Thursday, March 12, 2009

NIMBYism and Clean Energy

I am not surprised that wind farms are causing a massive attack of NIMBYism. We have become so separated from our energy sources that we have no understanding that there are actual side effects to them. Any kind of energy has a price. That includes the cleanest energy. Hydroelectric displaces people and destroys ecosystems. Solar uses horrendous chemicals to make the panels. Wind means you might live near turbines. The impact of these turbines is still debated. Frankly, a lot of these "symptoms" sound questionable to me. Do turbines really cause insomnia? Or do people just not want them to cloud their view from their picture window?

We have no problem destroying the lives of indigenous people in Ecuador or turning Saudi Arabia into a giant oil well. We don't mind that poor people in southeast Texas and Louisiana have high rates of cancer from living near refineries. But god forbid if we have to deal with even the most minor inconvenience related to wind energy! It's gotten to the point that the wealthy white people who live near some wind farms are becoming wind energy deniers, sublimating science to their own desires. Any sense of justice would lead one to believe that we should all share in the costs of energy production. Why should poor people, and especially people of color, bear this burden while rich whites can build 10,000 square foot houses and drive Hummers? Our desperate need for alternative energy, combined with a White House interested in clean energy, might lead to the protests of rich people being overridden in the name of national interest. I hope so.