Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Plant Rights / On Wind Power

Two things today kids. The first from http://ww3.startribune.com/kerstenblog/?p=431 on Switzerland's push for plant rights. Some quotes:

The Swiss have added a provision to their constitution requiring “account to be taken of the dignity of creation when handling animals, plants and other organisms.” The Swiss were unsure what this high-flown rhetoric meant, so they did what we moderns always do when faced with such conundrums: They referred the matter to a panel of experts.

The panel’s report predictably muddied the already muddy waters with platitudes and jargon. More helpful were its concrete examples of how to negotiate this ethical swampland. Smith cites one example:

The committee offered this illustration: A farmer mows his field (apparently an acceptable action, perhaps because the hay is intended to feed the farmer’s herd–the report doesn’t say). But then, while walking home, he casually ‘decapitates’ some wildflowers with his scythe. The panel decries this act as immoral, though its members can’t agree why.

The report states, opaquely: ‘At this point it remains unclear whether this action is condemned because it expresses a particular moral stance of the farmer toward other organisms or because something bad is being done to the flowers themselves.’

I'v enothing to say about that, Gump. Here's some stuff on wind power; why our country is so butt ass backwards is beyond me! (Indeed, I use the rhetoric of the learned to make my argument.)

Two decades from now Americans could get as much electricity from windmills as from nuclear power plants, according to a government report that lays out a possible plan for wind energy growth.

The report, a collaboration between the Energy Department research labs and industry, concludes wind energy could generate 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2030, about the same share now produced by nuclear reactors.

"The report indicates that we can do this nationally for less than half a cent per kilowatt hour if we have the vision," said Andrew Karsner, the Energy Department's assistant secretary for efficiency and renewable energy.

If achieved, it would be an astounding leap.

Wind energy today accounts for only about 1 percent of the nation's electricity, although the industry has been on a growth binge with a 45 percent jump in production last year.

"The United States possesses abundant wind resources," said the report spearheaded by DOE's National Renewable Technology Laboratory in Golden, Colo., and a 20 percent share of electricity production "while ambitious, could be feasible."

But the report cautioned that its findings were not meant to predict that such growth would, in fact, be achieved, but only that it is technically possible. And it acknowledged "there are significant costs, challenges and impacts" associated with such rapid growth.

It would require improved turbine technology, "significant changes" and expansion of power line systems and a major expansion of markets for wind energy to accommodate an annual growth rate of 16,000 megawatts of electricity a year beginning in 2018, more than five times today's annual growth.

Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, said the report confirms that wind energy "is no longer a niche" in the power industry.


Yesterday, on the drive back from Omaha on I-80, I had to keep pulling my car left due to the always strong southerly winds. As I was doing this, two super long tractor trailers were heading the other direction--both carried loads of two very long turbine blades apiece. That was nice. Boy are those blades big.

Anyway, I've become a supporter for nuclear power. I don't like this, but I see it as a very viable energy source for a TRANSITION to renewable sources like wind, solar, hydrogen, and NOT ethanol. Ethanol is dumb. Unless it comes from switchgrass, then it is not dumb.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Benjamin! Don't get me started.

Frances, said...

Hi Benjamin, learned jargon aside, let's go for the switchgrass, isn't that panicum? It grows everywhere here with no water, or even good soil. They are working on the same thing with kudzu, the vine that is eating the south. The guy who has developed the formula is negotiating with industry for the rights. I feel they are working on it, just not fast enough. Plant rights? Let's just work on human rights, first.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Ellen--Ok. I won't.
Frances--Didn't know that about Kudzu, that's neat. To me, plant rights are indicative of human rights, or, they work hand in hand. If a person doens't have basic respect for something as "insignificant" as a flower, tree, or squirrel, there's no hope for human rights.

Anonymous said...

I'm a HUGE tree hugger but Switzerland's new policy seems a bit much to me. Whatever helps us save ourselves is a good thing, on balance, though.