Rep. Nick Rahall, D-WV, just tried to break wind in the House of Representatives. Wind power, that is.
Rahall, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, included measures in a recently-proposed energy bill that would stymie the construction of wind turbines with hurdles such as Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) approval of new wind-turbine projects as well as suspension of the operation of existing turbines – residential and commercial – if cumbersome monitoring of their environmental impact does not take place. Violators – and keep in mind that the likely criminals in black-market green-energy production would be tie-dye and Birkenstock clad, not exactly dangerous folk – could even do prison time.
Of course, Rahall’s reasoning doesn’t have anything to do with human welfare – he’s more concerned with birds and bats than with the production of electricity. This is not surprising, considering that environmentalism time and again shows itself to be anti-human when there’s a phosphate-free soapbox to preach from. Citing concerns that wind power projects didn’t comply with the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Rahall’s knee-jerk reaction was a call for regulation in the name of wildlife protection.
A similar anti-wind sentiment swept in a few years ago, also motivated by concern for birds. According to USA Today, operators of Altamont wind turbines faced lawsuits from environmental groups for having failed to protect birds. The kicker is that scientists didn’t “know whether the kills reduce overall bird populations.” They speculated – the exact word used was “worry” – that the turbines could “tip a species into decline.” This sounds like too big of a “maybe” to make long-lasting legal decisions upon, especially when it could determine the future of electricity delivery to a region.
Just in case the self-evident ridiculousness isn’t coming through, look at the question at hand and witness that environmentalists are so arrogant they actually debate it: Is the welfare of a human or a bird more important? It is in answer to this question that ethanol use is typically brought up as a viable green power alternative.
Concisely, here is what the frenzy over ethanol has done for Americans in the past several months: As ethanol is often derived from corn, a main component in animal feed, and demand for ethanol has increased, the price of animal feed has increased as well. This has caused dairy, poultry and beef prices to increase significantly. It is likely that the problem will worsen as more corn is diverted to ethanol production. And, as reported on MSNBC.com, one critic of Bush’s call to increase ethanol production to 35 billion gallons says the increase “would require putting an additional 129,000 square miles of farmland – an area the size of Kansas and Iowa – into corn production.”
These facts and the anti-wind attitude still doggedly proffered by environmentalists certainly put their apologists – the ones who claim that industry and environmentalists can get along just fine because the industry can be successful, sustainable and clean at the same time – in a humanist pickle. Industries have complied with one set of wild demands and made electricity without coal or gas or uranium by using wind, but now they find themselves confined to the green gallows just like the others.It doesn’t seem like much of an exaggeration to think that environmentalists will accept no level of compliance until we are squatting in outhouses to conserve water and using organic beeswax candles to cut back on energy use.
If reducing greenhouse gases is truly a goal, why not take advantage of a power source – wind – that doesn’t produce a single molecule of them? Why not develop an energy policy that seeks to use clean wind power to fuel scores of electric cars in the future? If global warming were a threat, wouldn’t it be better to allow for the deaths of a few birds and bats in order to mitigate the ecological strain supposedly facing many more creatures?These are important questions. Unfortunately, mainstream environmentalism’s ideological tenets cannot provide answers to them that coincide with a high quality of life.
Victoria Bekiempis is a junior majoring in history and French.