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Letters and email from readers about Backwoods Home Magazine and the BHM website


Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category


Len Torney Article

Thursday, November 19th, 2009


Me and two auto buddies used Len Torney’s info for a fleet upgrade. Gas saver idea.

Thanks, he’s a smart dude!!

If we save what he says, I guess we should send him a case of Foam.


Phi, James & Bill the (aka Fat Tire)


Global warming

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Great piece – I enjoy the tongue in cheek approach.

But what if the environmentalists really are at fault?

Remember back in the 70’s when they were crying about the coming Ice Age. But then they got the EPA to clamp down on coal burning, especially for electrical generation. Soon enough, don’t you know it, the skies cleared up from all the soot and next thing we’re experiencing Global Warming.

Of course that might also mean that increased industrialization, especially of India and China, is responsible for the decline and reversal of Global Warming over the last 10 years.

Wouldn’t the watermelons* hate to admit that?

Phill Osborn
Hagerstown, Md.

*watermelon – green on the outside but red on the inside


Wind Theory

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Dear Mr. Del Signore:

I must first preface my comments by saying that I am somewhat of an agnostic regarding this whole global warming issue. While I believe the problem is real, I am still not convinced of it’s seriousness or whether we can realistically do anything to stop it. Nor am I a blind faith-based global warming denier. So, I will stick to the particulars of the theory you have proffered.

Your explanation of what causes wind and how it works is largely correct, in that the energy in the wind comes entirely from the sun, as the sun sets up convection currents between warm and cool areas on the earth’s surface. The kinetic energy in the wind eventually dissipates in the form of low-level heat as the result of friction effects when the wind comes in contact with the irregular surface of the earth (and to a lesser degree, as the result of turbulence within the wind stream itself). Because the sun continues to shine and continues to set up convection currents, a steady state is achieved, which is why the wind continues to blow.

Now, here are several areas where I think you run astray in your theory that wind turbines act to slow the rotation of the earth.

First off, even if wind power were built out to some total conceivable maximum, the combined swept area of all the wind turbines would represent but a tiny fraction of a percent of the total area of all the obstacles on the surface of the earth that the wind would normally encounter. Furthermore, as the rate of global deforestation continues to increase, we are very likely decreasing the amount of obstacles to the free flow of wind, despite the building of wind turbines. In other words, for every wind turbine built, there are probably thousands of trees over a hundred feet high that have been cut down, thus providing a smoother path for the wind than it had when the trees were still standing.

Second (and this is far more subtle), being that the earth is a rotating sphere, and the wind a fluid moving on the surface of that sphere, the motion of the wind is far from uniform and takes on the form of distinct circular patterns (e.g., the ‘trade winds’ etc.) that interact with each other in complex ways. Thus, for every unit of wind-induced momentum transfered to the earth in the direction of the earth’s rotation, there is somewhere on the earth’s surface an equal amount of wind-induced momentum transferred in the direction opposite to the earth’s rotation. It can probably be mathematically proven that these have to cancel out (just don’t ask me to do it), and result in no net transfer of momentum to the earth.

Anyway, it’s a very interesting theory. You ought to look into it further, as I strongly suspect that somewhere in the geophysical literature someone somewhere has analyzed just this sort of thing.


Edmund Dohnert
Wilmington, Delaware

Sorry, Edmund, but I’m going to take a page from the Liberal Handbook and stick with my theory despite all the facts and evidence to the contrary.

It’s new world of hope and change and I’m going to be a good citizen and get with the program. I’m going to hope the laws of nature will change so I can be right.

And even if they don’t, perhaps I can get my congresscritter to introduce new legislation revising the relevant natural laws so my theory will be correct.

I mean, if they can revise the “natural laws” of economics and business and banking, why not those of other inconvenient things like physics?

Thanks for writing.



Your global warming article

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Undoubtedly many people have already written to you, explaining the fallacy of your argument about windmills and the speed of the earth’s rotation. But I couldn’t restrain myself from adding this email to the list.

The fact is that the earth as a whole – together with all its windmills and everything else – has a certain amount of angular momentum which, according to the principle of the conservation of angular momentum, on its own remains constant. The fact that the angular momentum of the earth is changing is due to the effect of the moon on the earth. The moon’s gravity gives rise to the tides in the oceans, resulting in a not perfectly symmetrical gravitational attraction between the earth and the moon. The result of this is that the earth slows down rotationally, while the diameter of the orbit of the moon gradually increases. That is to say, both the length of the day and also the length of the month are becoming longer. By studying the rings on fossilized mussels, this phenomenon can be verified. Another effect is of course the fact that the extra movement of the water in the oceans given by tidal currents converts a tiny amount of the kinetic energy of the earth-moon system into heat in the earth.

However despite all this, it is equally obvious that the arguments of the “global warming” enthusiasts are also false. While your article causes only amusement, the fallacies of the global warming people are causing very real suffering in the world.


Geoffrey Hemion


The whole idea was so foolish, I thought, as you did, that many people would write to dispute it, or at least curse me for making fun of the global warming wackos. It was not to be. Maybe they figured I was too much of a wacko to bother with…and maybe they’re correct.

I did notice that, right about the time I put that online, I started hearing less and less about global warming and more and more about “climate change.” Perhaps Al Gore finally thought to check and discovered the planet has been cooling recently. Perhaps if this cooling continues for a few more years we can look forward to a new Gore movie about glaciers reaching the equator if we don’t do whatever he thinks we should do. Hmmm…I wonder if he’ll start buying back all those carbon credits his company has been selling?

I guess only time will tell.

Thanks for writing.




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