Monday, August 24, 2009

Wind Blows

I was reading this article in The Phoenix the other day and it got me to thinking about wind power. I have thought about it in the past, in fact I pay extra on my electric bill in order for my electricity to come from renewable resources, such as wind. And you can't live in Mass without hearing about the Cape Wind controversy.

What I didn't realize before is how many people are against wind turbines. They have tons of reasons, but they don't all make sense to me. Maybe they will make sense to you. Lets go through them together.

Noise. Granted, I have never actually been up to a turbine, but they don't seem so loud to me. Lets have a listen:

I don't know about you, but it didn't sound that loud. Some people think they are so loud, that there is an actual sickness - wind turbine syndrome. According to this website (which is a little cheesy) its not actually the audible sound that is hazardous, but the low frequency noise. Now, that makes sense. It is similar to working around machinery that is not necessarily loud, but is constantly assaulting your ear drums with low frequency noise. I would like to see something a little more scientifically proven (not that I don't love their drawings.)

A big argument around here is that turbines are an eyesore. They will ruin our beautiful scenery. Personally, I think it depends on your perspective. I think they are beautiful. They remind me that society is becoming more environmentally conscience. It makes me think that the future maybe a little bit better for my son when he is my age. Some disagree. What do you think? Would you rather see this:

Or this:

Or maybe this:

This brings us to the argument that wind is unreliable. There will always need to be a power plant as a back up. The turbine does not turn if there isn't enough wind. If there is too much wind, it overloads the grid and also stops spinning. So why bother with the wind if we will still need power plants? To this I refer you to this article in Cape Cod Today. Basically, yes, we still need a back up to wind power. We are not going to be able to put up some turbines and then shut down all of the nuclear plants. That would be awesome, but unrealistic. But isn't some renewable energy better than none?

This reminds me of the health care reform. No, it is not perfect, but we need to start somewhere.

One more major argument is that it will negatively affect wildlife and the ecosystems around the turbines. Might I point out the negative effects of nuclear or coal power plants? Or is that too obvious? The companies do extensive research to minimize any disruptions. There has been new technology to slow down the speed that the turbines spin so they are safer for birds.

With proper planning, all of these concerns can be dealt with. That is why we have hunting and fishing regulations. This is also how we are able to use state forests for logging and recreation. Good old fashioned planning.

People who are not environmental conscience seem to think that those of us that are are trying to fix Earth. This is just not so. We will never be able to restore the damage already done to the Earth. Nor will we be able to stop impacting the Earth. We can, however, try to minimize the impact. Perhaps we can slow down the destruction.

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  1. hi raine. i have presented you with a blog award on my website. thank you for your creativity!

  2. We have some wind turbines in the area where I live. I like them actually. I think they represent a progressive society actually trying to help the environment and ourselves!

  3. Ok just a few comments... well... cause I have to. My husband is an Environmental Engineer. We are currently residing in bumfuc.. err i mean Texarkana, Arkansas because he is here to build a coal fired power plant. The lack of knowledge of politicians and environmental agencies is baffling. First off... because of regulations that are in place, the type of plant we are here to build, the Ultra Super Critical Coal Fired Power Plants are the cleanest burning coal burn available and is able to utilize wonderful readily available Earth resources (coal). It is being used highly in Japan and China now. This plant that we are building will be the first of it's kind in the United States. This DOES still emit some carbon emissions (a very small amount) into our atmosphere. Less than 4% of the damage to the earths atmosphere is man made. The real damage comes from the earth heating up because we continue to get closer to the sun (or some scientists argue that the sun is getting larger) and volcanos and things of that nature. However, one very common misconception is Nuclear power. Nuclear power plants are the SAFEST form of power available in the world today. Situations like Chernobyl stay forefront in peoples minds and that's what makes society afraid. However that was an isolated incident that we have learned a LOT from. The wind power is great, BUT, one very important thing to remember... There is no way to harness that energy. So once we get it, it has to be used immediately. Or we lose it. So... it isn't as beneficial as it would seem. However, because of political gain, companies and politicians have turned even THE cleanest form of energy (wind) into a bad thing. You will begin to see the rising of Nuclear Power Plants in the United States. They are the future. Engineers are seeing it and pretty soon, so will society. There are more Nuclear Power Plants than you would believe planned out in the United States as we speak.

    So when it comes to Political gain... in regards to the earth and living "green"? Don't believe the hype! Nothing is ever what is seems.

    That's my 2 cents. :)

  4. I believe that solar power is more cost effective renewable energy. They're developing some pretty cool solar panels/rods now and even China is doing a lot of R&D - they rarely invest in anything they wont gain from so you know it's a good way to go.

    When we think about wind power we usually think of a wind farm with turbines all over an open field. There are wind turbines used in new high rises now.
    The buildings are already in the built environment and ready to be used by many people so there's less of or no need to store the power and it's a shorter distance of travel. It's one of those those things that needs to be local rather than global.

    I can see how the whole noise thing would be a problem. Our hearing is the only one of our senses that doesn't adjust to the environment we're in. Like you get used to a bad smell or spicy foods after a while, but a leaking faucet is as annoying the first you hear it as it is 3 hours later.

    Anyway, I believe in sustainable living and having tried selling sustainable building design, I also believe that in order to achieve it you must speak in money terms. Companies are paying big bucks to build or to have their offices in a LEED building. Many are paying for publicity more than for environmental benefits. It's a downer, but everybody wins.


Whatcha think?