My One-Time, Tacit Support of Industrial Wind: A Confessional
[Ed. Note: This testimonial joins Michael Morgan's last week indicating a growing disconnect between Washington, D.C.-based BIG ENVIRONMENTALISM and in-the-pristine, grassroots, common-sense environmentalism. Mr. Cudnohufsky's bio follows this post.]
On a regular basis, friends are surprised to learn of my recently voiced concerns about industrial wind. Enlightened, perceptive and thoughtful people, they share much of my concern for our earth and human communities.
They ask me, “Isn’t wind a good thing? What concerns you and why? Wind is a large renewable resource used for centuries! We are behind the rest of the world in the use of wind power! We need to address climate change. What is your solution?”
These friends have not incorporated wind energy investigation into their busy lives. With climate change, unemployment, a stagnant economy, health care legislation and a war all screaming for attention, there is to be expected a certain complacency and acceptance of industrial wind.
Despite little time for research, there is strong emotional conviction from the dwindling proponents of wind power as well as the growing number of opponents. Once healthy, convivial communities are sometimes permanently divided by the issue.
It takes but a minute’s reflection to realize that just over two years ago, I held the same opinion of wind that some of my friends do now. However, investigation of industrial wind has led me to this well-considered conclusion: industrial wind is a total sham! Not only is it horrendously impactful, but it also does not work in any meaningful manner. But efficacy is a subject for another discussion.
What has led to our collective and tacit endorsement of industrial wind energy? Why do some of us hold such strong yet naive convictions that industrial wind actually does work?
My past assumptions were:
Worldwide examples are constructed proof.
I have seen turbines at work producing electrical energy by spinning blades so it obviously must be a tested and proven technology. Besides, turbines are often striking, at minimum interesting, and for some, even attractive.
Certainly there is so much money and risk investment involved that it must have been peer-reviewed and vetted to cover that risk. After all, so many good minds — technical, financial and scientific — have been applied.
A coherent story with impressive immediate promises.
Government and corporate publications and pronouncements are clear, coherent, consistent, statistic-laden (homes served, CO2 saved and jobs created) and enticing. All point to the wonder of this renewable energy-capturing technology.
An enticing magical silver bullet.
Industrial wind is promoted as a clean, green, economical (some say free), sustainable and non-polluting source of energy where every kW of wind energy produced eliminates the need for a polluting kW. Is this not logical and simple to understand?
Technology is our savior.
I have long held belief that we as a society have the capacity to make meaningful change and our technologies will and must be a large part of that change. If wind is not perfect now, it is at least in a process of being perfected. Technology is improving daily!
Simple unshakable fear.
There is the genuine fear that our nation and our world are in serious trouble, trouble that may truly lead to the end of civilization and render our earth uninhabitable. We need to get on with corrections starting now, even if modest. There is extreme urgency!
There is the guilt that my somewhat unconscious, consumptive living is making the problems worse. I wish to support and be known for supporting a way to improve.
Trust in those we elect and hire.
There was my trust in our government and our corporations doing the research. I believed that 25 years of industrial wind development on foreign shores would have allowed the kinks and deficiencies to be worked out. Inadequacies would obviously have been fully revealed. I believed that if we elect good political representation, these people would look out for our interests.
Solution seems obvious
There are not a lot of solutions, so wind energy has to be a logical component of the mix, doesn’t it? After all, capturing wind energy has been a significant part of human culture and evolution.
Leading environmental organizations lend their support.
I was aware that the environmental organizations with which I have long held memberships were condoning and, in some cases, constructing industrial wind turbines. They had the staff members to investigate and would obviously do so to protect their reputations.
These notions were part of my casually focused reasoning that gave unspoken support to industrial wind energy.
I had concluded that industrial wind energy is a world-proven technology, that the involvement of big money would have required its justification. The statistics were impressive, it seemed logical, it involves our inventive and often life-enhancing technologies. I trusted our politicians and corporations to make wise, vetted decisions. I did not see other easy choices and my environmental leadership heroes were supportive. I also carried and carry personal guilt for being part of the problem and hold genuine fear for my grandchildren’s future.
This may be sufficient reasoning to understand and excuse where I was, and where some of my good friends may still be, relative to industrial wind technology. Unfortunately, I can report with certainty that these convictions and conclusions were not based in reality. Every premise I leaned on is being proven unsubstantiated.
Any proof of consistent wind turbine performance is either adulterated, non-existent or lacks full accounting. The books are cooked! Vast amounts of money have corrupted, not clarified, wind development. Statistics are reported in a simplistic manner and have not been supported. Technology is simply not a savior in this case. Schumacher’s belief in appropriate-scale technology and solutions come to mind here. Today’s politicians and corporations have rarely placed themselves in favorable light, also true with industrial wind.
So it comes down to my having guilt for participating in expanding energy climate problems and fear for our children’s future. It is probably good that I and others have guilt and fear to motivate us. Perhaps it is why industrial wind is an emotional issue for so many?
That we have gone down the wrong, soon to be proven dead end, road should not be not a total surprise. In our complacency, and by not attending to the issue, we have allowed our energy and environmental policies to be hijacked and dictated by special single interest lobbyists. Instead of wise decisions based on the scientific method, we are hearing only financially sponsored platitudes and rhetoric. This multi-dimensional disaster is essentially guaranteed by this fundamental flaw in our policy making process.
I now openly admit my long-held error of judgment. I wish for and request only that our leadership, elected officials, governments at all levels, other societies, corporations, universities and institutions, and particularly our Governor, admit they have made a mistake!
As I see it, there is no larger or more compelling show of human strength than publicly admitting a mistake and then charting a different path. The most devastating impact of our silent endorsement of now-faltering industrial wind power is that it steals from the indomitable human resolve to search out, test and then employ viable energy solutions.
While waiting for these honest admissions, I will continue to work to simply conserve our energy use and stay abreast of possible components of the energy solution. I already know the answers will stress local, small-scale, renewable sources. They will not be large-scale, corporate or greed-based choices. The solutions cannot continue to be derived by business as usual and will be multi-dimensional.
In the Buddha’s resolutions from a well-known discourse called the Kalama Sutta: “I will not believe in anything simply because I’ve heard it and it is rumored by many. I will not believe in anything simply on the authority of my teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when I know for myself that something, if undertaken and practiced, will lead to the welfare and happiness of one and all, I will accept it and live up to it.”
Walter Cudnohufsky of Ashfield, MA is founder and head of Walter Cudnohufsky Associates Inc. www.wcala.com , “a full-service landscape architecture and land planning firm based in Western Massachusetts with a client base in the Berkshires. Our strong commitment to designing in harmony with nature is evident in our green design solutions.” Located in Conway , MA, Walter was founder and for it’s first 20 years Director of the Conway School of landscape Design, a nationally recognized School of sustainable planning and design. www.csld.edu He is an avid watercolor painter and teacher www.cudnohufsky.com of the much loved New England landscape, so often threatened by the imposition of non-meaningful industrial wind.