Friday, January 25, 2008

An Environmental Conundrum

Sphere: Related Content

There are tons of inconsistencies in the environmental movement such as plugging an electric car into an outlet that connects to the grid where the electricity is supplied by coal-burning, greenhouse gas emitting power plants or driving a Prius that leaves a larger carbon footprint than a Hummer.

This one beats them all however:

In a case with statewide significance, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office is pursuing a Sunnyvale couple under a little-known California law because redwood trees in their backyard cast a shadow over their neighbor's solar panels.

Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett own a Prius and consider themselves environmentalists. But they refuse to cut down any of the trees behind their house on Benton Street, saying they've done nothing wrong.

"We're just living here in peace. We want to be left alone," said Bissett, who with her husband has spent $25,000 defending themselves against criminal charges. "We support solar power, but we thought common sense would prevail."
You're so naive Mrs. Bissett, there's no common sense in the green movement, that's your first misconception.

Yes, you read that right, they faced "criminal charges" in this case and the judge still ordered them to go all Lorax on the cherished redwoods, trees that were planted before the electric car-driving plaintiff installed the solar cells.

The environmental movement is turning on itself and it should be an enjoyable slap fight to say the least. I know I'll enjoy watching them try to out green one another and also witness the California judiciary rule on arcane Jerry Brown-era environmental regulations.
Update: Thanks Glenn, link added above.


Anonymous said...

Here in NJ ,the forest has grown back form 10 percent (1910) to the current 42 percent (2007)
In my neighborhood there are houses that are situated well for solar panels...too bad about the the shade trees..

joated said...

Complete and total madness.

Here's hoping that when the trees do come down, they fall on the neighbors' home.

newscaper said...

The enviros are getting sucked into this trap of hypocrisy and contradiction because they "act locally" in order to be self-righteous, and actually don't *objectively* "think globally" about their actions' complete contexts/costs.
Either because its too hard, or it gets in the way of feeling good (and superior).

JBlog said...

It's the law of unintended consequences in action.

Fred Fry said...

If I were a lumber company I would seriously consider branching into solar energy. You know, for the environment.

Anonymous said...

If I was the judge I'd wack the solar panel guy upside the head and force him to run on a treadmill to generate green power*. The trees didn't grow over night, this tool installed his panels in their shadow knowingly.

*Yes I know calorie intake vs power means this isn't a green solution, it's justice we're talking here!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and anyone who still thinks environmentalists are about the environment and not about being elite hasn't been paying attention. No nukes, no windfarms, no solutions are good enough. Contradictions are gonna result.

As they say inconsistencies are the hobgoblin of little minds, and the elites do not worry about such things.

Pete said...


Actually, I think the guy running on the treadmill is a "green" solution. He gets his calories from grain (either carbs eaten or meat that ate grain, etc.) which gets its energy from photosynthesis. Every molecule of CO2 he puts puts out, some plant had to take in. So you were dead on. Put him on the treadmill.

Ken S said...

Manual Trackback™

As noted in that post, it's really okay to kill these trees because they are trying to kill us.

Anonymous said...

Actually, food has a large carbon footprint that has nothing to do with the calories themselves, which as you rightly point out, come from the air and so don't count.

Tractors, Crop Dusters, Trucks, Refridgerators, Locomotive Engines, Aircraft if you are talking strawberries in January, Fizzy water from Italy, voluntary extinction is the only solution for these whackos, really.

Paddy said...

Where are those new Druids when you need them?

Anonymous said...

Depends on which was there first. If the trees were growing before the neighbor's house was built, than the trees should stay. But maybe the tree owners could compromise by trimming the trees to make sure the neighbors get the sun they need for their solar power. What a wonderful world it would be if we were more considerate of our neighbor...kind of a golden rule world.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the solar panel owners should sue the engineer and/or architect of record on the project.

Part of any solar project involves calculating the "lighted" area (including seasonal variations) and coming up with an efficiency or per-panel effectiveness. This then dictates where you place the panels as well as how many you need. This is solar design 101, and the how-to is included in many books and design guides.

Assuming the trees were in fact there before the solar project began, the calculations and design were muffed even prior to installation. It appears then, that the solar panel owners, unhappy with the performance or cost/benefit ratio, may have tried to sue the engineer/architect of record unsuccessfully perhaps, and are now going after the next deepest pockets.

