Think Wind Turbines Ruin The View? Think Again.


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I had a conversation with someone at a barbeque yesterday afternoon about wind turbines. We were discussing the Cape Wind Project, which will be America’s first off-shore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts. He was upset because by putting wind turbines off-shore, it was going to ruin the view, and once that one took hold that wind farms were going to go up around the entire country. While I agreed that wind turbines are not nearly as nice to look at as an uninterrupted ocean view, I said that the turbines are going to be a ways off-shore and we need to get energy from somewhere other than fossil fuels… which then led to a conversation about the BP oil spill. This is when we discussed oil spills, long term consequences of said spills, peak oil, and how if you lived on a coast that was open to offshore-drilling, your beach could one day be covered with oil and dead animals. Somehow that got him thinking that wind turbines, while not the sexiest things in the world to look at, might be better looking than an oil-covered beach. I think I may have converted him!

In all seriousness, from the porch of your house, would you rather look at these?:

or this?:

Energy doesn’t come free with no expenses at all, (monetary or otherwise) so in order to continue living the lives we have become accustomed to we are going to need an energy source. Solar will play a roll, for sure, but we will need wind power as well. And for my dollar, and if I had to choose one I might have to look at on a daily basis, I would definitely choose this:

Wind turbine pictures from

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  1. I guess the only argument against off shore wind comes from those who want an unobstructed views AND all the energy from power plants in someone else’s backyard.

    I would personally prefer local clean renewable energy because it makes the entire region more self sufficient, protecting everyones lifestyles and home values. You’d think they’d be more interested in long-term viability than the view.

  2. I just had this same conversation with a friend who lives on the Cape. She seemed to agree that the wind turbines were the lesser evil. I personally think they look pretty, but who am I.

  3. Nuclear power is much more efficient than wind, and very safe. Do you knwo how many people have died from nuclear reactor accidents? 0!

  4. Remember Chernobyl.

    Accidents can happen to anyone. Here are some stats from that one particular accident:

    336,000 people resettled
    600,000 most highly exposed people
    4,000 additional cancer deaths

    Another issue of course is that radioactive material is mined and the exposure to the public from mining activities has been linked to increases in lung cancer in the US and elsewhere.

    The other issue few people mention is the increase in availability of fissionable material. I’m not sure about you but I’m not really comfortable with anyone getting more access to nuclear technology.

    I’d much rather see a future with increased conservation and truly renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro. The key of course is conservation and learning to be more efficient… which I assume is the main reason people push for more nukes. They want to stay on this upward energy consumption curve instead of learning to live better with less.

  5. If you want to see energy infrastructure obstructing views, head inland and look at the bajillion acres of forest and field that have high voltage transmission lines running through them. If we could all learn to live with less we could eventually shift over to local and/or residential power generation from renewable resources. I like the idea put forth by WindEnergy7 – modular systems that harvest solar and wind. Their wind home wind turbines can be mounted on the roof of your house or garage.

  6. As you say, energy is NOT free no matter what. There is always some price to pay. I’d rather have the turbines and solar panels to the oil. Wind spills and sun spills are no where near as awful as oil spills, sludge pits breaking loose or nuclear meltdowns. Its pretty simple as far as I’m concerned.

  7. I laugh whenever I hear someone say that wind turbines ruin the view. They look like old-timey windmills in some pastoral scene, especially in the great photographs above.

    As for Chernobyl, what people need to know is that it was entirely avoidable with some simple safety measures and responsibility that the Soviet Union chose not to take. It’s not because of a nuclear power plant that those people died, it’s because of the choices that were made that made it unsafe.

  8. “Nuclear power is much more efficient than wind, and very safe. Do you know how many people have died from nuclear reactor accidents? 0!”

    what is the point if this comment? Is there a high rate of deaths from turbines falling and taking out yachts in Cape Cod that I missed on the news? Please explain the analogy, I think I missed it! 🙂

  9. I think wind turbines are super sleek and sexy, but I agree with Martin… ideally we should all produce our own power at home to eliminate power lines and other big infrastructures. Its too bad its so costly to set up a home solar array. And of course, if we all made home energy-efficiency investments (better insulation, on-demand water heaters, etc) and drove our cars less, we’d minimize our dependency on oil and coal.

