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Essay by   •  February 4, 2011  •  Essay  •  567 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,012 Views

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For human development to continue, we will ultimately need to find sources of renewable or virtually inexhaustible energy. It's difficult to imagine this, but even if we find several hundred or even thousand years of coal and natural gas supplies, what will humans do for the next 250,000 years or so after they are depleted? Even the most apparently "inexhaustible" sources like fusion involve the generation of large amounts of waste heat -- enough to place damaging stress on even a robust ecosystem like Earth's, at least for the organisms that depend upon stability of the system to survive.

We are engaged in a sort of world-wide biological experiment, with our descendents as the subjects. Our present habits of energy use are shaping an entirely different earth than the one with which we are familiar. When these changes begin to be expressed, there will be no one to preserve the familiar and there's no guarantee that things will turn out the best for our particular species. Some have looked ahead and seen this. But they usually don't get much support from societies that are too busy trying to "make do" and that are rushing backwards into the future -- in other words, every society on earth.

One of the areas that suffers because of this backward thinking is the development of renewable energy sources -- and the topic of this section: Wind Energy Conversion.

There's a lot of underlying popular support for wind energy and the other renewables in the United States. But there's also a lot of apathy as well. We are blissfully sedated by low conventional energy prices and are gulping down the few remaining years of cheap natural gas and Mid East oil. As we do this, the inertia of global warming is inexorably building.

What drives the continued development of mechanical devices like wind turbines in the face of this widespread lack of support? In the case of wind turbine technology, I suspect that part of the reason for persistence of this vision is how accessible wind turbines are to the understanding. They are personal in a way that almost no other form of power generation is.

This "personal" scale has been both the blessing and the curse of wind power development. The field tends to attract people who are committed, creative, and passionate. It also attracts a few people who are a little too much of all of those things,



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