The New York Times devoted most of the front page of its Sunday Review section to a story promoting the green dream of “Life After Oil and Gas.” The story cites an article by Stanford engineers published in the journal Energy Policy, titled “Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power.” According to the lead author, Mark Z. Jacobsen, “It’s absolutely not true that we need natural gas, coal or oil — we think it’s a myth.” The authors “suggest producing all new energy with WWS [wind, water and solar] by 2030 and replacing the pre-existing energy by 2050. Barriers to the plan are primarily social and political, not technological or economic.”
Jacobsen provides a shopping list that details what will be required to move to a post-carbon future:
• 3,800,000 5 MW wind turbines. After decades of subsidies for wind power, the worldwide total of wind turbines stands at 200,000. The goal of 3.8 million is astoundingly unrealistic, and 5 MW is a big daddy of a wind turbine; GE makes three sizes: 1.5 MW, 2.5 MW and 4.1 MW. I was fortunate enough to visit Aruba recently and drove past the wind farm in Arikok National Park. The turbine blades were 45 meters long and produced 3 MW. A second small wind farm on Aruba has met with fierce local resistance. Already these monstrosities have blighted the landscapes of Spain, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere. Adding millions of turbines will have a devastating effect on our rural landscapes, and the industrial-scale slaughter of birds and bats might lead to a real silent spring.