The first Offshore Wind Farm has received the green light from the Department of Interior. Cape Wind, a 24 square mile project to be built off the coast of Cape Cod, somewhere between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, will be the first of its kind in the US, apparently paving the way for more around the country.
Ever since I was caught in the first “gas crisis” in 1974 as a student in Boston, I’ve been wondering when we would start to shake off our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil. Wind power is a very viable energy generation solution, since as long as we have weather we’ll have wind. We have a wind farm established here in Central Pennsylvania that you can see stretching across the mountain ridges when you drive up Route 81. (((Billy)))‘s probably familiar with it.
It took a long time to obtain approval, as there was much opposition to it, including from Ted Kennedy when he was alive. Reviewing the Wikipedia articles on the pros and cons, it seems to me that the pros pretty much outweigh the cons. Our reliance on fossil fuels needs to be toned down, and eventually stopped, not just because it’s getting more expensive (there’s no guarantee that alternative sources of energy won’t be just as expensive) but for environmental and geo-political reasons also. With global warming a fact, it won’t hurt to cut down on the carbon emissions. And with most of the oil in the Middle East, we need to take away some of their influence.
I have a hard time imagining why a series of very tall towers with windmills is so objectionable. Much of the opposition comes from the local area, but these things are going to be 5 miles off the coast. The opposition seems to be primarily aesthetic, or selfish. I find the ones on the Pennsylvania ridge-tops to be quite majestic, when viewed from a distance, spinning slowly in the wind, back-lit by the setting sun. I don’t mean to romanticize them, but hey, everyone thinks windmills in Holland look quaint. Aesthetically they don’t bother me at all (and yes, I wouldn’t mind one in my back yard, but that’s not the point.)
Environmentally, we have to look at the question macroscopically rather than microscopically. Sure, they’ll probably tear up some shell beds, and disrupt some local fishing areas, but nature has a way of compensating when left to its own devices. People on the Cape Cod beaches will have to look at them, way off in the distance, but seriously, so what? They have to look at ships when they’re out there, and they don’t complain that they are aesthetically displeasing.
Globally we need to move in the direction of self sufficiency and clean energy, so from a macroscopic point of view, it seems like a no-brainer to me. It’s so myopic to overly worry about the local environment, when the global environment is so much more important. The process of approval has delayed the project for 10 years, and that’s 10 years we won’t get back.
Perhaps with one under our belt, the remaining proposals around the country can be expedited, and we can start moving into the 21st century.