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WSJ-Asia Cheers Tightening Iran Sanctions

Eli Clifton | Lobelog | September 9th, 2010

According to The Wall Street Journal Asia’s editorial board, newly announced cooperation from Japan and South Korea on enforcing UN sanctions against Iran “is worth cheering.”

The editorial board attributed South Korea’s cooperation on sanctions to its “growing up as a democracy,” and Japan’s acquiescence on the issue as a much needed about-face from its “needless tiff with the White House over a troop relocation agreement in Okinawa.”

While glossing over the complexities of both Seoul and Tokyo’s relationships with Washington — which, I think it’s fair to say, amount to a lot more than South Korea “growing up” and Japan’s mea culpa for a “needless tiff” — the seeming tightening of the sanctions regime on Tehran should be put in context.

Reports do seem to confirm that sanctions have had a measurable and noticeable effect on Iran’s trading relationships, but sanctions have also resulted in Iran expanding trading relationships in Latin America and Africa, and looking towards expanding trade with much bigger economies, such as China.

According to All Headline News:

Chinese Transport Minister Liu Zhijun is expected to visit Iran Sunday to sign a $2 billion contract to build a 360-mile-long railway linking key Iranian destinations that could later join to existing Iraq and Syrian railway networks and extending to the Mediterranean Sea.

Experts on U.S.-Iran relations Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett responded to the little-reported news item on China’s expanding trade relationship with Iran on their blog, The Race for Iran, writing:

None of the initiatives discussed in the news report cited above violate UN sanctions against Iran. In fact, we cannot see how these efforts would even violate U.S. or other unilaterally-defined national sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Nevertheless, there have been other indications in recent weeks that China is not going to let a U.S.-led push to maximize Iran’s international economic isolation get in the way of Sino-Iranian economic ties. India has taken a similar position, see here, and may, like China, be acting to strengthen its economic and strategic ties to Iran.

Indeed, a look at Iran’s trading partners clearly shows the importance of China’s huge economy to Tehran.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, Iran’s Export economy breaks down as follows:

China 16.58%, Japan 11.9%, India 10.54%, South Korea 7.54%, Turkey 4.36% (2009)

And its import economy is also worth examining.

UAE 15.14%, China 13.48%, Germany 9.66%, South Korea 7.16%, Italy 5.27%, Russia 4.81%, India 4.12% (2009)

No doubt Japan and South Korea’s implementation of sanctions will change those statistics, but China and India’s growing regional and global clout would indicate that Tehran’s trading relationships with these regional powerhouses will become an increasingly important component of the Islamic Republic’s foreign trade. As sanctions tighten on Iran’s economy, no one should be surprised to see Tehran turn to alternative, non-western aligned economies to fill the gaps.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | Leave a comment

The refugees are the crux of the matter

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine | Middle East Monitor | 08 September 2010

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit hinted recently that Palestinian refugees would receive $50 billion dollars as a compensation for giving up the right of return. The Egyptian official didn’t elaborate or reveal the source of the information.  More to the point, he didn’t say where the money would come from or whether the current Palestinian leadership, e.g. the PLO, would accept such a scenario.

The right of return is widely viewed as one of the main national constants of the Palestinian national movement and enjoys a wide consensus among all Palestinians, irrespective of their ideological orientation.

It is considered by many as the essence and soul and heart of the Palestinian problem since the Palestinian cause is all about the extirpation of one people from its ancestral homeland in order to allow for the colonization and settlement of the land of Palestine by another people: the Zionist Jews.

The right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and villages, most of which were destroyed and nearly obliterated by Israel, is basically a personal right that no  political entity has the right to annul or treat it in a compromising manner. Certainly, the Palestinian Authority (PA) or even the entire Arab world has no such right.

The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat realized this monumental fact very well. This is why he refrained from committing what would have been a historical blunder of giving away or selling out the right of return. Arafat must have anticipated the thundering reaction by the refugees themselves as well as the rest of the Palestinian people to the liquidation of the right of return. Now, his heir, Mahmoud Abbas, seems quite confused and reluctant as to how to deal with this issue.

It is probably true that the return of the refugees would undermine Israel’s “Jewish identity.” However, the realization of the repatriation of those refugees wishing to return would also constitute a historical guarantee of a durable peace in Palestine-Israel.

