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The Day The Earth Stood Still

By SmoothP in Culture
Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 04:33:01 AM EST
Tags: Humour (all tags)

Once upon a time, fossil fuels seemed like the answer to all our energy needs. A hundred years later, as air pollution reaches crisis levels, and demand for petroleum causes global conflicts between those who have it and those who need it, oil seems like more of a curse than a gift from mother nature.

A hundred years from now, will people be saying the same thing about the wind?

[note: originally posted to Science as a joke, enough people commented that the idea wasn't documented well enough, that I didn't provide enough references, etc. sheesh...]
The windmill is a Dutch icon. Giant but quaint wooden mills turn slowly in the North Sea wind, a sign of Dutch ingenuity and as much a part of the sub-sealevel Netherlands landscape as dykes, canals, and red-light districts.

But this image may be slowly changing, and windmills may no longer be the sole providence of the Dutch. Despite the enormous infrastructure and installed base of oil consumers, energy suppliers are starting to realize the need for alternative energy for long-term fulfillment of an exponentially-growing demand for low-cost power.

Modern multi-megawatt wind turbines are sleek white pinwheels, standing hundreds of feet tall, with blades longer than the wingspan of a 747. Large scale installations, with hundreds of turbines, are popping up wherever a high plains mesa or sea-side cliff presents the opportunity to harness the "free" power of the wind, to generate cheap, pollution-free energy.

It's hard not to love wind-power. Aside from the cost of the tower itself, (as well as research and development), wind is free. Better still, it's globally available, naturally available, and inexhaustible. All we have to do is tap into the power of the wind that's already blowing all around us, and if we need more, we can just add more turbines, right?


You can't get something for nothing. Like death and taxes, it's one of life's unavoidable truths. Everything we do comes at some cost. So what's the price we pay for harnessing the wind's energy? Drag. Newton's third law, folks. Simple aerodynamics. Putting a giant propeller into the wind slows it up, diverts it. You get enough of these things, it's like putting up a giant wall.

Crazy, you say? Absurd! What's a few little windmills going to do to something so big and powerful as the jet stream? Dipping your finger in the Mississippi doesn't sway the current from its course. What do we have now, a few thousand windmills globally? Hardly enough to make a difference. They said the same thing about oil in the 19th century.

If the current trend of wind power continues, and conflicts over middle-east oil fields spark more violence, wind could overtake fossil fuel as the preferred energy source over the next few decades. And as it does, windmills may become as much a part of the landscape as telephone poles and Starbucks franchises.

And for each new windmill, an increase in drag. Maybe not much at first, but sooner or later, scientists will start to measure the first consequence of what will come to be known as Global Drag: the earth spinning a tiny little bit slower, a natural result of bad aerodynamics.

I know what you're thinking. What about mountains? Wouldn't mountain growth have the same gradual effect on drag? Absolutely. But mountains are part of a far more balance ecology. As rock is pushed upward by the slow collision of tectonic plates, opposing forces of wind, water, and small animals carry material off the top of the mountain. The net effect on wind resistance is minimal.

But you can't stop man from too much of a good thing. As millions of windmills are erected on every hilltop and open plain, the cumulative drag will gradually cause the Earth's rotation to slow, resulting in longer days, leading to-- guess what-- increased energy needs. The whole thing is a vicious cycle, and if history is any indicator, one that we will repeat until it's too late.

Don't get me wrong; wind power is a great alternative to oil. It's cleaner, and even in the long term, probably less destructive. But, we need to recognize that the only real long term solution to the energy crisis is conservation. How many more natural recourses do we have to exploit and deplete before we learn this simple lesson?

(The Danish Wind Industry has a really neat page full of actual info about wind turbines, including refutations of common windmill fears. For instance, birds almost never collide with windmills. But they don't even mention the possibility of stopping the earth. Careless omission? I doubt it...)


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The Day The Earth Stood Still | 81 comments (69 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
Longer Days (4.87 / 8) (#1)
by Teehmar on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 04:35:37 PM EST

Yes!  I've been looking for ways to get a few more hours in a day.

Can we use solar power to run the generator backwards during no wind times, and speed the earth up?

The problem with solar power... (5.00 / 4) (#2)
by mdabaningay on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 04:54:13 PM EST

is that we'll use all the light and it will go dark.

[ Parent ]
When it goes dark... (none / 0) (#3)
by poopi on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 05:10:38 PM EST

we'll sen some nukes into space and light it up again!


