Environmentalists increasingly find themselves at odds with environmentalists. Last week, the head of the National Grid said the planning process would need to change because Net Zero would require the construction of many new tower lines across the country. People in East Anglia object to 110 miles of towers ravaging rural landscapes and ancient woodlands to connect North Sea wind farms to the grid.
“We had to destroy the village to save it,” said a trumped-up American general in Vietnam. It is now clear that we are destroying the planet to save it from climate change. Many of the policies pursued in the service of decarbonization are not only economically destructive, but also environmentally harmful.
Wind farms kill hundreds of birds every year; So are cats, but these species are as rare as golden eagles on land and red-throated divers offshore. They also kill bats by the thousand. If you or I kill an eagle or a bat, we will go to prison. They spoil the landscape and require huge amounts of steel, concrete and rare earth metals, the mining of which is a source of pollution.
Then there’s the wood burning by the Drax power plant in Yorkshire to generate electricity. Not only does wood produce more emissions than coal per unit of energy, it also reflects a centuries-old trend away from stealing the lunch of beetles and woodpeckers to meet our energy needs (nothing eats coal or gas). A lot of Drax wood is imported from North Carolina because we don’t grow enough wood in Britain. There, locals are terrified of the devastation of their forests. However it is supported by you.
Biodiversity-rich hills across Wales, Scotland and northern England are disappearing under the ecologically sterile monoculture of exotic sitka thanks to government incentives to plant more trees to absorb carbon dioxide. Grasslands and swampy bogs absorb almost no carbon dioxide as well, and sometimes better, they also block floodwaters and support rare birds such as curlews.
In the south, more and more fields are covered in pointless solar “farms,” generating drops of energy when they’re not needed—mostly on June afternoons. Their fans say that sheep graze on the grass that grows under them. That is, the lawn needs sunlight: the panels reduce the productivity of the land by about 90 percent. They also move food crops to other lands elsewhere at the expense of natural habitats.
Biofuels, grown instead of food, put upward pressure on food prices and on the amount of land we need to grow food, while providing little or no emissions. On the local river, a new waterworks generates a negligible amount of energy but threatens the migration of small salmon. The refusal to incinerate the waste has led to it being taken to the countryside, or shipped to Asia for “recycling,” where it is dumped into rivers or the sea. And don’t forget the diesel scandal, which is exacerbating urban air pollution as a direct result of the policy of reducing carbon dioxide emissions through subsidies for diesel cars.
The funds available to rescue the red squirrel, the white-clawed lobster, or the water squirrel, are negligible; It all goes into carbon removal. I once asked an environmental consultant why Natural England seemed to lose interest in improving plant biodiversity in the swamplands. “You don’t understand,” she replied, “Carbon emissions are the only thing that counts now.”
Climate change has become a convenient excuse to do nothing about the real conservation problem.
Where is the anger of environmentalists about the usurpation of the planet by the profitable crony capitalists in the renewable industry? Silence. True conservation can stop, as long as we are seen as battling climate change.