In the final analysis, there can be no real peace without real justice for these refugees, dispersed around the world for more than sixty years, while their homes, land and property were arrogated by another people.

In fact, this is the crux of the matter, since Israel, which can be described rather accurately as a grand project of dispossession (since the Zionist state could never have been created legally, they resorted to stealing and arrogating Palestine).

More to the point, it is abundantly clear that these refugees were violently and ruthlessly uprooted from their homes. They didn’t just leave as Zionist leaders have been claiming.

According to the Israeli writer Illan Pappe, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was a fulfillment of David Ben Gurion’s statement in 1938 that “I am for compulsory transfer; I don’t see anything immoral in it.” Eventually, “plan-D” was the way to do it. It included forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of unwanted Palestinians in urban and rural areas, accompanied by an unknown number of other mass slaughters  to get it done.

“The goal was simple and straightforward-to create an exclusive Jewish state without an Arab presence by any means including mass murder.”

According to Pappe, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was a calculated act aimed expelling the bulk of Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.

“The ethnic cleansing of Palestine was not an unintended consequence, or fortuitous occurrence, or even a “miracle,” as Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann later proclaimed; it was the result of long and meticulous planning.”

Fortunately, some conscientious Jews have acknowledged this fact. For example, Alex Stein, a British Jewish academic wrote several years ago that “why should I, a Jew from North London, be permitted to take up Israeli citizenship, when that right is denied to a Palestinian  who languishes in a refugee camp in Lebanon? Especially when I acknowledge that a large majority of those that left in 1948 was ethnically cleansed by Israeli forces.”

Nonetheless, it is noticed these days that Zionist leaders, who have nearly abandoned the stale lie that the refugees left voluntarily, are arguing that the return of so many Palestinians to their homes in what is now Israel would turn the “demographic equation upside down.”

Well, it should be made absolutely clear that the right of these tormented refugees to return to their homes and land overrides any demographic or political considerations. In the final analysis, their right to return home overrides Israel’s right to be a “Jewish state.”

Actually, the international community is under no moral obligation to maintain Israel as a Jewish state than it was to maintain South Africa as an apartheid state ruled by the white minority.

Six decades of homelessness, pain and dispersion should be enough for these miserable people who have inherited misery and suffering generation after generation after generation. Hence, ending this most obscene and sinister scandal wouldn’t be an act of charity to the Palestinian people. It would rather be a belated application of UN resolution 194 which calls for the repatriation  of and indemnification for these wronged people

The uprooting of these Palestinians, now numbering more than 5 millions human beings, was a collective act of rape with very few parallels in history. It will remain an act of rape as long as the wrongs done to them are not rectified and corrected.

In this light, the right of return shouldn’t be a subject of dispute and controversy just as the rightful owner’s right to recover his or her stolen property from a thief is not subject of dispute or controversy.

Ultimately, Israel’s “right” to “racial and religious purity,”  in no way justifies the established right of the Palestinian refugees to return home. This is unless the world has become a jungle where military might rather  than human decency is what counts.

Indeed, if the world is a jungle and if ethics and rights are to be determined by brute force, then according to this logic we would have to consider all the abominations that befell Jews in the course of modern history, especially during the Second World War, were “right,” “ethical” and justifiable since their occurrence was more or less compatible with the moral and intellectual maxims now readily espoused by Zionism.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, states in its Article-13 that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

Finally, it is vital that the international community, if it is truly interested in resolving the enduring question of Palestine, ought to accentuate the Right of Return because no prospective peace deal between Israel and the PA would work without the repatriation of the refugees to their homes and country.

It is an expression of inhumanity, dishonesty, immorality and racism to deny the refugees this most moral, most human and most legal right. Again, this is not merely a nationalistic right; it is a personal and individual right that no entity or state or organization can cede.

Besides, the Palestinians are simply not willing to sell their ancestral patrimony for money. Indeed, if money were their goal, they would have done it a long time ago, sparing themselves and their children all the pain and suffering.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment

I Am So Tired of Malthus

By Willis Eschenbach | Watts Up With That? | September 8, 2010

Daily we are deluged with gloom about how we are overwhelming the Earth’s ability to sustain and support our growing numbers. Increasing population is again being hailed as the catastrophe of the century. In addition, floods and droughts are said to be leading to widespread crop loss. The erosion of topsoil is claimed to be affecting production. It is said that we are overdrawing our resources, with more people going hungry. Paul Ehrlich and the late Stephen Schneider assure us that we are way past the tipping point, that widespread starvation is unavoidable.

