Wind turbines in cold weather

The two major and three minor North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) interconnections, and the nine NERC Regional Reliability Councils. The Regional Reliability Councils are: Eastern Interconnection with Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC); Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO); Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC); ReliabilityFirst Corporation (RFC); SERC Reliability Corporation (SERC); and Southwest Power Pool (SPP). Western Interconnection with Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). Texas Interconnection with Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Mapwork: Claude Boucher (1964-)

This weblog post started off as a response to several fake news posts in various media, alleging that the recent power outages in Texas were due to wind turbine issues. While some wind turbines have failed, there are other, more important reasons for electrical power supply failures, resulting in the inability of Texas to provide water, food and energy to state residents, during – and after – winter storm Uri. Many of these are related to a toxic political environment, where the standard answer to any political question is privatization, where many other jurisdictions have found more nuanced solutions, often involving government participation.

In addition, the post has expanded into new areas, including the use of electric vehicle batteries and household power-walls to provide emergency power. If power utilities (corporations) cannot provide inexpensive and reliable supplies of energy, people will have to take energy production and storage into their own hands. It is noted, but not further discussed, that spot pricing of electrical power in Texas, has not led to a more equitable distribution, but to price gouging, despite this being illegal during an emergency.

Wikipedia states: “The electrical power grid that powers Northern America is not a single grid, but is instead divided into multiple wide area synchronous grids. The Eastern Interconnection and the Western Interconnection are the largest. Three other regions include the Texas Interconnection, the Quebec Interconnection, and the Alaska Interconnection. Each region delivers power at a nominal 60 Hz frequency. The regions are not usually directly connected or synchronized to each other, but there are some high voltage direct current] HVDC Interconnectors.” Direct current is used to avoid any synchronizing issues between interconnections.

The American federal government regulated electrical power in the Federal Water Power Act of 1920-06-10. Its name was changed to the Federal Power Act in 1935. The content of the act has been changed at irregular intervals over the past century. Expressed less than rigorously, there are three electrical grids in the United States of America: The eastern grid, the western grid and the Texas grid, established so that the Lone-Star state/ Republic of Texas, could avoid regulation by the American federal government.

North American electrical energy production is coordinated by Regional Reliability Councils. These are: Eastern Interconnection with Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC); Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO); Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC); ReliabilityFirst Corporation (RFC); SERC Reliability Corporation (SERC); and Southwest Power Pool (SPP). Western Interconnection with Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). Texas Interconnection with Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Winter Storm Uri, has an official starting date of 2021-02-13, caused temperatures in Texas to drop to -20 C, in some locations. This caused serious water, energy and hunger problems, and a significant loss of human life. Accessing adequate supplies of water, food and gasoline has been difficult/ impossible for many/ some.

In Texas, wrath was initially directed at wind turbines. Many of the people criticising them are staunch members of the Republican party, and fossil fuel supporters. Fortunately, as will be shown below, many of these criticisms were regarded as fake news, resulting in a significant backlash.

Sid Miller, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, stated in a Facebook post 2021-02-16: “We should never build another wind turbine in Texas. The experiment failed big time. Governor Abbott’s Public Utility Commission appointees need to be fired and more gas, coal and oil infrastructure built.”

The same day Governor Greg Abbott told  Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.”

Fortunately, there are wiser voices. Princeton engineering professor Jesse Jenkins tweeted: “Those of you who have heard that frozen wind turbines are to blame for this, think again. The extreme demand and thermal power plant outages are the principle cause.” PolitiFact reported: “Of the power shortfall that hit Texas, over 80% was due to problems at coal- and gas-fired plants.” Daniel Cohan, associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University in Houston, Texas stated: “By far the biggest outages have come from our natural gas plants, a portion were down for scheduled maintenance. Others weren’t designed to operate reliably in extreme cold weather and others haven’t been able to get enough natural gas supply.” Even rapper Bun B (Bernard James Freeman) criticized Texas Governor Greg Abbott for falsely blaming blackouts on renewable energy.

Benjamin Sovacool, University of Sussex, professor of energy policy, stated: “In Northern Europe, wind power operates very reliably in even colder temperatures, including the upper Arctic regions of Finland, Norway, and Sweden. As long as wind turbines are properly maintained and serviced, they can operate reliably in temperatures well below zero [0 F = ca. -18 C]. Humans, to carry out servicing and maintenance and operation, are the most important factor, not the weather.”

