Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Are You Tilting at Windmills or Can You Handle the Truth?

We at the Colonies welcome people of all beliefs, including those who believe in alternative facts; even those who tilt at windmills.  The phrase, alternative facts, was coined by Kellyanne Conway, to explain why the new administration had claimed its inauguration crowd was bigger than that of the 2009 Obama inauguration.  The National Park Service tweeted a side by side photo comparison showing the claim couldn’t possibly be true.  The Department of the Interior promptly shut down the NPS twitter account. 

For example, one of our readers who I will call Sasquatch (the mythical hairy, upright-walking, ape-like being)  did not agree with the latest post about the impact of the Michael Cohen investigation moving to New York.  Sasquatch concluded that I was a loser and a whiner. Now, I did lose a pair of gloves over the winter, but Sasquatch could not have known that.  Furthermore, I never whine, although sometimes I rhyne. That’s rhyme.

I decided to see who Sasquatch was and whether there were other “facts” which Sasquatch believed, but in fact were false.  I went to Sasquatch’s Facebook page and found this meme: 

The meme, with a quote by Thomas Homer-Dixon, a Canadian ecologist, allegedly concludes that the windmill pictured above requires so many hydrocarbons to build that it could run indefinitely and never generate enough power to save the hydrocarbons discharged in construction.  Is that the truth?  No, it’s not, unless the windmill is set down in a windless spot.

If the windmill is erected in a place that is windy, it will recoup the carbons in clean energy savings in as little as 3 years. If poorly placed,  it may never recoup its carbon cost. 

The meme based on the quote from Dixon’s book, Carbon Shift, purposely left out an important sentence.  According to fact-checking site, https://www.snopes.com:

In August 2015, a meme posted to the Google+ group “The Secret Society of Anti-AGW-ACC Cultism,” an organization that claims climate change is a hoax, started circulating online. While that meme (shown above) does reproduce the words of Thomas Homer-Dixon, the Associate Director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, it elides a crucial section of the passage to significantly change its meaning.

“In his book, “Carbon Shift: How Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis Will Change Canada (and Our Lives),” Dixon wrote that some windmills might not recoup their energy construction costs, a windmill at a good location could pay back the energy costs of creating it in under three years. That section was omitted from the above-displayed version of the quote:

‘The concept of net energy must be applied to renewable sources of energy, such as windmills and photovoltaics. A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons. The question is: how long must a windmill generate energy before it creates more energy than it took to build it? At a good wind site, the energy payback day could be in three years or less; in a poor location, energy payback may be never. That is, a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.’

The meme distorts the truth. By example, drilling an oil well that turns out to be dry will be a net loser, just like a windmill set up in a windless place. The meme leaves out this critical fact, and Sasquatch, who didn’t bother to question it, is none the wiser and in fact propagates the lie by reposting it.  Alternative facts are lies—untruths and half-truths, told to advance a false agenda.  Really, Sasquatch, you also need truth-tellers on that wall.

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2 Comments

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