"It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - chimera
[ Parent ]

I thought about that (5.00 / 3) (#4)
by SmoothP on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 05:15:14 PM EST

I'm still not done with all the calcuations on solar power. The jury's still out.

The thing about light is, we have way too much of it. Think of all the light reflecting off of stuff that no one's looking at. Wasted. Imagine lighting up a baseball stadium all the time, even when no one was playing. The very fact that the Pontiac Aztec is visible means that there's way too many light rays out there illuminating things that no one cares about. We could easily cover Oklahoma with solar panels mounted thirty feet off the ground, and not only would it clear the tallest building, it'd probably make the flight from LA to New York a lot more enjoyable.

No, no chance we're using up all the light. I'm sure there's a cost for solar power, but it's far more subtle and deep-rooted, I suspect. Something involving gluons maybe. When I'm done with my research, I'll post another story.
- - - - - - - - - -
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
[ Parent ]

it'll send us into an apocalyptic ice age (5.00 / 4) (#5)
by mikpos on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 05:34:45 PM EST

Light from the sun is absorbed by the ground and ground-like objects and re-radiated as heat. Solar panels selfishly keep this light for themselves and transform it into electricity, depriving of us heat.

It's much like plants. Instead of reflecting heat back to us, plants somehow seem to be using their green colour to their advantage and are able to use this solar power to "grow". Only when we burn and eat these "grown" plants to we get back the sunlight that they stole. We've done a pretty good job of killing off these thieving plants, so why would we go back now and install solar panels (or "artificial thieving plants" as you may want to call them)?

Don't give into the hype. Cover the world in solar panels and soon Earth will be nothing but a frozen ball. Canadians will have to live in subterranean igloos and Americans will have to install proper insulation in their houses.

[ Parent ]

Free the light! (none / 0) (#8)
by Xeriar on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 05:57:12 PM EST

Which makes mining oil and coal a good thing, because it means we will eventually free those poor photons from otherwise nigh-eternal imprisonment?

Granted, photons don't experience much in the way of time, but still, what self-respecting ray of light wants to spend -any- time as grotesque black sludge?

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

Yes, but... (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by Ressev on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 10:25:27 PM EST

You forget that with all the fears of Global Warming, this is a good thing!
"Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain
[ Parent ]
Surely you're joking, Mr. Ressey! (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by killmepleez on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 12:43:48 AM EST

Funny, but people tend to forget that Jews have lived in what the Romans, about 1,900 years ago, spitefully called "Palestine" for over 3,000 years. So no "Right of Return" for them?
An arbitrary, instantaneous derivative tells us nothing about the overall behavior of a particular curve; in this case, Demography v. Time for the area east of the Mediterranean.

Most people recognize that a Right of Return does eventually expire. I doubt we could all agree on an exact number for all cases, but given an estimated human lifespan of 70 years, I think we can agree that the expiration is longer than 54 years but less than 1,900?

"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "Jumpers" in The New Yorker, October 13, 2003.
[ Parent ]
et tu, ringworld? (none / 0) (#74)
by ethereal on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 12:57:11 PM EST

Well, at least until the plants develop their own solar mirrors and use them to start frying us from afar, like in Ringworld :)


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Actually, (none / 0) (#23)
by MTremodian on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 10:44:50 PM EST

Oklahoma City does have a few skyscrapers. The scary part is the big (forty story) light-up crosses on the sides of them that come on at dusk...

...speed overcomes the fear of death.
[ Parent ]

This gives me an idea for perpetual motion! (4.71 / 7) (#6)
by fluffy grue on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 05:39:57 PM EST

Let's stand on a skateboard while wearing a suit of armor, and hold a BIG magnet (from Acme Inc.) in front. We'll pull ourselves around!
"Is a sentence fragment" is a sentence fragment.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Fluffy! (none / 0) (#30)
by ajf on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 07:58:31 AM EST

On this web site we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
meh (none / 0) (#33)
by ceejayoz on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 01:13:55 PM EST

you'll need a lot of energy to keep the magnet held out in front of you...