Is this true? Is increasing hunger inevitable for our future? Are we really going downhill? Are climate changes (natural or anthropogenic) making things worse for the poorest of the poor? Are we running out of food? Is this what we have to face?

Fortunately, we have real data regarding this question. The marvelous online resource, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics database called FAOSTAT, has data on the amount of food that people have to eat.

Per capita (average per person) food consumption is a good measure of the welfare of a group of people because it is a broad-based indicator. Some kinds of measurements can be greatly skewed by a few outliers. Per capita wealth is an example. Since one person can be a million times wealthier than another person, per capita wealth can be distorted by a few wealthy individuals.

But no one can eat a million breakfasts per day. If the per capita food consumption goes up, it must perforce represent a broad-based change in the food consumption of a majority of the population. This makes it a good measure for our purposes.

The FAOSTAT database gives values for total food consumption in calories per day, as well as for protein and fat consumption in grams per day. (Fat in excess is justly maligned in the Western diet, but it is a vital component of a balanced diet, and an important dietary indicator.) Here is the change over the last fifty years:

Figure 2. Consumption of calories, protein, and fat as a global average (thin lines), and for the “LDCs”, the Least Developed Countries (thick lines) . See Appendix 1 for a list of LDCs.

To me, that simple chart represents an amazing accomplishment. What makes it amazing is that from 1960 to 2000, the world population doubled. It went from three billion to six billion. Simply to stay even, we needed to double production of all foodstuffs. We did that, we doubled global production, and more. The population in the LDCs grew even faster, it has more than tripled since 1961. But their food consumption stayed at least even until the early 1990s. And since then, food consumption has improved across the board for the LDCs.

Here’s the bad news for the doomsayers. At this moment in history, humans are better fed than at any time in the past. Ever. The rich are better fed. The middle class is better fed. The poor, and even the poorest of the poor are better fed than ever in history.

Yes, there’s still a heap of work left to do. Yes, there remain lots of real issues out there.

But while we are fighting the good fight, let’s remember that we are better fed than we have ever been, and take credit for an amazing feat. We have doubled the population and more, and yet we are better fed than ever. And in the process, we have proven, once and for all, that Malthus, Ehrlich, and their ilk were and are wrong. A larger population doesn’t necessarily mean less to eat.

Of course despite being proven wrong for the nth time, it won’t be the last we hear of the ineluctable Señor Malthus. He’s like your basic horror film villain, incapable of being killed even with a stake through the heart at a crossroads at midnight … or the last we hear of Paul Ehrlich, for that matter. He’s never been right yet, so why should he snap his unbeaten string?

APPENDIX 1: Least Developed Countries

Africa (33 countries)

Angola
Benin
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Djibouti
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gambia
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Lesotho
Liberia
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mozambique
Niger
Rwanda
São Tomé and Príncipe
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Sudan
Togo
Tanzania
Uganda
Zambia

Eurasia (10 countries)

Afghanistan
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Cambodia
East Timor
Laos
Maldives
Myanmar
Nepal
Yemen

Americas (1 country)

Haiti

Oceania (5 countries)

Kiribati
Samoa
Solomon Islands
Tuvalu
Vanuatu

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 6 Comments

Jeff Halper to Pete Seeger: Ditch the JNF and honor the boycott

By Jeff Halper | Mondoweiss | September 8, 2010

Dear Pete,

All the best from your friends in Israel/Palestine. In that spirit, I was surprised to hear of your planned participation in With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East. While at first blush it might seem to have something in common with the work of ICAHD and other Israeli and Palestinian peace groups — attempting to build bridges between peoples — it is actually something quite different.

One of the lead partners in the effort is the Jewish National Fund, which is responsible for the allocation of land in Israel. As such, it is a mainstay of the ever-increasing apartheid system there. Among their most recent activities has been the planting of a forest to cover a Bedouin village in the Negev from which the residents have been forcibly removed. They are in fact engaged in various tree-planting exercises that brand them as an environmental organization, when in fact their purpose is to secure the land of Israel, if not all of Palestine, for Jews only. That is their historical role, and so it remains. Efforts to paint Israel as environmentally concerned are mere greenwashing. Israel has repeatedly torn down Palestinian neighborhoods by declaring them green zones.

