Although this essay is international in scope, it being written about a river in Britain, it gets at the heart of a tension among environmental issues coming to a head in so many localities all over the West – all over the world. Paul Kingsnorth hits the point in a way that many activists have been hoping to hit it for some time :
A Line in the Green Sand – The Guardian
When I climb a mountain, then, and find that the detritus of civilisation has followed me, in the form of giant wind turbines, my reaction is not to jump for joy because it is zero-carbon detritus. My reaction is to wonder how anyone could miss the point so spectacularly. And when I hear other environmentalists responding to my concerns with aggressive dismissal – particularly if they have never visited the mountain in question – I get really quite depressed
Fifteen or so years ago, as an excitable young road protester, I tried to prevent the destruction of beautiful places. To me, building a motorway through ancient downland, or a bypass through a watermeadow, was a desecration. To me today, a windfarm on a mountain is a similar desecration. A tidal barrage that turns a great river into a glorified mill stream is a desecration. Carpeting the Sahara with giant solar panels would be a desecration. The motivation may be different, but the destruction of the wild and the wonderful is the same.
It is de rigueur among greens to respond to such heresy by explaining that we have less than 100 months to get to grips with global warming; a few turbines on the odd hillside is a small price for preventing the apocalypse that would result from our failure.
Well, maybe. But while renewable energy is a good thing in principle, if schemes end up, like their conventional forbears, as centralised mega-projects that override local feeling and destroy wild landscapes, then they become precisely the kind of projects that people like me cut their teeth trying to stop.