Off Shore Windfarms

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wed, April 28, 2010 — 12:23 PM ET
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Regulators Approve First Offshore Wind Farm in U.S.

After nine years of regulatory review, the federal government gave the green light Wednesday to the nation’s first offshore
wind farm, a sprawling project off the coast of Cape Cod.

The approval of the 130-turbine farm gives a significant boost to the nascent offshore wind industry in the United
States, which has lagged behind far Europe and China in harnessing the strong and steady power of ocean breezes to
provide electricity to homes and businesses.

This is great news for renewable energy in the United States. I’ve often wondered why governments having been more on board with using renewable energy like wind energy. It is there and will always be there – you can’t stop the wind! I suppose that more traditional energy companies (read: fossil fuels) are still quite powerful and may want to keep doing what they’ve always been doing.

The full article is here and of course it’s not fully supported by all environmental and consumer groups. And the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t figured out what kind of risk it may present to airplanes…. but they fly into other countries (Japan) that already have off shore wind farms.

“Opponents say it would be an industrial blot in an area of pristine beauty and change the region’s historic character. They also warn that the costs to consumers are likely to be double or triple the costs for conventional power. Improvements to the region’s electrical grid and transmission lines could cost $10 billion.”

My only concerns would be the impact to sea life – I’m far less concerned that someone doesn’t want to see a wind turbine. Thinking about all that renewable resource being used is beautiful to me.

Sorry Vegans, Brussel Sprouts Want to Live, Too.

I loved this article in the NY Times about the wonderful intricacies of plants. You might wonder what this has to do with The Green Guide for Horse Owners and Riders, but trust me, it’s related.

I know it was a paradigm shift when I started to realize that the ground we walked on was really a large, interconnected life. I’m not talking about some spacey Avatar (digression… REALLY GOOD MOVIE) planet where you pluck a dandelion and the tree in the next field feels the pain… I’m talking about the reliance of all living things on the balance of life. We must have enough trees to keep our air clean, we must have enough space to grow food for our families, we must have enough people to harvest (I think we have this covered!).

But even down to the smallest degree – think of the decline in the honeybee population and it’s potential effects on the world food supply! Just one organism….

But back to my point. Read what researchers say about plants:

Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.

When plant biologists speak of their subjects, they use active verbs and vivid images. Plants “forage” for resources like light and soil nutrients and “anticipate” rough spots and opportunities. By analyzing the ratio of red light and far red light falling on their leaves, for example, they can sense the presence of other chlorophyllated competitors nearby and try to grow the other way. Their roots ride the underground “rhizosphere” and engage in cross-cultural and microbial trade.

Does it change the way you think about your pastures? There are mini-wars happening every single day in your pasture. The moment a caterpillar starts feeding on one plant, that plant starts to change and develop defensive mechanisms. Or some plants can sense when insect eggs have been deposited on their leaves and can actually signal to other insects to come and destroy those eggs.

Please, read the article. And then try and look at your pastures the same way again.

Climategate

Back in August, I wrote a post about why The Green Guide for Horse Owners and Riders wasn’t about global warming and the recent eco-trends.

Recently the whole global warming news debacle has sparked even more debate about what is true and what isn’t. I’m not even going to touch the debate because I am not a scientist. And whenever you have laypeople trying to interpret science, you end up with Al Gore.

But here’s the thing – being a good steward of the earth and having environmentally horsekeeping practices employed at your farm isn’t about the global warming debate. Because you don’t have to be a scientist (or even Al Gore) to know that taking care of your little plot on the earth is the right, smart thing to do. We can’t waste the resources God gave us, we can’t employ farm management techniques that harm our land because no one is making any more of it – as my mom used to say ‘what you got is what you got’.

The problem with “Climategate” is that a large and powerful industry was started by a segment of society and they sought to convince consumers that they could BUY their way out of an impending environmental disaster. Buy more efficient cars. Buy an efficient house. Buy eco-friendly clothing. Buy a new furnace.

And the industry preyed on our emotions. It’s for our children and grandchildren. Sometimes I felt like yelling “it always is!!” at the screen. Aren’t we always supposed to look out for the next generation, what makes this so different?

Although I talk about the environment on a global scale in parts of my book – the vast majority of it has to do with just your corner of your world. As horse owners and members of the agricultural community, we all know that taking care of our land is the smart thing to do. It’s what our forefathers did and it’s why we all have the horses to enjoy today and the land to enjoy them on. Let’s just do what we’ve done and keep taking care of our environment in responsible ways.

One Reason My Book Doesn’t Focus on Global Warming

I choose to focus my book on conservation and good stewardship of the earth because IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO…. plus, I can’t stand to see sensationalism when it comes to managing our resources.

Here’s a little story about Greenpeace, not one of my favorite organizations, I must admit. Note to Greenpeace: if you feel you have the truth on your side, you never, ever have to lie about it.

Are Horse People Too “Consumer” Oriented?

After a recent discussion with family members about when we became a “consumer” society (it was Reagan’s fault, it was the 80’s, it was post-depression grandparents spending too much on grandchildren….) I began to wonder about horse people and what a consumer society we’ve become.

Back when horses were bought to be used, they were purchased in the same way we might buy a car. The frame is evaluated for your needs, the tires are checked for safety and wear, the electrical is tested. So it was with a horse. The bone structure was evaluated, the hooves checked to make sure they’d stand up to wear, someone made sure the horse wasn’t a nutjob since the kids would be working on the farm at a young age.

And the horses stayed around for a while.

