Friday News Round-up: Wind vs. Environment and Politicians From Different Parties Agreeing

From left to right, Siemens Energy North America President Rich Voorberg, Utah Office of Energy Director Gregory Todd, Colorado Energy Office Advisor James Lester, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Gov. Mark Gordon and Nevada Office of Energy Director Dwyane McClinton participate in a groundbreaking ceremony June 20, 2023 for the TransWest Express transmission line in Carbon County. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

We’ve been covering the tension between protectionist interests and renewable energy developers.
Here’s a few more.

1. Prairie-Chicken Listing Expected to Put Wind Farms in Crosshairs

At TSW we can’t afford a subscription to Bloomberg Law but here’s the link for those who have access. Definitely sounds interesting.

A Biden administration proposal to list the lesser prairie-chicken as endangered in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico could stymie oil and gas development in the largest U.S. petroleum basin, environmental attorneys say.

And one warns it could devastate another energy source—wind power.

2.  Wind turbines dry soil in Chinese grasslands.

Paper by Wang et al. open access.

 Our research shows that the operation of wind turbines will cause significant drying of soil, and this drought effect differs significantly according to season and wind direction. Our results show that 1) the soil moisture within wind farms decreases most significantly, with a decrease of 4.4 % observed; 2) in summer and autumn, the declines in soil moisture in the downwind direction are significantly greater than those in the upwind direction, with the opposite occurring in spring. (3) Wind farms aggravate the soil drying in grassland areas, which may have impacts on grassland ecosystems. Therefore, when building wind farms, we need to better understand their impacts on the environment.

I’m not pointing this out to say “wind turbines are bad”; more to say that this is one piece of information that has not yet been included in future models.  With the quantity of wind turbines some project, they themselves will  have impacts on climate and need to be included in models. But we don’t know how many there will be, nor exactly the impacts.  And so it goes…

A Special TSW Feature.. Members of Both Parties Agree on..

3,  New Transmission Lines Should Take Less Than 12 Years to Get Approved and… Climate Urgency

Thanks to reporter Dustin Bleizeffer of Wyofile- the whole story is interesting. Mark Gordon is the R Governor of Wyoming.


Though Gordon and the Interior officials often clash on energy and federal land use policy fronts, they all hailed TransWest Express — as well as the Chokecherry Sierra Madre wind energy project that will energize the line with 3,000 megawatts of power — as vital steps toward boosting clean energy to help address a climate emergency.

“We know that the time to act on climate is now,” Haaland said. “From coastal towns and rural farms to urban centers and tribal communities, climate change poses an existential threat. Not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities and our economic well being.”

“Gathered here,” Gordon said, “we see the first steps that we’re taking to make sure that we take the action that’s absolutely necessary to keep us from climate peril.”


“Because there is an urgency as we see climate change, we know that we don’t have time to waste,” Gordon said. “We have to move with diligence forward to make sure that we address the issue of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with alacrity and diligence and with dedication.”

4.   We Should Use Current Information in Decisions and Note Conflicts of Interest

Roger Pielke, Jr. testified at a Congressional hearing. You can read about it on his Substack.

Here’s a place of agreement as well.

Specifically, I referred to the misuse of outdated climate scenarios and our old friends RCP8.5 and RCP4.5, which you can read about in more detail below. Readers here will know that outdated climate scenarios are a big problem.

For me, it was notable that my testimony was favorably received by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) on the right and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Tim Caine (D-VA) on the left.

In fact, in his closing remarks Senator Whitehouse read from a recent post The Honest Broker on conflicts of interest in climate research:

Experts monetizing their expertise is one important reason why people become experts, and there is no problem with people seeking to make a buck. But where expertise and financial interests intersect, things can get complicated. That is why there are robust mechanisms in place for the disclosure and mitigation of financial conflicts of interest . . . All of this is just common sense. Your doctor can’t prescribe you drugs from a company that pays him fees. You wouldn’t think much of a report on smoking and health from a researcher supported by the tobacco industry.

In case you wonder what that has to do with climate, it turns out that some papers defending RCP 8.5 happen to be from people in consulting firms whose models are based on 8.5 and are advising their clients based on 8.5.  Which is not wrong, necessarily, as Whitehouse says, but needs to be disclosed.

8 thoughts on “Friday News Round-up: Wind vs. Environment and Politicians From Different Parties Agreeing”

  1. It is very helpful to see increasing attention to conflicts-of-interest. They do not disqualify a person from commenting on a particular subject. But everyone should be completely aware of the conflicts. And of course, they go far beyond working for a company that is paying salaries for favorable “science.”

    We need to realize that those working for universities and government agencies also have strong incentives for supporting paradigms that their organization is promoting. Young nontenured faculty at universities are always eager to promote ideas that their institution can use to gain more funding. Expecting competent science from these individuals is expecting too much. They want tenure.

    The climate scenario (RCP8.5) that Professor Pielke mentions has been dropped, because it is far too extreme. Even the worst of the alarmists have to agree that they cannot find any empirical evidence for that much warming. “Catastrophe” is no longer considered plausible.

    This will mean that those who are screaming for more immediate action, because the world will end in a few years, have no official basis for that alarmism anymore. And it also raises the question why we would want to spend trillions on revamping our energy infrastructure, when the slight (not catastrophic) warming that alarmists are now predicting is better handled with adaptation anyway.

    There is also an increasing realization that carbon dioxide is a great benefit to life on Earth. None of us would be here, if it were not for the tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And the increase from burning fossil fuels has directly enabled us to grow enough food to feed the seven billion people who call this planet home. CO2 has clearly greened the planet. NASA data show that.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
    Corbett, Oregon USA

    P.S. I have NO conflicts on this matter, because I am not employed by any entities involved in the climate battles. I have the same financial arrangements with the oil companies that everyone else does, namely ‘pay-at-the-pump.’ And I generally disagree with their pandering anyway.

