Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tilting at windmills

9 October 2010 by Snowlet
9 October 2010, a photo by Snowlet on Flickr.
I saw my colleague Dan Webb the other day, and he looked tired. He owns a wind turbine by my office and wind power is causing quite a controversy in our little town. "The thing is," he said, "I'm spending all my time doing PR."

Certainly some people are quite exercised about the noise, flicker, health impacts, and purported decline in property values. Some folks are angry, and there is a rather effective campaign against the wind turbines. There are signs all over town suggesting that one should "Support our neighbors, Stop the Wind Turbines" -- implying that proponents of the turbines are bad neighbors (you wretch, you.)

That said, I like Dan's numbers: "During its first 22 months of operation, the turbine generated over nine million kWh (9 GWh) of electricity, equivalent to the usage of 690 average Massachusetts homes. This displaced emissions of over 4500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as 2.5 tons of sulfur dioxide and one ton of nitrous oxides. . ."

Here's my experience: my office is about 1400ft from Dan's turbine. As a recovering workaholic, I spend the grand majority of my waking hours next to Dan's wind turbine. Yes, on high wind days I can hear his turbine, but the incidences are few, and not unpleasant. In contrast, tourist traffic (a major industry in my town) in the summer has a far larger negative impact on my life in terms of noise and stress. Yes, we can see flicker for a half hour for a week in the spring and a week in the fall. How do we deal with this? We lower the shades (which Dan paid for: what a good neighbor). None of my employees have reported health problems from the wind turbine.

Also, I can't help but contrast these "inconveniences" to those of Maj. C, who has gone on deployments to the anti-tourtist capitals of the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) for wars that were ultimately about the geopolitics of oil. He's fine, but many of his colleagues are not. Some never returned home.  Others returned home physically intact but developed other, sometimes fatal, problems and addictions. Maj. C jumps at the idea at wind: "Local power for local people."Added to this, I work in ocean science, so every day I see alarming new evidence of the impact of man-made carbon dioxide emissions on the environment.

I'm not a flag waver and am generally pretty suspicious of the State, but I do feel that this just might be the best way of supporting our troops.

If you are a Falmouth, MA resident, please consider signing this petition.

No comments:

Post a Comment