Why are wind turbines so bad? Anti-wind energy sentiments in Norway

I have noticed there is a strong anti-wind energy sentiment among many otherwise progressive and sustainability-oriented people in Norway. Some even advocate for nuclear energy (!).

To me, that doesn’t quite make sense.

Yes, wind energy has drawbacks. It’s visible and changes the scenery locally, and it does harm and kill some birds.

At the same time, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION

We have a society, lifestyle, and civilization that depends on high energy input, and Norwegians use more energy than most similar countries. Our priority should be to reduce our energy consumption.

It’s possible to reduce energy consumption quite dramatically through more efficient design and changes in lifestyle. (When someone lived in our tiny house in the Andes last year, that person used several times as much energy as I do when I am there.)

THERE IS AN IMPACT NO MATTER WHAT

We have to get energy from somewhere, and there is an impact no matter what. Our energy-hungry lifestyle inevitably has a big impact. The question is: What type of impact are we OK with?

Wind energy is an easy target since it’s often local and easily visible. The impact from most other sources of energy is far more severe, although it’s also often less visible, at least locally and short term.

For instance, fossil fuels may not have a very visible local impact in the short term, but it has a huge ad devastating impact globally and long term. The same can be said for nuclear energy.

It’s not good that some birds are harmed by the blades of wind turbines, but there are ways to reduce that impact. For instance, there are wind turbines without blades. In any case, the main impact on the bird population comes from elsewhere – especially loss of habitat, loss of healthy ecosystems, pesticides, loss of insects, and so on, and it’s far more important to make changes there.

THE TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY

Nuclear energy (fission) is a bad alternative.

It moves the cost to future generations which itself is ethically questionable. They don’t have a say.

The waste storage requires ongoing maintenance for millennia, and something will inevitably go wrong. When it goes wrong, the impact is immeasurably worse than the impact of wind energy. It can devastate life in a whole region for millennia. (This can happen even after humans are gone, so we are pushing the consequences onto whatever life is here then.)

Fusion energy is an exception. If we could develop useable fusion energy, it would have a much lower impact and likely generally be a good solution. The drawback is that it requires a centralized system, and it’s still years or decades in the future.

SOME SOLUTIONS

So what’s the solution? Here are some places to start: Reduce energy use. Use more local renewable energy, whatever makes the most sense where you are. (Solar, ground, wind, ocean, water, etc.) Find better storage. Keep looking for better solutions.


INITIAL DRAFT

ANTI-WIND ENERGY SENTIMENTS IN NORWAY

I have noticed there is a strong anti-wind energy sentiment among many otherwise progressive and sustainability-oriented people in Norway. Some even advocate for nuclear energy (!).

To me, that doesn’t quite make sense.

Yes, wind energy has drawbacks. It’s visible and changes the scenery locally. And it does harm and kill some birds.

It’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

We have a society, lifestyle, and civilization that requires a high energy input, and Norwegians use more energy than most similar countries. Our priority should be to reduce our energy consumption. It’s possible to reduce it quite dramatically. (When someone lived in our tiny house in the Andes last year, that person used several times as much energy as I do when I am there.)

We have to get energy from somewhere, and there is an impact no matter what. Our energy-hungry lifestyle has an impact. The question is: What type of impact are we OK with?

Wind energy is an easy target since it’s often local and easily visible. The impact from most other sources of energy is far more severe, although it’s also often less visible, at least locally and short term.

It’s not good that some birds are harmed, but there are ways to reduce that impact, and the main impact on the bird population comes from elsewhere – especially loss of nature, loss of healthy ecosystems, pesticides and loss of insects, and so on. It’s far more important to make changes there.

Nuclear energy is a very bad choice. It moves the cost to future generations. Something will inevitably go wrong. And when it goes wrong, the impact is immeasurably worse than that of wind energy. It can devastate a whole region for millennia.

So what’s the solution? Reduce energy use. Use more local renewable energy, whatever makes the most sense where you are. (Solar, ground, wind, ocean, water, etc.) Find better storage. Keep looking for better solutions.

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