Tuesday, 1 May 2012

More hot air

Yesterday's paper reported a study by scientists that had come to the conclusion that global warming is caused by wind turbines.

No, I must be honest and not allow my in-built dislike of wind turbines to lead me astray.  That opening sentence was, I admit, both an exaggeration and a simplification.  All that was discovered by the research was that temperatures near the ground in the vicinity of a wind farm are higher than elsewhere.  I'm not at all sure quite what, if anything, that discovery does for the future of Planet Earth.  In any case, I always take these research projects - or the reports that come afterwards - with a very substantial pinch of salt.  They so often seem to come up with pointless facts like left-handed people who put on the right sock first are less likely to die than synchronised swimmers or standing on your head for five minutes every day will improve the long-term memory.  We all remember (don't we?) how one week marmalade caused cancer but the next week it cured the Big C!  I do, however, take to heart the very occasional recommendation.  I religiously drink my glass of red wine every day.  Or a glass and a half.  Or two glasses.  But sometimes it's white wine.  Similarly, I eat my two squares of dark chocolate every evening.  Only I eat four squares so that must do me twice as much good.  But, as usual, I digress.

I don't like wind turbines partly on the grounds that they spoil the countryside.  The French are putting up the wretched things faster than they can eat snails or frog's legs - and a large number of those turbines are being erected in beautiful countryside.  Of course, the French don't seem to care for country views.  Why else would they grant permission for a factory to be built on top of the higher ground in an area of outstanding natural beauty?  And then paint it in purple and yellow vertical stripes with a red roof so that it blends in with the background?  I exaggerate, of course, but these wind turbines do so very often seem to be in the wrong places scenic-wise.  There is a letter in today's paper bemoaning the fact that some of these machines have been erected on the moors that inspired the Bronte sisters.  Just imagine the effect of a wind farm on Castle Hill in the picture below.  (If you do scroll down now to look at the picture, don't forget to scroll back up to read the rest of today's rant.)

But I must accept that not everybody will share my opinion.  Indeed, it may well be that in years to come, people will regard the few wind turbines that remain as attractive parts of the scenery in the way that we see windmills today.  I doubt it, but it could happen.

My main grip is that I don't think wind turbines are an efficient or cost-effective way to produce electricity.  I see a lot of them as we drive through France and almost every farm has about half the turbines not working.  Whether that is due to faulty manufacture or lack of the right wind speed, I obviously know not.  But I do know that at any given time a large proportion of the machines are standing idle.

I could go on, but I think you have probably got the gist by now so I will just comment on today's picture.  It was taken last Friday when I walked the fields alongside the Ditchling Road to the north of Brighton.  After passing the end of the northern spur of Stanmer woods, the scene to the east opens up and provides what is one of my favourite views.   We look eastwards through the Stanmer valley and over Mill Wood to Castle Hill, the whale-back hump on the right horizon, and Firle Beacon, the pointy bit in the far distance.


Uncle Skip, said...

There are many days when we can look to the northeast toward Hatchet Ridge (about 40 miles - Burney is just beyond) and see the wind turbines.
What seems so pathetic to me is they only have a about a 25 year shelf life.

Stephen Hayes said...

I prefer the wind turbines to the nuclear plants I saw throughout the Loire Valley the last time I was touring chateau country.

Suldog said...

I would prefer sitting in the dark at night to having countrysides spoiled.

Buck said...

Wind turbines don't look so bad in the New Mexico desert, for semi-obvious reasons. I agree, though, they DO despoil the view in scenic places.