The Delaware County wind turbine controversy is a disturbing example of the commercial effectiveness of politicizing a single word. Environment. Glorified by politicians and endorsed by intellectuals and their phony wannabes, it has been made into a term embodying special sanctity. Even the word organic, promoted by the food companies, cannot conjure up such illusions of virginal purity.
The old wind turbine caper, as Maxwell Smart would say, is itself, a classic reaffirmation of the ingenuity of enterprising individuals who, similarly, are peddling bottled water for five times the price of gasoline.
Additionally pernicious, it cleverly emasculates viable opposition and the effectiveness of anti-turbine protests, which are shattered by attached apologies from the protesters themselves who fear they may be branded anti-environment.
The consequences of wind turbine power generation projects in the Catskills need to be openly dealt with for what they are: latter-day versions of the ancient and revered windmill shined up with aircraft technology into gigantic, inefficient, Rube Goldberg energy-conversion monstrosities that will clutter the high ridges.
Their potential for power contribution to the grid, compared with fossil, hydro or nuclear, will be miniscule, but their contribution to landscape desecration will be immense. Casting both light and shadow over the entire scene, however, are the two potential wild cards of beaucoup loot for a lot of people and a significant amount of political prestige for a few. So, to arms!
But in the event of a turbine triumph, remember that Alexandre Eiffel’s shocker built for the 1889 Paris Exposition and once viewed with complete distaste is now emblematic of that great city. Perhaps a century hence a long-abandoned, winged relic on Mount Pisgah will be a major tourist attraction and provide a fitting memorial to Andes planning, history and culture.
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