Lindholm: Look at renewables and climate change with depth and discipline
John Greenberg's recent commentary (Renewable power must be part of global solution, May 16) was quite a nasty critique of documentarian Michael Moore's "Planet Of The Humans." Mr. Greenberg even refers to the award winning filmmaker as being a liar.
"Planet Of The Humans" is a documentary which exposes the renewables industry and renewables industry proponents as being far less rosy and wonderful than we have been lead to believe.
In his critique Greenberg states that Moore's film is "beyond contempt" for saying the blasting of the 4 miles of Lowell Mountain ridge line in Vermont for industrial wind turbines was like mountain top removal in West Virginia.
Really? Unlike Mr. Greenberg, I grew up in West Virginia, seeing what mountain top removal looks like there. And also, unlike Greenberg, I have extensively explored and photographed all 4 miles of Lowell Mountain long before it was blasted, as well as after it was blasted for large wind turbines.
A plaque used to be on the highest peak of the Lowell ridge but it is now gone, and so is that peak. This ridge line now looks so much like West Virginia. All 4 miles is now completely strewn with blasted rock, is hot and dusty terrain with dead trees and invasive plants everywhere, as well as leachate-laced water. Green Mountain Power, which developed the site, is way too embarrassed to say how much explosives were used to blast the ridge, but the landowner of a much smaller site in New Hampshire bragged about using over one million pounds of explosives at his site.
Lowell Mountain would have and should have been one of Vermont's best state parks. Before the blasting, this place was so beautiful that Boy Scout troops regularly explored the beckoning, cool, dark forest interspersed with moss covered ledge throughout. This was montane forest, one of the rarest and most irreplaceable forest types. You should have seen the enchanting montane yellow birch grove there, with its gnarly, stunted trees, like seen in a fairy tale book or movie. The industry brags that much of this new electric power is used to heat and power a new indoor water park at Jay Peak.
Michael Moore's documentary was filmed over a period of 10 years, and everyone agrees that some of the figures in the early part of the film are outdated, especially concerning the efficiency of solar panels. This does not make him a liar. Mr. Greenberg fails to mention that Moore catches renewables people on film stating flat out lies.
Greenberg says, "The facts are only disputed by those who prefer simply to ignore them." If he had watched the entire 1 hour and 40 minute film instead of only the first 35 minutes, as he admits, he would have learned that the number one thing which must be done to save the planet is for all humans to come together to stop the out-of-control growth in human population. If we don't get human population under control we will eventually pull all carbon and mineral resources from the earth, as well as denude our forests and destroy nature. Anyone making speeches about saving the planet should start their speeches by talking about getting a handle on human population growth.
Another inconvenient truth is that renewables not only can't keep up with human population growth but also can't keep up with the current lifestyles of humans even where there is relatively low population density and little population growth, such as in Vermont.
Renewable energy proponent David Blittersdorf made a speech, which I filmed, where he stated that for Vermont to get to 90 percent renewables, without fudging the math like so many renewables people do, the following must happen: First we must build 3000 megawatts of wind power, which is the equivalent of almost 200 continuous miles of large turbines on our ridges, as well as build 6000 megawatts of solar power. But then, on top of inundating Vermont with all these renewables, we must all move away from rural areas and into tiny apartments in urban areas. Also, we must give up all unnecessary travel, which means no recreational air travel, and heaven forbid, cruise ships getting 12 inches to the gallon of heavy oil. Blittersdorf says we must even scrap 100 percent electric cars. Art Wolff, an economist at UVM, also did the math on 90 percent renewables and came to basically the same conclusion in a Burlington Free Press article.
Many renewable energy spokespeople, like Al Gore who was discussed in Moore's film, live energy hog lives while talking about the great emergency and crisis of climate change. That's like an animal rights activist going around wearing furs while talking about the cruelty of trapping. We all know such people in Vermont, and the press should shine the light of truth on them.
The biggest problem in modern America is that we have slid badly in intellectual discipline, which is revealed by our severe political polarization. I was taught to read more of what I was inclined not to believe instead of what I already believed, so that I could learn more and better. Michael Moore's documentary, "Planet Of The Humans" should be shown in classes all over the country so people can think about and debate renewables and climate change with depth and discipline.
Justin Lindholm writes from Mendon, Vermont. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.