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James Lovelock partly recants

Posted By Joanne Nova On January 27, 2013 @ 2:47 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Call me fussy. James Lovelock — the GAIA man himself — is calling it as he sees it, and good on him. Bravo. I’m just a little underwhelmed with the reasoning. Hat tip to Bishop Hill, Phillip Bratby and Barry Woods.

Some things are spectacular:

I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied. We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.


Others are not:

…there is little doubt among scientists… that the burning of fossil fuels is by far the most dangerous source of energy.  … we are changing the composition of the air in a way that will have profoundly adverse effects on the Earth’s ecology and on ourselves.

So Lovelock still thinks CO2 is a dangerous thing despite it also being food for life on Earth. Is getting energy from inanimate rocks really far worse than chopping down rainforest to plant a biofuel crop? Is is worse than feeding corn to cars instead of to hungry people?

He thinks windmills might become monuments of a failed civilization but at the same time thinks that this particular windmill might be less civilization-destroying if it were placed somewhere less sensitive. He reasons that a wind tower might make this special spot in North Devon “vulnerable to urban development and unsustainable farming” — as if farmers and land developers are on the lookout for space under 80m thrashing turbines.

Clash of the pointless symbols?

Lovelock admits that anything the UK does about energy is “mainly to set a good example”. That’s also the way he sees North Devon: It’s a good example of sustainable living. But having two good green examples in the one place doesn’t make for an ideal life, instead it makes for “industrial vandalism”. Oh.

Is there a better way to explain to anyone how green ideals just don’t add up?

(Surely he is not a NIMBY?)

How cynical is the windfarm “environmentalism”?

Phillip Bratby in comments tells us the environmental firm could have made the windmill bigger but it is designed not to maximise the electricity it will produce, but the subsidy it will receive (thanks to Barry Woods for the pointer).

James Lovelock’s letter is an objection to a single 84m to blade tip wind turbine, applied for by Ecotricity, the company founded by hippie Dale Vince, to trash the countryside with wind turbines, whilst making himself huge personal wealth at the expense of electricity consumers. It is described as a medium sized turbine (equivalent in height to a 28 storey office block). It would be one of those turbines deliberately produced with a maximum output of 500kW to get the maximum subsidy from the Feed-in-Tariff banding. Turbines of the same physical size are available with a greater output, but that would mean Ecotricity would produce more electricity but get less income. Cynical does not come into it! Unfortunately the planning system does not seem to care about such issues.

Jan 26, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The Lovelock letter in pdf

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