Tankers, Lies, And Videotape

Earlier this week two petroleum tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. President Donald Trump is placing the blame on Iran…while naturally Iran is denying any involvement. Unfortunately neither administration can be trusted to tell the truth so it is very hard to determine who is actually responsible.

And the US has released a portion of a video that purportedly shows members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards removing unexploded mines from the side of one of the tankers. But as we know, with 21st Century technology, video is no longer a proponent of truth.

And the world isn’t helping one whit. Great Britain is siding with the US, Germany doesn’t believe the video proves anything. The explosions were supposedly caused by torpedoes and mines yet the damage is above the waterline and neither ship sank. The owners of the Japanese vessel claim their crew saw objects flying toward them before the explosions started. China says no one wants war over the issue. Europe urges restraint. The United Emirate Republics say that they have proof that the attacks were state sponsored.

So where do we go from here?

Well the president says he is willing to open talks with Iran over the issue. So lets do that. They say they didn’t do it…so let’s suspend disbelief for a time and join them in determining exactly what did happen. Include the governments of Japan and Norway whose vessels were attacked.

Continued antagonism will continue to push Iran into the Russian sphere of influence. A friendliness initiated during the Syrian civil war.

Pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Treaty has caused the European Union to develop new banking relationships and networks so they can continue to trade with Iran and circumvent Trump’s sanctions. Those two actions have weakened America’s diplomatic and economic strength in the region and may change our economic strength worldwide eventually. The Euro continues to replace the US Dollar as the currency held by foreign governments as a safe haven currency.

Opening talks with Iran is a good thing. Getting them involved in determining who attacked the tankers is a good thing. Getting the other gulf countries involved would be a good thing.

The biggest draw back (other than Trump not following through on the things he says) would be: why should Iran trust Donald Trump?

Let’s Look At Jimmy Carter’s Solar Farm

Just a little loop back to my article wondering about the ecological impact of solar farms on the bigger environment. And if you haven’t, I suggest you read the link provided in the comments by democurmudgen. You’ll see solar farmers share my concerns and are working to develop dual use farming.

Here is a sample picture from a ten acre install on President Jimmy Carter’s property. It doesn’t look exactly environmentally friendly…solar panels over grass. Hey! Get off my lawn. So there does need to be some serious discussion about the best way to harvest the sun and the best way to protect the earth at the same time!

Solar Power: Be Careful What You Ask For.

Solar power is one of the major renewable energy sources being touted and rapidly developed for replacing carbon based power generation systems. Yes, by all means, once the panels are built, they seem to be carbon neutral. A good thing…but let’s not pretend that solar power is benign.

Just recently the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved two large solar power projects for Wisconsin. One near the driftless area and one near Two Rivers.

Wisconsin will produce five times as much power from the sun, by one estimate, with the addition of two solar projects approved Thursday.

The two projects are projected to cost $390 million.

Wisconsin had about 103 megawatts of solar power at the end of last year, estimates Renew Wisconsin, which promotes renewable energy.
The two projects approved Thursday, by comparison, will add a total of 450 megawatts of generating capacity.

That’s enough power for roughly 120,000 households.

Hey, cool right? Well maybe. And the PSC is watching costs so that consumers don’t end up paying exorbitant rate increases to fund construction of these solar farms. But there’s that one word in my previous sentence that gives me pause…farms. These installations will consume a significant amount of farm land. So are we adding new pressures on farmers in Wisconsin just when they are already suffering under the strain of low dairy prices, tariffs, flooding, and increased competition? Will farmland become so attractive to solar power advocates that we price our farmers off the land?

He (PSC Commissioner Mike Huebsch) also noted that the two projects will require a total of about 5,000 acres.

“Farming and farmland use is something that is deep in the heart of state, and it is not something we should take lightly,” Huebsch said during the hearing. “This is a significant issue that we need to be cognizant of as we move forward.”

Can we find better locations for solar panels than farmland? Parking lots? Additional rooftops? ??

And I didn’t see anything about an environmental impact study in the article linked above. There will certainly be an environmental impact. We know what wildlife and plant life lives on farms. We know the impact of livestock. We know what crops are grown and how they affect the environment. We watch for runoff. We watch out for wetlands (well except for the former governor). We watch out for woodlots.

But what happens when we replace fields of grain with fields of solar panels? Do we reduce the temperature at ground level significantly enough to change the micro-environment? If you think I am being silly, you certainly have been aware since childhood that standing in the shade of a tree in your yard is cooler than standing in direct sunlight. How does plant life change? You certainly have to provide ground cover beneath the panels to prevent soil erosion…rain water needs to be accounted for and soaked in where ever possible. So what do we need for vegetation? Partial shade plants? Full shade plants? Are there native plants we can use?

Trees??? What about trees? We can’t have them shading the panels or blowing over onto them…or depositing leaves on them. We don’t want to lose one of nature’s most effective carbon sinks.

So when rain runs off the panels, what happens? Do we need landscaping to prevent creating divots under the ends of the panels? Do we have to account for potential riverlets? ??

And if we change the fauna, what happens to other species. What changes in insect life will we see? Additional loss of bees? Butterflies? Will we lose native insects as a food source for native birds? Will we lose birds?

A year or so ago, I saw an article about a solar array going up on acres and acres of desert in the southwest. I had similar concerns then. I know to most of you, that seems like a useless, desolate place. But if you change the temperature at the ground and shade the indigenous plant life, what happens next? Do you change the weather patterns (apparently yes since solar panels are being considered to stop the growth of the Sahara desert)? The flora and fauna there tends to be more specific than what we have in Wisconsin.

I don’t feel the concerns are that big for urban roof tip arrays or those in parking lots. They aren’t changing the flora or fauna of their location. But if we are replacing agriculture with solar panels, what are the potential unintended consequences?

United States Is Canadian Captive!

Given President Donald Trump’s logic this week that Germany is a captive of Russia (it takes one to know one I think) because of the Russian pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea to Germany…the United States of America is a multiple captive of Canada given the number of pipelines running from our northern masters to the states! Just sayin’!