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The power of pictures to fool people

Over the weekend I put a post here where I mentioned I had just finished reviewing the current September 2010 edition of the leading wind industry business journal, “North American Wind Power.”

I warned that the editorial message of that journal, written for industry insiders, was to keep pushing for a national standard imposed from Washington requiring utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from wind – and to hell with all the adverse consequences of that, including your pocketbook.

Also, I mentioned that the articles in North American Windpower mostly contain a lot of positive spin about how well things are going in the wind business.

But if you think the words in the wind industry journals and web sites paint a rosy picture of what they are doing, that is nothing compared to the pictures they show!

You no doubt have noticed this yourself if you have visited any wind industry web sites – or even if you have seen any TV commercials of BP or other companies in this business. The current edition of North American Wind Power is 86 pages long. In those 86 pages there are 27 photos of wind farms – mostly in ads of companies in the wind power development or service business.

Every one…every single one of these photos, without one exception, shows a wind farm in a remote and pastoral setting far removed from where people actually live. In one of these photos you can spot one tractor. In another there are two or three (contented) cows in the foreground. But in none of these pretty pictures do you see a house – not even a farmhouse or a barn or a silo. You do not see any automobiles or public roads. You do not see any streams, rivers or lakes – and you see no boats. You will see no indication of a settled town or village – not a church steeple or water tower anywhere in view. All you see are turbines set out alone in arid plains or an expanse of rolling hills covered with amber waves of grain. What is mostly absent from all these pictures are people – not a one. And, of course, certainly not a bird in the sky.

You see what’s being done here, right? There is a pervasive perception management machine working behind and within the wind industry to make sure that most Americans continue to think that wind farms could not possibly be wrong and could not possibly harm anyone. These photos in this one industry journal are just one tiny facet of a well conceived misinformation and disinformation campaign designed to bring favor to wind developers. The campaign is so pervasive they even put the pretty pictures in their own internal industry literature. You never know who might stumble on a copy!

If any argument can be made to have wind farms in vast arid plains or set out in otherwise empty rolling fields of grain – then fine; let it be. But here in the eastern US woodlands of upstate NY we have a whole different picture. Our landscape is speckled with populated towns and villages. Farms are relatively small and often adjoined by nearby neighbors living on much smaller properties.

Here in the St. Lawrence /eastern Lake Ontario area we have people – lots of people. Our area may be rural by eastern seaboard standards, but our population density is far greater than the heartland and western plains and open ranges where all the wind turbine photography is made. Nevertheless, because of a combination of arbitrarily set political targets for renewable energy installations, combined with the skillfully executed tactics of Big Wind, we are having huge wind projects crammed down our throats. Decisions that will radically deface our towns are being imposed on us by government policy makers and corporate executives who have never been anywhere near our towns – aided by a small gang of locals recruited for a few pieces of silver.

Ever since man first scrawled on the walls of caves, we have been using pictures as our most effective tool for “marketing” and propaganda. The wind industry public relations and marketing consultants understand the power of pictures all too well – especially the ones made to create a misleading impression and a resulting false sense of comfort.

Let’s admit it. It was not that long ago (before we were presented with the view of the Wolfe Island Wind Project) that some of us right here in the Cape Vincent area fell for the imagery propaganda of Big Wind. If you are one of those people now is the time to be seen and to be heard. Now is the time to act like you have been had and to be indignant about it.

Having been duped into complacency previously, let’s not give anyone the impression we are still lemmings to be led off a cliff.