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Volume 16, Issue 31 - July 31 - August 6, 2008

The Lesser of Two Evils

I’ll take windmills over global warming

Not In My Backyard!

How many times have we heard those four words before? Not in my backyard has become the stock answer whenever a new prison or halfway house is mentioned; same for a drug treatment center, food kitchen, pig farm, power plant, airport, factory — anything that is considered odiferous via the broad definition of the word.

Whatever it is, how badly it’s needed, matters not. Bottom line: I’ll go along, but not in my backyard. But if it’s not going to be in anyone’s backyard, where is it going to be — especially along the crowded East Coast, where nothing can come about without being in someone’s backyard?

Over time, many a needed facility has gone by the wayside as politicians and officeholders caved to those who screeched not in my backyard. One would think that by now mayors, governors, congress- and council-people and such would have finally become immune to the plea, realizing that anything has got to go somewhere — and that somewhere will be in someone’s backyard.

Yet those whose political existence depends on votes lack the backbone to stand up and simply say This rates priority; whether it be in your backyard or mine, it must come.

O’Malley’s Inconsistency

My biggest disappointment in Gov. Martin O’Malley — after his exceptionally rosy promises to face up to environmental woes, including global warming — was his not-too-long-ago decision that energy producing windmills would not come to state forests and parklands of Western Maryland. He bowed to the outcries of those masquerading as environmentalists.

This writer would certainly prefer that windmills not blossom on the mountains of our state. But there can be circumstances that demand action contrary to what one prefers.

Thus windmills are not equivalent to planting more unsightly towers in the forests for better cell phone transmission. Cell phone convenience can wait for more advanced technology, which will surely come.

But in view of global warming, cleaner energy can’t wait. Daily the greenhouse gasses situation becomes worse — though every day growing numbers in the scientific, economic and public health community, as well as plain citizens worldwide, come to agree, at least in principle, that if we are to save Mother Earth, we must act now. The clock is ticking.

How can a governor who promotes a platform of environmental reform turn his back on a promising source of clean energy? Does that not send the message that it is inconsequential?

Not in Our Backyards

Our same guv who ignores the potential of clean wind energy on state lands in the mountains of his state then comes all out for a proposed wind farm (with windmills, of course) off the Delaware coast. Why is it okay in Delaware but not in Western Maryland?

Delaware is not in the governor’s backyard — though the wind machines could eventually be if they prove a viable clean energy source. They just might end up all along the coast from Maine to Florida — with the exception of offshore Cape Cod, where the wind source is more constant and dependable.

Why the exemption of Cape Cod, where it’s said the Cabots speak only to the Lodges and the Lodges speak only to God? For years, there has been serious planning for wind turbines thereabouts. But the bluebloods don’t want the scenery behind their sailing yachts messed up with windmills — and they can afford to buy the last barrel of dirty petroleum to save their scenery.

As things stand now, the offshore windmills in the planning stage for Delaware would be 11 to 12 miles off Rehoboth Beach and among the first serious attempts to harness offshore winds in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of homes, depending on how successful things work out in the Bluewater Wind project, could get enough energy to fully function via sea breezes.

Talk is that eventually 150 turbines of 40 feet in height could come to waters offshore Ocean City, far enough out that their impact on the view would be minimal. But you know how they are down at that sandy summertime playground where it’s what the tourists want. They have ruined the scenic aspects of the beach with god-awful condominiums destined to someday be washed away to create artificial reefs for marine life — if there is any marine life left. But the tourists might not like windmills on the horizon.

In Baltimore County, neighbors are up in arms because the zoning board has ruled that Barry and Urszuela Antonelli can proceed with plans for a windmill on their 97-acre property.

The way the energy picture is developing, you’d think the citizenry would appreciate efforts by neighbors to create their own energy and be independent of power companies, not adding to the demand. Such efforts mean less competition for energy, clean or foul, possibly lower prices and more availability to help those caught up in the energy price squeeze.

Not My Legacy

How long can we acknowledge the legitimate threat of global warming but continue to think of it as something way down the road? The longer we don’t face up to the issue the more damage we’re doing, the longer it will take to remedy and the more it will cost. That is, if we don’t wait too long until it’s too late. Mull that over.

When I watch my six-year-old granddaughter Grumpy romp about carefree, I can’t help but ponder what things will be like as she gets older and the time comes (as it surely will) when the bill comes for our neglect, our hedging. ’Tis long been acknowledged that our goal in our time on this earth should be to leave it as a better place than when we entered. Yet we are failing miserably.

How can we as human beings continue in our neglectful ways at the expense of our children and grandchildren, who deserve better from us? We’re pulling the wool over our own eyes, but they will remember us as the ones who failed them.

Me, I’d rather be better remembered. How about you?

Enough said.

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