Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spill baby, spill

Maybe Sarah Palin has some suggestions about containing the gigantic spill-in-progress from the recently exploded oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico?

Which also brings me to the "Cape Wind" project between Cape Cod and Nantucket island, recently approved by Ken Salazar. People who oppose it are throwing every reason -- except, of course, NIMBY -- against it. Some Native Americans claim that they need entirely pristine horizons in order to pay respect to their ancestors, and that the waters cover land that once was sacred burial ground. The evidence for this is very scanty and, in any case, there is no treaty protection for land outside reservations. Since Native Americans once roamed through most parts of America, using this as precedent would probably rule out wind farms anywhere. Certainly coal mines would create more desecration than wind turbines, as would pipelines and drilling platforms.

Opposition from hard-core environmentalists are even more bizarre. Cape Wind finally initiates the kind of clean and renewable energy production that they have been advocating for decades. Now they are worrying about migratory bird patterns and the aesthetics of just-on-the-horizon windmills. It is time for them to do some comparison: Is Cape Wind worse than oil spills, blasted mountain tops with valleys and streams filled with coal debris? What is the fate of birds flying near power plant chimneys or being bathed in oil spills? What about the aesthetics of the 20,000 year half-life of a lot of nuclear waste? Get real, folks.

It is essential to view the energy production problem realistically. What we have now is not sustainable and is damaging the environment. Until (or if) science can find a miracle source of energy -- like the long wished-for but non-existent "cold fusion" say -- tradeoffs will have to be made. If 10,000 birds will die from hitting wind turbine blades, while millions will be offed by any other currently known energy technology, then one must make a choice.

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