Prove This Wrong

27 11 2014

My Photo

John Weber

Another guest post by John Weber..  I have already pronounced more than once that building ‘renewables’ involves intensive use of fossil fuels, the emissions from which the machines made to generate this renewable energy can never be removed by the machines.  So while they may reduce the emissions that might have been caused by using fossil energy to generate this electricity, the machines do not remove them.  In fact, it doesn’t matter how many wind turbines are erected, the fossil energy use just keeps growing…..  and if we decided tomorrow to shut down all fossil fuel use (a darn good idea…), then not one more wind turbine would be erected, and not one more solar panel would be built.  It’s really that simple……..


It would be elegant if wind and solar energy capturing devices could actually maintain a modicum of the wonderfully rich lifestyles many of us live.  I believe this is a false dream and that BAU (business as usual) is not sustainable or “green” nor really desirable for the future of the earth or even our species.

Prove This Wrong

Many people believe wind and solar energy capturing devices can replace a substantial percentage if not all of our fossil fuel usage. Below you will find pictures and charts detailing the necessity of the fossil fuel supply system and the massive industrial infrastructure in this “renewable” dream.

Wind, Water, and Solar Power for the World

Nix nuclear. Chuck coal. Rebuff biofuel. All we need is the wind, the water, and the sun

By Mark Delucchi/ SEPTEMBER 2011

“We don’t need nuclear power, coal, or biofuels. We can get 100 percent of our energy from wind, water, and solar (WWS) power. And we can do it today— efficiently, reliably, safely, sustainably, and economically.  We can get to this WWS world by simply building a lot of new systems for the production, transmission, and use of energy. One scenario that Stanford engineering professor Mark Jacobson and I developed, projecting to 2030, includes: 3.8 million wind turbines, 5 megawatts each, supplying 50 percent of the projected total global power demand.”

Mark Z. Jacobson Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University was coauthor of another article. It can be found in Scientific America – “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030”.

They proposed that starting in 2012, 50% of the worlds needs could be supplied by 3,800,000 five megawatt wind capturing devices to be installed by 2030. Here are the numbers:

3,800,000 5 megawatts each supply 50% of the world’s energy needs in 18 years


211,111.11 Machines a year

578.39 Machines a day for 18 years

24.10 Machines each hour each day for 18 years EACH ONE INSTALLED EACH DAY

I am choosing wind energy capturing devices because they have a higher Energy Return on Energy Invested than solar energy capturing devices. I continually use the phrase “capturing devices” for what are usually called solar panels and wind machines because these are devices that capture the sun or wind energy. It is misleading to not realize they require energy and natural resources.

Let me cut right to the results of this study. The base of this 2.5 megawatt turbine in the pictures that follow (half the megawatts in the Jacobson/Delucchi study) used 45 tons of rebar and 630 cubic yards of cement. This computes in barrels of oil and in tons of CO2 for each base:

For the Concrete

478.8 Barrels of oil in 630 yards of concrete.

409.5 Tons of CO2 released for 630 yards of concrete.

For the Rebar

Taking a conservative 3 barrels of oil per ton the rebar would require 135 barrels of oil for the base of the 2.5 MW Turbine.

89 tons of C02 released for 45 tons of steel for the base.

All Together

The concrete and steel together for one base use

613 barrels of oil for each base alone.

Each base release 498 tons of CO2

(A barrel of oil is 42 gallons – or 160L)

Before looking at two of the energy requirements to install these 3,800,000 machines here are some interesting pictures of installing a wind energy capturing device from .

The machine we are looking at is only 2.5 MW turbine not the larger 5 MW proposed by Jacobson and Delucchi.

The turbines, each standing 485 feet tall and weighing 2,000 tons

The project utilizes 2.5 MW turbines on 100 metre towers.


The pictures clearly illustrate that the fossil fuel supply system and a vast industrial infrastructure support the manufacture and installation of these wind energy capturing devices. The tons of rebar and the yards of concrete offer a chance to look at the energy requirements for both. It is also important to point out that all the equipment used to install the turbines also have the fossil fuel supply system and the massive industrial infrastructure supporting them.

In researching this, the information for concrete was more definite than the range of energy required to make rebar.



