25 Myths That Are Destroying The Environment

What Many Environmentalists Believe And Why They Are Wrong

By Daniel B. Botkin

For decades, environmental scientist and conservationist Daniel Botkin has studied the world around us. He has traveled the globe observing nature and the human impact on the environment, and now he has collected his keen observations in this accessible and informative book.

25 Myths That Are Destroying the Environment explores the many myths circulating in both ecological and political discussions. These myths often drive policy and opinion, and Botkin is here to set the record straight. What may seem like environmentally conscious action on one hand may very well be bringing about the unnatural destruction of habitats and ecosystems.

Some of the topics:

Myth 1 We Are the Only Species That Has Had Global Effects on Environment
Myth 2 Life Is Fragile and Can’t Adjust Easily to Change
Myth 3 Extinction Is Unnatural and Bad, but Easy to Accomplish
Myth 6 Beauty in Nature Happens Only in Areas Completely Undisturbed by Us
Myth 10 People Have Changed Environment Only Since the Industrial Age
Myth 11 Without Human Interference, Earth’s Climate Is Stable
Myth 13 Climate Change Will Lead to Huge Numbers of Extinctions
Myth 20 We Can’t Do Much about Environmental Risks
Myth 21 Smokey Bear Is Right: Only You Can Prevent Wildfires
Myth 23 Solar and Wind Energy Require Huge Areas
Myth 24 Large-Scale Solar Energy Projects RequireVery Hot Climates
Myth 25 Compared to Climate Change, All Other Environmental Issues Are Minor

Written in a clear manner that dissects each myth, this book offers readers an informative guide to discussing environmental issues. If our society is to sustain the environment around us for future generations, solving environmental problems by understanding how nature works is not just helpful, it’s necessary.

DANIEL B. BOTKIN is an ecologist who has been conducting and writing about ecological research for forty-five years. After hearing so many false or flawed statements passed off as fact, he decided to write this book to help his readers achieve a more complete understanding of their environment.

320 pages • ISBN 978-1-4422-4492-4 • Paperback • October 2016 • $19.95 • Taylor Trade

Available on Amazon here:

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121 thoughts on “25 Myths That Are Destroying The Environment

  1. Myth 23 Solar and Wind Energy Require Huge Areas

    depends on what ‘huge’ is.

    Id say it was no myth

      • As I see it, the myth mostly concerns biofuel in comparing the 19 times more land area for corn bio-fuel than area for PV per unit power. Using arable land for energy for machinery is obscene no matter how much bigger one is than the other IMO. The comparison goes on saying “300 times worse than the 90 W/m^2 delivered by the average US petroleum pumpjack well on a 2 acre plot of land.” Does that take into account that pump jacks and PV panels can be in places where not much of anything can grow anyway?

        So where’s the myth here? PV does indeed take up a lot more land then FF; by the article’s numbers about 15.8X more than a pump jack.

      • “As I see it, the myth mostly concerns biofuel in comparing the 19 times more land area for corn bio-fuel than area for PV per unit power.”

        Well, duh. Biofuel is, in actuality, low efficiency solar power. Its only advantage versus PV is you don’t actually have to build the structures, just in essence plant them and nurture them.

    • The land area goes up by an order of magnitude if you try and replace the natural gas back-up generator with batteries and more panels

      • Why?

        Are there not enough roofs or parking lots to put panels over?

        There is solar PV which looks like regular roofing now and a new solar film which can be applied to office block windows starts trials next year.

        Plenty of room for solar

      • The problem Griff is that the solar cells only produce good power for about 4 hours when they are installed on a roof in a non-tracking situation. What pray tell are you supposed to do for power the other 20 hours. Solar is a waste of time and money.

      • Good luck putting out a fire or claiming from your insurance company. Firemen don’t want to be at the end of a hose connected to PV panels so the only option is to let the roof burn. Smoke Emitting Diodes as they’re known in the trade.

      • Griff,do you know what the difference between LOW mass and HIGH mass power producers are?

        Why HIGH mass producers will always dominate Low mass,because of it’s inherent capability.

        You are so wedded into the CAGW paradigm,that you would say anything to maintain your delusion.

