even half our level of development we can’t do it without strategies to intensify production,” said Harvard’s David Keith, a signer of the new manifesto.
The eminent Australian conservationist William Laurance, who is not involved with the eco-modernists, put it this way, “We need to intensify agriculture in places that we have already developed rather than develop new places,” he said. “What is happening today is much more chaotic.”
Development would allow people in the world’s poorest countries to move into cities — as they did decades ago in rich nations — and get better educations and jobs. Urban living would accelerate demographic transitions, lowering infant mortality rates and allowing fertility rates to decline, taking further pressure off the planet.
“By understanding and promoting these emergent processes, humans have the opportunity to re-wild and re-green the Earth — even as developing countries achieve modern living standards, and material poverty ends,” the manifesto argues.
This, whether we like it or not, would require lots of energy. Windmills or biofuels would put large swaths of the earth’s surface in the service of energy production, so they have only limited usefulness. Solar panels andnuclear plants, by contrast, could eventually provide carbon-free energy on a very large scale.
The new strategy, of course, presents big challenges. Notably, it requires improving the safety of nuclear reactors and bringing down their price. Solar energy at scale requires new energy storage technologies.
“Decoupling of human welfare from environmental impacts will require a sustained commitment to technological progress and the continuing evolution of social, economic, and political institutions alongside those changes,” says the manifesto.
“There are enormous energy demands,” Professor DeFries noted. “It will be some time before we can fulfill them with wind and solar energy. It is only realistic that there will be a lot of coal and gas along the way.”
For all the environment-related objections one could pose to these paths, the alternative seems indefensible: Let the poor of the world burn dung and wood, further degrading the world’s forests. Or put solar panels on their huts so they can recharge their cellphones.
“Sustainable development” has been around for over a quarter century, since the United Nations’ Bruntland Commission proposed it in 1987.
Even then, it acknowledged its energy problem. “A safe and sustainable energy pathway is crucial to sustainable development,” it stated. “We have not yet found it.”
A quarter of a century on, the discourse has changed little. Today, the International Energy Agency states that it is within our grasp to provide modern energy access to everyone. What does it mean? Five hundred kilowatt-hours per year to urban households and 250 for rural ones.
Maybe enough to power a fridge.
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