“Common rebar is made of unfinished tempered steel, making it susceptible to rusting. Normally the concrete cover is able to provide a pH value higher than 12 avoiding the corrosion reaction. Too little concrete cover can compromise this guard through carbonation from the surface, and salt penetration. Too much concrete cover can cause bigger crack widths which also compromises the local guard. As rust takes up greater volume than the steel from which it was formed, it causes severe internal pressure on the surrounding concrete, leading to cracking, spalling, and ultimately, structural failure. This phenomenon is known as oxide jacking. This is a particular problem where the concrete is exposed to salt water, as in bridges where salt is applied to roadways in winter, or in marine applications. Uncoated, corrosion-resistant low carbon/chromium (microcomposite), epoxy-coated, galvanized or stainless steel rebars may be employed in these situations at greater initial expense, but significantly lower expense over the service life of the project. Extra care is taken during the transport, fabrication, handling, installation, and concrete placement process when working with epoxy-coated rebar, because damage will reduce the long-term corrosion resistance of these bars.”

“Under the most ideal circumstances, the energy required to produce solid iron from iron oxide can never be less than 7 million Btu per ton (MMBtu/ton). Since the energy required to melt iron under the most ideal circumstances is about 1 MMBtu/ton, the inherent thermodynamic advantage of making liquid steel from scrap rather than from iron ore is about 6 MMBtu/ton. When process heat losses are included, the advantage falls in the range of 9 to 14 MMBtu/ton. . . . current total energy requirements for the pro- Petroleum provides only a small amount of enduction of finished steel products in different pIants and countries from iron ore range from 25 to 35 MMBtu/net ton.”

The range above supports the 25 to 35 MMBtu/net ton. With various iron making processes, iron has a range of Btus per ton.   Converted to barrels of oil the range is 2.17 to 4.83 barrels of oil per ton of rebar.

Taking a conservative 3 barrels of oil per ton the rebar would require 135 barrels of oil for the base of the 2.5 MW Turbine.

On average, 1.8 tonnes of CO2 are emitted for every tonne of steel produced.

This means 1.98 tons of C02 emitted for every ton of steel produced.



Multiply 1.10231 to convert tonnes to tons

One yard of concrete equals two tons

Two tons equals 1.81437 tonnes

4,426,832.62 Btus in a yard of concrete

5,800,000 Btus per barrel of oil

0.76 barrels of oil in a yard of concrete

32.06 gallons of oil in a yard of concrete

0.65 tons of CO2 per yard of concrete

478.8 Barrels of oil in 630 yards of concrete

20,195.52 Gallons of oil in 630 yards of concrete

409.5 Tons of CO2 per 630 yards of concrete


On-site energy values are based on actual process measurements taken within a facility. These measurements are valuable because the on-site values are the benchmarks that industry uses to compare performance between processes, facilities, and companies. On-site measurements, however, do not account for the complete energy and environmental impact of manufacturing a product. A full accounting of the impact of manufacturing must include the energy used to produce the electricity, the fuels, and the raw materials used on-site. These “secondary” or “tacit” additions are very important from a regional, national, and global energy and environment perspective.

Normal weight concrete weighs about 4000 lb. per cubic yard. Lightweight concrete weighs about 3000 lb. per cubic yard. If a truck is carrying 10 cubic yards, then the weight of the concrete is approximately 40,000 lb.

The tonne (British and SI; SI symbol: t) or metric ton (American) is a non-SI metric unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms;[ it is thus equivalent to one megagram (Mg). 1000 kilograms is equivalent to approximately 2 204.6 pounds,

It is important to realize we have only looked at the energy for the concrete and rebar for the base of a 2.5 MMwatt turbine. Behind this device and most sun and wind capturing devices are a global system of providing energy and materials. And this support is further supported.   Here is one mining truck among a worldwide fleet of trucks that also must be manufactured. It is like a thread on a knitted sweater that when you pull it thinking you will get a small piece, you end up with a whole ball of yarn.


Wilful Blindness, Wilful Hypocrisy, You first. What’s your spin?

27 11 2014

My Photo

John Weber

Reblogged from John Weber’s website, with permission…….  John has lived off the grid for over 30 years making his own electricity from sun and wind..  He is most concerned about the psychological impact of the culture shock coming down the pike.