Various sources state that the operating temperature range of a wind turbine is between -20 C and +40 C. Admittedly steel alloys suitable for cold-temperature environments are typically used in wind turbines located in colder climates. Lubricants are used that retain appropriate viscosity for the climate where they are operating. Wind turbines are equipped with cold-weather packages that ensure cold-weather operation.

Active anti-icing systems are installed on most Nordic wind turbines. These can fail during a power outage on the grid, because they are dependent on external power sources. In a worst case scenario, cold, ice and older technology could result in a 10 percent reduction in annual energy production. With newer and larger turbines equipped with appropriate anti icing systems this loss would be significantly lower.

Blades without an ice-prevention system installed may need to be stopped temporarily in cold weather because falling ice could present a hazard. However, icing can be managed. Current anti-icing options allow wind turbines to be effective sources of power in cold climates.

It is interesting to see that in Texas, thermal energy sources, including natural gas, coal and nuclear energy did not receive the same criticism. Excuses were made that thermal energy failings were due to frozen instruments. The main culprit had nothing to do with instrumentation, but freeze-off, a situation where liquids inside wells, pipes and valves freeze, forming ice that blocks gas flow, clogging pipes. It disrupts gas production across the US every winter.

Another challenge, not generally cited, was that cold weather increased demand for natural gas for residential heating. There simply wasn’t enough fuel available to power the state’s electricity needs. Natural gas production was halved at the Texas Permian Basin during the storm. It fell from 635 million cubic meters of gas produced per day in 2020-12 to about 300 million cubic meters of gas per day during the storm period. This means that gas production was at a four-year low. It could take several weeks to restore supplies fully, due to equipment damage.

There are pragmatic reasons why a reduction in natural-gas supply could result in a reduction of gas to electrical power plants. Texas Gas Services, a public utility, explained it when requesting help from the public to reduce the number of people who could potentially lose the delivery of gas to residences during these extremely cold conditions. They said that conservation (whatever that is, in this context) is critical to avoid widespread outages. If an outage occurs, it will take time and effort to restore service. In part, because each residence will have to be checked for leaks before gas service can be re-established. If only electricity is lost, gas-furnaces should be turned off. When electrical power is restored, consumers are advised to wait 10 minutes before restarting gas furnaces to allow the natural gas system to adjust to increased demand and to avoid further disruptions. In other words, a residential gas outage could result in weeks of delay in getting service restored, while a residential electrical outage would allow an immediate restoration of power.

Many Texans have expressed relief that their state has few electric vehicles. Plugin Texas states that there were 8 397 EVs registered in the state in 2016. Statista estimates that in 2016, there were a total of 8.3 million registered vehicles in the state, indicating that about 0.1% of vehicles in the state are EVs. About 13 million people live in Texas.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power flows, enhanced with two-way advanced meters, would give power utilities an ability to flexibly manage charging. The combined capacity of EV batteries could dampen demand responses and prevent brownouts = an intentional or unintentional drop in voltage in the grid, or worse, blackouts = a loss of the electrical power network supply.

Normally, there should be limitations placed on the use of smart technologies to manage power consumption. Power utilities are keen to flatten electrical consumption throughout the day, so they want consumers to heat their water, wash their dishes and their clothes at night. Yet, insurance companies are concerned the use of dishwashers, washing machines and other appliances at night may increase the number of residential fires.

A more appropriate response may be to charge EV batteries during off-peak periods, then to use them during peak periods. This may be managed on a household basis, or involve large parts of a grid. This is one way to reduce the need for supplementary power stations. In one study, using power in this way may actually increase the life-span of EV battery packs.

In Europe, the ISO 15118-20 standard, comes into effect this year (2021). The standard covers everything from electric bikes, cars, buses and trucks to ships and airplanes. It can control AC and DC changing, as well as wireless power transfer (WPT) and bi-directional power transfer (BPT).

During exceptional times, such as winter storm Uri, electric vehicle batteries, with appropriate charging technology, can function as emergency power sources. They would turn the energy in their battery packs into alternating current (AC) power to provide emergency backup power.

Most EV manufacturers are now recycling used battery packs into second-life storage devices. One of these is Tesla’s Power Wall, but many others are coming onto the market. Power transistors are becoming much more efficient and compact, which has resulted in more efficient and compact domestic power inverters.