[ Parent ]
Yes... (none / 0) (#34)
by fluffy grue on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 01:22:45 PM EST

And no motion will occur anyway. It's like trying to pull yourself forward with your arms, or standing on a sailboat and blowing into the sail to make yourself go. Which is exactly the problem with the article's reasoning. :)
"Is a sentence fragment" is a sentence fragment.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Interestingly enough... (none / 0) (#42)
by guidoreichstadter on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 10:03:43 PM EST

Changing earth's topography can affect the rotation of the earth. Angular momentum is conserved within the earth-moon system, and tidal friction causes the transfer of angular momentum from the rotation of the earth to the orbit of the moon, which is coupled to the earth by gravity, causing the earth to slow down and the moon to recede.

you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
Which has nothing to do with wind (nt) (none / 0) (#43)
by fluffy grue on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 10:28:10 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Winds and ocean currents are strongly coupled (nt) (none / 0) (#48)
by guidoreichstadter on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 09:07:46 AM EST

you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
A Better Solution (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by fatbobsmith on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 05:27:32 PM EST

Rather than use all those complicated tools that are subject to decay, why not just jump up in the air a lot. When you jump, you let the earth rotate beneath you at it's orbiting speed of over 1000 miles per hour. So, for example, if you wanted to go from Las Vegas to Philadelphia, you just point yourself in the direction of Philly and start jumping straight in the air. You should be there in a few hours and you didn't have to pay a dime for airfare, or magnets and a suit of armor. Just remember. You heard it here first.

[ Parent ]
longer days (3.75 / 4) (#7)
by nodsmasher on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 05:40:07 PM EST

but doesn't the air rotate with the planet so if the wind speed is slowed how does that effect roation speed of the planet ?
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
Yup, the article is bullshit (none / 0) (#11)
by goatse on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 06:46:24 PM EST

Your only slowing down the wind realitive to the earths rotation.  My understanding is that the wind is generally created by convection created by solar heating.  This means wind power is just a round about form of solar power.  Its a little more subtile, since the earth's rotation dose have a significant effect, but I don't think this effect corresponds to transfer of energy.. its more of a heating durring the day and a cooling at night type effect. This story should be voted down for bad science.

Anyway, there are potential side effect to mass wind usage.  We could eventually change our weather ppatters quite significantly.  Deserts and rain forests climatees could move, Europe could get cold, stuff like that.  Solar could do the same thing by taking energy out of the weather.  I would not worry about it much though, by the time we are experencing *any* side effects from wind/solar, we will have had a hundred years or more of dealing with quite simillar effects caused by global warming.. not to mention the far far worse effects of global warming (like Miami being underwater).  At this point it is basically inevitable that humans are going to significantly and repeatedly effect the weather.. get used to it.

[ Parent ]

Might not be a bad thing... (none / 0) (#22)
by Ressev on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 10:27:08 PM EST

like Miami being underwater

Except for Grandma.
"Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain
[ Parent ]

Hey, here's an idea for an improvement to K5... (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by kaemaril on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 07:30:44 PM EST

Can we change the voting options? I suggest we add a fourth option: Submit to Adequacy :)

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?

Adequacy (none / 0) (#18)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 08:48:52 PM EST

I'd enjoy reading this on Adequacy. I don't appreciate most of the stuff they have there, but there's the occasional gem such as the "Your son is a hacker" article.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
My God It's Full of Propaganda.... (none / 0) (#55)
by jaymz168 on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 02:36:45 PM EST

I just went to Adequecy.org for the first time in months and I get a CitizenCorps banner at the top!?!?!? <shiver>

[ Parent ]
angular momentum anyone? (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by theAgent on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 07:51:16 PM EST

If you stretch your arms and rotate your body in space, you will do so forever. On earth, the only way you can stop is by touching the floor and experiencing friction.

The point is, there is NO WAY windpower will slow earth's rotation. Even if all winds were in one direction (say east to west), conservation of angular momentum will gurantee that wind turbines (being an internal force) will slow the winds down only as much as they accelerate the planet. Net effect = 0.

it's like... (none / 0) (#38)
by KiTaSuMbA on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 04:07:19 PM EST

putting all men aboard a boat on the deck to blow air against the vails! Hahahaahhahaha... You don't have to have studied 3rd grade physics, you just need common sense.

On the weather pattern fears... Most if not all of the weather does not have to do with surface winds.
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]

Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by linca on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 05:49:22 PM EST

If done smartly, you can blow into the sail and go forwards. Modern sailing ships do not function as parachutes, but rather as plane wings. If you blow sideways, rather than forward, and with well-placed sails, you will advance, although generating enough wind can be hard.