    • I had started writing something on this topic a but ago. There was a “panic” in some circles a while back that we were runnng out of space for garbage dumps. Recently we’ve been “reassured” that the US could be powered by solar from a relatively small percentage of land mass. The amount of land needed to provide waste disposal for the US the next 100 years is very small compared to the land needed to provide a majority of power from solar. What’s a lounge amount of land evidently does vary depending how n the drivers.

      • If you cover up the finished landfill and turn it into a ski slope, you certainly aren’t running out of land.

      • 35 miles by 35 miles by 200 yards deep = storage for ALL of American waste for 1,000 years.

        There is no landfill shortage.

    • Huge is whatever is larger than a Nuclear or Coal/Gas plant can deliver the same amount of power for.
      Fixed it for you.

    • i think if you standardize all existing “useless” roofs to solar panels, that you got plenty of power without need to plan an “extra” area. add a small windmill with it and plenty of power.

      only problem is renewables are variable power generators. in belgium a professor said 10 years ago a well founded opinion on this. I don’t remember the exact words but the essence was: when you go 100% renewable, you also need a way to store power for stabilizing the power generation variables.

    • I’m trying to figure out where Myth 24 about solar and hot climates comes from.
      Solar doesn’t require a hot climate, but it does require a place where sunshine is strong and as close to constant as you can get.
      Of course a strong and constant sun will always result in a hot climate.

    • I did a rough calculation and figured that the area required for Beastie’s 500,000,000 solar panels would be roughly one-third the area of Rhode Island. And that’s just packing the panels tightly together like a puzzle. sufficient space for maintenance, infrastructure, power lines, etc. would probably close to double the area.

    • “Science is the organized skepticism in the reliability of expert opinion.”

      ― Richard Feynman

      • Not any more it isn’t. Skepticism is blasphemy. And organized skepticism is the result of conspiracist ideation. True science is now the acceptance of consensus expert opinion. Once experts express a consensus opinion on any scientific subject, the “debate is over” and “the science is settled.” Welcome to the new science. (sarc)

  2. One thing is true though, no tree will ever be allowed near a solar farm. Ever is a long time…

  3. First blush in my case is this book would be preaching to the choir. Environmentalism long ago morphed from cleaning up and stopping pollution to an ideological support tool controlled by Marxist/Socialists. I applaud anyone shining light on the subject.

  4. To power the world with solar, estimates of the area of the Sahara that must be covered vary between 0.5 million km² and 1 million km². Renewable activists consistently told porkies about the actual amount required.

    Nor is solar power good anywhere. UK winters have short days – about 7 hours long at London’s latitude. I will get about 6 times more solar power in summer than mid winter. UK peak electricity demand falls in mid winter too.

    Ferroni and Hopkirk (pdf) found that solar PV uses more energy during its lifetime than it makes. In Germany, solar PV has an energy return on energy invested = 0.82 Their ERoEI solar PV study is, by far, the most meticulous.

    • Mark4asp

      Re the Sahara

      Everyone, or most people, seem to think that the Sahara is all bright sunshine every day. There are months at a time when the sun cannot be seen because of the diffusion of light by a dusty haze. I have seen it myself in Niger. That was in the Sahel. Day after day it was ‘bright’ but the sun was literally invisible as a object.

      This fact of life places severe limitations on some solar power generation systems.

      During the Harmatan in Nigeria, the dust blows south turning every day into a haze and prompting coughing fits.

      Thus even with batteries and masses more investment solar is simply not practical – unless there will be long periods of low or no power. In a sense it is like places in the far north which experience a month or two of no sun above the horizon.

    • Well yes, but in winter the wind is usually blowing in the UK.

      In December 2015 UK got 18% of all electricity from wind.

      So its solar in summer, wind in winter.

      • Not so.

        The winter of 2009/10 was an extremely cold and snowy one. It was said to be a 1 in 30 year winter. Ironically, the winter of 2010/11 was even colder and even more snowy. It was said to be a 1 in 100 event.

        In both cases this was due to a blocking high sitting NE of the UK. It stayed there for about 1 month.

        I monitored wind energy every day during this period (for both winters). For the main part it produced between 3 to 5% of nameplate capacity. On a few days it managed 8% of nameplate capacity On many days it was less than 3% with many days being less than 1%.

