Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Don't Be Fooled...Cape Wind Won't Stop Global Warming

Supporters of the Cape Wind project would have an uninformed public believe that Jim Gordon’s “Vision” of 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound is a serious step towards curbing the effects of global warming. Bottom line is that this project would have negligible effects on curbing global carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, the looming eco-apocalypse that will swallow Cape Cod whole is already unfolding. If you don’t believe me, check the latest report from the IPCC. We do not need Cape Wind to stop global warming. It is a pipe-dream to begin to think we can stop global warming; its effects will unfold for over the course of this century, and likely spill over into the next. If sea-levels are going to rise, it is not because of the valiant fight put up in opposition to this project, it is because humans have steadily increased emissions of greenhouse gases since the rise of the Industrial Revolution.


All this doomsday talk does not mean that there is no hope, but it should put this debate about the placement of this particular project into context. One industrial power plant in Nantucket Sound will not address global warming. It will ruin a place that has and continues to define Cape Cod and the Islands. It will kill birds and disrupt benthic habitats. It does pose a navigational safety hazard to boat and avian traffic. It will cost taxpayers over a billion dollars in subsidies over the life of the project. Too often this debate is polarized by supporters who define all opposition as NIMBY. I believe that these people do not want to talk about the real issues at hand because they know their oppositions’ issues are legitimate and deserve consideration.

I do not doubt that the United States is in need of offshore-renewable energy, and offshore wind appears to be viable, as illustrated by our neighbors across the pond. When Jim Gordon proposed this project in 2001, it was one of a kind. Little has changed since then, and Cape Wind still stands to become the first off-shore wind farm in the United States. For many, the logical thing to do is to sink our teeth into the promise of offshore wind, and get something in the water. Unfortunately, the public is faced with a false choice when it comes to supporting a particular wind project – there is only one to choose! Why is this? Because Minerals Management Service, the government agency now in charge of writing the rules and regulations for all offshore renewable energy on the outer continental shelf of the United States, is still in its rulemaking process. You wouldn’t start spending your own money building a house that the government could tear down half way through. Can we honestly expect renewable energy developers to waste their own dollars in the same fashion? No. And we shouldn’t. The appropriate course of action is to wait and see what alternatives there are to Cape Wind. This will happen, but we have to be patient.

(photo from cjohnson7)

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