08 August 2009

Four Months til Copenhagen - Wind Power Cancelling Itself Out?

In a strange twist of email fate, I received two completely opposed messages one after the other in my inbox yesterday.

The first one was: "Wind-generated electricity finally feeds BC's power grid" (BC stands for British Columbia, the Canadian province in which I live). I felt some momentary pride (with a large splash of What took us so long?), until I read this next one:

"A wind farm is not the answer," in which all pro-renewable energy environmentalists are lumped together into a category of people who only care about "gigawatt hours, parts per million of carbon, peer-reviewed papers and 'sustainable development.'"

Talk about deflation.

This article from The Guardian by Paul Kingsnorth has some excellent points in it — only it's all too late. He says of a huge wind farm in Shetland, UK:

Does this sound very "green" to you? To me it sounds like a society fixated on growth and material progress going about its destructive business in much the same way as ever, only without the carbon. It sounds like a society whose answer to everything is more and bigger technology; a society so cut off from nature that it believes industrialising a mountain is a "sustainable" thing to do.

It also sounds like an environmental movement in danger of losing its way. The support for industrial wind developments in wild places seems to me a symbol of a lack of connectedness to an actual, physical environment. A development like that of Shetland is not an example of sustainable energy: it is the next phase in the endless human advance upon the non-human world - the very thing that the environmental movement came into being to resist.

Dear Mr. Kingsnorth: We have tried. We have failed. You're right, it's not nice that we have to mar the landscape with huge wind turbines. But remember that old saying, If you can't beat them, join them? Well, we can't beat them, but we might be able to steer them into a zero-carbon future.

If giant industrial windfarms will save the future of our species and innumerable others, then I'm not going to stand in the way. Where were all the wind farm protesters all these years when we were trying to fight Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Money? It's too late to fight "Big Wind" because we MUST get to zero carbon and we MUST invest in renewable energy to do it.

It appears that there aren't too many of us willing to make sacrifices or change our lifestyles for the sake of the children. So, we'd better give people what they want. With a twist of lime, but without the carbon please.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?