        When wind is producing less than 1% nameplate capacity in these conditions it is consuming energy. This is required for heaters and to keep the turbine slowly turning. This is probably the case even when producing 2 to 3% of nameplate capacity.

        Had the UK been dependent on wind to produce energy during these winters, there would have been 1000s of deaths. Fortunately power was supplied by conventional fossil fuel generation and the nuclear via the French inter connect, the latter was straining because it also had to supply NW Europe in general.

        During this blocking high, Germany, and I expect Holland and Denmark, encountered similar conditions.

        The fact is that just when wind is needed most (cold winters), wind is often in a drought!

      • February 2012: Winter blocking high in Europe

        This UK Met Office pressure chart shows a blocking high over Europe, supplying cold, polar air across much of the continent and blocking out milder air from over the Atlantic. This blocking high brought temperatures of -20°C (-4°F), killed hundreds of people in Eastern Europe and even brought snow to the Sahara, as this BBC video explains.

        See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_2010%E2%80%9311_in_Great_Britain_and_Ireland

      • “in winter the wind is usually blowing in the UK”. So in winter when you’re on the operating table in an emergency to save your life, things will usually go OK. Good luck with that. The worst windless periods in UK are spring through to fall. Yet a few years ago Germany suffered a long windless period during winter.

      • We’ve got a lot more wind power now than in 2009 and will in fact increase it 1.5 times current capacity by early 2020s.

        and high pressure across the UK is not as common as you make out: across all of Europe it is even rarer.

        At present we have no problem coping with the few days each winter of high pressure and I’m sure that when we get towards the 2050 80% renewables target we’ll have cracked it.

        Meanwhile, wind predictably provides large amounts of UK electricity in winter, meaning we don’t output CO2 and don’t need to import gas/coal.

      • Even if it isn’t a common occurrence, it only takes one such occurrence to result in 10’s of thousands of deaths.

      • …Of course, Griff has no problem burning Wood Pellets imported from AMERICAN FORESTS to supply back up power for his “Green Energy” fantasy !

  5. Confected myths. The myth is that these are myths and to somehow paint the whole ecological canon of research and thought in these terms is disingenuous.

    • tony mcleod —

      Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming and Catastrophic Man-Made Climate Change are myths — and represent just about the whole ecological canon of research and thought of the Hotheads.

      England will have no more snow and 40 million climate refugees will roam the earth? Were such predictive stories told by Hotheads myths? Were the predictions of computers models foretelling huge temperature increases based upon increased CO2 myths? Certainly seems that way.

      Tony Mcleod, name something that Hotheads have said that has not turned out to be a myth.

      Eugene WR Gallun

      • Eugene, outlandish claims made from the fringes – like it’s all a communist hoax – is also just arm-waving, not a “myth” that needs somehow to busted for the sake of correcting the record. (I am not accusing you of holding that view btw).

      • tony mcleod commented: “…outlandish claims made from the fringes – like it’s all a communist hoax – is also just arm-waving, not a “myth” that needs somehow to busted for the sake of correcting the record….

        So you are accusing the “conspiracy theorists” of using the same beat down that you are using except they have facts to back up their “outlandish claims” and you have nothing. It seems the only ones that shout “conspiracy theory” do so when they are backed into a corner and have no defensible argument.

      • tony mcleod —

        I find it impossible to understand your reply to me.

        “Outlandish claims made from the fringes” constitute the body of Hothead climate science — because, when looked at realistically, Hothead climate science, though it dominates climate research, is just a fringe movement on the outskirts of the great body of modern science. Climate science is a step back from the fundamentals of true science and a delving into the past where dogma, power and money decide what will be pushed to the public. In other words it is really propaganda with a political motivation heavily financed by government largess.

        By the way it may surprise you to know that the words “hoax” and “fraud” are almost interchangeable. The distinction is argued about by grammarians. .

        But the point is that Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming and Catastrophic Man-Made Climate Change are myths. They are not happening. Name some of the terrible terrors predicted that have actually occurred.

        The earth has been warming at just about the same pace ever since the end of the Little Ice Age. The seas have been rising at the same rate since the end of the last major ice age. There have been no increases in storms, droughts, rainfall, fires, etc. The oceans are not becoming acidic. Species extinctions are not happening (almost all species extinctions of the last four hundred years occurred on remote island where sailors released goats, pigs and rats on the native birds and animals). Name something — ANYTHING — bad that is happening!