These days, we trade up our horses for newer models more frequently than we change up the trucks we use to haul them around. Especially – it seems – when it comes to show horses. The typical pasture ornament has its name for a reason, that horse gets to hang out for a long time in someone’s pasture. And I’m kind of ok with that. As long as a horse is happy, well-cared for and healthy, it can eat grass until its heart’s content.

Rachel Weingarten is a writer who typically waxes quite poetically on marketing and style and she had a recent post where she discussed society after World War II:

After the privation of WWII, people were eager for products and experiences to make them feel happy or at the very least appear to feel happy. Everything was fresh, new and exciting. Cosmetics could make you more beautiful, youthful and engaging. Flip through a magazine and it can be abundantly clear that the more advertising changes- the more it’s remained pretty much the same.

I think that this is where our consumerism started: in our homes after the combined difficulties of a depression and then a war. We became a bit obsessed by what we could acquire. That’s one of the reasons my grandparents never, ever, ever had an empty pantry.

So how does this fit with horse people?

Ask yourself some questions:

Do you buy more show clothes than you need?
How many show pads do you have for your horse?
Do you have more than one saddle but only show in one event?

Now, I’m not just asking to be critical. Oh no, not me🙂 But if you didn’t have these things, would your life be a tragedy? Do you really NEED them? Try this: go to wherever you store your show shirts, chaps or hats. Turn all items so that they face one direction. When you wear something (not just take it with you to a show “just in case”) turn it the opposite direction. At the end of your show season, give away or sell what is facing in the original direction. Then RESIST the compulsion to buy more!!

Buy adopting an attitude of wanting what you have rather than having what you want, you can really begin to develop a green horse showing attitude.

EcoRock

I love the web site TED.com – it is full of great ideas, presentations that are given by experts on their chosen topic. You can find anything there from religion to business to writing…. But back on point. Here’s a quick little video from Kevin Surace who created, actually, re-created drywall.

Kevin Surace suggests we rethink basic construction materials — such as the familiar wallboard — to reduce the huge carbon footprint generated by the manufacturing and construction of our buildings. He introduces EcoRock, a clean, recyclable and energy-efficient drywall created by his team at Serious Materials.

It’s amazing when you think about how much we, as humans, build-build-build. We build, we tear down, we-rebuild…. imagine what it would look like here if we just took great care of what we had and slowed down. We always want to do more and create more without taking into consideration what our growth is doing to the planet.

That Whole Man-Made Global Warming Bit….

“Surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean”

There’s an interesting post up at Watts Up With That, which suggests that an event over three decades ago is responsible for the increase in global temperatures. And guess what? It isn’t a man-made event.

For anyone who has read my book, you’ll know I don’t spend a great deal of time discussing WHY we are in the situation we are in. That’s another book for another time… or rather, there have already been a bajillion books out there on it, so I’m not going to add another to the pile. But I choose to focus on what we can do to exist as sustainable horse owners. Because sustainability is what is important overall.

I think about some of the large hunting and fishing organizations who manage to hunt and fish through generations by practicing conservation and sustainability. The uninformed might think that hunters and fishers only do one thing… take animals OUT of existance. Not so. Some of the large organizations to an amazing amount of work to keep animals at optimal levels so that they can thrive and remain healthy. Because if they don’t do this, they will hunt and fish themselves right out of a hobby.

Have a look at the press release and read the abstract:

Full Press Release and Abstract to Study:

July 23, 2009

Three Australasian researchers have shown that natural forces are the dominant influence on climate, in a study just published in the highly-regarded Journal of Geophysical Research. According to this study little or none of the late 20th century global warming and cooling can be attributed to human activity.

The research, by Chris de Freitas, a climate scientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, John McLean (Melbourne) and Bob Carter (James Cook University), finds that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures seven months later. As an additional influence, intermittent volcanic activity injects cooling aerosols into the atmosphere and produces significant cooling.

“The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Niño conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Niña conditions less likely” says corresponding author de Freitas.

“We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis.”

Climate researchers have long been aware that ENSO events influence global temperature, for example causing a high temperature spike in 1998 and a subsequent fall as conditions moved to La Niña. It is also well known that volcanic activity has a cooling influence, and as is well documented by the effects of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption.

The new paper draws these two strands of climate control together and shows, by demonstrating a strong relationship between the Southern Oscillation and lower-atmospheric temperature, that ENSO has been a major temperature influence since continuous measurement of lower-atmospheric temperature first began in 1958.

According to the three researchers, ENSO-related warming during El Niño conditions is caused by a stronger Hadley Cell circulation moving warm tropical air into the mid-latitudes. During La Niña conditions the Pacific Ocean is cooler and the Walker circulation, west to east in the upper atmosphere along the equator, dominates.

“When climate models failed to retrospectively produce the temperatures since 1950 the modellers added some estimated influences of carbon dioxide to make up the shortfall,” says McLean.

“The IPCC acknowledges in its 4th Assessment Report that ENSO conditions cannot be predicted more than about 12 months ahead, so the output of climate models that could not predict ENSO conditions were being compared to temperatures during a period that was dominated by those influences. It’s no wonder that model outputs have been so inaccurate, and it is clear that future modelling must incorporate the ENSO effect if it is to be meaningful.”

Bob Carter, one of four scientists who has recently questioned the justification for the proposed Australian emissions trading scheme, says that this paper has significant consequences for public climate policy.

“The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions. The available data indicate that future global temperatures will continue to change primarily in response to ENSO cycling, volcanic activity and solar changes.”

“Our paper confirms what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation, and that, irrespective of the severity of the cuts proposed, ETS (emission trading scheme) will exert no measurable effect on future climate.”

What are your thoughts?