  10. Though I think wind turbines have a gorgeous sleek design, of course I understand people preferring an unobstructed view of nature. However, we’ve built up a dependence on oil and coal, and we’re not making great efforts to reduce this dependency.

    And until governments around the world start offering financial incentives for people to install their own power production at home, wind farms sound like a great answer to fuel our energy addiction.

    Otherwise, if we keep going as we are, there won’t be much of a view to see.

  11. The arguments against nuclear power is based more on politics & little on science. Patrick Moore formerly of Greenpeace protested nuclear power but has changed his position as have the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) among others. African American Environmentalists Assoc. with Norris McDonald as President is a group which supports nuclear power.

    Yes, with nuclear power we must be humble. It must be said that Russia has continued to build nuclear powerplants since Chernobyl. Coal kills more people yearly. The newer nuclear powerplants emit less nuclear waste, use less Uranium which lasts longer. Eventually they’ll replace Uranium with Thorium & Thorium emits less waste (which is less radioactive & can’t be used as atomic weapons components). France gets most of it’s energy from nuclear power & they reprocess the nuclear waste, thus further reducing this. China & India are expanding nuclear power, because they want to cut down on greenhouse gases & fossil fuel usage.

    They set buffer zones & have evacuation plans in worst case scenarios when it comes to nuclear powerplant destructions so that people don’t get killed. The nuclear industry wants to do good business with consumers.

    OK, with nuclear power as with any industry, we must be prudent. However, the mantra that ‘nuclear is evil’ & the discussion is over becomes dull. As advances happen in nuclear power, let’s neutrally evaluate it, look @ the pros & cons & then take it from there. Nuclear power per se can be compatible with environmentalism. No, nuclear power isn’t perfect, but let’s neutrally look @ advances which happen in nuclear engineering, because there’s alot of wrong information which Greenpeace generates on this & it has been my observation that environmentalists who support nuclear power have more advanced knowledge. Credit must be given to environmentalists such as Patrick Moore & Stephen Tindale for their ability to rethink their original position against nuclear power & change them to support nuclear power.

  12. Was just tweeting w/ David…

    I saw houses for sale in West Texas right next to these things. Quite unlivable in close proximity: noisy, disorienting. Obvious that the owners had to flee, and those houses will never sell. Standing right next to the turbines, my equilibrium was affected. Nausea-inducing. You DON’T want to stay around.

    Another situation south of Las Vegas, NM where residents of a nearly pristine river valley/canyon are trying to keep out the turbines. Not right to put these things in such places. As intrusive as any other kind of industrial installations, sorry. 🙁

    So what do we do? I dunno. Another factor is that whatever hooks into the main grid enables more real estate development somewhere, more energy for industry, “growth,” conventionally profligate lifestyles, so no one has to conserve. Why enable that which kills us? Two-edged sword.

    In other words: yes, wind turbines are a huge improvement over other kinds of large-scale power production, but the real problem is that there are too many of us on the planet. I suspect Nature will make all these “issues” moot, eventually.

  13. I think they’re beautiful, like the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains from Denver or The Manhattan skyline from NJ.

  14. I noticed the comments about the number of deaths from the Chernobyl accident.

    Actually, the numbers are more like this: 50,000 to 100,000 liquidators (clean-up workers) died in the years up to 2006. Between 540,000 and 900,000 liquidators have become invalids

    * In Bavaria alone, between 1000 and 3000 additional birth defects have been found since Chernobyl. It is feared that in Europe more than 10,000 severe abnormalities could have been radiation induced;

    By referring to UNSCEAR one arrives at between 12,000 and 83,000 children born with congenital deformations in the region of Chernobyl, and around 30,000 to 207,000 genetically damaged children worldwide. Only 10% of the overall expected damage can be seen in the first generation.

    In Belarus alone, over 10,000 people developed thyroid cancer since the catastrophe. According to a WHO prognosis, in the Belarussian region of Gomel alone, more than 50,000 children will develop thyroid cancer during their lives. If one adds together all age groups then about 100,000 cases of thyroid cancer have to be reckoned with, just in the Gomel region.

    The list goes on.

    Also… the entire area around the accident is a ghost town to this day. No one can live there. You can see the haunting, and disturbing images on with web with a simple search.

    Anyone who claims that only a ‘few thousand’ people died from the accident is a liar.

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