February 1, 2013
Environmentalist James Lovelock wrote an interesting email in December in protest to the plans to build a wind farm in the UK. He was arguing that such abundant evident symbols of industrial power plants in an ecologically sensitive area would make the region vulnerable to urban development. These words: “vulnerable to urban development” got me thinking about what it is about wind turbines that I find so offensive. In other words, for me, the visual eyesore of wind turbines is not the turbine itself, the noise or the threat to birds, but rather it is the message it sends to the public about energy production that invites further economic development and exploitation. Each turbine (and we need hundreds of thousands of them) sends a message: “we are generating, so consume away, guilt-free, develop, drive your electric cars and do not worry about conservation … and since we are here and using nature, why not develop this area more … maybe a strip mall?”. This is one more reason why I feel “green energy” is so environmentally destructive.
A wind turbine on an ecological landscape is profane – strutting its stuff for all to see much like a prostitute on the street corner. If, as a child, I had grown up in a neighbourhood with prostitutes in windows and on street corners, I would most likely have a cheapened view of women, sex and human dignity. The continued reminders of human consumption, carnal plenitude and exploitation of women would make me think less about, and value less, human worth. Like that prostitute, each wind turbine stands on the horizon, reminding me that energy is ours for the taking, carnal plenitude for developing new gadgets, guilt-free and without any feeling of sacrifice. It vulgarises the environment and links our landscape to exploitation and development. Why should I consider cutting my consumption or conserving energy? But like sex with a prostitute, that quick feel-good feeling ultimately leaves a greater emptiness. In a twisted manner, and against their intentions, the Story of Stuff series seems to confirm this.
When will public officials get this message? They moved brothels out of cities and away from citizenry in order to preserve a perception of human worth and dignity. Yet turbines are everywhere now, in full view (moving them off-shore is too expensive and too limited), cheapening the environment and inviting further exploitation for our carnal pleasures. This mixed message lacks authenticity, and although counter-intuitive, I would respect nature more, consume less and be aware of my need to act sustainably if I did not have to see that three-pronged whore trying to tempt me.
OK, I understand this is completely offensive and that the Risk-Monger may have gone too far with this comparison. Indeed, the women forced into prostitution have little choice and are the victims of exploitation and profiteering. Those pushing wind farms on us (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Vestas, WWF, Al Gore …) are like pimps, trying to persuade us that it is OK to consume, without concern or the need to sacrifice our lifestyle (in much the same way they try to peddle recycling, electric cars and organic food as manipulative attempts to make us feel good about ourselves, thinking our consumption can come cheaply). With so much environmental exploitation in our face, our mindset can change for the worse while we still think of ourselves as green.
For many people with self-confidence issues, prostitutes are nice to look at, but they would never want to live with one. Similarly, for wind turbines, environmentalists like to look at them from the comfort of their electric cars. We should call these people ecological voyeurs or NIMBY Johns.
And Wind Turbine Syndrome looks to be the new gonorrhoea.
Let me conclude with a couple astonishing quotes from Lovelock’s above-linked email:
Even if there were no alternative source of energy to wind we would still ask that this 84 metre high industrial power plant was placed in less ecologically sensitive areas. Better still we should look to the French who have wisely chosen nuclear energy as their principal source; a single nuclear power station provides as much as 3200 large wind turbines.
I should not dare to correct such a great man, but 3200 wind turbines assumes an optimum wind condition (nameplate capacity), while most turbines operate at only around 30% efficiency (so that is 10,000 continuous messages of environmental exploitation for every nuclear reactor). In any case, Lovelock expressed shame at what the environmentalist movement has become, closing his letter in stunning style:
We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.
I could not end this blog better myself. Another environmentalist with integrity.