Former climate change alarmist Dr James Lovelock, famous for popularising the "Gaia" metaphor, continues his journey back to rationality.
Lovelock is objecting to a "medium sized" (240ft high) erection planned for his neighbourhood in North Devon by infamous windfarm operator Ecotricity. The UK currently has 3,000 onshore turbines and 6,000 are planned: this is the main reason why electricity bills are soaring out of control in order to pay for the inefficient, highly expensive windmills. Lovelock calls the runaway windmill building "industrial vandalism".
In an objection to the planning application made to Tiverton council, Lovelock points out that one nuclear power station provides as much power as 3,200 industrial wind turbines, without the environmental damage. In fact, he seems to be understating the case: we would calculate* one nuclear powerplant as equivalent to 5,400 wind towers of the sort discussed above.
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 to take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.
Lovelock is a long-time advocate of nuclear energy. But he also supports switching to lower-emission fossil fuels too, arguing they also do the job.
"Let's be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it [fracking]", Lovelock The Grauniad last year.
The USA has cut CO2 emissions drastically over three years, thanks to the switch from coal to gas. Gas therefore provides greenhouse gas abatement at about one tenth of the cost of wind power. Scaling back the renewable energy strategy would also inject a much-needed £120bn into the economy.
You can find more here (pdf).
Lovelock's books include Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine, The Ages of Gaia, Healing Gaia, The Vanishing Face of Gaia and The Revenge of Gaia.
Can you spot the theme?®
*Ecotricity claims maximum output of 0.5 megawatt. Over time the turbine will not do better than 25 per cent of this. By comparison, Sizewell B produces 4.7 terawatt-hours every year. So Wolfram Alpha tells us that Sizewell B produces as much juice as 4,292 such turbines (and that's before you get into all the other windfarm issues of intermittency etc).