Sunday, March 3, 2019

Debatable: Should Renewable Energy Be An APA Priority? No

APA Building in Ray Brook NY“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.

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with a biding interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




23 Responses

  1. Scott says:

    Like it or not, it seems the APA probably will have to address the issue on private lands if a developer pushes a wind or solar farm project. I think that for most of the Adirondacks the rest of the infrastructure needs make a wind or solar farm project very unattractive or unattainable but it is possible on the fringes. We already have hydro-power impacts on the fringes. What is the “substantial net economic losses to host communities” from industrial wind energy ?

  2. James Bullard says:

    IMO wind power projects in the park would be a terrible horrible awful idea. When such a project was proposed In the Parishville/Hopkinton area I did some research. The North Country in general (including the Seaway power and areas west and north of the park) already produce far more green power via hydro than we use. The power produced by any and all new proposed projects would be shipped downstate. The current transmission lines are at capacity so additional power would require either shutting down existing green power to accommodate the wind-generated power or building more transmission capacity. Neither makes much sense to me especially at the price of damaging the character of the park. It makes far more sense to generate power closer to where it is needed.

  3. Boreasfisher says:

    There is no scientific consensus on human caused climate warming…and even so consensus is not proof? What utter nonsense to make such a statement at this time.

    The fact that the park is too small to make an impact means there should be no effort to address these issues is likewise a half baked notion…imagine if every small community reached this decision? This is truly a recipe for whistling past the graveyard. Bravo.

    • Boreas says:

      Boreasfisher,

      There will be never be enough proof for many people. But even if humans are NOT part of the problem doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the solution.

      • Balian the Cat says:

        “There is no scientific consensus on human caused climate warming…and even so consensus is not proof? What utter nonsense to make such a statement at this time.”

        Classic. You’re wrong but even if you aren’t, you’re wrong!

  4. Phil Terrie says:

    What’s coming next in “It’s Debatable”?

    Is the earth flat? Experts disagree, you know!

    • Chris Rohner says:

      The edge is just over the horizon….. just keep going….. just a little further.

    • adkDreamer says:

      So true. Remember, this forum is for your enjoyment and entertainment, read and comment at your own risk, and just like You Tube and Twitter, other social media platforms et al. there are comment trolls here. Content provided here is often designed to evoke emotions only, just to get readers to respond – and no one seriously cares about other folks comments anyways. There are many articles posted here that are filled with so much garbage it’s embarrassing. Other articles provide great information that is not in any way contestable. I really don’t recommend this site as anything more than Adirondack Entertainment. There remains just enough good stuff here to keep me coming back, however the political stuff seems to be appearing more often. When that happens, it is a good indication that the forum has run out of useful content and is joining the ‘click & comment’ bait wars of social media.

    • John Droz says:

      Phil:

      Exactly what did I write that is not only wrong, but so incorrect that it falls into “flat earth” category?

  5. adkDreamer says:

    Thanks for providing this article, John Droz Jr., well done, well stated.

  6. real cerise says:

    This seems unlikely (and beyond the control of the APA)
    “……. if every park home and business permanently shut off all electricity, that would not have a scientifically measurable impact on AGW. ”

    and hence a discussion of the consequences

    “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?”

    is irrelevant:

  7. Tom says:

    It’s the nature of science that things are rarely, if ever “proved” absolutely. They are determined—from the evidence—to be highly likely. Consensus based on evidence among experts is more than just idle “belief”. It reflects the weight of the evidence.

    Although I agree with Droz’s point that large-scale wind or solar plants within the Park would likely have negative economic and aesthetic effects, his argument is logically misguided.

  8. Andy Hahn says:

    So, let’s take John Droz’s points in order:

    • Droz’s contention that the public knows little is unsupported and, really, irrelevant to his argument. However, I agree that there are lobbyists working to advance their agendae. However, lobbyists are on both sides of the issue and those with the most funding come from the fossil fuel industries.

