“It’s Debatable” appears in each issue of the Adirondack Explorer. This essay by John Droz Jr., physicist and environmental advocate at Brantingham Lakes, is a companion piece to “Debatable: Should Renewable Energy Be An APA Priority? Yes” by Adirondack North Country Association’s Sean Connin.
It’s very appropriate that the Adirondack Park Agency periodically review regional issues to decide what items should be added, deleted or re-prioritized, to best meet its mission.
Recently, the APA released a proposed renewable energy policy.
The stated rationale for this significant policy is for the APA to meaningfully address anthropogenic global warming (AGW). As a scientist and a 70-plus-year park resident, my opinion is that the APA’s interest in AGW is understandable, but misplaced.
Consider the following facts:
• Ninety-nine percent of the public knows very little about science. This deficiency is being leveraged on several energy and environmental issues, by lobbyists promoting undeclared economic and political agendas.
• Despite what the media propagate, the AGW hypothesis is not scientifically proven. (Even if there is some consensus, that is not scientific proof.)
• Industrial wind energy is the most popular renewable — but there is zero scientific proof that it saves any consequential carbon dioxide.
• Allowing industrial wind energy in the park would have major detrimental environmental impacts on the region.
• Permitting industrial wind energy in the park would likely result in substantial net economic losses to host communities.
• There is nothing that we can do in the Adirondacks that will make any appreciable difference regarding AGW.
If every park resident sold their car and used a bike, and if every park home and business permanently shut off all electricity, that would not have a scientifically measurable impact on AGW. On the other hand such changes would collapse the park’s economy, and undermine the quality of life for essentially all of its residents. Other than virtue signaling, why make such gargantuan sacrifices?
There are several pressing Adirondack issues that we can do something about — and every minute and dollar spent towards AGW detracts from dealing with those real-world regional matters. This boils down to a question of resource allocation.
The agency should exclusively focus on important Adirondack matters where they can make a meaningful, positive difference to the park and its residents, like preserving the unique character of the park for future generations; protecting the natural, scenic, aesthetic, ecological, wildlife, historic, recreational, and open space resources of the park; guarding Adirondack ecosystems by minimizing invasive species; and improving water quality standards, including with aquifer protections.
I’m sure that some other interested park residents can suggest even better items. Yes, few of these items have the panache of “saving the planet,” but high-falutin’ aspirations shouldn’t deceive us as to what is really important.
So, my recommendation is that the APA identify the top Adirondack priorities where we can actually make a meaningful difference, publish them on their website, and see that the agency’s efforts reflect those primary concerns. Renewable energy should not make any objective Top 10 list.
John Droz Jr.detailed rebuttal to the renewable energy proposal is available here. He is a physicist and environmental advocate at Brantingham Lake.
Read the Adirondack Park Agency’s proposed policy guidance supporting renewable energy development here.
Photo of APA Building in Ray Brook.