        That is a challenge. Name something bad that is happening. Can you????

        Eugene WR Gallun

      • Tony McLeod wrote: “claims made from the fringes – like it’s all a communist hoax”

        Now, now, Tony, I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate. It’s not ALL a Communist hoax, but it is certainly in part a Communist (I prefer the term collectivist) hoax. Some of it is a rent-seeking hoax. Some of it is an hoax done specifically to reduce the numbers of humans living on our planet by misanthropes. Some of it is just pure brainwashing hoax to control the minds of “useful idiots,” whom we’re generously trying to save here with our deprogramming rhetoric. Maybe we’ll save you, one day. And while some alarmists and “environmentalists” say that killing off people is not part of their agenda, they’re supremely indifferent to the suffering and death that they would cause if they got their way and actually banned fossil fuels.

      • I love the way hoaxters like tony cherry pick their data to try and prove a point.
        Re- his animated graph.

      • And how the areas where the ice ‘disappears’ could actually be up to 1.5 m thick based on the color coding in the legend.

      • From straw man to clutching at straws. Hilarious, just keep on ignoring the obvious.

        Nothing cherry picked – just all the satellite data available.
        Demonstrate what’s phony.
        Just has black for thinner than 1.5m. Massive thinning over that period – well spotted.

      • tony mcleod, you graphic, as presented, has no provenance*; the only DATE mentioned outside of the graphic itself is 2003.

        * a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.

    • The mere fact that large numbers of “environmentalists” believe and push these myths isn’t relevant. Eh?

  6. Here in Alberta as one heads towards Waterton National Park (across the border from Montana’s fantastic Glacier National Park) the windfarm near Fort Macleod is huge, a heartbreaking eyesore that ruins a beautiful mountain setting. It is visual pollution, nothing more than a sad and depressing attack on the natural beauty of the Rockies. I think that Progressives get off on forcing ugliness on society.

  7. I big myth that is not listed is that CO2 affects climate. In reality, despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate. If CO2 did affect climate then one would expect that the increase in CO2 over the past 30 years would have had a noticeable effect on the dry lapse rate in the troposphere but that has not happened. It is all a matter of science. The AGW conjecture is severely flawed. There is no evidence of a radiant greenhouse effect, on Earth or anywhere in the solar system. Without the radiant greenhouse effect the AGW conjecture is nothing more than poor science fiction.

      • @Tony McLeod what’s your point? No one is spending billions, or starving the world of power, or destroying the environment, because a large group of politicians have figured out a way to gain control and steal money on the back of a myth that the sun will not rise. Typical liberal, don’t argue facts, divert to conversation onto some trivial nonsense. When that fails start calling names.

      • tony mcleod October 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm

        There is empirical evidence that rotational energy is conserved. There is empirical evidence that the Earth has vast amounts of rotational energy. There is empirical evidence that there is no planet careening toward the Earth large enough and close enough to knock the spin out of the Earth within 24 hours. So there is indeed so much empirical evidence that all places on the Earth’s surface that turned to face the Sun yesterday will do so again tomorrow that it is considered proved.

        Maybe you meant to say there is no proof that the sun will NOT rise tomorrow?

        You clearly are confused about the difference between myth and and empirical proof.

        SR

      • Stop hyperventilating. You can’t prove something will happen. You can only estimate a probability, and in the case of whether the sun will rise tomorrow, that is a high probability, but its not 100%.

      • tony, are you really as pathetic as that post makes you sound?
        The proof is that the sun isn’t going anywhere and the earth isn’t going to stop spinning.

      • tony mcleod, a tenuous probability at that, and ONLY if you ‘believe’ (relegate certain issues to the realm of faith) certain cause-effect linkages. Witness, for instance, the wide range of “projections” by Dr James Hansen in 1988 which have failed to materialize DESPITE ever-rising CO2 levels.

  8. Solar and wind power have no place in bulk electricity supply unless their output can be stored. Effectively, to date, that means pump stored generation. There is nothing else. Until technology provides a solution, solar and wind remain limited to micro systems for small local farm, industrial or domestic electricity supply. Some folks in South Australia know this now.

