Not in my backyard!

Our world is getting hotter due to human activities, and the biggest cause is believed to be from the emission of greenhouse gasses. If we are to encounter climate change we need to stop using limited fossil fuels and start using renewable sources of energy. This text focuses on wind power, which a lot of people support, right?

As already stated, wind power is a renewable source of energy that does not cause environmental pollution. There are, however, other environmental issues. Wind turbines are not a natural part of the ecosystem, resulting in landscape changes (Samuelsson, 2011). There are people who are bothered by wind turbines because of the noise and the aesthetic changes of the landscape. There is also an expressed concern about how fish, birds and animals might be affected by the establishment of a wind turbine, but the recurring objection to wind power is the visual impact on the landscape (Klintman & Waldo, 2008). The University of Cardiff (2010) published a study on Britain’s energy future that stated that 82 percent of the British people are positive towards wind power. This is where the social phenomenon “not in my backyard” comes along, also called the NIMBY phenomenon, which is characterized by a measure of hypocrisy (Cohen, 2011).

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As Cohen (2011) puts it: “Brits are favourable to wind power, but try to put a wind turbine near someone’s backyard and all hell breaks loose”. The planning permission now takes a long time for onshore wind farms; not a lot of them get approved (Cohen, 2011). Britain is now forced to build new wind farms offshore, at about twice the price, with money they could have used for something else. Britain is required by the European Union to increase their use of renewable sources from 3.3 percent to 15 percent by 2020, which makes them a long way from their target. 

As emission of greenhouse gasses is a tragedy of the commons (Gardiner, 2006), should Britain be a good role model for other countries by going against the will of their own people and putting up wind turbines? They do support the thought of wind power, and some objections to wind turbines make sense. I would not say that you should literally put up a wind turbine in someone’s backyard, but as a country with a huge amount of agriculture, you would think that it would be possible to build a good number of wind farms, as long as the wind turbines don’t affect what’s growing, resulting in a loss of commodities. If it would only affect the aesthetic changes of the landscape and nothing else, I would say, yes, put up wind turbines against their will. Not only in Britain, but wherever it can be done without hurting the landscape and the ones living in it. The aesthetic changes are not a valid argument. We need the courage to act before it’s too late. And until we find something better, wind power complemented with other renewable sources is a good start. As Quane (2006) puts it: “Everyone must begin to hold our leaders and themselves accountable for their decisions regarding our energy future”.

 

Reference list

Cohen, R. (2011). Britain Goes Nimby. (Retrieved 2013-09-14) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/27/opinion/britain-goes-nimby.html.

Gardiner, S.M. (2006). A perfect moral storm: climate change, intergenerational ethics and the problem of corruption. Environmental Values 15: 397-413.

Klintman, M. & Waldo, Å. (2008). Erfarenheter av vindkraftsetablering: förankring, acceptans och motstånd. Stockholm: Naturvårdsverket.

Samuelsson, E. (2011). Hur hanteras risken för fåglar och fladdermöss i tillståndsprövningen av vindkraft? Göteborgs Universitet: Juridiska institutionen.

Quane, S. (2006). It´s not hairspray: America´s need for science education. Geotimes 17: 51.

The University of Cardiff. (2010). Public Perceptions of Climate Change and Energy Futures in Britain. UK: Cardiff University. 

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