    • There is more than “consensus” on AGW. Concurrence on the issue is almost universal. I am curious what Droz would consider proof.

    • In 2017, the electricity generated from wind turbines avoided an estimated 189 million tons of carbon pollution. See: https://www.awea.org/wind-101/benefits-of-wind/environmental-benefits
    It is probably biased but similar to a report in The Guardian and other sources: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2012/sep/26/myth-wind-turbines-carbon-emissions
    In addition to reducing CO2, wind power helps reduce SO2 and NOx.

    • It is possible that wind turbines could have some detrimental environmental impacts on the region. If Droz wants to advance this opinion, he should do so with documentation and consider whether there are areas where wind power would have less or insignificant impact.

    • It is possible that industrial wind energy in the park would result in some net economic losses to host communities because of the visual and audible detraction. But maybe there are some areas where this would be of minimal concern. It is also possible that a wind park could be a tourist attraction. The machines are big and the science is interesting.

    • The argument that “we can’t make any appreciable difference,” is similar to the argument that my vote doesn’t matter or that my plastic bags, straws, or other reclyclables, are insignificant.

    • The argument against every park resident selling their car and using a bike is a straw man fallacy.

    • James Bullard says:

      ” It is also possible that a wind park could be a tourist attraction. The machines are big and the science is interesting.”
      If you want to see a ‘wind park’, take the drive from Brainardsville to Ellenburg on Rt 190 or Rt 11 from Chateaugay to Ellenburg. There are no kiosks explaining the science though, just lots of windmills. As far as I know, they haven’t become a tourist destination yet.

      Aside from what I wrote earlier about the power not being needed here because we are already producing an excess of green hydropower plus existing wind power and a growing solar power sector, do we really want to convert our “wild” park to a wind park? I don’t. And before you accuse me of NIMBYism, please note that wind power projects are being proposed in NNY where we don’t need all that power, because the folks downstate (where the power is needed and would be sent) don’t want the windmills in their backyards and there are more of them than us so they have more clout to keep them out.

    • Andy:

      I’m sure that you are a sincere individual, but your reply actually proved the point that you objected to — i.e. the public knows little about energy matters.

      Your citation of CO2 saved comes from the main wind energy lobbyist organization. Would you really consider them an objective source of information? The fact is that the numbers they cite are totally false.

      It’s interesting that you reluctantly conceded that there “might” be adverse environmental consequences from industrial wind energy. Again, this proves my point that you disputed — that the public knows little about energy matters. In this case there are easily over a hundred studies from independent experts that have documented the environmental detriments wind energy causes.

      Likewise, there are at least ten (10) proven local/regional losses that could result from industrial wind energy. Your limiting them to visual and audio again supports my contention about how much the public really knows.

      For anyone wanting to get into the scientific studies concerning wind energy, please go to the Key Documents page on my website “WiseEnergy.org”.

  9. Richard L Daly says:

    John,
    Thanks for better focusing the argument for me and others. Opportunities for discussion of current, targeted solutions should always be welcome and appreciated.
    RLD – in Town of PBG.

  10. John Montefusco says:

    Well said.

  11. Scott says:

    • Despite what the media propagate, the AGW hypothesis is not scientifically proven. (Even if there is some consensus, that is not scientific proof.)

    No ‘scientist’ worth his or her salt would use language like this to describe AGW. I smell politics here.

  12. rum says:

    well that was such a refreshing article! someone who finally gets it!

  13. James Reinhard says:

    When judging the merits of an argument it is useful to consider the source

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-man-who-makes-sea-lev/

    • Boreas says:

      James,

      Interesting article. It is unfortunate that politicians as well as the general public seem to be content with critical and important information being distributed through political filters. Ultimately, everything boils down to money and greed, with common citizens stuck paying the ultimate price.

    • James:

      Do you really believe everything you read on the Internet???

      Rather than an ad-hominem, please provide proof of anything I wrote that is wrong.

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