Micro power generation in the form of photovoltaic cells, miniature wind turbines or even concentrated solar (thermal) power units will also help make electrical supply more robust.

Some solutions encourage the prepper in everyone, including do-it-yourself (DIY) manufacturing of powerwalls, suitable for talented amateurs.

An Aside: At Cliff Cottage, we removed our main living room wood-burning stove. At one point we had intended on replacing it with a more modern stove, but this has met with opposition/ procrastination from all of the residents. They comment that every time a new log is put on a fire, smoke/ toxins enter the room. Thus, what we are considering now is a battery pack that will provide electricity when there is a blackout. In addition, it should be able to provide extra power during peak periods, and charge itself off-peak. A related project (Turtle Power) is to build a 1 kW miniature wind turbine, with no visible, unintentionally accessible moving parts, and occupying a volume of less than 1 m3. Anyone wanting further information, or an opportunity to participate, is invited to take contact.

Fossil fuels cause significant environmental and health problems. They are also a non-renewable resource. Relying on them is not a wise long-term energy strategy. Texans, and almost everyone else, will have to learn to do wind energy better, to install micro power generation equipment, and to use battery power at home and on the road.

Heat

The U.S. consumes about 100 EJ = 100 Exajoules = 100 x 1018 Joules of energy, annually. Americans, being Americans don’t often express energy in Joules. Rather, they prefer to use British Thermal Units (BTUs), where 1 BTU = 1055 J. Another way of expressing this is to say that Americans use about 100 quads of energy, where 1 quad = 1015 BTUs. If one is willing to accept a 5.5% error, one can say that 1 EJ is about equal to 1 quad.

Only about one third of energy consumed is used for productive work. The above Sankey diagram shows energy inputs and outputs, productive work is clumped together as energy services, in a dark gray box. The other 2/3 is wasted as heat, which in the above diagram is referred to as rejected energy, which is clumped together in a light gray box.

Renewable energy comes from solar (1.04 quads), hydro (2.5 quads), winds (2.75 quads) and geothermal (0.21 quads) sources, for a total of 6.5 quads. Thermal energy systems burn fuel or split atoms, and accounted for about 93.5% of American energy inputs in 2019. Most of this fuel come from fossil sources, that is responsible for most of the carbon emissions associated with climate change. Wasted/ rejected energy is a proxy/ surrogate/ substitute for the damage being done to the planet. The exception is the energy provided by nuclear power, although it also has issues of its own. In contrast, renewable energy (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal) capture energy, without creating heat. While there are some transmission loses, most of that energy provides energy services.

A modern electric vehicle (EV) with regenerative braking is about 95% energy effective. Even the most efficient internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, can only achieve about 30% energy efficiency. This means that an EV only needs about 1/3 of the energy inputs that an ICE vehicle needs.

The United States transportation sector uses 28% of the total energy. Of this, cars, light trucks, and motorcycles use about 58%, while 23% is used in heavy duty trucks, 8% is for aircraft, 4% is for boats and ships, 3% is for trains and buses, while the last 4% is for pipelines (according to 2013 figures). This means that road transportation accounts for over 80% of the total. From the Sankey diagram, one can see that the transportation sector has 28.2 quads of input of (mostly) fossil-fuel energy, which means that 22.5 quads are road related. This results in 5.93 quads of transportation services, of which 4.75 quads are road related. These figures show about a 21% efficiency, because transportation related engines are considerably less efficient than other engines, including those used for electrical power generation.

If one uses renewable energy for road transportation, 4.75 quads of transportation services could be produced from about 5.0 quads of renewable (wind/ solar/ hydro/ geothermal) energy. At the same time, 22.5 quads of oil production would be eliminated, without any negative energy-related consequences. In fact, there would be benefits in terms of improved health, and less pressure on the environment.

A shift to renewable sources in other sectors would also have benefits. Natural gas and coal currently make a large contribution to inputs for electricity generation used elsewhere, 11.7 and 10.2 quads each, respectively, for a total of 21.9 quads. However, using the 1/3 service, 2/3 rejected formula, this means that these fossil-fuel inputs only produce 7.3 quads of electrical services. This contribution could be replaced by 7.5 quads of renewable energy.

