'Won't we eventually stop the Earth from rotating?'

Imagine a concept for the perfect "green", safe, sustainable, zero-emissions, invisible (literally) energy technology with potential for limitless power.  Radical environmentalists will still object!

This is what I learned when I perused the website of Florida Atlantic University's (FAU) Center of Excellence for Ocean Energy Technology, which is pursuing R&D on innovative technology to anchor buoys 500 meters deep in the gulf stream equipped with turbines to harness the slow but powerful, steady, ocean-current for generation of electricity. At the depth proposed, the turbines will be insulated from damaging surface waves and storms; they will also be deeper than almost all marine life, except whales.  As a practicing engineer, I personally think that the idea has tremendous potential. My own assessment is that the most difficult problem to overcome will be protection of the moving parts and high-voltage power transmission cables from the notoriously corrosive effects of salt-water.  Nonetheless, here are the practical and green attributes of this proposed concept:

  1. Sustainable -- no fuel whatsoever
  2. Zero emissions
  3. Invisible (literally submerged far off-shore) so it overcomes "not in my back yard" ((NIMBY)
  4. Safe - no radiation or spent fuel rods to store for millennia

An environmentalist's dream right?  Wrong!  Check out the comments from this environmental website  in an article that reports on FAU's project, where they compete with each other to devise objections, such as:
- I'm glad they're investigating the impact on sea life. I strongly suspect they'll find this doesn't work out with the creatures who were there first.

- In my humble opinion it looks like that the installation of these underwater turbine will create an ecological disaster! Based on the 3D rendering above it looks like one would have to destroy the ocean floor to build and erect these
monstrosities.

-   Actually, the Army Corp of Engineers studied this in the 50s and 60s and found that if you slow down the gulf stream, you not only disturb marine life but the entire climate! The gulf stream brings warmer weather all the way to Europe. Sorry guys, this is not our solution for energy

And my favorite:

- If we adopt too many of these systems to supply our electricity, won't we eventually stop the Earth from rotating?

How about the "NIMBY" benefit?  Wrong again:

- One final point, when we hide the means of production of energy, we allow ourselves the luxury of ignoring its impact. Since we cannot, as a species, trust ourselves to act in the best interests of the planet upon which we depend, we should be designing systems that are absolutely "in our faces", NOT hidden away. Perhaps, then, we would resort to the ultimate (albeit non-"design") solution: drastically reducing consumption of power, and limiting our own numbers.
Now it may be unfair to judge a website by its commenters -- and in truth there were also many very positive comments, as well as corrections to the inanities in the comments reproduced above -- but I believe that the sheer ignorance revealed about the enormous expanse of the ocean, the miniscule effect that any man-made activity can have on the gulf-stream -- never mind the earth's rotation -- is very indicative of eco-activists in general.  They betray their radical urban roots in this regard with little knowledge of the outdoors, the ocean, the atmosphere, the solar system and science in general.  Yet they have no fear of pronouncing on and denouncing subjects that are beyond their ken.  Rather than seek meaningful solutions, they always resort to "object! object! object!" to whatever is proposed even on the flimsiest of grounds, even if it contradicts their previous objections. Keep this in mind the next time radical environmentalists protest an industrial project in your region.
Imagine a concept for the perfect "green", safe, sustainable, zero-emissions, invisible (literally) energy technology with potential for limitless power.  Radical environmentalists will still object!

This is what I learned when I perused the website of Florida Atlantic University's (FAU) Center of Excellence for Ocean Energy Technology, which is pursuing R&D on innovative technology to anchor buoys 500 meters deep in the gulf stream equipped with turbines to harness the slow but powerful, steady, ocean-current for generation of electricity. At the depth proposed, the turbines will be insulated from damaging surface waves and storms; they will also be deeper than almost all marine life, except whales.  As a practicing engineer, I personally think that the idea has tremendous potential. My own assessment is that the most difficult problem to overcome will be protection of the moving parts and high-voltage power transmission cables from the notoriously corrosive effects of salt-water.  Nonetheless, here are the practical and green attributes of this proposed concept:

  1. Sustainable -- no fuel whatsoever
  2. Zero emissions
  3. Invisible (literally submerged far off-shore) so it overcomes "not in my back yard" ((NIMBY)
  4. Safe - no radiation or spent fuel rods to store for millennia

An environmentalist's dream right?  Wrong!  Check out the comments from this environmental website  in an article that reports on FAU's project, where they compete with each other to devise objections, such as:
- I'm glad they're investigating the impact on sea life. I strongly suspect they'll find this doesn't work out with the creatures who were there first.

- In my humble opinion it looks like that the installation of these underwater turbine will create an ecological disaster! Based on the 3D rendering above it looks like one would have to destroy the ocean floor to build and erect these
monstrosities.

-   Actually, the Army Corp of Engineers studied this in the 50s and 60s and found that if you slow down the gulf stream, you not only disturb marine life but the entire climate! The gulf stream brings warmer weather all the way to Europe. Sorry guys, this is not our solution for energy

And my favorite:

- If we adopt too many of these systems to supply our electricity, won't we eventually stop the Earth from rotating?

How about the "NIMBY" benefit?  Wrong again:

- One final point, when we hide the means of production of energy, we allow ourselves the luxury of ignoring its impact. Since we cannot, as a species, trust ourselves to act in the best interests of the planet upon which we depend, we should be designing systems that are absolutely "in our faces", NOT hidden away. Perhaps, then, we would resort to the ultimate (albeit non-"design") solution: drastically reducing consumption of power, and limiting our own numbers.
Now it may be unfair to judge a website by its commenters -- and in truth there were also many very positive comments, as well as corrections to the inanities in the comments reproduced above -- but I believe that the sheer ignorance revealed about the enormous expanse of the ocean, the miniscule effect that any man-made activity can have on the gulf-stream -- never mind the earth's rotation -- is very indicative of eco-activists in general.  They betray their radical urban roots in this regard with little knowledge of the outdoors, the ocean, the atmosphere, the solar system and science in general.  Yet they have no fear of pronouncing on and denouncing subjects that are beyond their ken.  Rather than seek meaningful solutions, they always resort to "object! object! object!" to whatever is proposed even on the flimsiest of grounds, even if it contradicts their previous objections. Keep this in mind the next time radical environmentalists protest an industrial project in your region.