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The Confederate Lawyer
April 4, 2012

Windmills and Waterwheels
by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation


GLEN COVE, NY — Many proponents of “renewable energy” are hypocrites who have no real interest in renewable energy.

About the time that the superiority of bronze and iron tools to stone ones became apparent, man learned that he could harness the power of the wind and flowing streams and rivers. Long before man discovered that electricity could flow through a wire or that steam could turn a wheel, his windmills and waterwheels produced power to serve his needs, for example, powered millstones provided ground grains.

Wind power and water power should be attractive to environmentalists as renewable sources of energy. They are not so, however, because the secret goal of environmentalists is not renewable energy but the death of the Industrial Age.

On the one hand, the proponents of renewable energy rarely list hydroelectric power alongside of wind power, solar energy, and geothermal energy in their propaganda. Instead, they constitute the cheerleading kick line whenever another hydroelectric facility is dynamited in the hope of returning a river to its imagined original course. On the other hand, they have built so many unwarranted wind farms in the Northeast that they have to shut them down to avoid overloading the electrical grid adequately supplied by hydroelectricity.

Hydroelectricity is, in fact, a major source of the energy for the United States as well as the world. The western frontier of New York state and Ontario get most of their electricity from engineering marvels of the Industrial Age that harness the power of Niagara Falls. The tidal flow electricity generated by the Bay of Fundi is another marvel of engineering that supplies electricity to other parts of Canada. The United States was once proud of such great human achievements as the Boulder Dam and the Hoover Dam.

Why do we build wind farms and blow up hydroelectric plants? Why do people who want a simple water wheel in their back yard spend over $100,000 seeking a permit, only to have it rejected? An obvious but false answer is to protect wildlife and fish. This is a false answer because the killing of birds by the latest high-technology windmills is a far more widespread problem than the sucking of fish into the Niagara intake gates. The true answer is that many environmentalists are unable to grasp that the generation of electricity from water flow is environmentally the same as the grinding of grain from a water wheel.

They love the inefficient generation of electricity from farms of tall windmills, although these devices bear no resemblance to the classic windmills of travel books. Moreover, the level of maintenance required for a wind farm is high in relation to the electricity generated.

While solar energy can be useful, it is probably the least efficient form to meet the demands of major projects.

The foes of hydroelectricity oppose nuclear-generated electricity as well. Nuclear power plants are not fueled by strictly renewable energy, but their fuel is much more durable than coal or petroleum.

Furthermore, the renewable energy fad has failed to adjust to recent discoveries that the potential supply of petroleum is many times greater than previously estimated.

Why, then, do people cling to the solar and wind fads? Perhaps deep down they regret the replacement of stone tools with iron and bronze ones. More likely, they regard nineteenth-century industrial inventions as one giant set for Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, “Metropolis,” or for the 1976 Bayreuth Festival production of Richard Wagner’s “Ring” Cycle.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2012 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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