Gasoline has an energy density of about 45 MJ/kg, which can provide about 15 MJ/kg of energy services, and 30 MJ/kg of rejected energy, as discussed above. A litre of gasoline has a mass of 0.76 kg and produces 2.356 kg of CO2 and 11.4 MJ of energy.

For American readers: The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that “About 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) are produced from burning a gallon of gasoline that does not contain ethanol. About 22.38 pounds of CO2 are produced by burning a gallon of diesel fuel. U.S. gasoline and diesel fuel consumption for transportation in 2013 resulted in the emission of about 1 095 and 427 million metric tons of CO2 respectively, for a total of 1 522 million metric tons of CO2. This total was equivalent to 83% of total CO2 emissions by the U.S. transportation sector and 28% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions.Under international agreement, CO2 from the combustion of biomass or biofuels are not included in national greenhouse gas emissions inventories.”

Since 1 MJ = 0.2778 Kilowatt hours (kWh), 11.4 MJ is the equivalent of 3.17 kWh. According to Electric Choice, the average price a residential customer in the United States pays for electricity is 13.31 cents per kWh in December 2020. This means that gasoline would have to sell for 42.19 cents per litre to be cost effective. Since there are 3.785 litres per American gallon, a gallon would have to sell for about $1.60 to provide an equivalent price. According to Global Petrol Prices, the average price of mid-grade/ 95-octane gasoline was $2.752 per gallon, the equivalent of $0.727 per litre, as of 2021-02-01.

In Norway, the price is about NOK 1 per kWh for electricity, but with wide variations. The price of 95-octane gasoline is about NOK 16.33 per litre, once again according to Global Petrol Prices. This helps explain why EVs are so popular. To be price equivalent, gasoline would have to sell for about NOK 3.17 per litre. Currently, Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament, is debating increasing the CO2 tax by NOK 5 per litre, which would bring the price to over NOK 21 per litre. Not all political parties are in agreement, with this proposal.

There is a great deal of discussion about consumption figures for electric vehicles in Norway. In part, this is because the terrain varies greatly. Some people drive in urban landscapes, others out in the country. Some people are flatlanders, while others have more mountainous environments. However many consumers have experienced real-world energy consumption levels of about 15 kWh/100 km for vehicles such as a Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul and Tesla Model 3. This gives a fuel cost of about NOK 15/ 100 km. In American terms, this would be about 24 kWh/ 100 miles, or $3.20/ 100 miles, with the electrical costs noted above.

Update: 2021-06-12 at 15:00.

The amount of energy used to refine gasoline (and diesel) is more than the electricity required to drive the same number of miles/ kilometers, using equivalent battery electric vehicles. Fossil fuel vehicles make absolutely no sense. When a country substitutes EVs for ICE vehicles, electrical consumption actually declines.

Climate Crisis Links: A tidbit

Does this image meet all seven principles for climate visuals? Check out the last link in the list below to find out. In the great climate debate, it may be difficult to tell – or even to know – what truth is, for there can be many different varieties and perspectives on it. However, attempting to tell a truth is better than the alternative, which is to engage in obscuring it, which is much broader problem than that of simply telling obvious lies. Photo: Joël de Vriend

The world is in crisis, and it is time to act now. There is only one person who can decide how you should act, and what you should prioritize. Despite this caveat, here are some links.

World Scientists’ warning of a climate emergency 2019-11-05: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806

Nobody is prepared: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/most-countries-climate-plans-totally-inadequate-experts

Previous warning statements to put current events into perspective

Second warning (2017): https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229

First warning (1992): https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/1992-world-scientists-warning-humanity

UN Sustainable Development Goals website: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

The 7 climate visuals principles: https://climatevisuals.org/evidence-behind-climate-visuals

The Charm of Hell

Hell is a neuter Norwegian noun that translates as “luck”, as in “good fortune.” The opposite, or uhell, translates as “accident.”

It is also the name of a village with railway station, close to the city of Stjørdal, in Trøndelag county. Read everything and more that anyone could ever want to know, here.

On Saturday, 2019-08-24, we decided to take a break from construction and other domestic chores, and do something fun – shopping: for roofing tar and cement. We also decided that we could spend some time walking along the coast towards an island, then – on our return to Stjørdal – eat a salad at a local pizzeria.

Here are some photos from the walk

On the outside wall of a farm utility building is the distance to Jerusalem.
Billetholmen, an island, and its causeway/ breakwater.
A boathouse, on the pathway leading to Billetholmen.
The backside of the boathouse.
Picnic tables and benches at Hellstranda.
Hell Station, built in 1902.
The current train stop at Hell.