[ Parent ]
However... (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by guidoreichstadter on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 09:57:33 PM EST

The earth is gravitationally coupled to the moon, and the tidal friction has been causing the internal transfer of angular momentum in the earth-moon system for as long as the moon has been around. The net effect has been the gradual recession of the moon, and the slowing of the earth's rotation. This is the reason the moon's rotation is "locked" in relation to the earth, so that the same side of the moon always faces earth.

you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
The wind is pumped by the sun... (none / 0) (#52)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 12:41:51 PM EST

... so even if the wind and the earth each slow down equally, one of them gets speed back up while the other doesn't.

[ Parent ]

That's a fact ! (none / 0) (#56)
by runlevel0 on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 03:03:07 PM EST

The whole thing of windmills stopping earth's rotation seems to mean that the rotation of the planet is produced by the wind... As if the whole planet where a windmill, or as if the whole universe where full of air. The rotation of the planet depends on initial acceleration, mass and radius, if you do not alter any of these you won't be able to alter the rotation. The moon gains acceleration, because of the centripetal effect of the earth / moon system, thus the rotation of the earth is altered, but the moon is an *external* body, as far as windmills and everything we could build on earth are implicit in the momentum equation. It's like people on a train running in the opposite direction in which the train moves.

[ Parent ]
I know this is a joke, but... (4.00 / 2) (#19)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 09:16:05 PM EST

If we built a space elevator with enough mass, wouldn't that slow down the Earth's rotation? Conservation of momentum and all that?

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
Ermmm.. (none / 0) (#36)
by dublet on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 03:16:46 PM EST

If you build it from earth up not, since all the materials on earth already have the same speed as earth (at least), and if you'd want to attach it to the ground from space, then you'd need to move with the same speed (try putting a stick into a a contaner with a speed difference greater than 10kmph.

So therefor I'd say you'd already have to build up the momentum, and the earth would still go at the same velocity. The only thing slowing it down is the moon, which is removing itself from it's orbit around earth.

Badger. Badger. ←
[ Parent ]

Building from earth (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 11:02:54 PM EST

I was assuming that a space elevator would be built from the earth up. Much like a figure skater, or the experiment in high school physics where you stand on a spinning platform, if a body is extended from a rotating system, the speed of rotation slows down in order to conserve momentum. Now I don't know jack about physics so I could be wrong, but I figure a space elevator, if it was sufficiently massive or far from the Earth, could slow down the Earth's rotation.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
But!? (none / 0) (#76)
by dublet on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 07:58:57 PM EST

  1. earth
  2. space elevator
  3. ???
  4. same speed
I somehow don't think it would matter a great deal, there should be greater concern over the moon slowly orbitting away.But with a space elevator one could stretch the magnetic field and pull the moon back in(?).

Badger. Badger. ←
[ Parent ]
Yeap. (none / 0) (#51)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 12:38:57 PM EST

But Earth is already fated to be tidally locked with the moon. Who cares if the old girl stops a hundred years sooner or later? Not me, and I doubt anyone that has migrated to live in space using the nice, convenient space bridge.

[ Parent ]

Are you interested in a job (4.00 / 3) (#20)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 09:50:06 PM EST

at PhysicsGenii, Inc?

Play 囲碁
wind analysis (4.00 / 3) (#25)
by turmeric on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 12:06:32 AM EST

read a book about wind power from the 70s/80s. they mention this. the effects are unknown and no studies had been done.

as Ronald Reagan said, 'why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity'.... hell we need alot more nuclear bombs and laser beams more than we need this hippy garbage

The answer ... (5.00 / 13) (#26)
by pyramid termite on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 12:31:37 AM EST

We triple the size of Congress. The hot air generated will be more than enough to compensate for the decrease in wind speed and if we pass a law requiring them to do handstands twice a day, the lubrication from all the greasy palms will offset the increase in drag.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
And also ... (none / 0) (#63)
by El Zahir on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 06:32:35 PM EST

It could provide alternative energy for balooning.

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. - Richard Feynman

[ Parent ]
The Earth may not stop but what about other risks? (5.00 / 3) (#28)
by irrevenant on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 04:27:41 AM EST

Though the idea of the Earth stopping due to wind power is ludicrous, the potential downsides of wind (and water) power could use further looking into. For example, wide scale use of wind power certainly could potentially cause sizable disruption to weather patterns...

