Having deeply researched and diligently fought for nearly a decade to prevent even the first industrial wind power development in West Virginia, I think you well know my thoughts on what West Virginia Highlands Conservancy’s position should be in this regard. I argued long and hard that West Virginia’s wind speeds are not conducive for wind power, that thinking of wind power as an alternative to coal power was/is stupid (for so many reasons), that tax and rate payers lose gigantically while large land and energy development corporations get obscene windfalls (pun or not) from industrial wind developments, and that the cost to West Virginians and to our birds, bats, wildlife, forests, and waters is not worth any alleged benefit (when any can be found at all).
But now, after reflecting on it a few years, what bums me out the most is how support for status quo investments (including wind power) and disincentives for creativity prevent us from actually solving our energy problem with so many resources readily available at our fingertips. As opposed to mining and burning more unsustainable, polluting hydrocarbons (coal, gas, oil), why don’t we take better advantage of things we already have in abundance all around us just waiting to be used: (a) motion producers of all kinds, things in constant motion, and (2) what we are accumulating everywhere with little reprieve and think of, by definition, as valueless, our trash.
What is out there that is in constant motion: ocean and large lake waves, big rivers, heat rising from heat-production industries (steel, power generation, aluminum, chemicals, etc.), and automobiles (to mention only a few). For example, take the bane of the existence of many city dwellers, rush-hour traffic. There has got to be a way for those spinning wheels to power some kind of power generator under the road surface. Trains, trolleys, subways, all moving, moving, moving. They all need power to run but should be producing it as well.
As for trash, it’s a no brainer. Either sort out the non-toxic burnables and/or find ways to separate toxic from non-toxic gases and put them to good use elsewhere. We need those chemicals for everyday life and they could come from this trash air rather than continuing to rape them from and scar the earth and cause MORE problems. Finding this solution (gas-sorting) would truly be a patriotic, “put a person on the moon” kind of undertaking. (Surely, current coal burning plant and other industrial scrubbers have made a start.)
And then there are the tops and sides of all those buildings in cities, the parking lots and sidewalks that the sun constantly beats down on! hotter and hotter each year. The sacrifice of our beautiful countryside to run the lights and gears of these behemoths and the brain trust invested on finding good solutions in these huge towers is just instant depression for me. Either turn off them lights or generate your own energy! Stop wasting our land and water! (Yea, I go a little crazy sometimes. You know how it is with us tree-huggers.)
The sun, yes, another of those constant motion things. Must we continue to grow corn to get to it? Wouldn’t it be simpler and more beneficial in many ways for the farmers to just have sunfarms?
I guess the real point I want to make is when we let poor, destructive “solutions” demand our attention and use up our tax dollars (such a horrid consequence of our commercial society–“I have an idea that will make me millions who cares if it’s good for society!”), we stop searching for and trying new things that will really work. We keep “just getting by.” But the jig is up. We are killing ourselves and the world with these non-solutions. It’s time to get real and to come up with good solutions and settle for nothing less.
After many years in West Virginia, Linda Cooper currently resides in Alaska.