Our generation is no stranger to climate change.
We have grown up hearing about the growing hole in the ozone layer, the melting icebergs, the smog that blankets our cities, and the filth feeding into our oceans.
In recent years, we have seen the push for alternative energy sources in response to these issues. We have seen the development of renewable energy technology such as solar panels, wind turbines, and hybrid vehicles. But these are far from integrated in our communities.
I recently took a course on environmental ethics, and this is how the contention around wind turbines (yes, there is contention) first came to my attention.
I’m not someone who is super environmentally conscience or who follows the developments in environmental technologies. But taking the course did prompt me to feel very strongly about the subject of wind turbines.
For the course, we watched a film called The Age of Stupid. It featured a man who was pushing wind farms in Europe, hoping to help communities reduce their carbon footprint. But many people protest them — passionately I might add — to ensure they are never built.
According to the film, the main reason people oppose wind farms is because it will ruin their picturesque view, which they want to preserve for their grandchildren.
Perhaps this film is a little biased; after all, its purpose is to prove that we have the means of stopping climate change, but choose not to and allow it to worsen. But its message is true: we have the technology that could significantly decrease our carbon footprint as a species, but we are hardly taking advantage of it.
The reasons people have for opposing wind farms don’t get much better from here.
One problem is that wind doesn’t blow consistently, making it an unreliable energy source. I argue that some renewable energy is better than none.
The blades can be hazardous to animals, especially birds. But if we continue on our current path of polluting the environment then all species are going to have bigger problems in the future than some turbine blades.
Turbines also create a sound that averages around 60 decibels, so it can be a nuisance if it’s too close to your house. But so are train tracks and busy roads. As for the complaint that the view will be ruined; if you continue to protest renewable energy technologies there won’t be a picturesque view for future generations to enjoy at all.
Yes, turbines may be an inconvenience, even a nuisance. But as a species we need to start looking at the bigger picture.
As university students, it is difficult for us to feel moved by this call for renewable technologies. These solutions are expensive; we’re not about to buy a hybrid car or install solar panels on our rented house. But one day we might be able to, and maybe we should be starting to make a habit of choosing better options now.
Invest in a bike and take the extra time to travel to places. Don’t drink out of plastic water bottles, especially when you go camping, go out and buy larger jugs of water and fill up your metal bottles.
Use a clothesline. Encourage your parents to not care so much about their lawn.
Buy more food locally and take the time to go into St. Jacob’s.
It’s not about having the money or the knowledge. It’s about making conscious decisions throughout your day and taking the time to care about something a little bit bigger than yourself, even if it might occasionally be a nuisance.