On a recent trip through Western Germany, I could not shake the feeling that every time I looked out at the horizon, enormous wind turbines were waving back at me. Almost like a plane propeller on HGH Steroids, these bulky blades completely fill the skyline. The question that comes to mind is why?
“Wind exists because the sun unevenly heats the surface of the Earth. As hot air rises, cooler air moves in to fill the void. As long as the sun shines, the wind will blow. And as long as the wind blows, people will harness it to power their lives.” (National Geographic)
Bird killers? The key to a sustainable future? I guess they could be both.
It turns out Germany is leading the world right now in this field – installing more wind turbines than any other nation – with Spain, Denmark, and the United States close behind. That’s the funny thing about travel. When you travel with you’re eyes open you tend to see something.
On a whim more than anything – and confused to the point of curiosity by signs I could not read – entering some wind turbine plant on top of a sunny, green hill seemed like a great idea. Mind racing, finger snapping. While visiting Western Germany my camera stored a definitive pattern.
Roaming the countryside by car, plane, and train I kept capturing photos of these strange man made creations. Jarring and flat ugly – yet somehow also entrancing and beautiful – these rhythmically turning blades embody much of the current dilemma facing the Green movement and the push to end a dependence on fossil fuels. Namely, that finding the balance between harnessing nature and harming nature is like trying to understand Sarah Palin’s appeal. It’s really really tough. The more wind turbines we erect, dams we build, solar panels we install, the more our presence is seen and felt.
What’s also interesting is who is lining up for and against the wind turbines. Sustainable energy policy seems to sit at the front of the liberal playbook. Yet, many of the voices against plans for new turbine developments are shouted from the far left. Environmental activists call into question whether birds and other wildlife will be harmed. “At their tips, the rotor blades are slicing through the air at 150 to 200 mph. Substantial numbers of bats (mostly, it seems, by high air pressure rather than collision) and birds (eagles and other raptors being of particular concern) are killed”. (http://www.aweo.org/problemwithwind.html)
Wildlife should always be protected and preserved. However when the human race is literally sucking the earth dry – pumping the petrol out of the earth faster and faster – all forms of alternative energy must be pushed. Wind power is one of the best ways we can harness sustainable power. Scientists estimate that by 2050, 1/3 of our energy needs will be pulled in from the breeze. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/wind-power-profile/
The United States, as well as everybody else have got real issues with an addiction to oil and other natural resources. The only solution is to keep pushing for green, sustainable power. Wind turbines may not be the answer, but they are a step in the right direction.