As you know, Israel has doggedly pursued a policy of settlement expansion, home demolition, and gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians throughout Israel proper and its occupied territories. Millions of Palestinians languish in internal and external refugee camps. In the wake of brutal assaults on Gaza and aid flotillas, the world is increasingly outraged.

A broad array of Palestinian civil society groups called in 2005 for a program of boycotts, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to conform to international law and stop blocking justice for Palestinians. This call has received widespread support. But the boycott includes a cultural and academic boycott as well. The purpose of this effort is to deny Israel the ability to brand itself as a normal nation while flouting the law and suppressing an occupied people. Brand Israel is their strategy; ours is to insist on no business as usual with the regime, as was done successfully in the struggle against apartheid South Africa.

In recent months, increasing numbers of artists have decided to forego performing in Israel. Gil Scott-Heron and Elvis Costello have explicitly stated that they will not participate in the whitewashing, greenwashing, or any washing of this rogue regime. Many others have quietly scuttled their planned tours.

I hope that you will decide to join these artists of conscience and once again make a bold stand for justice. The movement is gathering strength, the violators of civilized norms are fearful, and change is in the air.

Thanks for giving me a hearing,

Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

US Government Report Argues for Police Force for American Interventions Overseas

By Matthew Harwood | t r u t h o u t | 07 September 2010

In May 2009, the federally financed RAND Corporation published a 183-page report, “A Stability Police Force for the United States: Justification and Options for Creating US Capabilities”. The report, conducted for the US Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) at the Army War College, examined the need for a “stability police force” (SPF), which it described as “a high-end police force that engages in a range of tasks such as crowd and riot control, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) and investigations of organized criminal groups.” Most soldiers do not possess the specialized skills an SPF officer needs to prevent violence, the report notes. “Most soldiers are trained to apply overwhelming force to secure victory, rather than minimal force to prevent escalation.” The SPF would also train indigenous police forces, much like what occurs today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the study led by Terrence K. Kelly, a senior researcher at RAND, the United States clearly needs an SPF. “Stability operations have become an inescapable reality of US foreign policy,” the report states. The RAND report estimates that creating such a paramilitary police force would cost about $637 million annually, require about 6,000 personnel and that it should be headquartered inside the US Marshals Service (USMS), not the US Army.

“Of the options considered,” the RAND report argues, “this research indicates that the US Marshals Service would be the most likely to successfully field an SPF, under the assumptions that an [military police] option would not be permitted to conduct policing missions in the United States outside of military installations except under extraordinary circumstances and that doing so is essential to maintaining required skills.” The idea here is that members of an SPF would be a “hybrid force” and could be embedded in police and sheriff departments nationwide to retain their policing skills when not deployed overseas. When needed, a battalion-sized SPF unit could be deployed in 30 days.

This recommendation did cause a small number of libertarians to take notice of the report after it was published because of the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids using the military for domestic policing inside the United States. Libertarian William Grigg blogged on LewRockwell.com that he feared that an SPF could be used domestically. “If ‘peacekeepers’ end up patrolling American streets, they probably won’t be foreigners in blue berets, but homegrown jackboots commanded by Washington,” Grigg wrote. Chris Calabrese, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, was less fearful of an SPF, but he told Truthout that the report’s recommendation to headquarter “a super police force that would be deployed both foreign and domestically in the US Marshals Service” did violate the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act.

“In essence, you have this force that would in theory be a civilian force that would be part of the US Marshal Service but they would be deployed as part of the Army and the military forces,” Calabrese said. “That would be their primary deployment purpose. Their civilian purpose would be secondary. They describe it as a training purpose. So who does this police force work for then?”

Talking to WorldNetDaily in January, Kelly did say an SPF could be deployed in the United States, although that’s not what their primary purpose is.

“If there were a major disaster like Katrina it could be deployed in the U.S. but that’s not the purpose of the research,” he said. “It’s important to point out that the goal was to create a force that’s deployable overseas. If it’s to be used in the United States it would be a secondary thing and then only in an emergency.”

