I’ve just returned from a short break in Devon, which has to be one of the loveliest places on earth. If there is a God, then He can surely be seen in Devon’s rolling patchwork of fields and flowering hedgerows. It’s a landscape that stirs a pride of country as great as that evoked by our cultural and scientific achievements. As my grandfather would have said, it’s the view that won us the war.
While I admired this magnificent scenery, at no point did I think that it would benefit from the addition of a few 300-foot wind turbines. Yet, there are people living among us who would disagree; people who would like to carpet our countryside with these monstrosities; people who even claim to find them beautiful – a sentiment I find as credible as a Soviet peasant admiring the Tiger tank that had just squashed his grandmother.
I’m no harebrained idealist when it comes to conservation. I realise that we must sometimes accept changes to our environment for the sake of net gains, otherwise we’d have no roads, bridges or reservoirs. But wind power is a lose-lose proposition. In exchange for the vandalisation of our countryside, it offers us an inefficient, unreliable, not-especially-green energy source, that performs unplanned vivisection on our wildlife, and requires huge subsidies to give it the illusion of viability.
Wind enthusiasts claim that subsidies will help the technology develop to the point that government support is no longer needed. But unless those developments include a cloaking device and the ability to generate a thousand-times the power, even when the wind’s not blowing, it’s money down the drain. Wind will never be a substitute for coal, gas or nuclear power. For us to reject this reality would be like NASA eschewing rockets and attempting a moon-shot on horseback (something that’s increasingly likely now that it’s an arm of the environmental movement).
As it stands, we’re being asked to accept the despoilment of our landscape, power shortages, higher taxes and spiralling energy bills in exchange for what? An end to the spectre of global warming? The same global warming that even its devotees are admitting may not be as serious as they once claimed? Even if you buy into this apocalyptic guff, our sacrifice to the sun god won’t make an iota of difference to the climate. Even as a pompous example-setting exercise for other nations, it’s a disgrace. A century ago we impressed the world with our ingenuity and endeavour; now we parade our self-abasement and challenge other countries to follow our lead. Talk about a race to the bottom.
I’ve already given this issue more serious consideration than it deserves, because, when all is said and done, supporters of the great breeze wheeze aren’t really looking for a solution to our energy needs. They would want to turn our countryside into scene fromWar of the Worlds even if their death-dealing behemoths weren’t wired up to the grid.
Nothing gives liberal-lefties greater satisfaction than believing that the business world is an iniquitous shambles that would be better-run by panels of state-sponsored experts. As usual with the Left, this is a tribal conflict: a chance for its clan of talkers and thinkers to discredit its rivals for power. Green energy is the statists’ baby: their attempt to prove that business success is not a matter of balancing supply and demand, but about deferring to the wisdom of an unaccountable elite. It’s a model in microcosm of how liberals would like society as a whole to operate. They are fast-tracking a post-fossil fuels future, where the state runs the energy show. Now there’s something to look forward to.
The demand for green ‘solutions’ was summoned out of thin air by politicians and technocrats, as were the ‘problems’ they are designed to solve. The market for green energy isn’t a response to an attractive product that serves a concrete need, but to bribes, coercion and the promise of secular sainthood for its supporters. To concede that green energy is a busted flush would be to admit that individuals and businesses working together produce better outcomes than self-styled experts ruling by decree. And since this would undermine the legitimacy of the state as a whole, don’t expect a significant change of heart any time soon.
Wind turbines serve an additional purpose for the Left, similar to that performed by the tower blocks Ceausescu built in the middle of farmland, or the factories found on the horizon of Soviet rural scenes: they are statements of power. These steel sentinels remind country-dwellers that they are within the gravitational pull of the capital’s dark star, and that if they believe they are free to reject the beliefs of the metropolitan elite, they can think again.
The countryside has long been an object of suspicion for liberal townies, who consider it a viper’s nest of erroneous thought, inhabited by toffs, retired colonels, golf-playing Rotarians and other conservative bogeymen. The propensity of country folk to choose their own values, to observe age-old traditions and to rely on each other to get by puts them in conflict with everything the Left stands for. In the liberal worldview, you’re either one of them, one of their flock, or an enemy of the people whose way of life must be destroyed. First they banned fox hunting, then they ruined the landscape. What next? Collectivised farms? Internment camps for UKIP voters?
This is one of the chief reasons that wind turbines cause such distress to liberty-minded folk. It’s not just that they’re an ugly and expensive folly; it’s that they represent the intrusion of liberal dogma into places where sanity and decency can still be found. They’re about power, alright, but not for those of us who are forced to pay for them.