Here’s the deal. Research reveals that we lie to ourselves. Not you and I of course, but others do prolifically. Wilful Blindness is one of various books and research papers that verify this. We seem to fool ourselves for a variety of reasons. Two of the main reasons, one is self protective and the other is social protective.

From Margaret Heffernan’s Wilful Blindness:

“People are highly driven to do things that build self-worth; you can’t transgress and think of yourself as bad. You need to protect your sense of yourself as good. And so people transform harmful practices into worthy ones, by coming up with social justification, by distancing themselves with euphemisms, by ignoring the long-term consequences of their actions. “

Heffernan, Margaret. 2011. Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril. Walker. N.Y. pg. 195.

This is something that I have known for a long time. Here is a quote from my journal written when I was around twelve years of age. It is from a book on psychology but I don’t know which. I started reading psychology books at eleven – Freud, Havelock Ellis, Kraft-Ebing, Jung, etc. Yes, I have always been strange. I didn’t know to copy references at that age.

“We build up a picture of ourselves; hence, we come to expect certain things from ourselves, to value ourselves and to do everything possible to keep this idealized picture of ourselves unspoiled.”

The social protective is our very human need to belong. The essence of being human is being a social animal. We must learn the rules of our particular game early – language, emotional display, right, wrong, and most importantly how to belong. We carry this early training (shaping) with us our whole life. Without it we do not survive physically or psychologically.

“As the pioneering psychopharmacologist Jaak Panksepp put it, ‘social affect and social bonding are in some fundamental neurochemical sense opioid addictions.’In other words, our desire to seek social connection with others comes from chemical rewards as well as social ones.”

Heffernan, Margaret. 2011. Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril. Walker. N.Y. pg. 132.

Endorphins: Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters.[1] They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise,[2] excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm,[3][4] and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being.

. . . the general argument is that we deceive ourselves the better to deceive others. To fool others, we may be tempted to reorganize information internally in all sorts of improbable ways and to do so largely unconsciously. . . . the primary function of self-deception is offensive – measured as the ability to fool others.

Trivers, Robert. 2011. The Folly of Fools. Basic Books. N.Y.

Here is the point of this. There is lots of information about the convergence of serious problems. There is lots of information – books, articles, internet, meetings – on these problems and the solutions.

“. . . A lot of people think we were facing our last century as a viable civilization, maybe even as a species. Global warming, overpopulation, the death of he seas, the loss of arable land, the proliferation of disease, the threat of nuclear or biological warfare . . .”

“We might have destroyed ourselves but at least it would have been our own fault.”

“Would it, though? Whose fault exactly? Yours? Mine? No, it would have been the result of several billion humn beings making relatively innocuous choices: to have kids, drive a car to work, keep their job, solve the short-term problems first. When you reach the point at which even the most trivial acts are punishable by the death of the species, then obviously, obviously, you’re at a critical juncture, a different kin of point of no return.”

Wilson, Robert Charles. 2005. Spin. Tom Doherty Associates Book. N.Y. pg.127-128.

In essence few if any of us are really doing a damn thing about it. We all have our spin.

From the Energy Round Table – a quote from the moderator and in italics a poster:

“Hitting the gas pedal decades ago is not something that

I think anyone who understood the problem would have

done. Why would anyone with half a brain make a plan

that severely damaged the biosphere of the planet that

their descendants would have to live (or die) on??”

Bill Tamblyn – Moderator

If we don’t use all the water, someone else will.

If we don’t use the oil, someone else will.

If we don’t burn the coal, someone else will.

If we don’t spread GMO crops, someone else will.

If we don’t make more babies, someone else will.

If we don’t waste the biosphere, someone else will.

If hitting the oil or coal or baby or gas pedal

gets me ahead or more status, then I must do it.

Was this a plan or lots of little plans?

More likely we just can’t help ourselves?

Does tragedy of the commons fit here?

Arlen Comfort

My partner in answer to using a banana each day at breakfast and buying strawberries grown a thousand miles away said, “But I don’t buy roses.” Friends, who I love dearly and who are very environmentally and energy conscious, have a business totally dependent on driving to supply it and tourism for its success. They modified their distribution paths and feel they have made a significant change.