The RAND Corporation would not make any of the report’s authors available for an interview. Emails to the USMS asking for a comment on the report and its recommendations also went unanswered.

Calabrese also said there are practical concerns behind such a force outside of the Posse Comitatus Act. “It’s also somewhat strange,” he said. Calabrese wonders what would happen when SPF personnel get called up from wherever they’re embedded to deploy overseas. “What happens to all the police work they’re doing domestically?” he asked.

But the RAND report has more implications for the future of US foreign policy than it does about the militarization of police inside the United States. It signals that some defense and peace intellectuals believe that the United States will continue to intervene in fragile and failing states. After listing the stability operations that the United States has participated in since the end of the cold war – Panama (1989), Somalia (1992), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995), Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003)and Haiti again in 2004 – the RAND report notes this trend will continue. “There are several countries where the United States could become engaged in stability operations over the next decade, such as Cuba and Sudan,” according to the report. – Full article

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | 7 Comments

America’s Economy Is Not Here to Pay for Wars

By Jason Ditz | Lew Rockwell | September 8, 2010

In a recent speech at Wayne State University in Detroit, America’s top military commander, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen declared that the most serious threat to America’s national security is the national debt. His argument for this was that the debt and its deleterious effect on America’s economy could hinder the growth of military expenditures.

Mullen further lamented that current estimates have the federal government paying some $600 billion in interest on the debt in 2012 adding, “That’s one year’s worth of defense budget.”

But America’s civilian economy isn’t just something to be taxed to pay for war, and America’s civilian population is not just a collection of potential recruits and sources of revenue for the military. The military is supposed to be here to serve America, not the other way around.

And without downplaying the various serious economic consequences of America’s national debt, Admiral Mullen’s comments betray a very disturbing (and increasingly common) view of the American economy as little more than fuel for its ever-growing war machine.

In fact the $600 billion interest payment is coming in no small part because Admiral Mullen and the rest of the military’s leadership has been pressing for unprecedented increases in military spending. Now, having spent America’s economy to the brink of ruin, Admiral Mullen has the nerve to complain that the harm he has already done is hampering the harm he intends to do.

It isn’t even true, incidentally, that the $600 billion is “one year’s worth of defense budget.” Not anymore it isn’t. In fact President Obama is seeking over $700 billion for fiscal year 2011, and that is one budget item that, whether there is a Republican or Democrat in office, we always expect to grow.

But just 10 years ago it would’ve been two years worth. In 2000 America was spending around $300 billion on its military. That was by far the biggest military budget on the planet. If America still had a $300 billion military, it would still be the largest by far.

Instead America is barreling into the future with a military budget that rivals the rest of the world combined, and an endless wish list of very expensive new military goals. Is it really such a mystery that this is unsustainable?

The purpose of Admiral Mullen’s visit and his assorted talks in Detroit were to admonish local industry leaders that the “patriotic” thing to do was to hire more former soldiers, while insisting that “industry, community and military leaders share the same goals.” One wonders how industry and community leaders feel about an endless series of wars bankrupting the nation, but it can only be assumed that they feel differently than the admiral does.

Though many Americans are reluctant to openly criticize the nation’s military leadership in time of war, Admiral Mullen’s comments make it very clear how little regard he has for us and it is high time we, as Americans, make it clear that this country cannot and will not be sacrificed at the altar of a series of wars whose only goal seems to be fleecing the American taxpayer of an ever growing portion of what he produces. We’ve been down that road for the past decade and we can all see where it has led.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | Leave a comment

Wind Energy’s House of Cards

By Steve Goreham | August 31, 2010

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently issued their 2009 Wind Energy Report. Brian Smith, chair of the IEA Wind Executive Committee, states that wind member countries “installed more than 20 gigawatts of new wind capacity” (nameplate capacity). The report was written by representatives of 20 member countries, consisting of 14 European nations, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and the United States.

The report is very optimistic about wind energy’s prospects. Member nations report on “how they have progressed in the deployment of wind energy, how they are benefitting from wind energy deployment, and how they are devising strategies and conducting research to increase wind’s contribution to world energy supply.” But a deeper analysis shows that the wind industry is a house of cards built on a foundation of sand.

