Why shouldn’t you put a wind turbine in a wild place?

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It remains fashionable to imagine that there is such a thing as wilderness. This concept has long had its problems. Think of the wilderness that it is Yellowstone National Park in America. This place was so wild the US army had to be sent in to kick the Native Americans out.

And so today, there are efforts to keep wind turbines out of wild place. This is now rather prominent in Scotland, where hikers and wilderness groups are insistent on these wild places being wind turbine free. Fill them with hikers from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, but maintain the illusion that humans have no say in how the place looks.

Landscapes must become museums. But why should they? Think of that great structure, the Glenfinnan Viaduct – made of the reviled material they call concrete – that stands in the heart of a wild place. Thanks to the Victorians, and their insistence of putting railways through wild places, our landscape is now filled with such grandeur. These punctuations don’t destroy landscapes. In fact, they often enhance them.

A wind turbine is not soft and cuddly, as many seem to believes. Instead it is an awesome, skyscraper sized mass of steel, concrete and fibreglass. It is not a symbol of the chummy relationship humans have with the earth, but of human dominance of the earth. Why keep them out of wild places?

What could be more thrilling than the juxtaposition of the supposedly wild with the awe inspiring summoning of winds by humans to power civilization?

Wind turbines create the first new landscapes since the Industrial Revolution. Exciting, awe inspiring landscapes at that. Some fools want to spoil this with an insistence on what they call community scale wind farms. These communities it seems are all villages, to be powered by a wind turbine here or there.

What we need, of course, are grand scale wind farms, not those pathetic community-scale – we all live in villages, apparently – wind farms some rather uninformed people promote. Wind farms that inspire awe at the scale of the human enterprise. An unapologetic scale. Imagine the scale of Manhattan to an early twentieth century immigrant arriving on the boat at Ellis Island. This is what we should aspire to.


2 thoughts on “Why shouldn’t you put a wind turbine in a wild place?

    jmdesp said:
    March 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Well, some of those wild places are migration corridors for eagles, or other birds of prey with a long lifespan and low reproduction rate, in which case it’s not necessarily a great idea to put turbines there.
    If the place is very wild, the risk of disruption is higher, and must be studied first.

    Don’t be mistaken, the point here is not to desperately try to locate some dirt that can be thrown at wind turbines, but to acknowledge a real and scientifically studied problem at some specific locations, and it’s also not about claiming it can’t be solved. In Spain, it seems that just stopping them a few hours a years is enough to significantly reduce mortality rate (but I’m not sure that 50% less is yet perfectly sufficient) : http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/527
    But in order to solve the problem (let’s say it again maybe solving it is not that difficult), it must first not be denied.


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