Let’s be clear.  Every mile we drive supports fracking, tar sands, pollution of the oceans, underground water, rivers, the air, and our food.Each meeting we attend to save the earth from whatever surely makes us feel good.Each thing we write, each time we talk about this, we are playing the Transactional Analysis game – “Ain’t it Awful?”.

Each of the maybe billion of us at the top of the energy/resource heap are rushing towards the cliff. I do not to excuse myself from the spinning. This from one of my other essays:

Just say I.

I am polluting our ground water by using the natural gas from fracking. I am creating havoc in the oceans by spilling life-killing oil. I am also plasticizing the oceans. I am also limiting or eliminating species after species in the ocean, on the land, in the air. I am putting my medicines into the rivers and the water supply. I am greedily creating food sources that only I control. I am removing the topsoil. I am gouging huge holes in the earth. I am burning coal and creating nuclear waste for thousands of years to come for my flat screen television, my computer and my DVD player. I am putting mercury and acids into the air, water and life. I am melting the ice caps and the glaciers. I am heating the planet to drive my snowmobile, my wave runner, and my four-wheeler and to drive to any damn place I want. I am using many people to cater to my many whims.

I saw the DVD “What a Way to Go” yesterday. It was very well done in listing the freight train laden with our woes coming straight at us. The many speakers continually said, “we are doing this” and “we are doing that”. They must have been talking about me. Because I am aware of these things and more and I keep doing it.

John Weber

Busy in Northern Minnesota doing all these things and more.

So enjoy while you can. I am.

Some internet sources:

My site:

Abelson, Robert P. 2004. Experiments with people : revelations from social psychology. Lawrence Erlbaum. Mahwah, N.J.

Bayne, Tim and Fernández.Jordi, editors. 2009. Delusion and self-deception : affective and motivational influences on belief formation. Psychology Press. New York.

Berne, Eric. 1964. Games people play : the psychology of human relationships. Grove Press. New York.

Berners-Lee. Mike. 2011. How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything. Greystone. Vancouver.

Cumpsty. John S. 1991. Religion as Belonging. University Press of America. N.Y.

Fonseca, Eduardo Giannetti da. 2000. Lies we live by : the art of self-deception. St. Martin’s Press. New York.

Gianetti, Eduardo. 1997. Lies We Live By: The Art of Self-Deception. Bloomsbury. N.Y.

Hirstein, William. 2005. Brain fiction : self-deception and the riddle of confabulation. MIT Press. Cambridge, Mass.

Keyes, Ralph. 2004. The Post-truth Era. St. Martin’s Press. N.Y.

Kurzban, Robert. 2010. Why everybody (else) is a hypocrite. Princeton.

Lockard, Joan S. and Paulhus, Delroy L. Editors. 1988. Self-Deception: An Adaptive Mechanism. Prentice Hall. New Jersey.

Mele, Alfred R. 2001. Self-deception unmasked. Princeton University Press. Princeton, N.J.

Triandis, Harry Charalambos. 2009. Fooling ourselves : self-deception in politics, religion, and terrorism. Praeger Publishers. Westport, Conn.

Twerski, Abraham J. 1997. Addictive thinking : understanding self-deception. Hazelden. Center City, MN.

“. . . The farther removed we become from our neighbours, the more siloed in our self-sufficiency, the easier it is to treat people as things, to turn a blind eye to the human costs of toxic cultures and to make immoral decisions.


Credibility gap


Terminological inexactitudes (Winston Churchill’s)

Poetic truth

Parallel truth

Nuanced truth

Imaginative truth

Virtual truth

Alternative reality

Strategic misrepresentations

Creative enhancement

Non-full disclosure

Selective disclosure

Augmented reality

Nearly true

Almost true

Counterfactual statements

Fact-based information


Enrich the truth

Enhance the truth

Embroider the truth

Massage the truth

Tamper with the truth

Tell more than the truth

Bend the truth

Soften the truth

Shade the truth

Shave the truth

Stretch the truth

Stray from the truth

Withhold the truth

Tell the truth improved

Present the truth in a favourable perspective

Make things clearer than the truth

Be lenient with honesty


Keyes, Ralph. 2004. The Post-truth Era. St. Martin’s Press. N.Y. pg.15-16.