Wind blows in all directions... (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by ariesboi on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 07:32:02 AM EST

Some of the times the wind actually would be pushing to speed up the rotation of the Earth. If anything all you'd accomplish is a slight decrease in the speed of movement of the atmosphere. But the atmosphere goes up for miles... playing around a little with resistance down here is probably very minor. And can thousands of 500 foot tall pylons with blades attached equal the resistance of even one mountain?

Cities (2.66 / 3) (#32)
by Mulletproof on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 11:13:33 AM EST

Oh yeah, I forgot, you mean like the impact building a major city has? We're already "disrupting" wind patterns. I doubt 30 acres of wind farm will do more than we already have...

This sig owns you.
Eight days a week! I lo-o-o-ove ya! (5.00 / 3) (#35)
by Rasman on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 02:07:23 PM EST

Yeah, I used to (when I was about twelve!) think that the jet streams went east-to-west, the opposite direction of the Earth's spin. Makes sense, right? The Earth is a big rock spinning in a ball of gas, so of course the wind would be in the opposite direction! But then I went to school and watched the tv meteorologist and it turns out the jet streams are the other way, from west-to-east. God (and maybe a few scientists) knows why! So all this "drag" would cause the Earth to speed up, not slow down!

So we're talking shorter days, 8-day weeks, 13-month calendars, etc. Sounds like more vacations and generally less time spent at the office. Which does lead to the obvious questions:
  1. What do we call the eighth day of the week?
  2. What do we call the thirteenth month of the year?
I'm afraid "Rasmanday" sounds a little too much like one we already have...

Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
*sleep* (none / 0) (#37)
by dublet on Sat Aug 03, 2002 at 03:21:42 PM EST

  1. Free-as-in-lazing-day
  2. Vacation

Badger. Badger. ←
[ Parent ]
I submit the following for your approval (none / 0) (#59)
by fatbobsmith on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 05:12:39 PM EST

1. McSunday 2. Starbuckstember

[ Parent ]
Right idea (none / 0) (#67)
by Rasman on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 05:44:09 AM EST

I'm afraid I'm going to have to rule against "McSunday" as it is too close to "Sunday".

"On the eighth day, God created fast food."

You're definitely on the right track, though: corporate sponsorship

We're going to need an international committee to accept the entries, select one, most likely the highest bidder, and distribute the funds to charity (and calendar printing). I think there will be entries like:
  • Microsoftuary
  • 3comday
  • Nokiary
  • BigMacday
  • Marlboronesday
Tough luck for Sun Microsystems, eh?

Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
We need less days per week! (1.00 / 1) (#68)
by tangocharly on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 07:10:25 AM EST

As the earth is spinning slowlier the length of days will increase but as the year is independent of the earth's spinning it will last fewer days.
So the most important question of future (just several million years!) will be: Which day to delete? Propose to send this subject to the unions and company lobbyists... ;)

[ Parent ]
Um, no. (none / 0) (#71)
by Rasman on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 11:27:42 AM EST

The earth will not spin "slowlier". This was the central point (it was even in bold) of my post.

Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
Spinning slowlier oder faster (none / 0) (#80)
by tangocharly on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 04:35:16 AM EST

As long as the earth is spinning slowlier I see no need for a new day of week.
Also from a philosophical point of view there is few probability that the earth will stop decreasing its rotating speed and run faster. The universe had its maximum speed when it was exploding and since then it has been getting slower and slower. Without investing energy and material everything is getting slower. Or take the human being: 10 years ago I did the 100m-distance in 13 s and meanwhile it takes me 16 s...

[ Parent ]
Philosophical point of view? What? (none / 0) (#81)
by Rasman on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:01:20 AM EST

Don't bring philosophy into this...

Obviously the extra energy is coming from the sun, creating the wind, which is blowing windmills, which is making the earth to spin faster.

Of course if the Earth was spinning slower ("slowlier" is not a word), we wouldn't need extra days.

Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
More Energy needs (4.00 / 2) (#47)
by shendart on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 06:55:15 AM EST

My 1st Kuro5hin post ever, bear with me. Slower rotation = longar days = more energy needs??? How do you figure? No matter what the length of day, a person uses the same amount of energy per hour. If the Earth were to slow to allow (let's say) 2 extra hours a day, no more energy would be used. There would be the same ratio of day to night, the same ratio of high energy use to low as always. Just because a day would be longer does not mean that an increase in energy would be seen. People would require the same amount of eneregy "down time" as before, proportionally. There would be no difference in energy intake at all. Just my $0.02

I imagine the opposite (none / 0) (#58)
by fatbobsmith on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 05:07:33 PM EST

With longer days, we don't need our lights on as long. In addition, solar energy becomes more attractive. We save energy and produce more solar energy. What's so bad about that?

