Opinion: Wind Wars


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Quick, which do you prefer: A beautiful seascape, or a beach from which to view it?

The fight over whether to install 130 windmills off the coast of Cape Cod is heading for a showdown this week. Hearings are scheduled to be held across in Massachusetts on the development proposal, which has pitted Massachussetts Gov. Duval Patrick, a green-tech promoter, against Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose heirloom views from Martha’s Vineyard would be ‘spoiled’ by the sight of the windmills spinning in Nantucket Sound.


The promoter, Cape Wind Associates, says the windmills could meet 75% of the energy demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and touts a new poll showing support for the windfarm has grown to 86% among all Massachusetts and 74% among Cape Codders. But we’d like to see some closer analysis of this data. How about a cross-analysis with property records, to find out whether the rich and powerful who own vacation homes with ocean views and are virulently against the wind farms outnumber the rich and powerful who vote in Massachuetts and have taken up global warming as their personal crusade? And what percentage of the anti-wind camp are people who do not own ocean-view property but who believe Cape Cod’s historic views are a national treasure that should remain pristine?

Of course, if the scientists are correct in predicting a rapid rise in ocean levels due to global warming, the rich and powerful could end up with pristine views but no more beaches to walk on. (Not the Kennedys, though. Their home on Martha’s Vineyard is up on a high bluff.) Still, an alarming (the right may say alarmist) report in today’s Washington Post finds some scientists saying that carbon emissions would have to be halted entirely within a few decades to avoid irreversible environmental damage... So what is the relative value of Teddy Kennedy’s view weighed against the alleged need to shut down the carbon-based industrialized economies of the entire world?