    • Wind and solar output is perfectly predictable 24 hours ahead, so you can easily ramp up and down your natural gas plant (and more modern coal plant like Germany’s) in line with any drop off.

      Grid scale battery storage makes that even easier.

      So its pretty easy to substitute renewables for fossil fuels at this point…

      Germany manages to get 32% renewable electricity, Spain is over 40%.

      European targets are for 80% renewable electricity by 2050… by then we should have the capability to do away with final 20%

      • “perfectly predictable” – good example of the type of sly falsehood favoured by conmen and propagandists.

        “easily ramp up and down” – not easily, and at heavy cost financially and in CO2 emissions (if you worry about those).

        “grid scale battery storage makes that even easier” – not currently feasible, and likely to be ruinously expensive if it ever becomes so.

        “Even easier” indeed!

      • Sorry Griff but that statement is full of male bovine excrement. Tell me what the wind speed (to a half/meter/second) will be in Ontario Canada at 10.25 AM today. I’m waiting.

      • Fen tiger, buried in this:
        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/20/strictly-come-dancing-bbc-national-grid

        is the statement:
        “The grid gets useful wind forecasts 10 days ahead, and 24 hours ahead can predict the amount of electricity that will be generated to within 4%. Earlier in December, a wind power record was set of 6GW – equivalent to six big power stations and 14% of all electricity at the time – and the grid then managed a 2.5GW dropoff over a few hours as winds surpassed safety limits in many places.”

        from the head of electricity systems operations at the UK’s National Grid. I believe forecasting has improved since he made it.

      • OK, folks, let’s do the math:

        43GW on-line; 6GW wind (14%); 37GW (86%) conventional

        2.5GW (42%) wind dump; conventional ramps up to 69.5GW, + 2.5GW (6.8%)

        So, in addition to conventional reserves, a minimum of 6.8% is required to cover “unscheduled” reductions in wind. At what cost?

      • Oops, don’t forget: The “within 4%” estimate was blown by 38% (42% dump less the 4%). That, and no reserves provided by wind.

        You can fool yourself or others, but you can’t fool an ex-power system engineer.

      • I am still waiting for my wind speed estimate. By the way the forecast should include the city of Hamilton. You have an hour and a half left.

      • …substitute renewables for fossil fuels…

        But we don’t need to substitute renewables. There are plenty of fossil fuels. And it wouldn’t be easy… Grid scale battery storage? You’re dreaming.

      • for Matt B – sorry, I can’t get back to read this too often.

        This should set you up, I expect:
        http://www.wpred.com/tools/canada

        “On this page, you will find the map of all Canadian wind parks having a rated capacity higher than 5MW, a forecast of their cumulative production for the next three days, as well as the equivalent in terms of the Nanticoke coal-fired power plant (one of the worst polluting power plants in Canada), the economy in CO2 tons, and the number of Canadian households that wind energy will power tomorrow. From coast to coast, there will always be wind, and wind energy!2

        (not responsible for their rather partisan statement, there)

      • perfectly predictable? What have you been smoking?
        Are you actually claiming that scientists can predict the exact wind speed during any 60 second interval, 24 hours in advance?
        Are you actually claiming that scientists can predict, to the second, when a cloud is going to cross in front of the sun and shade a solar array?
        Grid scale battery storage is another myth.

        As to your lies about Germany and Spain, those have been refuted many times.

      • MarkW, people like Griff like to assume they know power system dynamical operations and economics.

        As someone who actually ran power systems, bought and sold power and was ultimately responsible for delivering reliable electricity to industrial, commercial and residential customers, I can tell you that they are either naive or being paid to peddle nonsense.

        I wonder if Griff is actually a girl?

      • Griff, that’s not ‘conversation’ here. You’re told where you’re wrong.

        Now go and work on it.

    • Griff, germany forces its superfluous energy into the grids of Poland and France – and pays heavy for that.

      And germany grabs lacking energy over the border from french and czech nuklear plants – paying heavy for and pretending ‘germany is nuclear free’.
      ____________________________

      Griff – can you name people you never lied to?