[ Parent ]
Consider heating and cooling (none / 0) (#66)
by derobert on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 02:35:18 AM EST

With longer days and nights, you'd have more extreme temperatures. You'd need more air conditioning in the day, and more heat at night. You'd also have to consider usage of lights, which would be quite different because the night would be much longer than people sleep.

[ Parent ]
strange conclusion (4.50 / 2) (#49)
by boxed on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 11:18:15 AM EST

Excessive use of wind power has the effect of removing the phenomenon of wind, not slowing down the earth. It's a basic matter of mass: the air will slow down, not the earth. Removing wind (or cutting it down a lot which is more realistic) however has much worse consequences: the differences in local temperatures will rise. The more wind you stop, the bigger the difference. The Saharas will become unlivable and the polar regions that are now habitable will freeze. Basically the area of inhabitable space on the Earth will go down.

Not that I'm all behind the article's theory... (none / 0) (#50)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 12:31:48 PM EST

... but in response to your idea, the wind has an external energy source to keep it going, the temperature gradients caused by the sun. So in the first iteration, the wind slows down a great deal and Earth slows down some tiny tiny tiny bit. Well, next iteration, the sun pumps the wind system and keeps it going, while the rotation of the Earth has no such external source to draw on and gets slowed another tiny tiny bit.

At worst this would only accelerate a process that is already happening. The rotation is already being slowed by the moon, the wind thing would probably be a small factor next to that process.

[ Parent ]

Windmills decrease wind? (none / 0) (#69)
by tangocharly on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 07:33:50 AM EST

If (!) the windmill parks decrease the wind significantly the temperature differences might increase at first. But on the other hand a higher temperature difference would lead to stronger wind...
Our environment is a too complex network to be handled by simple if-then-constructs.

[ Parent ]
true enough [nt] (none / 0) (#70)
by boxed on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 09:00:53 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Truth is stanger than fiction (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by Ming D. Merciless on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 01:44:09 PM EST

Near where I live in Cooperstown, which is in central New York State in the US, an energy company decided to put up a middlin'-sized wind farm in a tiny hamlet called Cherry Valley, a few miles to the northeast of here. I believe the original plan called for around 35 to 50 wind turbines. They were to be situated on a hill above Cherry Valley on what is mostly farm land.

Well, you would think that the people of Cherry Valley would welcome this kind of investment in their community. Which they did — until one of the local Green party members decided that windmills were environmentally unfriendly.

Umm, before we go any further, you have to understand that in our local politics, that the phrase "local Green party member" roughly parses as "raging nut case". More specifically it can be distilled down to "(raging nut case's name withheld to avoid libel suit)." In general, I support the Green party. I am a Green party member. I even voted for Ralph Nader. However, when it comes to our local Greens, I can only assume on their home planet, the word 'Green' means something totally different than it does on Earth.

Yes. Windmills are environmentally unfriendly. Not only do they make a lot of noise (they sound like a 767 taking off according to one local resident whose sister lives near a wind farm and ought to know), but they "destroy the viewshed!" Yes, we are all told that we should be opposed to the windmills because they will turn the lovely, bucolic landscape of Cherry Valley into some kind of de-humanized industrialist wasteland — or something like that.

Now I admit to over-simplifying the issue. The local residents have every right to question something that will so radically alter (at least the northern part of) their landscpe which has been pretty much the way it is now for the last 225 years or so. However, what I find so appalling is the manipulation of these people by our local Greens and another so-called environmental group. The people of Cherry Valley, while they had legitimate concerns, were excited about the windmill project until these inviduals started making trouble. Furthermore, not one (to my knowledge) of these people actually lives in Cherry Valley. The bottom line is that the windmill project would have provided clean energy for roughly 33,000 homes. To oppose it simply on the basis that wind turbines are "too industrial" is idiotic.

Some relevant articles from hometown newspaper:

...and the website of the Greater Cherry Valley Chamber of Commerce

Personally... (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by jaymz168 on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 02:29:37 PM EST

...if I saw a wind farm while I was trekking around in the wilderness, it would make me smile. It would be nice to know that something is actually being done about the environment, but that's just me.