Constructive Environmentalism

Environmental protection is a more common phrase than environmental defence (British English) = defense (American English). Protection is passive, as in locking something away out of harms way. Defense is active, employing people and devices to deflect attacks, reduce danger and prevent injury.

In many respects, changing the word order of these phrases provides a better understanding of the intended purpose: protective environmentalism in contrast to defensive environmentalism. Unfortunately, while defense is active, it is neither assertive nor positive. Thus, there is need for more dynamic representations. Potential phrases include: assertive environmentalism followed by aggressive environmentalism, and ending up with militant environmentalism. The problem with these last two approaches is that they are too authoritarian, too dogmatic, too insistent – without nuances. Thus, none of them will be used, at least by this author.

Another approach is to use terms related to negative or positive environmentalism, where negative emphasises prohibitions, most emphatically expressed in destructive environmentalism. Unfortunately, this is the mindset of many environmentalists. It is yet another term to be avoided, despite the fact that the environmental movement has far too many adherents telling people what not to do. Instead, my preferred adjective is constructive, as in constructive environmentalism, which involves working actively and co-operatively to promote positive changes.

As an example of constructive environmentalism, it is my hope that Friends of the Earth Inderøy, will focus on five areas:

  1. Education
    1. Information about species (native and otherwise) resident in the municipality, and their impact on the environment and people.
    2. Information about the impending climate crisis, and how it will impact the natural as well as the cultural landscape. It is especially important for provide information about how to mitigate its effects.
  2. Repair and recycling
    1. Bicycles
    2. Clothing
    3. Consumer electronics
    4. Furniture
  3. Local food production/ rewilding
    1. Geodesic dome greenhouse. Norway does not produce enough plant based foods to sustain its population. Thus one of the first projects is to develop a greenhouse.
    2. Hydroponics = growing plants in water. The greenhouse will be complete with suitable lighting, that will allow year-round production of food-stuffs, using hydroponics to reduce water and mineral resources.
    3. Apiculture = bee keeping. There is a need for more bees, as well as family and bee friendly hives, for pollination, as well as the production of honey.
    4. Heliciculture = snail farming. Protein production using snails, and other invertebrates.
    5. Rewilding areas not used for food production and recreation. Living near trees, especially, improves mental health and wellbeing.
  4. Monitoring and communication
    1. Radio communication of environmental data, with monitoring facilities located at Mosvik, Utøy, Kjerknesvågen, Sandvollen, Straumen and Røra, at schools where these are available.
    2. Construction of radio and weather/ monitoring equipment to be used at the six centres noted above.
    3. Air defence. Construction and operation of drones to monitor acute situations. Equipped with sensors and video cameras.
    4. Sea defence. Construction and operation of underwater robots to monitor the environment. Equipped with sensors and video cameras.
    5. Collection of evidence. It is not the role of environmentalists to enforce environmental laws or to police violations. However, evidence that is collected through monitoring can be given to the authorities who have that responsibility.
  5. Transportation
    1. Encourage the construction of pedestrian/ cycle paths connecting residential areas with school/ commercial/ administrative centers. This will promote healthier lifestyles/ more exercise/ better mental health, and reduce dependency on motorized transport.
    2. Construction of pathways through disturbed natural landscapes (de facto cultural landscapes), encouraging exercise and wellbeing.
    3. Construction of raised pathways in undisturbed natural landscapes, to reduce the impact of these human pathways, and to prevent them from becoming barriers to native species and their natural use of the landscape.

On Environmentalism

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with activist fashion warrior Katharine Hamnett at a reception at 10 Downing Street, in 1984. Please note the appropriate party shoes worn by Hamnett.

There are many different types of environmentalists. Most people’s involvement in environmentalism does not involve a full range of issues. Instead, there is a focus on just one, or a few. For example, some people are focused on nuclear energy, or policy decisions on bears and other carnivores, or preservation of the arctic fox.