So sad.

Anonymous said...

"Assuming the trees were in fact there before the solar project began" Since redwoods take decades to get up to size you must be talking about Ents. Damn that Treebeard loves to mess with the environmentalists.

Terri said...

Congrats on your instalaunch. Well deserved! Great Post!!

Dana H. said...

This illustrates yet again that the only way to be consistently green is to be dead.

rc said...

This is what happens when consumer environmentalism gets smacked by reality.

It's a tempting lie: people claim that all you have to do is buy -this- overpriced hybrid and install -these- solar panels in order to save the world. But what about conservation? How bout riding a bike? No, those things would require sacrifice- it's a better idea to make your neighbors cut down their trees.

And did the whiny enviro-couple weigh the increased cooling costs incurred by a house with a sun-exposed side? In Sacramento, for example, electric companies actually offer subsidies for folks to plant trees around their homes- it decreases the house's energy 'footprint'

This enviro-couple is just whining because their enviro-toys aren't working as well as advertised on their recycled plastic enviro-packaging.

Swen Swenson said...

How bizarre. If the neighbors' house were shading their solar screens would they be suing to have that torn down?

Anonymous said...

"Depends on which was there first." Article clearly states the trees were planted from 1997 to 1999, and the solar panels were installed in 2001.

Nik said...

Donald Trump built a gleaming tinted glass obelisk of a millionaire's apartment building (with the wonderfully memorable Jean George restaurant next to the lobby). Problem was, it cast a huge shadow across Central Park at certain times of year. But, unlike this poor couple, I think Trump had enough palms greased to stay out of trouble. Every time a skyscraper-tall housing complex goes up in NYC, the local neighborhood committee starts putting up fliers and stringing web site banners across their existing buildings to try to stop construction. But people who so happily finally get a job in Manhattan ("wow, the big city!"), are subjected to MASSIVE "sticker shock" in that the rent for a suburban-garage sized studio apartment is about $1800 a month, no matter where you want to live on Manhattan. So many live in Jersey or commute from the middle of cheap, formerly industrial areas of Long Island.

The big problem here, is that those darn trees grew too fast due to carbon dioxide fertilization, just as the same tree species grow *twice* as fast in Central Park as in Jersey, despite Trumps attempt to kill them all.

Being in the middle of the book "Liberal Fascism" and after early on reading "The Skeptical Environmentalist" I now see Environmentalism as a merely a new way to create a "war-like" crisis in order for us dumb public (bourgeoisie) to treat the government like a new church. But it's so funny how soft and bumbling this new religion has hitched it wagon to junk science, just like the old religion did! You can't politicize science, over the long term, because it is that unique human endeavor that actually sticks to real facts and will not be bent except in short term lapses of rigor that quickly extinguish themselves.

The trees have not been cut down yet? Well, then, it's time to name names. Prosecutor? Neighbors? District contacts? Governor and Senators? Solar panel company? Pro-bono attorneys who could collect punitive civil "harassment suit" charges against the solar fanatics and their minions in local government, and then they could use the money to transplant a few even bigger trees. From what I remember, property rights extend up into the air quite a few miles, but though you need permits to build a mile high house, you don't need a permit to fertilize a tree or three.

Sounds like it's time for the owners to send interviewers to follow the solar creeps around and make their lives fully exposed to bright light after all.

From Inwood said...


Think that you meant Mort Zuckerman not The Donald.

steve miller said...

Trimming the trees is not an option - these are healthy trees, no doubt, and redwood trees (and other similar conifers) when topped turn into something that does not look like redwood trees - instead, they look like a hedge. It destroys their beauty.

You don't want trees shading your solar panels? Well, I dunno, but perhaps you could locate your solar panels where they don't fall under the shadow of the trees. You could negotiate with your neighbors. Barring that, you could either live with things the way they are, or you could move.

But taking them to court because you are inconvenienced by actions you take?

The height of environmentalist whacko thinking.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your posts, but if I were you, I'd quit referring to that Prius vs. Hummer carbon footprint stuff... it has been debunked quite thoroughly, quite easily found on the internet.