[ Parent ]
Fairly simple solution. (4.50 / 2) (#57)
by runlevel0 on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 03:53:34 PM EST

A simple and cheap solution to this would be provided by the live-stock industries:

In all the live-stock facilities kattle should be aligned heading to the opposite direction of earth's rotation,
thus when the emission of intestinal gases occur, the total force of all the live-stock emitting in the same direction would neutralize the effect of windmills.

The tuning of this system would need a stricter control on animal food in oder to reduce or raise the gas emissions and also a centralized world-wide government in order to control the farms of the whole planet and instaurate a new culture in which smell of cowdung would be considered of sacred nature.

I am also thinking on cow-farth powered space vehicles...

[gone to patent this, will be back in a moment]


Another Problem...and a Solution! (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by fatbobsmith on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 05:19:26 PM EST

In addition to the gradual slowing of the earth by wind turbines, our very sun is slowly expanding towards us, and pulling us in with it's gravity. In time, the sun will consume our little blue planet. But wait, don't commit hari kari yet! I have a plan. We take all the wind power we're generating and hook it up to...wait for it...giant propellers! Then, as the earth slows, we use the propellers to speed us back up AND propel the planet like a boat through space, saving us from the fiery inferno that is our sun, as well as keeping our spinning planet, well, spinning. It's brilliant! Now, we just need to get someone that's centrally located to build a giant rudder. Any volunteers?

A valid concern, but easily solved (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by sjmurdoch on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 06:50:13 PM EST

The author of the article raises a valid concern about the future of a so-called "renewable" energy source. However with a little thought the consequences could easily be mitigated.

Simply pass and enforce a law that every wind generator is accompanied by a nearby electrically powered fan which draws energy from the wind generator. The system should be matched so that the reduction in wind energy caused by the wind generator is negated by an equal speed increase caused by the fan. The remaining electrical energy can be distributed to homes and businesses as before.

I do not currently have the time to model the efficiency of the system, (which would necessarily have to take in account the complex fluid dynamics involved) but see no fundamental reason why this plan could not provide for the Earth's energy needs while eliminating this important environmental consequence.
Steven Murdoch.
web: My Home Page

YHBT (1.00 / 1) (#65)
by smallstepforman on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 07:03:49 PM EST

For the uninitiated, You Have Been Trolled

Is this a joke? (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Fon2d2 on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 11:35:00 AM EST

Sometimes it's really hard to tell around here. If it weren't for the banana icon I would be feeling really sorry for you right now. Honestly, a serious article about the negative effects of wind power would have been nice. It's hard to imagine something so low to the ground would affect global climate patterns. I thought you were going to go somewhere with the Jet Stream, but I hadn't noticed the banana icon at that point. I've come across the Danish Wind Industry Association's website as well. At the time I was trying to figure out the average power density of a typical windfarm. You know, to see how practical or impractical it really is. That would be another good angle to discuss wind power. Anything but this. Wind power slowing down the rotation of the earth? ... give me a break.

Oh, by the way (none / 0) (#73)
by Fon2d2 on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 11:40:30 AM EST

The rotation of the earth is slowing. It's called tidal lock. It happened to the moon millions of years ago and it will eventually happen to the earth. No amount of "drag" will stop that.

[ Parent ]
My favorite line. (3.50 / 2) (#75)
by ti dave on Mon Aug 05, 2002 at 03:45:47 PM EST

small animals carry material off the top of the mountain.

I have an image of a Marmot Bucket-brigade hard at work.
You just can't assign a dollar value to that kind of humour.

"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

Please... (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by hypno on Tue Aug 06, 2002 at 12:47:00 AM EST

You cannot be serious. I can think of many reasons why your theory is absurd. YHBT

Real Effect in a Closed Area? (3.50 / 2) (#78)
by AZGamer on Tue Aug 06, 2002 at 01:02:49 AM EST

I think the reason that you haven't seen any warnings about this is that the Earth is a relatively closed environment, in which what is inside doesn't affect what is outside.

We could have a hurrican over the earth that has wind at a speed of 500 knots, but the ground speed wouldn't be affected.

Sarcasm (none / 0) (#79)
by AZGamer on Tue Aug 06, 2002 at 05:12:43 AM EST

BTW - I said it as Sarcasm, take it as such.

[ Parent ]
The Day The Earth Stood Still | 81 comments (69 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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