There’s a great new web-site, Friends of Wind, which is trying to mobilize the 80 per cent of the population that supports wind power. I wish them well, as it’s always harder to mobilize people in favour of something than against it.
They face an uphill battle, however, for wind power occupies an awkward space even amongst environmentalists.
This is not to discount opposition to wind projects. I really don’t like the term NIMBY, because I firmly believe that attachment to particular places is a powerful part of who we are as human beings. Indeed, it has been a key (although not the only) motivating factor for the environmental movement. And wind farms are an industrial use of the landscape (albeit one that can co-exist much more easily with farming or wildlife habitat than, say, open pit mines).
We live, however, in terrible times where the only way to preserve the landscapes and ecosystems we love is to radically transform our energy system. And this does not come without cost, for it requires accepting changes to places we love as part of saving them.
Wind power is, of course, only a part of the solution to climate change. We need to ask ourselves how much energy we honestly need, we need massive improvements in the efficiency, and we need to tap into a diverse mix of renewable energy sources to meet those needs, in a way which truly does allow for the renewal of natural systems.
We need to declare some areas as no-go zones for ecological or cultural reasons, and ensure the best possible placement and management strategies for the rest.
But we need these projects. Aesthetics is simply not good enough as a reason to oppose them.
For after 21 years working on climate-related issues, I have to say that we are long past the point of being able to pick this climate solution (efficiency) or that one (wind, solar...).
We need them all, and we need them fast (as laid out in Greenpeace’s Energy [R]evolution plan for Canada and globally).
I look at last summer’s forest fires in Russia (and subsequent drop in wheat production), the drought in the horn of Africa with its attendant social upheaval, the flooding in Pakistan and Australia, and I think this is what a globally-warmed future looks like. Barring radical change to how we produce and use energy – particularly in wealthy countries like Canada – this is the future that I'm handing over to my kids.
And it’s not good enough for them. Nor should it be good enough for you.
So check out Friends of Wind, and show your support for renewable energy.