Wind energy in the classroom: “It does a disservice to students when teachers present them with information in the guise of science which is not supported by good scientific evidence.”

Recently, the National Education Association web site carried a posting titled “10 Ways to Go Green.”

As we at Allegheny Treasures focus on industrial wind, our attention was drawn to Number 10, which pictures youngsters building a little windmill with several industrial giants in the background.  For your convenience, we will post the text from that section, followed by a comment we received related to that article:

Featured article segment begins:

10. Build a wind turbine

Is there a windy season in North Dakota?

“Every day,” laughs Grand Forks teacher Tim Schanz.

It billows across the Plains like an old iron horse, whistling and chugging with engine force— the kind of force that America needs to harness. Just two years ago, wind energy provided less than 1 percent of the country’s electricity, but by 2030, it’s expected to provide 20 percent, according to Colorado Wind for Schools.

Many school districts already are riding the headwinds: 24 states have schools with turbines on their property and more are on the way. They power up classrooms and provide learning opportunities for students. But you don’t have to build a 10-story turbine to teach kids about wind.

In Grand Forks, Schanz’s students build small-scale models, purchased from KidWind Project. They set them up in front of fans, so that they can control wind speed, and test different kinds of blades: balsa, cardboard, even paper plates. “This one got three volts—and that one just got two volts!” Schanz recounts.

Out on the highway, Schanz and his students sometimes see a locally made turbine blade on the back of a truck, heading to wind farms across the country. His kids know that’s the future right there.

Send comments to mflannery@nea.org

Featured article segment ends!

The segment did not miss the scrutiny of Mr. Richard Laska who was kind enough to share the text of the email he sent to Ms. Flannery at the NEA, and permitted us to share it here.

Mr. Laska writes:

First, the wind does not blow every day.  And that is exactly the problem with wind energy.  Our electric grid does not store electricity.  Every home and industry requires reliable electricity where and when they want it regardless of how much wind is blowing.  For every collection of wind turbines we build, we must also build a new fossil-fueled power plant to take up the slack when the wind fails.  Otherwise the entire grid would crash every time the wind stopped.

Second, the photograph shows a family within a few hundred feet of a wind turbine.  There is a growing body of evidence in Europe and America (see Dr. Nina Pierpont’s work) indicating that people living within two or three miles of an industrial wind turbine suffer serious illnesses due to exposure to the loud infrasound produced by the turbines.  In eastern mountains, families who have lived here for generations are being forced to abandon their homes — robbed of their health and property by wind turbines erected on a neighbor’s land.

Third, the statement that “many school districts” … “power up classrooms” with wind turbines is misleading.  A few 10-story wind turbines won’t provide enough reliable energy to heat or air condition a normal school.  I know.  I have two such windmills and they only produce useful electricity one day out of three.

Fourth, the statement that wind is “expected to provide 20 percent” of the country’s electricity by 2030 is extremely naive.  The maximum demand for electricity in this country is in the summer when wind resources are at a minimum.  All of the estimates of wind’s contribution to our electric supply are based on theory and public relations.  Owners of wind turbine power plants keep their actual electric production top secret.

Fifth, despite all the hype and tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer investment in wind turbines, there has not been even one study showing that wind turbines have saved one ounce of carbon emissions.  For example, the production of concrete is a major source of greenhouse gases.  The entire electric output of an industrial wind turbine two to five years is required to merely make up for the carbon emissions produced to make the concrete pads on which they stand.

Sixth, industrial wind turbines are not green; they are environmental disasters.  In the east, they are killing endangered bats and protected eagles and hawks.  And they are rapidly destroying the last few uncluttered scenic vistas and once-protected historic sites.

Seventh, the photograph shows a number of wind turbines sited in a near featureless plain with no buildings nearby.  Therefore, any electricity they produce must be shipped, via new power lines, to where people need it.  Depending on distance, 20% or more of the electricity will be wasted in the process.  Power plants should be built where the power is needed.

Kids get enough bad science from video games, tv and movies.  It does a disservice to students when teachers present them with information in the guise of science which is not supported by good scientific evidence.  The science of electricity production and distribution shows that industrial wind facilities cannot possibly live up to the industry’s public relations campaign.  For well-documented facts on the subject, please see Robert Bryce’s new book Power Hungry.

I want to end on a positive note:  Your example of students putting windmills in front of an electric fan to test different turbine designs is unintentionally insightful.  Like the test models, industrial wind turbines depend on the electric grid for their operation.  More than two-thirds of the time, industrial wind turbines don’t produce any useful energy — the suck electricity energy from the grid.

My elementary education credentials:  I won a CINE Golden Eagle Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for my work on GM’s educational video I need the Earth for which I provided the theme and wrote the teacher’s manual.

Rich Laska

Top of Allegheny Mountain, West Virginia

Mr. Laska’s comments conclude!

We thank Mr. Laska and agree wholeheartedly.  We suggest the NEA give serious consideration to Mr. Laska’s comments when teaching students about alternative-renewable-green energy sources.  Students need not solely hear the propaganda of the wind industry, but an equal balance of factual information that presents the failings of these same products.  Students will find out soon enough that, as Ms. Betty Spiggle commented to the article, “The issue of wind energy needs as a reliable energy source is a scam. In the UK wind farm companies are being paid to turn them off because the wind is not controllable and does not supply a solid system supply of energy.”  Unfortunately, students will find out how their money was wasted on these high cost/low performing tax shelters long after the billions in subsidies have been pocketed by the wind farm developers.

We note the comment to the article from Mr. Faheem S. Rasool:  “Going Green suggestion is for all teachers. I teach Engineering Technology at Campbell High School. I had my advanced class construct a small scaled house made out of wood. We used strips of pine for the studs and we had to use plywood sheathing for covering the walls. We mounted solar panels on the roof and connected them in a series and parallel circuit and connected lights inside the home. We took the constructed home out in the sunlight and watched the ligts come on.”

We could only hope that the next chapter in Mr. Rasool’s scientific research was to take the “scaled” house back inside, watch the lights go out and challenge the students to a discussion on the requirements of a supporting base load provided by nuclear or fossil fuel to support such a construction when the sun doesn’t shine.

Would anyone care to take a bet as to whether Mr. Rasool encouraged that discussion?

It appears the National Education Association is either lacking the full arsenal of facts, or chooses not to confuse the students with them.  If it is the former, there is much available in the links provided at this site and from well informed individuals such as Mr. Laska.  All that is necessary is to ask.  If it is the latter, someone is not doing there job!

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