For many, their most distinguishing garment is their hiking boots. Others are more comfortable in a lab-coat. There are even people who prefer tailored suits, to cavort with members of political/ business elites. Fortunately, many times increasingly more people simply wear their ordinary school clothes to protest outside their favourite democratically elected assembly each and every Friday. Personally, I feel most comfortable outfitted in protective clothing suitable for a workshop. One can never be quite sure what type of clothing evokes the best environmentalist image, except to refer to the stunning success of Katharine Hamnett, dressed in a rather long sweat shirt with dress sneakers, at a reception at 10 Downing Street in 1984, which is now 35 years ago.

The reason for all of these different fashion statements, is that people have their own individual environmental fashion style. Personally, I see a need for a flora of environmental organizations, each with their own approach. To help people understand this concept better, I’d like to use religion as an analogy.

There is a large segment of the population in Norway who are active – but more likely passive – members of a Lutheran church, still often – but incorrectly – referred to as the State Church. Many immigrant families are members of the Catholic church, while other immigrant families are members of a wide variety of Muslim organizations. There is also a variety of other religions, associated with other faiths.

Membership in a religion involves a two-fold declaration. First, a potential member must hold a minimal set of core beliefs that are known in advance, and the religion must then be allowed to adjudicate that person to determine if that person meets its membership requirements. It is insufficient for a person to make a declaration that they are Jewish/ Christian/ Muslim/ Baha’i, and for the particular religion to be required to accept that person as a member.

Bridge building between the various religions is not undertaken by having every religious person join an ecumenical organization, and then allow decisions to be made through democratic voting procedures. That would result in a tyranny by the majority. Instead, the different Faiths/ denominations become members, and areas of common interest are developed through consensus. There will, of course, be areas where these organizations agree to disagree.

My experience of Friends of the Earth, is that it – like the Church of Norway – has a large number of passive members, who pay an annual membership fee more out of guilt, than belief. Yet, it is also resembles The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities, hoping to foster mutual respect and dialog between a variety of environmental perspectives, and working towards their equal treatment.

The Norwegian name of Friends of the Earth is not Verdens Venner or even Jordens Venner, as could be expected with a literal translation. Instead, it is Naturvernforbundet, which is officially translated as the cumbersome, The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature/ Friends of the Earth Norway. For linguists, one could cryptically add: natur = nature; vern = protection; forbund = for-bund = together bound = federation/ association/ society; et = neuter direct article = the, which is put at the beginning of the phrase in English. Note the general absence of norsk (adjective, not usually capitalized) = Norwegian, or Norge (noun, in Bokmål, spelt Noreg in Nynorsk or New Norwegian) = Norway. However, the name sometimes begins with Norges (possessive noun) = Norway’s, if there is a need to distinguish the organization from something in other countries.

Because of the structure of Friends of the Earth, there is no need for the organization to build consensus. Instead, individuals can position themselves to become representatives attending bi-annual national meetings, and voting on policy decisions. In this internet age, this 20th century approach means that a determined few, can decide policy that could be offensive to a more passive majority.

Some of the more radical and active members are able to capture the votes of this passive majority, and to use it to change/ uphold policy decisions. What appears to be consensus, can be more properly be described as a tyranny by the few. This problem can be remedied by replacing a representative democracy, with a direct democracy – one member, one vote. This is attaining using today’s internet technology.

Unfortunately, Friends of the Earth cannot be both dogmatic and ecumenical at the same time. If it opts to take a more ecumenical approach, then instead of communities of Buddhists, Hindus, Humanists and Sikhs (all groups not mentioned previously), there would be place for different views of environmentalism: field naturalists, species preservationists, workshop activists, to name three. Each group would then be allocated an agreed upon number of council members. A (bi-)annual meeting would appoint a board, which again employs a secretariat, and the organization would work towards consensus building.

Despite my role as leader of Friends of the Earth, Inderøy there are days when I contemplate leaving the organization. It is related to one significant flaw with Hamnett’s photo (above), and that is the negativity of her message. One never wins friends by telling people what not to do. Instead, there has to be a positive message that can be periodically reinforced.

Friends of the Earth, Norway, is on the warpath again against imported plant species, including those grown in private gardens. Instead of making positive suggestions to grown some under-rated, beautiful, endemic species, they want to induce guilt in people who chose immigrant species.

