Long before we even knew we could capture the Sun’s rays to power our gadgets, someone clever discovered the power of the wind.
Windmills were used as early as 200 BC in what is now known as Iran (back then it was Persia) to grind grain. They began popping up in Europe during the Middle Ages, in England in the 11th or 12th centuries, and by the 14th century the Dutch were using them to drain areas of the Rhine delta.
The first wind turbine made its debut in July 1887 in Scotland, and mere months later in Cleveland, Ohio – of all places. The first wind turbine to be connected to a utility grid for mass power generation was in the United Kingdom in 1951.
Since then, we have been using the wind to power our homes and offices across the globe.
So what’s with the anti-wind farmers?
In Canada’s largest province, Ontario, south-western rural residents have been blocking roads, marching with picket signs to protest the provincial government’s decision to place wind farms in their neighborhoods.
“Stop the Wind” read some of the many signs being carted around by the protesters – some on tractors – as they blocked a major highway in the area. How they intend the government to “stop the wind” remains to be seen.
Seriously, they claim that large-scale wind turbine facilities are an eye soar, are noisy, and lower local property values around the wind farm. They also claim we need the land to grow food.
Could these anti-wind farmers be the start of the anti-environmental movement?
Anti-wind farm protests have occurred just about everywhere politicians place them, in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Are nuclear power plants, with their enormous concrete domes any less of an eye soar? What about coal-fired power plants, with their tall smoke stacks coughing up stinky sulphur-smelling swirls of smoke? Would you rather live next to one of those?
Wind turbines don’t give off any pollutants, have no hazardous bi-products – like radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant – and some have even commented that the low hum sound the turbines make in the wind are peaceful, and soothing.
Though sounds and sights are individualistic opinions – one person’s art is another’s junk.
The real issue here isn’t whether or not wind power is better for the planet – academics, scientists, politicians; even the suits and ties behind big business have all gone on the record promoting alternative green sources of energy, such as solar and wind power.
The problem is our old friend Mr. NIMBY.
Perhaps you met Mr. NIMBY before?
Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) was a term coined in the 1980’s by a British politician for people that don’t want something built close to their homes or businesses. It has been used extensively to refer to residents that don’t want a landfill site in their neighbourhood, but our friend, Mr. NIMBY appears to have reared his ugly head once again, this time over wind turbines.
No one wants a garbage dump in their backyard, or even a nuclear power plant. And it makes sense that some wouldn’t want a wind farm in their field of view either.
But as our population continues to grow and cities and towns expand, we’ll need more of the supporting infrastructure in place to accommodate this growth. This means, we’ll need more waste water/sewage facilities, more garbage and recycling facilities and more power generation facilities.
Given the choice, I’d rather look out my window and see a bunch of wind turbines off in the distance, instead of a giant nuclear power plant, a coal-fired power plant, or a landfill site.
It might not be as pretty as the hundred acre wood, but it sure beats waking up to the smell of sulphur or rotting trash.