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Windbags Should Pipe Down on Wind Energy Opposition

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Message Linda Pentz Gunter

What is more pleasing to look at: a smoke stack or a wind turbine?  A mountain blown apart or a wind turbine? Another concrete nuclear monolith or a wind turbine?

These questions are, astoundingly, still the subject of debate. Those who fuss about the “unsightly” appearance of wind turbines apparently have failed to notice that the planet is in crisis.

We must act expediently to stem runaway climate change. Wind power is the fastest growing energy source in the world, topping 100,000 megawatts worldwide. It can be installed quickly and relatively cheaply – far faster and less expensively than nuclear or fossil fuel plants. It’s safe, unlike nuclear energy, and relatively non-polluting, unlike the toxic sludge produced by coal mining. Nuclear power plants release radioactivity; coal plants a toxic brew of gases that have helped elevate childhood asthma to epidemic proportions in the U.S. Wind turbines do neither.

Wind energy, if installed in just 12 U.S. states, could supply 2.5 times the entire current U.S. electricity production, according to new work by Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Six states – each one alone, not combined – could generate more wind energy than the electricity produced by all 104 operating U.S nuclear reactors, Makhijani states in his book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.

Yet, incredibly, wind farms continue to encounter opposition, because, opponents insist, they represent a blight on the landscape that must be blocked at all costs. Even off-shore wind, whose turbines would be the size of a thumbnail on the horizon, has faced protracted opposition, including from usually strong environmentalists like Senator Edward Kennedy. Kennedy tried subtly to kill Cape Wind’s attempts to site an off-shore wind farm in Nantucket Sound by slipping an amendment into the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill. (Although Kennedy couched his objections to the Cape Wind project in procedural principles, most people suspected he was more concerned about the view from the back porch of his Hyannis Port mansion.)

These absurd and elitist objections need to stop. We simply do not have time for the windbag whinings of the wind power naysayers. In ten years or less our planet could be in terminal decline due to our excessive emissions of greenhouse gases. Wind power can put a stop to this and it is a moral imperative that we implement it, along with other sustainable energy measures, as fast as possible.

Otherwise, the logical outcome of a wind farm killed will be another mountain-top blown off and the resulting hideous slurry leaching into the landscape, contaminating people, animals and the environment. Do the wind opponents really find such a prospect more to their aesthetic liking? I doubt it. But our energy will need to come from somewhere and coal is the most likely on-going source. In addition, killing wind opens the door to the oxymoronic push for “clean coal” and to the expansion of nuclear power plants which represent sitting-duck terrorist targets.

Indeed, a well-financed push is on to convince Americans we are in some sort of nuclear “renaissance,” a word that has been thoroughly misappropriated by an industry that can make no claim to beauty nor that it represents some sort of flowering of great culture, art and music. The nuclear industry is ready to grab 50% of the funding to be offered in the forthcoming – and grossly misnamed – Lieberman-Warner Climate Change bill. If the bill succeeds, wind energy will once again be relegated to the federal funding backseat it has occupied for decades.

Our global climate emergency demands that we act today to substitute sustainable energy resources for the dirty, polluting dinosaurs of the 20th Century. If we bow instead to the whims of the anti-wind aesthetes, it will be too late.


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Linda Gunter is a former journalist who continues to write columns for newspapers and on-line sites. As a reporter she wrote for Reuters, the Times (UK), the New York Times and numerous newspapers and magazines and was a broadcaster with the USA and (more...)
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