This Green Web Bulletin is a criticism of large scale industrial wind turbine sites in rural areas, from a deep ecology perspective. This critique looks at a site near to where we live in Pictou County, Nova Scotia – the Dalhousie Mountain Wind Farm. The project comprises 34 wind turbines and is supposed to provide 51 megawatts of power in the first phase. The proponent has mused that the site has the “potential” for 150 megawatts. (For comparative purposes, we include some critical comments about another site, the Glen Dhu project, located on the border of Pictou and Antigonish counties, which proposes building 30 wind turbines totalling 60 MW in its “first phase”, with potential expansion to 230 MW.)
Those of us who try to follow climate change discussions know that in industrially developed societies like Canada, greenhouse gases need to be reduced by 80-90%. But this is not happening. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, increases in the atmosphere every year. Presently, the only thing modifying this, is when the world economy goes into recession.
Here in Nova Scotia there are moves to expand coal mining. Fossil fuel exploration and extraction are pursued vigorously offshore on the Scotian Shelf. The exploitation of the Alberta tar sands symbolizes the undermining of any belief that climate change is taken seriously at a federal government level in Canada. There is no apparent major societal reduction in fossil fuel use to cut back on greenhouse gas production, just as there is no overall program to reduce energy consumption, by citizens living more frugally.
As we have used up easily accessible fossil fuels and minerals, more energy is required to maintain society’s consumption level. Alternative energy paths are now being considered, yet there is no concern with reducing consumption or controlling human population growth. We need to see energy production and consumption in such a context, as we go on the quest for an appropriate renewable energy path.
If we are to embark on this path, Schumacher’s comment in his book Small is Beautiful: A Study Of Economics As If People Mattered of “appropriate scale” has to be kept in mind. Industrializing the rural landscape with large wind turbine “farms” is not an appropriate scale. We also need to appreciate that what is happening in Nova Scotia, and elsewhere, with the installation of industrial turbines – what Nova Scotia Power calls “Putting The Wind To Work” – is just a beginning. This Green Web bulletin on wind turbines is meant to assist a needed activist call to action.
By David Orton, with contributions from Billy MacDonald of Redtail Nature Awareness and Helga Hoffmann-Orton
Download original document: “Wind Farms and Deep Ecology”
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