Sunday 12 February 2012

The answer, my friend, is... ?? (Part 2)

Change... we're not very good at it, are we? Considering that we like to see ourselves as the current pinnacle of evolution and that our rate of technological advance shows no sign of letting up, we still become rather hot under the collar if faced with something new.

Complaining about new developments is probably a habit as old as the human race itself.

Casebook 1: Middle East

Plaintiff: You've got to stop my neighbour! He's building this big wooden construction and its blocking out all my light! I can hardly see what I'm doing!

Ancient Civil Servant: And that is, sir?

Plaintiff: Well, er... sinning, mainly, but that's not the point. This Noah chap should be stopped. And his bloody dove keeps crapping on my wife's laundry.

Casebook 2: North West Europe

Defendant: 'S religious, innit? 'S a temple to the wossnames, Gods, it is. Got to have a place of worship or what's the point?

Ancient Civil Servant: Indeed, sir.

Plaintiff: But it ruins the view!! We've always been able to watch the funerary processions and this hideous structure will render that impossible. AND it's not even local materials!

Ancient Civil Servant: Yes, I did wonder about transporting dolerite all that way, but apparently it has healing and magical properties.

Defendant: 'Cos it's religious, like I said. But we're a small order of worshippers, we will endeavour to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Plaintiff: Bollocks! There'll be hordes of folk tramping over the barrows every bloody solstice, you mark my words.

Back in the here and almost now...

Windmills have been around for nearly 2000 years, providing energy for tasks as mundane, yet vital, as pumping water for drainage or irrigation and grinding cereals into flour. Despite being sidelined by the invention of steam-powered machinery in the 1800s, towards the end of the 19th Century, a few windmills were even used for generating electricity.

There's nothing new under the sun, eh? I get the feeling that a debate that is over one hundred years old, is only just putting its racing skates on.

Neither side of the argument is as open and honest as it claims to be. Landowners and generating companies are seen as trying to make big profits from the countryside, whilst objectors are labelled as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) and looking after their own interests.

On the face of it, the differences of opinion are irreconcilable. If we can't even agree whether there is a need for clean and renewable energy production, perhaps we still have a bit more evolving to do (yes, I know that this is an ongoing process anyway, but you get the idea).

I think that we have to presume that the world climate has always been changing. For the last 4.5 billion years, it's been a roller coaster ride of warming and cooling. No civilisation, let alone any individual human, has been around long enough to personally monitor this accurately. We can, however, look at samples of sediments or ice cores and make educated guesses about what it has been like for the previous several hundred million years. It changes, quelle surprise.

All the stuff alive on Earth now, has evolved to be comfortable with the present climate. This includes all of us humans, even the creationist ones. If we like it how it is, we might want to prolong that for as long as possible, especially if the rate of change is speeding up? As we gallop towards 7 billion people on the planet, all burning fossil fuels like they're going out of fashion (oh, they are!), it is entirely realistic to think that this has unwanted consequences.

Whilst anthropogenic climate change is only one part of the change mechanism, it's also the only part we have any control over. Whilst future technological innovations will help mitigate the effects of climate change, they will still require plenty of raw materials for a burgeoning population, so perhaps a bit of environmental prudence is in order, right now.

Comments, on a postcard, to the usual address...


holdingmoments said...

I still don't like them.

I think if the human race carries on the way it is, rushing towards self destruction, then a few giant windmills ain't gonna make a ha'porth of difference.
Unless, of course, if they blow a few billion of the earth's population into space, to give the rest a bit more space.

Tales of a Bank Vole said...

But fortunately the giant meteorite will get us first.

Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.....

Martin said...

Ah, I think you have it in one I&T - The Windmill was the previous attempt to mitigate climate change and while they were about it they also made use of them to grind corn, pump water and make flour. Unfortunately some silly humans decided to let all this decline for the New Technologies, and the world is turning full circle. Maybe one day soon we shall again be able to see a flock of windmills on the hill above Montmartre in Paris!

So all in all I feel the best solution is to dress them all up as elegant postmills or maybe the odd tower mill for variety in recycled plastic planks that look like wood and don't need creosote (now banned in many states) for preservative, and won't catch fire when the wind blows too much and there is no grain to mill. The dutch windmills are iconic, ours could be too!
It would also be a good use for all those lighthouses now GPS tells us where we are to within a few cm.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Keith, I'm attempting to not preach either way. It's more of a journey for me to decide where I stand. And anyway, you've got enough of a one at Caldecotte, you're not allowed any more!

Imperfect and Tense said...

500,000 years delay? But I've a dental appointment that morning. Bah!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Martin, Darn! The solution was in front of me all along. What a fantastic idea. It's a good halfway house between farms and micro-generation. I must away and recreate the "Camberwick Green" sound effect. Windy Miller is God!

Tales of a Bank Vole said...

Here you go I've cracked it:

No blades. No buffeting.
Dyson Air Multiplier™ fans are safe, with no fast-spinning blades chopping the air.

We just built a 40ft version of Mr Ds fans and use them in reverse to generate electricity as the wind blows through their vast nothingness.

Hey presto - no diced Norwegian White Tailed Eagle - lovely bird the Norwegian........

Imperfect and Tense said...

Pure genius, right enough, TBV!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

It seems to me the design of the wind turbines could be improved for bird safety (the only reason why I started looking into this matter). Did I read somewhere in your posts or links that UK wind turbines are currently being publicly subsidized to reach some kind of energy goal by 2015? I think energy companies should not be for profit. They put up whatever is cheapest/easiest and are not compelled to create anything that is effective for energy production, safety of wildlife, and attractive for the landscape. That last bit is in reference to Holland, which I only know as having cool old windmills and tulips (of course, I've never been there). Indeed, UK wind turbines could become a major tourist attraction for the next century... if we survive past December 21, 2012.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Katie, Yeah, you read right and we don't have any public utilities any more. You talk a great deal of sense, lady. If you were in charge, I'd vote for you!