Friday, April 15, 2005

Can we learn to love windmills?

The quaint windmills of Holland are appreciated as historic and aesthetically pleasing sites. So pleasing is the thought of these windmills that one company, at least, makes tasty cookies in their image. The modern electricity-producing windmills, however, garner only an abstract adoration for their clean energy while creating a hatred of their actual presence because it can lead to the occasional death of a bird and the filling of a verdant landscape with giant rotors.

David Suzuki lambastes those who insist on a future with clean, renewable energy and then fight wind power in their own backyards. All technologies have drawbacks. Would they prefer another coal-fired power plant instead?

Thoreau lamented the train whistle that pierced the quiet of Walden Pond. But, today we look upon the rhythmic rattling of train cars on their tracks and the distant, blaring of the train horn with a certain nostalgia and delight. It reminds many of us of a time when train travel had a certain romance attached to it. Even today, we still call passenger trains by name. (Airline flights only have numbers.)

Will we develop an attachment to our windmills that resembles our affinity for the antique ones of Holland? Maybe not. But we can certainly agree that our modern ones are quite a bit more lovely than the belching smokestacks that would be built in their place.

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