Friday, July 11, 2008

A New Definition of Agriculture

By Alan Caruba

When is a car not a car? When you decide to call it a bicycle. When is a horse not a horse? When you decide to call it a cow. Just because you call something a name that does not properly describe it does not change its reality, but I live in New Jersey where reality is subject to the whim of the morons we elect to represent us.

Thus, I give you a piece of legislation sponsored by State Senator Bob Smith that would redefine wind turbines and solar panels as “agriculture.” And all this time you thought agriculture was about growing crops and raising livestock.

An Associated Press article in the July 1 edition of The New Jersey Farmer, one of my favorite publications, the headline read, “N.J. weighs bill encouraging alternative farm energy.” It would define solar and wind energy generation as an “agricultural activity.”

Now, I grant you some savvy farmers have installed solar panels to generate electricity to run their farms, but to suggest that covering acre after acre of preserved farmland with solar panels and wind turbines is a truly bad idea. In fact, it’s so bad that the bill offers those who would do this protection “from nuisance complaints from neighbors, similar to protections farmers have from complaints about the smell of manure, for instance.”

If you don’t like the smell of manure, it’s probably not a good idea to build your home near a farm, something that people who think food magically appears on the shelves of supermarkets, were unaware of when they decided to retire to the bucolic areas of the state.

“Despite New Jersey being the most densely populated state, it is a leader in farm preservation, with more than 18 percent of its farmland preserved.” This was one of the few good ideas the legislature enacted. It has cost the state $680 million and another $358 million from local government and charities to ensure that our little paradise is not entirely paved over or turned into wall-to-wall strip malls and housing developments.

I am not alone in thinking it is a bad idea. Alison Mitchell, a policy director with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation points out that “farm preservation is meant to save agriculture and farmland—not spur new construction on preserved land.” You think?

The bill has cleared a N.J. Senate committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate. It has yet to have received assembly consideration. New Jersey is a state in which its entire Congressional delegation and Governor remains unalterably opposed to offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas, but apparently covering farmland with solar panels and wind turbines is a good thing.

Imagine the joy of going to the shore and enjoying one of our many beaches and then driving home past miles and miles of wind turbines or solar panels, some of which are actually producing a small measure of power if the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. The rest of the time they would just be a giant eyesore.

And then imagine that they are “agriculture” and not some demented politician’s idea of what farming and ranching really should be.

Here's what everyone should worry about. Laws like this get picked up and enacted by other States.


Marcelo said...

I live in Brazil and in our country we are using bioenergy a lot of time by putting ethanol from sugarcane in cars, and we are increasing the use of sugarcane biomass to generate electrical power, so I agree with this definiton specially when you need huge areas to produce wind and solar power.

Therefone, I think the best definition is BIOENERGY or AGRIERNERGY.

Marcelo Pierossi - Campinas - BRAZIL

Alan Caruba said...

Brazil is poised to become a major oil producing nation with discoveries of oil offshore.

Ethanol production as mandated in the US has already managed to drive up the cost of food here and is an impractical answer to US energy needs. What is needed is access to our own vast oil and natural gas reserves. Indeed, this was needed a decade or more ago.

Lee Hazel said...

Alan: Bear with me here:

In 2007 the SCOTUS decreed that the EPA must take responsiblity for the control of Greenhouse Gasses as pollutants. The one recieving the most attention has been and continues to be CO2. This is because it lends itself to one of the greatest "Scams" ever attempted, Carbon Credits.

Now I did not see any specificity to that ruling, it said Greenhouse Gasses (inclusive??). That said, and here is where I get to Agriculture, among other things.

Water Vapor is the primary Greenhouse Gas,as a "pollutant" it is by several orders of magnitude a greater problem than is CO2. As such it is a much greater threat to our planet than all other greenhouse gasses combined.

Agriculture then is of course,one of our greatest polluters. It takes water to grow crops, said crops breath into the atmosphere kajillions of tons of water vapor from fields all over the world. Obviously since the US is the greatest grower of crops in the world it is by definition the greatest polluter in the world and as such should stop growing crops immediately.

The only practical alternative is to enclose all agriculture in buidings designed to "capture" the vapor and pump it into the underground aquafer. The secondary result of this would be to reduce drastically the US intake of food realizing one of Obama's primary goals, not pissing off the rest of the world by our life style.

Additionally, all artificial lakes and ponds, water purification plants should be drained and shut down.

Also, the use of cooling towers, a major source of water vapor, must be discountinued. This will have the added advantage of raising household temperatures by the necessary levels ordained by B. Hussein Obama. Most of our utilities use cooling towers in conjunction with making and delivering electricity.

Golf courses, parks and any recreational area using sprinkling systems or irrigation would have to stop. This would also be required of home owners with lawns. Swimming pool aeration must be curtailed.

Finally a market for Vapor Credits could be created for such vital areas as hospitals (cooling towers are a must), other emergency facilities, some agriculture, and ALGORE's house.

Last but not least, the Hydrogen economy never gets started. The only biproduct of hydrogen burning is water vapor.

"Thats All Folks"

PC is Thought Control

Alan Caruba said...

I believe this is called reducto ad absurdum. You make a good case why the Supreme Court decision was idiotic and why the suggestion that CO2 plays any kind of significant role in determining the climate. CO2 is about 0.038% of the astmosphere. Water vapor is, I'm told, only about 1%, but is responsible for 80% of any warming affect. The bottom line is that humans have zero control or impact on any of this.

The Greens seem to be working toward the destruction of our economy through the mechanism of reducing CO2 to avoid global warming. The problem for them is that the Earth is cooling and has been for a decade. It is going to get a lot colder.

Meanwhile, neither wind or solar represents any answer to the current problem of powering our cars, trucks, tractors, lawn mowers, and everything else that requires gasoline or diesel. This need is not going to go away.