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We study the Gordon and Zarmi model [Am. J. Phys. 57, 995 (1989)] for dealing with the earth’s wind energy as a solar‐driven endoreversible heat engine under a nonendoreversible approach. We take into account the departure from an endoreversible regime through a parameter arising from the Clausius inequality. We use this approach for the Gordon–Zarmi maximum power criterion with two possible cold reservoirs: the 3 K surrounding universe and the 200 K isothermal tropopause shell. Our numerical results for the average extreme temperatures of the earth’s atmosphere and for the annual average energy of the earth’s winds are reasonable. We also use an ecological optimization criterion for the Gordon–Zarmi model. This criterion consists of an austere compromise between power and entropy production. With this model, we also obtain reasonable numerical results for extreme temperatures and the wind’s power. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.