Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Question is Blowin' in the Wind

In this very polarized country, it's not unusual for an issue to stir up strong opinions among Democrats, Republicans, corporations, environmentalists, economists, the idle rich, the working class, government agencies, animal rights groups, animal use industries, and native Americans. And once you know what the issue is, you can usually make a good guess at which side of the fence those various groups are going to fall on.

What's more unusual is when something comes along which results in members of both political parties on either side such as
the late liberal Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy and his Republican replacement poster boy Scott Brown opposed while Democrat and Republican Governors support it, or where those who want to protect animals and those who want to kill animals wind up on the same side.

But that's the story with Cape Wind, a proposed and recently approved collection of wind turbines to be erected in the water between Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. Of course, that's the website of the folks who want to build the "farm"; you'll get some different facts and opinions from groups such as the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

The Boston Phoenix has an interesting current article which mentions many of the groups which have taken a side on the issue, and brings up some of the complicating factors involved. Here's a recap of some of the groups mentioned.

Department of the Interior
MA Governor Deval Patrick (and many local politicians)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

National Park Service
Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag
MA Senator Scott Brown (and many local politicians)
Earth Island Institute
Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound
MA Fisherman's Partnership
Humane Society of the United States
MA Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Orenda Wildlife Land Trust
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Whatever the specifics of this project, what is really at stake is summed up in the article's final sentence: "Some might wonder if this marks the beginning of the end of a unified environmental movement, with energy environmentalists barreling full speed ahead over sacred territory, leaving naturalist environmentalists--land and animal folks--and their fellow opponents, including the Wampanoag, floating in their wake."

I doubt that you have any question where I float on the matter, but this is not a new divide; it's been there all along and it's why I've never called myself an environmentalist. I associate the label with technology and a human-centered world view. Thus we have environmentalists of various stripes promoting everything from projects like this to nuclear energy and declaring that there really aren't too many people at all. The real question is whether we desperately try to continue on a path of infinite growth and consumerism, or we find enough courage to acknowledge that things have changed.

Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I’m expecting all hell to break loose
--Things Have Changed, Bob Dylan


Allan Stellar said...

Yet, almost nobody makes a stink about rooftop solar panels...which is the way to go.

Frankly, I think there should be no new large scale building of any source of power, until this country embarks on a large scale program of conservation. We power our house on 1/10th of what we used when living on the grid. Not that everyone should go "off grid"--but I do think that everyone should live like they do ("live off the grid").

As for babies? I'm disheartened that the birth rate for people in their twenties and thirties is on the rise. So much for zero population growth...or even population reduction...

If a large company makes a large amount of electricity (via wind, nuke or even tidal), another large company will swoop in and find a way to sell that electricity to you (Have another Plasma TV with more "always on" appliances!). Seems we need to be making less electricity. Or make more electricity closer to the source of use (as in being "off the grid").

greentangle said...

I agree with you about the change of attitude and conservation needing to come first. I don't think any kind of damage or risk is justified when its purpose is to be able continue to play video games.

Of course, they say the cost of this Cape Wind electricity would be much higher which might reduce use a little, but no company is going to do it for any reason but making money.