I think, in particular of the sand lupine, Lupinus nootkatensis, which thrives on sand and gravel-containing areas, growing to about 50-70 cm high. The species name originates from the Nootka Sound in British Columbia, Canada. It is a place I am intimately familiar with. The species was first listed on the Norwegian Black List 2007 (SE). Yet, the species came to Norway with The Norwegian State Railway (NSB), which used it to tie the slopes along the then (1878) newly constructed Jær Line, south from Stavanger for almost 75 km to Egersund. From there, the plant has spread along the railway and the road network to large parts of the country. Today, it is found in 16 of the country’s 19 traditional counties.

The species started its expansion from Jæren in the Southwest. It was observed in Stjørdal in 1911, which means it has been found in Trøndelag for at least 108 years. In a very short period of time, lupins grow densely, and where not limited by droughts, large, barren areas can be reclaimed quickly because of its nitrogen fixation abilities. It can also extract phosphorus from compounds in poor soils. In spite of these good qualities, it has a tendency to become dominant and overtakes the natural flora. Of course, the reason why lupins were used by the railway, is that there were no native Norwegian species capable of taking on the reclamation duties required: to combat erosion, to speed up land reclamation and to help with reforestation.

The reason for my despair, is that many environmentalists do not seem to understand that the world of 2050 will be vastly different from the world of 1950 or 1850. Unfortunately, many of the species previously thriving in Norway will be totally unsuited for continued life in Norway in thirty years time.

The Crowther Lab at ETH Zürich has examined expected temperatures for 2050, and found that Oslo will experience a 5.6 degree increase in its warmest month, and a 2.2 degree increase annually. This could significantly weaken the viability of many species, including Norway maple, Acer platanoides and strengthen an imigrant, Sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus, which was introduced to Norway about 1750, and has become naturalized. There are suggestions that the Sycamore is replacing species devastated by disease such as the wych elm, Ulmus glabra, and the European ash, Fraxinus excelsior, which is at its cultivation limit at Trondheim Fjord.

NB Information about Lupinus nootkatensis has been updated. Aparently, it was already placed on the Norwegian black list in 2007.

Telling the Climate story!

An alternative advertisement in Oslo depicting Swedish activist, 15-year old Grete Thunberg. Thunberg seems to have a much greater and more nuanced understanding of climatic challenges than, for example, Norwegian Prime Minister, 58-year old Erna Solberg. (Photo: Gunhild Hjermundrud, NRK)

While 40 000 school children held a strike for the climate last Friday, 2019-03-22, The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation published a chronicle by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, where she tried to respond to the students’ criticism.

Tried, but failed. In the chronicle, Solberg shows that she does not realize at all what the climate strike was about. “We must listen to your ideas,” she concedes. Unfortunately, listening was not one of the objectives of the strike. Rather, it was “Enough talk – we demand action!”.

Alternative advertisements? That is what happens when someone usurps paid advertising space that would normally be used to promote Coca-Cola, or other fine products made by multinational corporations. Fine products that, unfortunately, may not be all that healthy for individuals, humankind or the planet. Alternative advertisements promote an alternative vision. All that is needed is a large sheet of paper, some felt pens, and tape.


Global Warning

“The good Lord has to fix it. We’re not capable of it.” Voyd Fleming commented on life, global warming and California wild fires at the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Redding, California, a quotation appearing in: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/31/california-wildfire-climate-change-carr-fire

Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Redding, California. From the south. Photo Chad K. 2007-02-16

It is challenging to engage conservative Christians in discussions about climate.  Here are three responses.

  1. There is no need to do anything about climate change. Christ will return, and everything will be fine.
  2. There is no climate change. God micromanages the earth. There is no need for people to do anything.
  3. Forget climate change. Concentrate on business. God rewards Christians on Earth and well as in heaven. Capitalism, business jets and offshore tax shelters are all part of God’s plan.

This post was originally written 2018-08-01. It stopped here. In keeping with the above set of Christian principles, I waited patiently for God to finish writing this text for me, and to publish it. This did not happen. Thus, I have had to revise my text about God’s plan.

  1. Forget business. Concentrate on climate change. God rewards people on Earth and well as in heaven, who are or were stewards of his planet. Capitalism, business jets and offshore tax shelters have no place in God’s plan.
  2. Climate change is real. God does not micromanage the earth. People have to do everything, and they have to work together.
  3. Christ has already returned (as Baha’u’llah) – and left again, leaving us to deal with climate change. Nothing is fine until we learn to work together, for the benefit of all humanity.

