Climate Change

Reap the Wind, Harvest the Sun

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

I’m often thought of as “Mr. Sunshine” for seeing the silver linings in just about everything. Yes, I’ve heard it is said among family members, “No sense in telling Lee your problems, he’ll just say, ‘The sun is shining.'”

Well, I have to admit I do tend to see life’s miseries as a cup of sadness…only half full. The top half of the glass is of fresh air…optimism…persistence.

I think optimism breeds enthusiasm for change. And it’s change we do indeed need.

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Glass and photo, Leebythesea

I don’t need to itemize all the stats of scientific climate change data, you know them all too well.

And we are seeing the results of this climate change in more powerful and frequent storms that unleash wind, rain and floods in biblical proportions. And weirdly…droughts!

But I do have confidence in human spirit, ingenuity and persistence. So there is plenty of reason to hope.

Sometimes hope comes from unexpected places.  Not many years ago it was said, “Why should we bother doing anything when China is burning more coal?” And that was true.

But today China leads the way:

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Solar panels Shenyang, China. Photo Getty Images

In 2016 China’s solar capacity doubled. Do you think the above panels might one day be miniaturized, while doubling and redoubling again their capacity? China’s youth are more concerned about climate change than any other threat, Chinese action against climate change will only intensify.

Locally, wind farms are being built off Long Beach and many complain, among other issues, “It will ruin our beautiful horizon.” I suspect the Chinese look at their public solar panels, not as a visual blight, but as signs of air-quality progress. At least they can see the solar panels.

Sweden has a deadline for zero emissions, even Saudi Arabia wants to be a “solar powerhouse.”

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Photo, NY Newsday

Wind power is here. Generators dating to 1925 on Block Island RI were shut down early this month.

They were replaced with wind power from turbines just a few miles off shore. More wind turbines are to be added there soon to power the South Fork of Long Island:

About three miles from Long Beach the Town of Hempstead (TOH) Dept of Conservation and Waterways has a wind turbine and arrays of solar panels at their site at Point Lookout.

The turbine, built in 2011, powers the extraction of hydrogen from water. The process is called electrolysis, no we’re not talking hair removal. Electricity generated from the wind turbine is passed through the water to extract the hydrogen::

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The wind turbine at Pt. Lookout, NY

Hydrogen separated from oxygen in this process is stored, then used to power, on demand Town of Hempstead vehicles. The TOH has, at this point, three vehicles in this pilot project, two Ford pickup trucks and one Ford bus. The fueling station also supported Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle prototype program.

The two pickup  trucks are powered by natural gas that has been compressed though the electricity garnered from the wind turbine. The bus runs on hydrogen extracted from the water as described above. Vehicles powered by hydrogen contribute zero pollution to our atmosphere.

The electricity generated from the wind turbine and the solar arrays also powers the Conservation and Waterways buildings at the site. What ever electricity is not used goes on the grid to offset other electric costs.

If this five-year-old “pinwheel” can do all that, what can a farm of these sea dandelions do? Norway’s Statoil won an auction for 79,000 acres 14 miles off Long Beach to erect wind turbines. Yes, the wind and water beckons.

Toyota is leading the way in hydrogen powered vehicles with their Mirai.

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2017 Toyota Mirai, Photo Google Images

Toyota has been making inroads, so to speak, in California where the above Mirai is currently available. But hydrogen stations to charge its vehicles, and other hydrogen vehicles, are expected soon in our NY region: “Air Liquide has entered a long-term lease agreement for one station to be located in Hempstead and another in Brooklyn”

Toyota expects to have 12 hydrogen stations in the Northeast soon. Hydrogen vehicles or Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, (FCEV), take five minutes to refuel and have a 300 mile range:

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Wind turbine and solar array at TOH Conservation and Waterways site, Pt. Lookout, NY

There is a rising tide of resistance and persistence in America towards efforts to reduce the effectiveness of the EPA. Thousands turned out this month on our Long Beach boardwalk to demonstrate their enthusiasm to save our planet:

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A glass half full of enthusiasm and…persistence


Arbor Day March for our Environment May 7, 2017


Thousands march for our environment at Long Beach, NY

Our Long Island shores have felt the devastation of climate change through its attendant sea level rise. These new sea levels have caused storm surges to flood communities, in the form of hurricane Sandy, from Long Island to New Jersey.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent at the shore of Long Beach to “mitigate” another Sandy-type storm surge. Jetties are being rebuilt, new sand berms are being emplaced.

Sure, it’s a relative band aid to the real overarching issue of climate change, but when America’s  homes and communities are at risk the best of today’s industry comes to the rescue.

Last spring we Long Beach lovers heard only the caw of gulls, the screech of oystercatchers…against a background of pulsing surf.

But this year the sounds are machinery mauling the jetties and the concussive bang of boulders on steel.


There’s dust flying amidst the fumes of diesel trucks waiting to unload their New Jersey quarry loads. Some beaches are closed, of course. And some look like a rocky Marscape:


So, sure there is reason to complain, there’s noise and disruption.

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Long Beach…ya got a nice rack!

But as bad as it is for those living seismically close to the boulder deliveries, it’s a Disney delight for young eyes.

We have a Long Beach Jurassic park beneath our boardwalk balcony.

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The shore is alive with mechanized sand-whales breaching the surf…

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…while clawing talons build beds of stone beneath the sea.

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What child wouldn’t love to see this jettisaurous in action.

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And who, of the young-at-heart, doesn’t stop and gape at this rock and jetty show?

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It is fascinating to watch this Long Beach shore reconstruction, the shore upon which I live.  It’s a rock by rock movement to mitigate the effects of inch by inch sea rise. But I can’t help but see it as a metaphor of our struggle, mind by mind, against climate deniers in government.

Just as it is marvelous to behold the confluence of engineers and engines, men and machines, all coming together to bring construction ideas into action. So also is it marvelous to behold the confluence of men, women, children, marching, making calls, making signs, wrestling to move minds…as these giant cranes…wrestle to move rocks.

Whether of not you believe climate change is related to human activity…don’t you think it’s time we got off the fossil fuel teat!?

Put energy focus on coal? Coal? Shouldn’t we be mining water for hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe: It’s as if the universe is calling out to us: The Earth bathes in sunlight. The wind is an almost constant meteorological factor.

Shouldn’t we be harvesting the sun’s rays? Reaping the wind’s power?

Is it so hard to connect these dots…these stepping stones…leading to Earth’s survival?

Video “Jettisaurous Rex”, by Lee Winters.

Music, Keiko Matsui’s “Against the Wind”:

Be well,

See also:

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