Spring in Knoxville is especially exciting because of the flowering trees including Bartlett Pears, cheery trees, red buds and of course the white and pink dogwoods. East Tennessee is also the home of the snail darter, a rare fish that nearly stopped the construction of Tellico Dam. Fortunately the snail darter survived the dam's construction to swim another day.
There is little doubt that the name of John Muir is reverenced all over the world as a pioneer conservationist. Muir as a young man walked into East Tennessee during his thousand mile walk from Indiana to Florida. He entered Tennessee at Jamestown, and very much enjoyed his walk through the Cumberland Plateau,
Crossed a wide cool stream [Emory River], a branch of the Clinch River. There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream, and this is the first I ever saw. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers and overarching trees, making one of Nature's coolest and most hospitable places. Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator. Lingered in this sanctuary a long time thanking the Lord with all my heart for his goodness in allowing me to enter and enjoy it.Muir Wrote,
Discovered two ferns, Dicksonia and a small matted polypod on trees, common farther South. Also a species of magnolia with very large leaves and scarlet conical fruit. Near this stream I spent some joyous time in a grand rock-dwelling full of mosses, birds, and flowers
Most heavenly place I ever entered.Of course it was. Muir was in East Tennessee. What did he expect? Muir added,
The long narrow valleys of the mountainside, all well watered and nobly adorned with oaks, magnolias, laurels, azaleas, asters, ferns, Hypnum mosses, Madotheca [Scale-mosses], etc. Also towering clumps of beautiful hemlocks. The hemlock, judging from the common species of Canada, I regarded as the least noble of the conifers. But those of the eastern valleys of the Cumberland Mountains are as perfect in form and regal in port as the pines themselves. The latter abundant. Obtained fine glimpses from open places as I descended to the great valley between these mountains and the Unaka Mountains on the state line. Forded the Clinch, a beautiful clear stream, that knows many of the dearest mountain retreats that ever heard the music of running water. Reached Kingston before dark. Sent back my plant collections by express to my brother in Wisconsin.A few days later, Muir, probably walking in the southern reaches of the Smokies, close to the North Carolina state line observed,
Up the mountain on the state line. The scenery is far grander than any I ever before beheld. The view extends from the Cumberland Mountains on the north far into Georgia and North Carolina to the south, an area of about five thousand square miles. Such an ocean of wooded, waving, swelling mountain beauty and grandeur is not to be described. Countless forest-clad hills, side by side in rows and groups, seemed to be enjoying the rich sunshine and remaining motionless only because they were so eagerly absorbing it. All were united by curves and slopes of inimitable softness and beauty. Oh, these forest gardens of our Father! What perfection, what divinity, in their architecture! What simplicity and mysterious complexity of detail! Who shall read the teaching of these sylvan pages, the glad brotherhood of rills that sing in the valleys, and all the happy creatures that dwell in them under the tender keeping of a Father's care?No doubt the poverty which Muir observed on his way, did not encourage him to stay regardless of the transcendent beauty he had discovered during his East Tennessee walk. The truth is that Muir had only begun to discover an amazing landscape when his path lead him out of East Tennessee to the south. He journey was of course eventually to lead him to California. And eventually to the foundation of the Sierra Club.
Muir had been born in Scotland where he spent the first 10 years of his life. It is quite fitting that a conservation group in the United Kingdom, the John Muir Trust is devoted to
wild land conservation . . . in the UK.Amongthe issues which the John Muir foundation finds distressing is that of visual intrusion.
As the UK’s leading wild land conservation charity, the John Muir Trust is integral to the development of policy protecting such areas and addressing issues that threaten them. Practical experience as land owner and manager extends us special influence in such debates.This paradoxically brings the John Muir foundation up against one of the major shibboleths of the environmental left - perhaps pseudo-environmental pseudo-left would be a more accurate term - the notion that wilderness can be saved by building lots of windmills. At any rate unlike the visual pollution loving Sierra Club and pseudo-environmentalist Bill McKibben, the John Muir Trustdoes not believe that it is necessary to sacrifice wilderness to save wilderness. McKibben wrote,
According to Scottish Natural Heritage the amount of land unaffected by visual intrusion fell from 31% to 28% between 2008 and 2009. Our wild land has come under increasing pressure from inappropriate developments such as roads, power lines, wind farms and industrial scale forestry.
I know the area well; I’ve lived most of my adult life in this part of the world, and I’ve skied and backpacked through the old mine and the woods around it, searched for (and found) lost hunters, encountered its bears and coyotes and fisher, sat on its anonymous peaks and knolls and watched the hawks circle beneath. In fact, this very wilderness—these yellow birches, the bear that left that berry-filled pile of scat, those particular loons laughing on that particular lake—led me to fall in love with the world outdoors.The John Muir Trust dies not agree, an so the John Muir Trust commissioned research designed to test some favorite wind power myths. The myths are:
Which is precisely why I hope those wind turbines rise on the skyline, and as soon as possible.
1. “Wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year.”The myths were tested against publicly available data on UK wind performance between November 2008 and December 2010. Research findings supporeted the following conclusions,
2. “The wind is always blowing somewhere.”
3. “Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.”
4. “The probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.”
5. “Pumped storage hydro can fill the generation gap during prolonged low wind periods.”
1. Average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and 24.08% between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive.Unlike George Monbiot, the John Muir Trust has not yet been seduced by nuclear power, but I have to wonder how much longer they will hold out once they discover how silly the whole efficiency thing is.
2. There were 124 separate occasions from November 2008 till December 2010 when total generation from the windfarms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW. (Average capacity over the period was in excess of 1600MW).
3. The average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.
4. At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.
5. The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.