Ideas that add up #213

When I look at one of those giant turbines, I see the icon of techno-industrial culture.  I see the contemporary expression of the Enlightenment, of Cartesian logic, the scientific revolution and then the Industrial Revolution and then the information revolution.  I see this as all symbolised there, as if it were a logotype.  I see it as the iconography of all that.  And that whole techno-industrial society that we’ve created as an expression of the Enlightenment, you can go back and see how that whole worldview has been channelled over five hundred years.  What is it?  It’s global climate change!  That’s the result.  The way of thinking that could create those windmills is the same way of thinking that caused climate change in the first place.  Just imagine for a minute, just step back and imagine ruining the whole climate!  That’s the result of the techno-industrial culture which these Big Wind turbines symbolise.  And I know that it requires the whole enchilada of techno-industrial culture just to produce one of these things.  It requires all the mining, all the alloys, all the computers – the whole scaffolding of civilisation.  And that scaffolding is undoing the world.  That’s what I see when I see your big windmill on the mountain.  And for that reason, I don’t think it is desirable.

Doug Tompkins Remembered, Paul Kingsnorth interview with Doug and Kris Tompkins in Dark Mountain, 16/12/15

Chill, dude – it’s only a wind turbine. No need to get all Cartesian Logic and The Whole Enchilada of Techno-industrial Culture about it! 

But he does. And I’m there too, now. Used to see virtue and hope in those turbines. Used to gasp at the graceful, death-defying way those enormous, jetliner-white blades fling themselves through the air without tearing the whole thing to pieces. Peaceful, pollution-free, harvesting free energy from the ether.  

Used to marvel at the spreading fields of PV panels. Granted, a bit of an assault on the rural landscape, but so are roads and power-lines. Farms and houses too, in a way. So why not? Why not industrialize the useless desert with them? And dam the useless wetlands along the Bristol Channel for tidal-power lagoons. And wood-chip the plantation forests for “biomass”.

The new airport terminal in Mumbai, was it? Someone told me recently it’s carbon neutral. Oh, well done. A green airport. And we’ll all drive hybrid and electric cars soon, or they’ll drive us, and that’s fine too. We’ll probably figure out what to do about all that methane from the livestock, and we’ll agree to let the fossils fuels lie, and eventually segue seamlessly into 100% carbon-free energy supply. Electricity will keep on pouring down the wires, our cities will grow, there’ll be cars and yachts and skiing holidays for all, and everything will be hunky dory. 

Such a fine fantasy.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just believe, like everyone else? Or at least pretend to believe? 

The Noor I Concentrated Solar Power plant, shown on Thursday, is the first phase of a large solar thermal power plant that is intended to supply more than a million Moroccans with electricity.
Morocco, edge of the Sahara. Photo courtesy of Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images
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2 Responses to Ideas that add up #213

  1. kaat says:

    Hi Don, just discovered your blog via Dark Mountain. I will come back often. You take your time accumulating your thoughts, others’ thoughts. It does add up. But about this one, I’ve asked myself that question too. But no, it wouldn’t be easier, simply because it’s not possible. Glad to have found your writings here. Kaat

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