August 29, 2005

A NIMBY wind is a-blowin' my mind

David Bauman writes in yesterday's Berkshire Eagle:
The appropriate term for opposition to big ugly projects, which could benefit many but harms few, is NIMBY (not in my backyard). Our reluctance to invoke NIMBY has caused us to make laws that give legal power to frogs and roots but none to ourselves. Human's wants and needs always take a back seat to those fussy plants and animals. In generations past the plants and animals were clear-cut, slaughtered, eaten and worn. Now they have it better than ever and all they do is complain.
So it's NIMBY to act as a steward of the land against unquestioned industrial development. And it's fear of challenging said NIMBY that has made weighing the natural environment, the ecosystem that sustains us, against unquestioned industrial development a normal procedure. And, like free speech, it's apparently enough to have the right -- but to actually use it is obstructionist whining.

[He is correct to call many of the opponents of the Cape Wind project NIMBY when they support wind power elsewhere. But most opponents of industrial wind have looked seriously into it and determined that it is not worth sacrificing their or anyone else's backyard, rural landscape, or wild mountaintop for its dubious claims. These people can not therefore be called NIMBY.]

Bauman's answer is pretty much, "might [or more usually mere bluster] makes right" -- hardly a compelling alternative:
As everyone knows West Virginia is the perfect place for windmill farms because the plants and animals there are friendly, poor, a little slow and don't give a hoot 'bout much.
He thinks he's mocking those who have driven out the wind pirates, but he reveals his own contempt for not only plants and animals but also his fellow humans. And typical of the misinformed or disingenuous, he invokes oil, which has almost nothing to do with electricity. If anything, more wind power would mean more oil, because that's what often powers the quick-response plants that would be be needed to cover for wind's erratic production.

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