Thursday, 3 December 2009

Almost every other day we hear about some manifestation of NIMBY, where somebody (usually a group of people) don’t want something to be near where they live. And in recent times, I seem to hear quite often about people not wanting wind turbines for electricity generation anywhere near them, because they are noisy, or they spoil the landscape, or whatever.

I don’t want to argue whether the reasons put forward for not wanting electricity generating wind turbines nearby, are valid or not. For all I know they might well be. However the reasons for having wind turbines somewhere seem pretty good (renewable and clean energy, good availability of wind, etc.).

Personally I think wind turbines can be quite beautiful, and whenever I pass by a wind farm, I am always fascinated. However if somebody said that a wind turbine was coming right where I live, I might feel a bit uncomfortable, after all.

What I think is needed, is to make the reasons for having a wind farm near you, more pressing than for not having it. Now the greater good and the environment might be a very good reason, but might not be all that pressing to the average person. However, if people living within a certain distance from it were to get, say for example, free electricity (or substantial discounts on their electricity bill), I think the trend might change, and people might actually bit to have a wind farm near them. Or, even better, if communities were to offer to have a wind farm near them, electricity companies might bid for the site, by offering the most advantageous conditions in terms of subsidized energy. Similar schemes might apply for other forms of renewable energy production, where new sites have to be found.

Wouldn’t something like this give a boost to the adoptions of renewable energies?


Saturday, 1 November 2008

First was the threat of the ice melting down, polar caps and glaciers. Now we have the threat of the financial system melting down as well.
Both meltdowns seem to have globally disastrous consequences, which we are incessantly told about by the media.

However, I find myself wondering whether these should really be the concerns at the top of my list.

The first reason I find to doubt whether I should really be worried about the meltdowns, is that dramatic predictions about dire scenarios have been made plenty of times before, and seldom they have come to pass (e.g. a new ice age, the y2k bug, etc.). Of course this time the predictions might be right, but there are still so many things we don’t really understand (both in how the climate works and the economy, scientific, technological and maths advances notwithstanding), which makes these predictions quite vague on a quantitative level, if not on a qualitive level as well. You might argue we should prepare for the worst case scenario, but then how often do you do that in your personal life, or with your personal finances?

The other reason is that I think there are more pressing issues to worry about: for example the injustice of wealth distribution in the world (a small percentage of the world population consumes a much higher percentage of the world resources), causing lots of poverty, misery and wars around the world. Of course global disasters will affect everybody, but is it really worth preserving a world where so much injustice takes place? If we put lots of effort into “saving” the world, should we not put at least as much effort in making it worth saving? Or as worth as possible?