  9. i certainly agree with myth 25: i see climate change as a minor environmental issue, the rest is ways more important to get dealt with (and that are also the matters we best can deal with as well)

  10. The meta-myth is: that (apart from Fact #25) anyone actually believes in any of the so-called myths on that list. Show me any evidence that anyone subscribes to any of them.
    Straw-man exercise.

  11. Is this a Myth?
    If wind generator’s are linked to a ground based,
    local flywheel energy storage unit of comparable input/output.
    That the combination would be practical as an energy supply unit.
    Just ?

      • Griff you will need to do better than that. That system is only 165 KW with 576 KWhrs of storage. That couldn’t supply enough power to run the demand heater on one of the safety showers at my work.
        Scaled up to grid level that flywheel would be storing several nuclear bombs worth of energy and is a bearing failure away from armageddon. Total FAIL

      • Building a small scale test unit is a lot different than going to full scale production.
        A fact that has never managed to penetrate your small mind.

      • Wait a minute…If 50% of the “Renewable Energy” goes to the flywheel/battery storage, then that is 50% less going to the grid ! It can’t do both…

      • “Scaled up to grid level that flywheel would be storing several nuclear bombs worth of energy and is a bearing failure away from armageddon. “

        This is something terrifically important, and that technological illiterates just don’t get – any technology that is capable of rapidly storing huge amounts of energy is also capable of rapidly releasing it. And, when you concentrate storage capacity, capable of providing for a whole city over many hours, in one place, you have a ticking time bomb waiting for a chance to annihilate a vast area surrounding it.

        Pretty much what you just stated, Matt, but I wanted to emphasize it.

      • Griff, you need to learn the difference between what’s possible and what’s feasible. People do the most gawd awful stuff, I just don’t like paying for their mistakes.

        The energy systems you prattle on about have proven to be ruinous in operation. The politicians were warned ahead of time, but the watermelons won the day. Always remember Abraham Lincoln, though: “You can fool some of the people …..”

        Charlie Skeptic

    • No because the wind generators will get that flywheel spinning at a real good rate and then the bearings will fail and the flywheel will smash it’s way out and roll though the countryside destroying everything in it’s path.

      • If the bearings fail, the flywheel will convert all of it’s kinetic energy to thermal energy over the course of a few milliseconds.

        In other words, it will explode.

      • Hi Matt Bergin.
        I asked about flywheel storage of energy…. Because.
        There are a few Computer server centres that use this system.
        Have done for years, No reports of runaway flywheels yet.
        I had the myth of a thought that if each bird wacker,
        had to have its own local flywheel storage unit there would not be quite so many.
        By the way fly wheel storage of energy has hundreds of year of know data.

  12. Myth 23 Solar and Wind Energy Require Huge Areas
    Myth 24 Large-Scale Solar Energy Projects Require Very Hot Climates

    These two don’t sound like myths to me. More like statements of the obvious, with a bit of hyperbolic exaggeration in Myth 24.

    • Well, it has been calculated that to provide all UK electricity (measured in total TwH) you’d need to cover 1% of the UK land area with solar panels.

      2.27 percent of England is built on (less I suspect in Wales and Scotland).

      Completely unreal and unrealistic as that is, it pretty much shows you could just use rooftops.

      Now in somewhere with better solar resource and many parking lots…

      • Assuming 100% efficient solar panels.
        Assuming that clouds are a thing of the past.
        Assuming that the sun shines 24 hours per day.

      • And, no shading. Much of that built on land area is shaded by other built on land area, and even partial shading of a panel breaks the circuit so that no power is produced.

      • The other problem is that the solar cells only last about 15 to 25 years depending on the type. So you would need to replace every solar cell every 20 years and it takes longer than that to recover the cost of manufacturing them. In essence solar power is a loss/loss endeavor.

  13. Wow, Griff is so taken in by fringe power production capabilities of Solar and Wind!

    Then you should mount a small windmill on back end of your car,along with Solar panels on the rooftop. Surely you will have automatic power at your tap.

    Show us a picture of your wonderful car

  14. I am delighted to see so many comments regarding the publication of Dr. Botkin’s magnificent, hard-hitting book. Now, please read the book itself. Many of your questions will be answered there. Meanwhile, this discussion is exactly what the book was intended to accomplish, so again, my thanks to all of you for your thoughts.

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