The Charm of Skarnsund

Skarnsund is a Norwegian strait connecting the Beitstadfjorden with the outer section of the Trondheimsfjorden. It is 5-kilometres long and 0.5-kilometres wide, located in its entirety in the municipality of Inderøy. It is most noted its strong tidal current and maelstrom. Recreationally, it is world-famous in Norway, for its fishing and scuba diving.

The beach is located in the small beige area near the top right side of the map on Skarnsund. Cliff Cottage is located towards the bottom (perhaps 1/5 of the way up) on the right side of the map just where the road to Vangshylla bends to the right. Our driveway is also featured on the map at this point.
Today’s walk took us to a beach on the eastern shore of Skarnsund, about three kilometers walking from our house. There are three cottages at this beach front location. If supplies are to be brought in, the only practical way is by boat. The walk is far too steep and narrow to be of much use. With temperatures just below zero, it was cold enough for any mud on the pathway to freeze, which actually improved the grip, compared to mud that can be experienced when the temperature is above zero.

The first half of the walk features a path is more than wide enough for two people to walk beside each other.

Then the pathway becomes narrower, and steeper. This photo is taken looking backwards and upwards. A rope provides psychological comfort.

There is a bridge, for lack of a better word, near the bottom of the trail. The black line provides potable water, hopefully.

Depending on perspective, this is the first or last tree one encounters on the trail.

The beach at low tide, with markers showing where boats can be brought ashore.

Foundation walls of a Naust – a Norwegian boathouse.

The wood could do with a bit of paint, and the hinges probably could use some oil. The corrugated steel roof is good for another century of hard use.

Oak leaves indicate the presence of an oak tree,

It is Sunday, 2018-12-02 at 12:50. Sunrise was at 9:32, sunset at 14:37. This is almost as high as the sun gets in the winter. Skarnsund bridge, with Ytterøy in the backgroud. Ytterøy means outer island, in contrast with Inderøy which means inner island.

The Charm of Straumen

Welcome to Straumen, the administrative centre of Inderøy municipality, Trøndelag county, Norway. It occupies  1.33 square kilometres (330 acres), and has a population of 1 642 people (2017).

Views of Straumen

Inderøy, and Straumen in particular, is known as the Pearl of Trondheim’s Fjord. Needless to say, it was the village’s 19th century residents who inflicted this title on the world.

A view of Straumen from the east.

Straumbru, Straumen Bridge, crosses Børgin Fjord at its narrowest point.

Most residents in Straumen have a view of the sea.

Old Sakshaug church

Old Sakshaug Church dates from 1150-60, and is one of two medieval churches in the municipality.

Straumen, from the museum which is beside Old Sakshaug Church. New Sakshaug Church, from 1881, is to the right in the photograph. A new organ has been recently installed. While the sound quality has not been commented on, local residents are keen to report that this is the largest organ in old Nord-Trøndelag county.

 

Shopping

A pathway goes under highway 755. This building complex has a shopping mall on the lowest level, and apartments on the two upper stories.

E@ internet cafe, Marens bakeri and Jostu’, a shop featuring locally made products, are all part of Flyndra, the inter-municipal organization started in Inderøy that provides employment for those who otherwise would have difficulty finding it.

Euronics sells electrical appliances. One of two local banks is located to its left.

Sodd, a meat soup served on special occasions has been made in Inderøy since 1938. It is currently made in this building.

The local vet, a second bank, an electrical installation company all operate from this building. It was originally build in Steinkjer (20 km away) but was de-constructed and re-erected in Straumen. This required a bylaw change. Prior to this all building were required to have gabled roofs.

Shell is still selling diesel and gasoline. Here one can see the only gabled roof Shell station in Norway. Built to conform with local bylaws.

This mural is on the rear of the local Co-op grocery store. On the right is Reodor, yet another operational unit of Flyndra, for people with special needs. The name comes from Kjell Aukrust’s idiosyncratic character , Reodor Felgen (English: Theodore Rimspoke), who has become synonymous in Norway with Rube Goldberg type contraptions.  The reason this is being mentioned, is that I won the naming contest with that name.

Services

The municipal medical centre, complete with non-standard light pole. The upper story is a gym.

The municipal hall, previously the medical centre, before the new one was built.

A combined junior and senior secondary school with cultural centre. The most unusual aspect of it, is that while Inderøy municipality is responsible for the junior secondary schools, Trøndelag county is responsible for the senior secondary school.