Natural Breezes, ‘Progress’ and Unintended Consequences

As a prolonged-time resident of LBI, and a person who has spent the previous 62 summers on the Island, I would like to share some of the “progress” our Island has designed. And as a mechanical engineer who has used the final 40 yrs on mechanical and electrical infrastructure enhancement, which include energy productive systems and the use of renewables this kind of as wind, photo voltaic and geothermal, I truly feel extra than capable to give some commentary. So in this article goes.
To fully grasp the desirability of an East Coast barrier island these types of as LBI, one only needs to walk to the seaside on a heat summertime day and glance out over the huge expanse of drinking water and feel the breeze of the prevailing south-southeast winds. What you are observing, the Atlantic Ocean, is very just the most significant air conditioner in the earth. Air is staying pushed more than a neat system of h2o. This operates wonders and delivers a pleasant consolation to our seashores every single July and August. In addition, these prevailing winds drive into our shores the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which helps make a dip in our ocean so interesting.
Now for a minor record: When I was a child developing up and paying out my summers in Brant Beach in the ’60s and ’70s, we had no air-conditioning in our summer time home. Rarely any one did. You truly did not need it. Apart from for the unusual days with west winds, it was fine. The air was heat for the duration of the working day, but not unbearable, and nights were being snug, occasionally even neat. We in no way wore shoes again then. The streets had been not also incredibly hot, so you could wander barefoot, and you even could wander your puppy in the center of the working day without the need of him burning his paws.
Every road close from the seaside to the bay worked like a “wind tunnel.” The cool ocean breeze would occur off the ocean, in excess of the relatively flat beach, and swirl down the road and amazing off the total width of the Island. It was awesome. It was why we arrived to the shore.
So what has adjusted? Why does all people now will need air-conditioning to survive a summer? Why does absolutely everyone now wear footwear when they go for a wander, and why can I walk my canine only in the early early morning or evening? Why when we walk over the dune from the ocean does the temperature right away climb 5, 10 or even 15 degrees? Can we actually blame all this on “climate change”? The response is “no.” But the offender is continue to male-made.
More than the last 50 many years, we’ve let advancement run amuck. We have authorized taller houses and designed up our dunes to guard us from storms, and in the process we’ve blocked the wind tunnels. We now pave our new streets making use of plain old blacktop asphalt that has no particulate to reflect the sunlight. These roadways heat up to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit on sizzling summer time days. And when most of the 9,000 households on the Island commenced 24/7 central air-conditioning, which basically pumps up to five to 10 billion BTUs of heat into our environment each summer months day, properly, we just confused our minimal Island. It was also a great deal to bear. In limited, we’ve “paved paradise.”
So now a further progressive thought has presented by itself, a “green solution” for carbon-cost-free strength: wind turbines. This is persuasive. We have received that “free wind” out there just asking to be tapped as an strength resource. Photo voltaic and wind energy are our potential, right? Not so quickly.
The problem with renewable vitality systems like wind and photo voltaic has not absent away. Can they be part of the alternative? Yes. But we have not solved the major difficulty, which is they are notoriously unreliable. The wind does not usually blow, and the sun does not always shine. So, you will have to fill in the gaps (and the peaks and valleys) with other vitality means to fulfill the 24/7 demand from customers. This has to be completed with fossil fuels or nuclear electricity. So you can pave our earth with solar panels and build wind turbines all over the environment, but you however need to have conventional energy plants to run our life the other 50% of the time. It is coal, oil, all-natural fuel or nuclear. Pick your poison – fossil fuels or the atom?
The level right here is that the promised electrical power alternative of wind turbines off our shores is not a alternative. In point, it may well exacerbate the extremely issue it hopes to clear up and induce many others. If you imagine for a second that a huge farm of big wind turbines off the coast of New Jersey is heading to have zero (or a negligible) influence on our ecosystem, you are mistaken. You keep in mind that giant air conditioner recognised as the Atlantic Ocean I mentioned? Properly, the air that blows in excess of that amazing h2o is now likely to be disturbed. Enormously. You are basically pulling gigawatts of energy out of the air when all those turbines capture the wind electrical power. Those gigawatts of cooling strength will now no lengthier hit our beaches. How is that likely to get the job done out for our summertime resorts? Not well. If you just can’t escape the heat by heading to the shore, then why go?
There are a lot of other problems, passionately debated, about the other effects of wind turbines (their sound, their detrimental outcomes on migrating whale and hen populations, to name a couple of). But absent all of them, and the eyesore challenge, is the electricity issue continues to be. There is no scalable and reputable way to keep electrical power for the moments when the wind does not blow. So we are once once again in the posture of attempting to address 1 dilemma, expending billions of bucks, failing, and then triggering one more and additional critical difficulty in the process.
I will leave you with this: That giant air conditioner regarded as the Atlantic Ocean that has been cooling the Jersey Shore for no cost for the previous 250 decades or so is not damaged. Why are we trying to take care of it?
Hubert Streep lives in Brant Beach front.

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