By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Green hypocrites

From the you-can’t-make-this-up department: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, has filed a bill that would prevent solar panels and wind farms from being built in the Mojave Desert. I hope this wrecks her 92 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

Meanwhile, one of Feinstein’s principal critics is the noted environmentalist (and would-be Mojave developer) Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who says, “This is arguably the best solar land in the world, and Sen. Feinstein shouldn’t be allowed to take this land off the table without a proper and scientific environmental review.”

No, she shouldn’t. But if you recall, Kennedy — like other members of his family, including, unfortunately, his late uncle Ted — has been a staunch opponent of Cape Wind, our very own Mojave Desert when it comes to untapped energy potential.

OK, here’s where I could say something snarky about “environmentalists.” Sorry. The vast majority of environmentalists favor clean energy projects of all stripes, most definitely including Cape Wind. But save us, please, from politicians and celebrities.

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Reflections on the state of media criticism


  1. Dunque

    Dan – You are only scratching the surface here.

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is an advisor to and partner in a firm investing in Brightsource, the company proposing development of the aforementioned solar facility.

    So I think it’s more appropriate to amend your statement and say that when said clean energy facility is not in their backyard and when they can make money off of it, then they are in favor of it.

    It’s easy to be for something conceptually. Conceptually, we all would run into the burning building to save the baby.


  2. JeffC

    Gasp! A Kennedy being a hypocrite?! STOP THE PRESSES!

  3. MarkB

    “The vast majority of environmentalists favor clean energy projects of all stripes, most definitely including Cape Wind”

    You’re absolutely right. As long as it’s NOT. IN. MY. BACK. YARD.

  4. Steve Stein

    I have been in favor of the Cape Wind project since I first heard about it. The one thing that is beginning to trouble me about it is the turbine noise issue that’s popping up around the world. So far it’s just been an issue for those living in fairly close proximity to wind turbine farms (<1000 ft or so).

    I haven't heard this issue being raised in connection with the Cape Wind turbine farm. I'm wondering how the noise will carry across water, and how close Cape Wind will be to actual Nantucket residents.

  5. Ben

    The problem is, conservationism conflicts with other environmentalist priorities. This is also the case with biofuels or “sustainable” farming – expanding either would require clear-cutting forests.

    As many a grandmother has advised “you can’t have it all” – just don’t tell that to an environmentalist.

  6. lkcape

    Now that you have begun, Dan, to see some of the inherent hypocrisies in the green movement’s approach to the implementation of their religion, isn’t it time you you to start telling people what YOU are actually doing to implement some of prescriptions that you recommend for the rest of the world?

    Writing religious tracts aren’t really doing much to solve the problem.

    Do you walk the walk or just talk?

    (…..waiting for Climategate CCCXIV )

    • Dan Kennedy

      Now that you have begun, Dan, to see some of the inherent hypocrisies in the green movement’s approach to the implementation of their religion …

      @Ikcape: Amazing. I’m criticizing Dianne Feinstein and Robert Kennedy Jr. Period.

  7. Harrybosch

    “Writing religious tracts aren’t really doing much to solve the problem.”

    I dunno. It was reading just such a “religious tract” on this subject on another site that gave me my own epiphany on the seriousness of the problem.

    Who knows? Keep reading and you may just have your own.

  8. Joey

    Short of America passing a constitutional amendment that specifically says ‘wind farms and solar panels shall be allowed to be built anywhere, period’– which would be an excellent idea– this problem will always be with us.

  9. lkcape

    And I’m bringing it closer to home and criticising YOU because you have spent the past week or so with these amorphous prescriptions for the world that any lame-brained university professor knows won’t happen in his r my lifetime

    Dan, we are asking you to stop the sermons and pontificating and display some real leadership buy being a doer instead of a talker..

    How’s your energy footprint these days? Up, down, about the same? What have you done to cut 20% energy use over the past decade? What are you doing to cut 20% in the next? Do You recycle your glass, metal, paper, and plastic waste?? Do you compost your garbage and yard waste? Solar or geothermal heating/cooling? Solar cells? Turbines?

    Let us know, Dan; let us get to see how you translate the greenie “God” into your lifestyle, because after all the consumer really is one of the biggest sources for greenhouse a gasses, is he not?

    Interesting aside that I picked up while looking though s some of the technical reports that you have such difficulty ringing your self to deal with. The one that showed the numbers and locations of data sensors used in the East Anglia Studies. The concentration of sensors was overwhelmingly skewed to population centers and centers of industrial capacity. Rural areas of the globe had few or none.

    No where in the data presented or the protocol anlyses
    was there any normalization of the data to account for discrepancies caused by grossly oversampling one set of ata (the warming) as opposed the other (the cooling.)
    You talk the talk (all the time). Tell us how you walk the walk.

    It might make for an interesting comparison between dream and reality.

  10. Quantum Mechanic

    And don’t forget that RFK, Jr. is a total, complete, anti-vaccination loon.

  11. Harrybosch

    “Dan, we are asking you to stop the sermons and pontificating and display some real leadership buy being a doer instead of a talker.. “

    The first step to solving any problem is convincing people there is a problem. Snarky and cynical responses to reasonable blog posts are what does nothing.

