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An Environmental Call to Arms: Conservation of Energy vs. Conservation of Good Sense June 28, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Computer and Technology, General Ranting, News and politics, Science and Technology.
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(Attention: The following is a humorous anecdote.  It is satire.  It is NOT intended as a call to vandalize public utilities or destroy other people’s property.  So don’t do it OK?)

To my loyal audience in blog land, I do not know to whom else I can turn.  An impending environmental disaster is looming in this country and, as is so often the case, no one else is paying any attention except me.  Let my voice be the clarion call to arms.  Where’s all my rabid environmental extremest peeps??  Liberals in the HOUSE!!  We must rise up and confront this new evil before it is too late.  I’m talking about WINDMILLS.

Have you seen them??  They are everywhere.  I was driving through the city of Sweetwater, TX, on my way home from an Astronomy workshop at McDonald’s Observatory and it dawned upon me… I am SURROUNDED by thousands of windmills.  “Well”, says I, “they’re not exactly pretty and they make a funny noise but they do an amazing job of turning wind energy into electricity without burning coal so I guess this is a good thing.”   And then it struck me.  They are turning WIND energy into electricity.  Does ANYONE besides me see the problem with this???

The Law of Conservation of Energy is very specific about this sort of thing.  Energy can be transformed from one type to another but it can NOT be created nor destroyed.  These windmill are not MAKING electricity.  They are turning WIND into electricity.  Why is that a problem, you ask.  Well, I’ll tell you.  (But only because you asked.)

Windmills transform the kinetic energy of moving air molecules (aka. wind) into storable electrical potential, (electric charge.)  Seems like  a good deal right?  Well lemme enlighten you.  The wind energy that the windmill captures and changes into electrical energy is no longer available to move the atmosphere.  That energy is taken into the blades of the windmill as kinetic energy, transferred to the generator, and, as the coils of wire turn, transformed into electric potential.  As the wind moves the windmill, it looses a bit of energy.  (It can’t really LOOSE the energy, it is just taken from the air molecules and turned into electricity and carried away in a wire.)  It is no longer available to the atmosphere.  Why, you ask, does that matter?  What is a little bit of  wind one way or the other?

Lets take a look at what wind does.  It moves kites.  It swirls long hair.  It pollinates pine trees and plants dandelions.  It also does one other tiny little thing.  Wind is what makes weather happen.  The Earth’s atmosphere is huge.  It does not heat and cool evenly because the sun doesn’t shine on us evenly over the whole planet.  Hot spots develop.  As air warms, it rises.  As the air in an area rises there is less air at that location pushing down on that area.  We have developed a low pressure area.  As the warm air reaches the top of its rise it spreads out and cools.  Cold air sinks.  Where it spreads and sinks we have extra air and so we have developed a high pressure area.  Nature abhors a vacuum and so anytime a low pressure is created, air moves there to equalize the pressure.  The moving of air from a high to a low pressure area is wind.  Now comes the interesting bit.  Warm air carries moisture.  When it goes up higher into the atmosphere and cools, the moisture condenses into tiny drops that stick to each other and form clouds.  As more and more drops stick to one another, the resulting drops become to heavy to be supported by the uplifting atmosphere and they fall back to Earth as rain.  Now you begin to see the problem.  We are well on the way to turning our world into a desert.  Each windmill removes and tiny amount of wind energy from the atmosphere, meaning that there is a tiny bit less energy to carry moisture and create rain.  Multiply that tiny bit of energy by the thousands of windmills that have sprung up over the Texas plains in the last very few years and you can see the beginning of the end.  Texas, especially because of the wind we have and the dry climate to the west, can ill-afford to be doing anything to limit rainfall.  “Ah ha”, you say, “Surely the atmosphere of the entire Earth is so huge and contains so much energy that we could never build enough windmills to even make a dent in the wind energy of the air.”  Well, in 1980 there were effectively NO windmills in this area except the few old standbys for pumping water.  These are small and don’t harvest nearly the energy of the modern monsters we see today with blades twice as long as a school bus.  In a mere 20 years, the number of windmills has increased from zero to well over 2500 in this one tiny town.  Assuming a linear growth pattern, in 100 years there will be over 120,000 in a city with a population of only 13000.  That is almost 10 windmills per person.  There are towns all over Texas trapped in the same boat.  (Unfortunately for them, it is a SAILBOAT).  There will be millions of windmills in Texas and all over the western US where the wind once blew and the Buffalo once roamed.  If you don’t think these things progress at a rapid pace, just ASK the Buffalo, or more correctly, the American Bison, IF you can find one .  People laughed at the very idea that there might come a day when Bison (we’ll call them Buffalo even though it is incorrect because old habits die-hard and Bison hunters doesn’t have the same ring to it.) didn’t cover the central plains.  Seen any of those majestic herds lately??  It took less than 40 years to wipe out one of the most wide-spread wildlife populations on Earth, AND there were never more than a few thousand Buffalo hunters working at any one time.  One more thing, windmills make MONEY.  Does anything that makes money grow at a linear rate?  NOOOO, they grow exponentially.  We pump money back into windmills to make more money.

Picture if you will the not TOO distant future.  Rank upon rank of windmills, still and silent, stand over the land like the abandoned vehicles of the Martian invaders from H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  Every scrap of energy has been sucked out of the atmosphere and when even the tiniest breeze tries to blow, an army of turning blades are there to wrench the life from it.  No Wind = No Rain = No People.  THIS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED.

“What can we do”, you ask?  And since you asked nicely, I’ll tell you.  We have to stop the madness at its source.  Write your congressman, re-post this missive in a blog, organize a protest, or, if you happen to be of a more direct nature, grab an axe.  But do SOMETHING because the last thing we want is an army of thirsty children desperately running across an arid landscape dragging kites that no long fly.

[Fine Print]This environmental warning has been brought to you by the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Committee) who remind you that Nuclear Power Plants do NOT blot up the entire country side and have never been shown to interfere with any phase of the weather cycle of our planet.  If you like “fishin'”, vote yes for fission.[/Fine Print]



1. Missy Ann - June 28, 2012

LOL!! That is hilarious, and the sad thing is that some people won’t get it…oh we live in a strange, strange world.

regan222 - June 28, 2012

Wait til I publish my piece on how flatulence among the great whales contributes to global warming. That’ll knock ’em dead.

2. Laurel Scales - June 30, 2012

Do you just work at boggling small minds? Love the piece, but you really should not be so mean to other folks!

3. Solar MA - July 11, 2012

Consider my mind, boggled. As I read the post it kept getting clearer and clearer to me, I HATE WINDMILLS. Hahaha, jokes aside. You’re right in the sense that they are potentially wrecking bits and pieces of our atmosphere, left and right. But lets not forget, the human race isn’t exactly perfect. Go green!! (Loved the article)

-Sharone Tal

regan222 - July 11, 2012

Thank you for reading with the right sense of humor/good sense.

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