[The car-centric dinosaur Masonite Monster Mall feeds the Climate Change disaster rather than alleviating it. We need transitions to inviting, walkable, bikable, sustainable, small towns run with renewable energy systems... with jobs based on organic farming and localized, appropriate technology. -DS]
Yes, windmills and dams deface the landscape but the climate crisis demands immediate action
Don’t be too “Canadian” about the backlash – this is no time for Mr. Nice Guy
Watching the backlash against clean energy projects build in Canada has moved me to think about what Americans have learned from facing this same problem. I have been thinking and writing for several years about overcoming conflict-avoidance and the importance of standing up for “Big Truths” even at the price of criticizing fellow environmentalists.
It’s not that I’ve developed a mean streak. It’s that the environmental movement has reached an important point of division, between those who truly get global warming, and those who don’t.
By get, I don’t mean understanding the chemistry of carbon dioxide, or the importance of the Kyoto Protocol, or those kinds of things – pretty much everyone who thinks of themselves as an environmentalist has reached that point. By get, I mean understanding that the question is of transcending urgency, that it represents the one overarching global civilizational challenge that humans have ever faced.
In the U.S., there are all manner of fights to stop or delay every imaginable low-carbon technology. Wind, solar, run-of-river hydro – these are precisely the kinds of renewable energy that every Earth Day speech since 1970 has trumpeted. But now they are finally here – now that we’re talking about particular projects in particular places – people aren’t so keen.
Opponents of renewable energy projects point out (correctly) that they have impacts – there are (overstated) risks to birds from wind turbines, to fish from run-of-river hydro, that the projects mean “development” somewhere there was none and transmission lines where there were none before.
They point out (again correctly) that the developers are private interests, rushing to develop a resource that, in fact, they do not own, and without waiting for the government to come up with a set of rules and processes for siting such installations.
The critics also insist that there’s a “better” site somewhere – and again they’re probably right. There’s almost always a better site for anything. The whole business is messy, imperfect.
If we had decades to burn, then perhaps the opponents would be right that there’s a better site, and a nicer developer. There’s always a better site and a nicer developer. But in the real world, we have at most 10 years to reverse the fossil fuel economy. Which means we have to do everything quickly – conservation and plug-in cars and solar panels and compact fluorescents and 100-mile food and tree planting. And windmills, windmills everywhere there is wind, just like off the shores of Europe.
Keep reading The Fierce Urgency of Now at The Toronto Star via Common Dreams→