    And who’s this “we” you’re talking about?

    “The concentration of sensors was overwhelmingly skewed to population centers and centers of industrial capacity. Rural areas of the globe had few or none.”

    It doesn’t matter. The Earth is warming. This year is trending to being the fifth warmest on record. 1998 was the warmest ever.

    In terms of the East Anglia data, according to, “the IPCC report relied on data from a large number of sources, of which CRU was only one.”

    Have no idea why you are taking this so personally. It’s very strange.

  12. I know nothing about Cape Wind. I couldn’t care less about Cape Wind. That’s entirely a local issue and local people should make that decision.

    And while I no longer live in California, I still care about California. I’ve been the Mohave, and that’s all the scientific research I need.

    And I say, “keep the fucking solar panels out of my God damn desert.” Period.

    This is exactly why it’s so important to be honestly skeptical about the totally unproven theory of man made climate change. We can’t go raping our environment with irreversible hacking merely because a bunch of self-interested scientist go about manipulating the data to boost their prestige and their grant funding.

    Man made climate change is a theory that is unproven and probably unprovable. Raping an environment with solar panel is a real, concrete, irreversible catastrophe. It’s the modern equivalent to damming the Colorado River to create Lake Powell — or just about any dam you car to name.

    To the degree that global warning is a concern, so is species destruction, and probably more so. We can’t continually go on inserting ourselves into the natural environment. The diversity of species is critically important to human survival.

    Solar panels is a direct threat to species diversity. It is entirely illogical to pursue such a project merely on the off chance that solar panels MIGHT help reverse climate change. If “we’re” wrong about climate change, that it is merely a normal cycle of the planet, there is nothing we can do to stop it, and so when we build those solar panels, then we’ve done irreparable harm to the natural environment for nothing.

    You all do what you want to wind on the cape. I really don’t care. But leave my desert alone.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Howard: I don’t generally travel down this road because I think it gives global-warming skepticism more seriousness than it deserves. But even if human-caused global warming turned out to be entirely wrong, the actions we should take to combat it track almost perfectly with our national interests.

      Nuclear power, wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and other forms of clean energy, plus greater fuel efficiency, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which has caused us so much grief over the years and which continues to be one of our biggest problems today. If global warming weren’t real, about the only difference is that we would also pursue so-called clean coal. (Unfortunately, Sen. Lindsey Graham, as sane a Republican as we still have in Washington, says he wants to strike a deal with Democrats on global warming — and that it will include clean coal.)

      Like @Harry, I’d like to hear how erecting a bunch of solar panels in the desert would harm certain animal species. I’d point out that the opponents of Cape Wind have pointed to such absurdities as the possibility that rare birds would be chopped up in the blades. Opponents of the Alaska pipeline used to argue that it would hurt the caribou, a stance memorably mocked by George H.W. Bush some years ago. Perhaps you’ve got something more compelling.

  13. Harrybosch

    Though I couldn’t disagree with you more, Howard, I very much appreciate your ability to disagree without being disagreeable. There’s a lesson there for some of the other deniers and skeptics who post here.

    I’m sincerely interested in learning more about how solar panels contribute to “species destruction,” how placing them in the Mojave would lead to an “irreversible catastrophe,” and how they do “irreparable harm” to the natural environment.

    If you’ve got a link to a reputable source on this, I’d be interested in reading it. I was unaware that solar could have that impact.

    I too have been to the Mojave, and care about California. But unlike you, that’s not all the research I need. Thanks.

  14. Dunque

    Dan – I’m interested to see you advocate the expansion of nuclear power. While I am a skeptic (whose ranks include, I might note, well-known right winger Alexander Cockburn

    I share the view that nuclear power has an important added benefit in that it can’t be controlled by the Wahabi apologists and dangerously lunatic regimes of the Mideast.

    Thus, I think it’s possible that those who find the evidence of AGW anecdotal and inconsistent and those who truly believe can find common ground here.

    France, after all, garners 75% of its electricity from nuclear power plants.

    I’m all for it from a protection of our nation standpoint. It will also have obvious positive impacts on our foreign relationships and entanglements. Let’s get this party started!

    Bosch – kindly refrain from the use of the term “deniers.” To those of us who have studied the events and meaning of the Holocaust, such conflation of a legitimate skepticism of AGW with the outright lunacy of an Ahmedinijad are highly offensive.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Dunque: With regard to Alex Cockburn, I assume you mean “well-known left-winger,” though I think he has a brother who’s a right-winger. I have no use for Cockburn (the left-winger), and that goes back many, many years.

      Stewart Brand recently wrote a useful guide to global-warming deniers and skeptics (and warners and calamatists), and what the difference is.

  15. Harrybosch

    Put me down as one in favor of expanded nuclear power.

    And Dunque . . . my initial response was to defer to you, however after some thought, I’m gonna stick with deniers.

    There are those who deny the genocide, it’s true.

    And there are those who deny what most scientists believe is an oncoming cataclysm that may well lead the the end of the human race.

    And so, with respect . . . I’m stickin’ with denier.

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