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Jennifer Schwab Headshot

Renewable Energy -- Not in My Backyard!

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Admittedly,
beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to wind turbines.  For
decades, they have decorated – or defaced? – the desert alongside Interstate 10
near Palm Springs.  A curiosity, to be sure, but not too many folks
complained because nobody lives in their immediate area except a few
roadrunners and rattlesnakes.

Wind
turbine sight pollution was also an issue recently off Cape Cod, where the
likes of the Kennedy family – known greenies with serious environmental
credentials – fought (unsuccessfully, I might add) against a new wind energy
farm.

Renewable
energy comes in many forms, and let’s face it, most of ‘em ain’t
beautiful.  No matter how you design them, solar panels are tolerable at
best but not a thing of beauty.  Same for the wind turbines.  As the
two most common and growing applications for renewable energy, we are going to
see a lot more of them around.  Which raises the issue of sight
pollution. 

Believe
it or not, a number of “environmentalists” have been complaining about
proposals to add exponential numbers of solar panels and wind turbine machines
to several areas of the desert throughout the Southwest.  It seems the
critics are saying these devices will ruin the pristine sight lines and
unmolested views of nature as it has looked for hundreds of years.  Are
they right?  Of course.  Is that reason enough to stop these critical
experiments to mass produce solar and wind energy?  Not even!

So
we have the quandary of every tree hugger when examining man-made structures on
a collision course with nature – to deface or not to deface, that is the
question.  You’d think we’d all be rejoicing since this administration is
embracing alternative energy and sincerely trying to build a new green
industry, with America as a global leader.  You’d think environmentalists
would be willing to see a few turbines and solar panels on their desert hikes
or drives.  But no.  We support wind and solar energy so long as it’s
not in my backyard, and not in my hiking grounds either.  Come on, people,
get with the program!  If this is the biggest concession we must make to
nurture and grow mass solar and wind energy installations, count me in.  I
am willing to look at some solar panels and wind turbines, even while hiking in
remote areas.  If you allow yourself, you can even find something sublime
about the installations.  As I biked through the Netherlands across
perfectly manicured fields of wind turbines, I was in awe of the grandeur of
the structures and what they represented – clean energy for all.    

The
bigger problem than compromising aesthetics is transmission.  As in, how
do we get the power created by solar panels and wind turbines to the city from
out in the desert when we are locating them?  This is a technology issue
that will be solved as we pursue improved renewable energy designs. 
In the meantime, we may have to deal with these structures on rooftops, in
empty lots and possibly even in public areas of major cities.  I, for one,
am willing to accept this with a smile.  These are good
problems.   As good green citizens, let’s support these renewable
energy proposals even if they aren’t eye candy.  It’s now or never to step
up and gain energy independence.

I’d
love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please comment below, thanks, until
next week...

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