Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Aesthetics of Renewable Energy.

Now, see how remarkably intellectual and academic that title is?
That's as good as this post will get. Srsly.

I do not want to talk about the pros and cons of wind turbines, mainly because I'd have to do a lot of research and read a lot of conflicting reports and a lot of hyperbole from either side of the debate, turn my brain into cheese and still be none the wiser at the end of it.
I'm just going to deal with one aspect of the anti- camp, that they spoil the landscape.

Personally I don't see it. I quite like the things. I've been told that they are ugly, industrial structures that are at odds with the natural landscape. Well... lets think about that for a moment. Pretty as it is, the majority of the British countryside is not natural. It's an industrial farming landscape. That pretty patchwork of fields and forestry is every bit as contrived, managed and artificial as a city. The land has been irrigated, cleared, fenced, planted, reaped and rotated well beyond anything it'd be if left to itself. When you gaze upon England's Green And Pleasant Land it's worth remembering that for all it's beauty, it's no more natural in occurrence than a wind turbine.

I wonder if there were people hundreds of years ago complaining about those pretty windmills being built? If they complained about them overshadowing the fields, making a nonsense of the skyline, making them ill from the low-frequency noise from the grinding of corn?
Human nature being what is, I suspect there probably was, although I also suspect there weren't many petitions. But they were progress and they helped mankind progress until they were obsolete and now the old windmills are admired, romanticised and protected. They're seen as an enhancement to the view, a throwback to gentler, less hurried times while their modern equivalent is lambasted and campaigned against.

I'm trying very hard to resist getting into the need to move into renewable energy sources and relieve ourselves of the stranglehold fossil fuels have on us and stick to purely the visual aspect. It's hard because I desperately want to discuss the absurdity of objecting to a way of harnessing power without damaging our planet by saying you don't think it's pretty.

Instead, I'll discuss Small. Who is two years old and so far reasonably pure in his likes and dislikes. He's not old enough to have been swayed by opinions in what is good and what is bad, what is pretty and what is ugly. The kid is delighted by what he likes and gets very upset about what he doesn't like. Even though in some cases (Mr Tumble for eg) I'd like to be able to affect those choices, I can't.
Small loves wind turbines, or windmills as he calls them. He sees no difference between the house Baby Jake lives in and the wind turbines we see on car journeys. Our local train station recently put up a painting that featured wind turbines and he sobbed uncontrollably when my train came in and he had to leave the station and the painting behind.
He calls them pretty. Out of the mouths of babes.

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