Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tilting at Windmills: A Perspective on Environmentalists & Wind Turbines

On the Op-Ed page of today's NY Times Bill McKibben offers a important perspective on the division in the American environmental community over the impact of wind turbines (registration required).

Contemplating the impact of a new proposal to place 10 wind turbines at a ski facility in New York's Adirondack Park, he writes:
These newer, more efficient turbines are enormous; part of me doesn't want to gaze out from the summit of Peaked Mountain or the marsh at Thirteenth Lake and see an industrial project in the distance. In the best of all possible worlds, we'd do without them.

But it's not the best of all possible worlds. Right now, the choice is between burning fossil fuels and making the transition, as quickly as possible, to renewable power. There are more than 100 coal-fired power plants on the drawing board in this country right now; if they are built we will spew ever more carbon into the atmosphere. And that will endanger not only the residents of low-lying tropical nations that will be swamped by rising oceans, but also the residents of the Siamese Pond Wilderness. The birch and beech and maple that turn this place glorious in the fall won't survive a rapid warming; the computer modeling for this part of the country, conducted at the University of New Hampshire, shows that if we continue with business as usual there won't even be winter as we've known it here by century's end, just one long chilly mud season.

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