Wednesday, July 20, 2005

For whom the wind blows. Or doesn't.

Climate change. That's changing the climate, right? And that's bad... right? Mind you, actually spending a summer holiday in the UK outdoors has been a nice novelty. It was this in mind that I was considering wind power, having just read an article in Newsweek about the decline of Germany's Green Party, where the topic came up. I'm keeping an open mind on the whole thing still (including the demise of the German Green party, the reasons for which were interesting), but there's one aspect that occurred to me that I at least have not read before in the bags of wind debate. No possibility of a ROI without subsidy, covered. Social upheavals, covered. Even the real possibility of additional environmental damage, though this usually refers more to the consequences to the natural infrastructure through construction of the turbines than the odd shredded seagull (that's not a proper scientific name, by the way, though possibly a Cantonese dish).

But what no one seems to have mentioned, perhaps because it is not an issue and you can tell me to shut up if you know better, is the consequences of sucking the power of the wind out of it at a point that has not done so before. Maybe it is infinitesimal, but everything in physics, and nature has lots of physics, has consequences. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and all that stuff. So I just wonder if by sticking these dirty great big windmill farms all around to catch the wind at the edge may not have an effect, and possibly an adverse one, further down the line? Just asking.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, and as all who cock an eyebrow at the promo-guff spouted about 'non-polluting' electric cars (it mostly just happens in another place, at least for now), free energy either.

I'm all for wind power if it doesn't just change one set of climate for another, and the only people who benefit are a bunch of German construction companies with good lobbying skills.