The house of cards is a global industry based entirely on subsidies, price guarantees, and mandates. Wind generation systems are not deployed anywhere in the world without extensive government financial or mandated support. Fourteen of the 20 IEA member nations use feed-in tariffs (FITs) to force utility companies to buy electricity from wind farms at above market rates. Examples are FITs used by Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, which are set in the range of 7.8-12.1 Eurocents per kilowatt-hour, equal to 11.2-17.4 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour. These are subsidized wholesale prices, yet significantly above the average U.S. retail price of 9.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Nine of the twenty nations mandate that utilities supply a percentage of electricity from renewables. Nations that have provided little government support for wind, such as Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Norway, have seen little growth in installations.

In the U.S., the 2009 Recovery Act authorizes a direct cash grant of 30% of the total value to wind projects. Alternatively, the federal government provides a 30% investment tax credit, or a 2.1 cents per kW-hr production subsidy. State governments add loan guarantees, further investment tax credits, and the forbearance of property and sales taxes. Twenty-nine states have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards to force utilities to purchase renewable energy, primarily wind. These mandates raise the price of wind energy, a further subsidy to the industry. In total, taxpayers are subsidizing 30-50% of the price U.S. wind energy installations. Wind must be subsidized because it is much more expensive than electricity from coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear sources. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind-generated electricity is about 80% more expensive than coal-fired power, and off-shore wind is significantly more expensive. The IEA representatives from Denmark and the United Kingdom estimate costs for offshore wind at roughly double the cost of onshore wind. The planned Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound reportedly will deliver electricity at a whopping 27 cents per kW-hour, compared to the Massachusetts average price of 16 cents per kW-hour and the U.S. average of 9.7 cents.

Advocates claim that subsidies are needed to help wind energy move down the learning curve to become cost competitive with other technologies. But wind turbines have been deployed for more than 20 years. As of 2009, the United States had installed about 33,000 wind turbine towers. World installations have exceeded 140,000 turbines. When will this cost competitiveness be achieved?

Despite the growing number of installations, total wind energy costs are increasing. Wind installation costs per kilowatt-hour decreased from the early 1990s until 2001, but have been rising since. For example, U.S. installations reached a cost low of $1,285 per kw-hr in 2001, but have since risen steadily to $2,080 per kw-hr in 2009, an increase of 62%. It’s unlikely that electricity from wind will ever be competitive with conventional fuel sources.

A close read of the IEA Wind Report reveals issues with actual wind turbine operating lifetimes and maintenance. Wind turbines that were installed in the 1990s are now being replaced in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and other nations. In the harsh weather environments of high-wind corridors, many of these turbines have not reached the 20-year lifetimes claimed by manufacturers. In comparison, operating lifetimes for coal-fired power plants consistently reach 50 years.

Very costly repairs are often required to maintain wind turbine operation. Japan reports that lightning hits and typhoons have damaged “a considerable number of wind turbines,” finding that on average, each turbine will fail three times over its 20-year life. Denmark reports that each turbine’s gearbox must be replaced on average four times during its lifetime, costing about 20% of the price of a wind turbine.

The story of Denmark is illustrative. Over the last 20 years, Denmark has installed 5,100 wind towers, one for every thousand citizens. A map with a black dot for each wind farm shows that 300-foot-high steel and concrete towers can be seen from almost every field, farm, hill, and seashore of this nation. In 2009, these towers provided only 767 megawatts of electricity, less than the output of a single conventional coal-fired power plant. This single power plant would occupy the space of one black dot on the map.

Wind towers provide only about 10% of Denmark’s electricity, but contribute to electricity rates of 28 Eurocents per kilowatt-hour, the highest in Europe and four times the U.S. price. Yet, Danish government officials are proud of their wind system. Why would they install 5,000 towers instead of one coal plant? It’s because they believe they are reducing global warming.

In fact, the global wind industry is built on a foundation of sand—the hypothesis that man-made global warming is destroying Earth’s climate. The IEA report contains repeated statements about carbon emissions saved by wind installations in each nation. Yet, mounting satellite temperature data, new studies of ocean cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and research on solar activity, show that global warming is due to natural cycles of the Earth,not man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Should global warming alarmism fail in its efforts to promote wind energy, the subsidies will disappear, and the house of cards will collapse. Then the world will be left with 140,000 silent monuments to Climatism.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director for the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of Climatism! Science, Common Sense, and the 21st Century’s Hottest Topic.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

   

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