This summer, as I stroll on the beach in the evening with my grandkids, I’ll tell them to take a good long look at the unspoiled eastern horizon. If the big wind companies have their way, that view may soon be sprinkled with many dozens of blinking red lights.
I was taken aback by a recent letter in this paper asserting that sea levels could rise nine to 12 feet by 2100 unless the ocean is cluttered with giant industrial machines.
I am an environmental consultant who has been doing tidal studies along the mid-Atlantic coast for nearly three decades. The actual average rise of sea levels at Ocean City is about five mm/year, which works out to about two inches a decade, according to NOAA. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just do a Google search for NOAA, Tides And Currents, Sea Levels, Ocean City Inlet.
And guess what, NOAA also finds that sea levels along parts of the Jersey Shore are dropping, not rising. Why? My geologist friends tell me that it’s because the Delmarva peninsula has been slowly sinking since the last Ice Age, while parts of Jersey are rising. Nobody knows how much of this small sea level rise is due to land subsidence or the ocean rising, but we do know that annual global sea level rise is about one eighth of an inch.
Don’t run for the lifeboats just yet.
This kind of misinformation is nothing new. It’s the same tired tactics that these big companies and their political allies always use to frighten the public into financing their schemes.
The letter also touted the 60 jobs to be created. Ha. Give any company a couple billion dollars of taxpayer money and watch how many jobs they can create. If anyone thinks this is a workable economic model, they should visit Cuba or Venezuela.
I understand the motivation of well-meaning people to “do something” about the threat they see in unfettered use of fossil fuels, but before we commit to ruining our viewshed, perhaps we should think hard about such a radical alteration of one of the things that gives Ocean City such a unique appeal. If wind farms will provide such fabulous benefits as the companies espouse, surely it will not hurt to move them further offshore.
Wind power is notoriously inefficient and will have much less reduction in fossil fuel use than energy conservation, clean-burning natural gas, or solar, all of which have less impact on the environment.
Besides preserving our viewshed, as the Park Service has done for Assateague, moving these giant bird-killing machines further offshore may lessen the devastation to wildlife in the Atlantic Migratory Flyway.
So folks, take a good long look at the unspoiled eastern horizon this summer. It may well be degraded forever.
As for me, if I wanted to see more blinking red lights, I’d spend more time sitting in Coastal Highway traffic.