March 14, 2005

parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus

a fable . . .

The environmental groups were very worried about the ill effects of fossil and nuclear fuels. They quaked and roared that people must cut back their lavish wasteful lifestyles. The deregulated energy industry did not fear. They showed the environmental groups how they don't have to tell people to give anything up. The industrialists told them that energy from the wind could replace most of the energy from fossil and nuclear fuels.

The environmental groups swelled with pride and joined with industry to build the fabulous turbines. They built them bigger and bigger, more and more of them. The ground shook, trees fell, wild animals fled as the giant wings began to roar with the wind. People were full of awe. They fell to their knees with wonder.

And like the mountain that labored to produce but a little mouse, the thousands of wind turbines -- hundreds of feet high, covering landscapes in every direction, swallowing billions of dollars of resources -- produced but a ridiculous trickle of electricity.

Aesop's crowd laughed at their credulity and returned to their homes. Horace warned poets about promising a mountain lest only a mouse emerges from their pen. The energy industry, however, promises even bigger mountains, and the environmental groups won't admit their folly as long as more people join them. The people are still on their knees, denying the mouse has already run past.

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