Whitworth: Vermont and the Sixth Great Extinction

This commentary is by Mark Whitworth, president of Energize Vermont, which advocates sensible energy and climate policies for Vermont. He lives in Newark.

I recently saw this quote, attributed to Bill McKibben: “When we look at a solar panel or a wind turbine, we need to be able to see … that there’s something beautiful reflected back out of that silicon: People finally taking responsibility for the impact our lives have on the world and the people around us.”

Mark Whitworth

Mark Whitworth is the president of Energize Vermont

When I see a wind turbine in Vermont, I see something different: I see Vermont’s contribution to The Sixth Great Extinction. The Fifth Great Extinction was caused by a meteor that hit the Earth 65 million years ago. It killed the dinosaurs.

We are responsible for the current extinction crisis. The United Nations says that human-caused habitat degradation is the number-one driver. Climate change is an accelerant, putting wildlife on the move only to find that humans have degraded potential destinations as well as the migration corridors.

Energy developers tell us that we must combat climate change by allowing them to erect giant wind turbines — lots of them. But, take a look at where they have built their Vermont wind projects: every single one of them is in forestland that our Agency of Natural Resources has designated “highest priority.” Developers have proposed additional major projects that would also have been built in highest priority forests.

You can read about the importance of these forests (and our other vital natural resources) in the Vermont Conservation Design, which is a plan to “sustain the state’s valued natural areas, forests, waters, wildlife, and plants for future generations.”

Wind Projects in Vermont

The Conservation Design is a masterful work that Vermonters who care about biodiversity and climate change should study. It identifies and prioritizes the waters and lands that are the most effective “for maintaining an ecologically functional landscape.” That is, a landscape that enables “plants and animals to thrive, reproduce, migrate, and move as climate changes” and is “fundamental to conserving biological diversity.”

The Conservation Design identifies Vermont’s highest priority forests—both interior forest blocks and the connective forest blocks that tie them together. It establishes a goal to “maintain the interior forest conditions that forest blocks provide by avoiding permanent interior forest fragmentation resulting from development.”

Yet, these highest priority forests — the very places that enable wildlife to adapt to a changing climate — are precisely the places that the wind industry targets for their projects.

Avoid fragmentation? How about clear-cutting, blasting, bulldozing, road-building, spraying herbicides, and installing noisy 500-foot-tall machines that have blades whose tips are moving at a couple hundred miles per hour? Does that sound like fragmentation?

According to ANR’s Vermont Forest Fragmentation Report, “the negative habitat effects of each residential building pocket within a forest radiate outward, affecting up to 30 additional acres.” If that’s true for a residence, just imagine how far the negative effects of a giant wind turbine radiate. Now imagine a string of these monsters.

Are these wind projects combating climate change? No.

Green Mountain Power claims that its Lowell turbines reduce our CO2 emissions by 74,000 tons per year. That’s the amount of carbon emitted by Metropolitan New York City traffic in less than half a day. And the carbon savings are even less than that when you consider the emissions of the gas plants that are running as “hot-backups” to compensate for the turbines’ intermittency.

So, when I see a wind turbine in Vermont, I don’t see the same things that Bill McKibben sees. I see the ruination of our last unspoiled places. I see the loss of the wildlife that relies on those places. I see our desperation to do something, anything, being exploited by the energy industry, which promotes a response to the climate catastrophe that is ineffective and that is worsening the catastrophe’s most disturbing impact: the collapse of biodiversity.

Sorry, Mr. McKibben, no matter how I squint at those turbines, all I see is our absolute failure to take responsibility for our impact on the world and the creatures that we share it with.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Mark Whitworth

7 thoughts on “Whitworth: Vermont and the Sixth Great Extinction

  1. If the chicken little cult is going to require the deforestation for solar panels and the ripping apart of our ridge lines to construct 500 foot tall monoliths, it should also be required to do this clearing, deforesting, road building and the transportation of these products to be done with electrified vehicles and heavy equipment. No diesel should be used. If we are to survive in a post fossil fuel existence in Vermont, all fossil fuels should be banned now before using carbon based fuels to do their dirty work. All legislators should be required to do as they say, no traveling to Montpelier in single person vehicles, only carpools of full vehicles or EVs. Also, the thermostat in the Peoples House in Montpelier should be locked at 60 degrees and hot water use should be rationed and remove any gas stoves in the cafeteria. If all their fantasy laws are so good for us little people who work to pay their bloated salaries while they destroy Vermont, they need to show us how serious and committed they are, no excuses.

  2. The leftist climate hoax zealots efforts will amount to a fart in a whirlwind. China will evaporate our hugely expensive co2 savings in a day. If it’s power you want the only answer is Nuclear. Until the hoaxer realize that we will be stuck in a unwinnable war against a superior opponent *mother nature*. But don’t look for relief soon when the leftist are stuck on stupid they will just keep banging their head against the wall rather then admit their wrong.

  3. McKibben is a weathervane, with a big foghorn

    He was avidly FOR tree burning for power and heating, until dysfunctional California’s nutty-zero wackos were against it.

    He was a main proponent of the Middlebury College biomass/tree burning plant

    Ignore him, because he knoweth not what is up or down

  4. Well, we really need to stop the changing climate, and only Vermont can do it.

    And we especially need to signal how concerned and caring we are, and how we’re going to fight fight fight those big oil companies!

    I heard someone on a ski slope complaining about how we’re all destroying the planet. Apparently he didn’t mean himself, in his drive up from out-of-state and his custom gear that took energy to produce, not to mention the huge energy to run ski lifts and lodge buildings, provide heat and other amenities. No, it wasn’t his demand; it was those nasty oil companies supplying the demand, that’s the problem.

    I agree with Yirgach: there is no climate catastrophe. Technically speaking, there’s no evidence of any distortion of the lapse rate profiles by CO2, as predicted by models. The temperature profile of the height of the troposphere is dominated by the pressure gradient, period. No matter what temperature it is or what pressure cell has moved in or how humid it is, the lapse rates, which describe this pressure-dominated profile, rule.

    This dirty little secret is contained in thousands of skew-T diagrams of balloon data, and this is why the alarmists never point to these diagrams and say, “look here, see what CO2 is doing! It’s right there!” ‘Cause it ain’t.


  5. ” I see our desperation to do something, anything, being exploited by the energy industry, which promotes a response to the climate catastrophe that is ineffective and that is worsening the catastrophe’s most disturbing impact: the collapse of biodiversity.”

    Well here is someone who actually believes there is a “climate catastrophe” and that humans can do something about it.
    So what exactly is the “climate catastrophe” Mr. Whitworth is talking about? Please be specific.
    And please do NOT use unvalidated models which fail when compared to observational data to prove your point.

    Just askin…

  6. This is all driven by the WEF stated issues of concern for the future and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were written to address the WEF identified issues. WEF with their determined stakeholders such as the World Bank, United Nations, UNESCO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OEDD and Chan Zuckerberg and many others, have already planned the circular, economy of the future. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is the new financial corporate scoring system, developed by Blackrock, that is being used to evaluate compliance with ESG requirements. Basically, if you do not comply with ESG banks can deny loans and businesses can and will refuse to do business with you. The federal government has issued two large federal acquisitions which require federal agencies to comply with ESG and Equity requirements. What is occuring in Vermont is trickling a n from the top down. Our progressive political rules are on board with this Agenda.

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