“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
—John F. Kennedy
Friday June 15 is Global Wind Day. Maybe you haven’t heard of it before. You might think it’s one of those made-up days. Like Grandparents’ Day. Or Star Wars Day. (May the 4th be with you!) But like many such days dedicated to some particular cause or aspect of life on Earth, it’s meant to celebrate, honour, and bring awareness to its subject, in this case wind energy.
It happens every June 15th, and is about to celebrate its sixth annual occurrence. First started in 2007, it’s organized jointly by the European Wind Energy Association and the Global Wind Energy Council. Over the years, a number of national wind energy associations and companies associated with wind energy have used the opportunity to organize their own local events with the goal of educating everyone about wind energy and what it has to offer our planet.
Last year, for example, there were events organised in 30 countries around the world—France alone had 15 separate events—including visits to both onshore and offshore wind farms, information campaigns, demonstration turbines, wind workshops and wind parades. This year Global Wind Day is expected to grow even bigger.
Take New Jersey as an example. As it has a shoreline with the Atlantic Ocean, it has great offshore wind potential, as would any location with a coast. The Sierra Club is honouring Global Wind Day by organizing rallies of kite-flying in Ocean City, along the Jersey shores. (Will Snookie be there, I wonder?) Their goal is to highlight wind energy by having parents and children flying kites, and they’ll be encouraging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to move forward with offshore wind development.
My gosh, doesn’t that sound un-American? You’d think so based on how the organization Americans for Prosperity has responded. From their own website, they describe that they’re not prepared to have “more and more of our tax dollars to be used to subsidize their crazy offshore wind pipe dreams!”
The AFP is organizing their own counter-rally, trying to dispel what they consider the “radical environmentalists’ offshore wind agenda.” They reference a publication from the Beacon Hill Institute commenting on all of the negative economic impacts the development of wind energy will lead to, including increased taxes and lost jobs. That’s despite the fact that the article was unable to reference any American examples of offshore wind energy that have caused similar problems. Or that even Karl Rove believes wind energy is good for the economy, raising revenue and creating jobs, the main reason he supports extending the Production Tax Credit for developing wind energy beyond its scheduled expiry date at the end of the year.
The best way to realize where the authors of the BHI article are coming from is the part of the document where they analyze the “benefits” of wind energy. From the article: “The reduced emissions of CO2 are believed to reduce the greenhouse effect and thereby moderate the effects of global warming although the strength of these effects is a matter of considerable debate.”
It would be so much easier to give groups like this a modicum of respect if they would at least be up front about what they really want: “We don’t want to change our routine because we fear it will cost us more money than we want to spend; for some of us, we’ll lose money becasue we’re connected to the fossil fuel industry. We recognize that business-as-usual is hurting the planet, but we think the economy of today is more important than the environment of tomorrow.” But they can’t ackowledge that, because there is a surprising number of people who would be willing to pay a little more if it would help the environment. Although it’s still a minority, that number is growing.
So what don’t they like about wind energy? That’s it’s clean? That it’s free? Offers an endless supply? Reduces greenhouse gas emissions? It’s hard to argue it will cost jobs when research, development, and manufacturing all lead to more jobs. They can try to argue that it doesn’t impact our dependence on foreign oil because most electricity is generated from burning coal. But coal costs money. And given how we’re mining for it now—by removing mountaintops—I think it’s worth looking to other sources of energy if possible.
Their arguments become pathetic after a while. I hope Global Wind Day continues to grow in the coming years. And I’m glad to see that children are a part of it like with the kite-flying events taking place this Friday in New Jersey. I have strong hopes that the next generation will be able to pick up the pieces where ours has failed on this issue.