One of the world’s top environmentalists has said wind farms risk becoming “monuments of a failed civilisation” as he fights to stop a 275ft turbine being erected near his home.
Professor James Lovelock, 93, a founding father of the Green movement, is famous for inventing “Gaia Theory” and predicting global warming would wipe out four fifths of the world’s population by 2100.
But he has now expressed despair that the original intentions of the movement have been misconstrued as a license to cast aside our “priceless ecological heritage”.
In recent years the scientist has outraged many followers after becoming an advocate of nuclear power and a staunch opponent of wind energy.
Prof Lovelock is protesting against a single turbine at Witherdon Wood, Broadwoodwidger. It is believed he lives or has a property 43 miles away near Barnstaple.
In a letter to Torridge District Council, his local planning authority, Professor Lovelock wrote: “I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood.
“We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs.”
The veteran environmentalist added: “We need to take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island – monuments of a failed civilisation.”
The proposed tower would be installed in woodland close to his home in Broadwoodwidger, Devon. It has attracted fierce opposition from locals and he has now thrown his scientific reputation behind their campaign.
Professor Lovelock’s Gaia theory energised the green movement after its formulation in the 1960s and made him a global icon in the fight against climate change.
He theorised that the Earth is a single self-regulating organism – and therefore will adapt itself to see off threats to its eco system.
He predicted the planet would survive but warned humans would not be so lucky and would have to migrate to the Arctic to stand any chance of surviving.
But in recent years Professor Lovelock has dismayed his followers by questioning renewable energy and advocating nuclear power as how to cut carbon emissions.
In 2009 he launched a blistering attack on Ed Miliband’s claim that opposing wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt.
He said: “The right to have public hearings over energy sources is threatened by legislation soon due.
”Although well-intentioned it is an erosion of our freedom and draws near to what I see as fascism.”
The North Devon branch of the Green Party said it would continue to promote wind energy despite the disapproval of its most famous member.
Last week two wind turbines in Cornwall and Devon toppled over in high winds – sparking fears the towers could have been sabotaged.
Spokesman Ricky Knight said: “Professor Lovelock remains one of the most respected ecologists of our time.
“It would be preposterous for grass-roots activists to query his assertions, when they are clearly motivated by his concern for the survival of the planet. However, it is defensible to query his focus.”
Although just a single turbine, Ecotricity, the developers, claim it would generate about 2.20 million units of electricity every year, which is the equivalent of about 529 homes powered through clean, renewable energy.
“We think it’s a great site for a single but significant wind turbine,” said the website.
[“Their massive erections [are] like the giant statues on Rapa Nui, a desperate but very wrongheaded effort to fend off environmental disaster.” —Eric Rosenbloom, Sep. 21, 2006]
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