    • I guess you should be talking to Republican governor Gordon: “Because there is an urgency as we see climate change, we know that we don’t have time to waste,”

      But rejecting climate scenario 8.5 provides no support for your claim that “catastrophe is no longer considered plausible.” Here is evidence that it is: “Although the uncertainty of each prediction in Fig. 4 is considerable, all scenarios for cumulative uptake at the century’s end either exceed or are commensurate with the threshold for catastrophic change.” This is just for ocean uptake, but no reason to think it would stop at the shoreline.

      • Dear Jonathan,

        The literature is full of apocalyptic predictions. That seems to be the scourge of our time, as researchers seek attention. But you should not mix catastrophes. Your reference is talking about the carbon cycle in our oceans NOT Global Warming. Let’s stay on topic.

        You seem completely unaware that the major change in UN IPCC climate predictions last Fall, before COP27, eliminated the threat of a Global Warming catastrophe, because they toned down their predicted temperature increase for the end of the century to 2.9 C.

        Here is what the climate guru and major promoter of catastrophe from the New York Times, David Wallace-Wells, said:

        “Just a few years ago, climate projections for this century looked quite apocalyptic, with most scientists warning that continuing “business as usual” would bring the world four or even five degrees Celsius of warming — a change disruptive enough to call forth not only predictions of food crises and heat stress, state conflict and economic strife, but, from some corners, warnings of civilisational collapse and even a sort of human endgame.”

        Wallace-Wells lost no time in adjusting to the new UN IPCC predictions:

        “We’re headed towards a less apocalyptic future …. We once thought that we were heading one place, a bad place. Now we know that we’re actually headed to another that looks a whole lot better. And that is good news.”

        By backing away from their extreme RCP8.5 to a more defensible RCP 4.5, the UN has substantially undercut the threat of an apocalypse. RCP8.5 was intended as an upper limit anyway. But alarmists took it as the likely climate scenario and many are still using it, despite the change of heart from their UN “scientists.”

        Even before this remarkable change, the well-known alarmist, Dr. Ralph Cicerone was discouraging talk of an apocalypse: “We don’t have that kind of evidence,” he told the BBC. Cicerone was President of the US National Academy of Sciences.

        Of course, the reality is different from what the UN bureaucrats say, because the world is tracking lower than even the RCP4.5 scenario. And the actual temperature increase is tracking much lower.

        You can ignore what the UN is now saying, but that leaves you open to charges of promoting misinformation or at best out-of-date information. Yes, even Republican politicians get caught using incorrect information to promote what they want to build.

        Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)

        • I am not reassured that “a less apocalyptic future” (Wallace-Wells) means a catastrophe is “implausible” (Fulks), nor would projections of a less apocalyptic future justify abandoning efforts to make it even less apocalyptic.

          • Dear Jonathan,

            The same Wallace-Wells authored the much-lauded 2019 book “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” described by The Guardian as “an epoch-defining book” and by the NY Times reviewer as “the most terrifying book I have ever read.”

            Yes, NYT journalist Wallace-Wells has stepped a long ways back from the hysteria he pedaled just a few years ago. With the UN IPCC abandoning RCP8.5, there is plenty of time to address any issues that a slightly warmer world might present. This is what Professor Pielke has concluded, and it is what Bjorn Lomborg also said recently.

            I realize that you are disappointed in this development, because you supported the panic. But that is not what the scientists on your side, whom you revere, are now saying. And it is not what skeptical scientists have said all along.

            We are not now, nor were we ever facing a catastrophe. That is the simple truth.

            Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)

  2. I agree with both Mr. Fulks and Mr. Haber in part.

    Science is the sine qua non to our understanding of all natural phenomena. Scientists, on the other hand, are human beings with accompanying foibles, including pressure to gain approval (both academic and popular), wealth, and tenure. Scientific training does not guarantee that an individual scientist won’t succumb to one or more conflicts of interest, whether unconsciously, negligently, recklessly, or knowingly.

    On the other hand, it seems to be that we are running an uncontrolled experiment in elevating greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Malthusians have been discredited time and again for centuries. But they have to be right only once for the biosphere to be in serious trouble.

  3. Dear Lourenço,

    Mother Nature has run CO2 levels up and down many times in the Earth’s history. Life here has thrived. Over the last 140 million years, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has steadily declined from 2,500 ppm to 420 ppm today:

    The exception has been the last million or so years, when we experienced Ice Ages that have dragged the CO2 level below the survival threshold for vegetation of about 180 ppm. This created vast dust storms that lasted for tens of thousands of years, until we exited the Ice Age. Then the oceans warmed, gave up some of their CO2, and life returned in places like the Gobi desert in China. This is all shown by studies of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica.

    Sherwood Idso has done famous controlled experiments showing how much better pine trees grow with more CO2. Now it is generally acknowledged that the ideal level for atmospheric CO2 is about 1,500 ppm. That is the level that farmers maintain in their greenhouses to grow the best tomatoes.

    NASA satellite measurements show the vast greening of the planet from increased atmospheric CO2:

    Finally, you should consider that we have about eight billion people on this planet, and the only reason we are able to feed them is because of Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution, consisting of hybridized crops and increased atmospheric CO2. If those who are hysterical about CO2 had their way, the “man who saved a billion people” would no longer be able to do so. A billion people would be in grave danger of starvation, if the greening of the planet were to be reversed.

    The truth is that we are in no danger from the benign byproducts of our civilization: carbon dioxide and water vapor. They are greatly beneficial.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
    Corbett, Oregon USA


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