The other night I had a dream who’s images have stuck with me. I was dreaming that I was on vacation someplace and wanted to get a better picture of some buildings near me. Being a dream, I rose up into the air by sheer force of will, to get a better view of the buildings. What was laid out before me on this beautiful, sunny day, was a cluster of buildings on a low island. Behind it and stretching out towards the horizon was the familiar outline of Manhattan formed by the remains of buildings sticking up out of the water of a vast estuary. A building-free rectangle showed where Central Park had been. I realized on waking that this dream was a vision of what the coast of North America will be someday — covered by the rising waters of the sea.
This future I see as inevitable — the atavistic forces around the human contribution to climate change are too strong. Here in Ontario we are being told that we must be green to save the planet — and accept a widespread industrialization of rural lands by wind developments. The power from which the province is unable to absorb and is currently paying others to accept, at great cost to the ratepayers and the soaring provincial debt.
This aggressive rollout contributes to the drowned world dream in a couple of ways — backup power for the turbines is all natural gas-fired generation. And in many places this gas comes from ‘fracking’ the bedrock (was that not a euphemism for another word in the Battlestar Galactica TV series?) This needs to run all the time so it can step in on an instants notice to backfill for wind drops and shifts. So despite all the pompous pronouncements we are pouring out greenhouse gasses at an ever-accelerating pace. And the huge fields of turbines alter the climate in small but measurable ways — downwind it gets drier and warmer because of the enhanced atmospheric mixing from blade turbulence. And since these wind installations are preferentially being placed in bird migration pathways over time there will be fewer insect predators to protect our crops and landscape. Guess the Passenger Pigeon was just a downpayment…
And since there is so much money being made by burning stuff relative to the low impacts of hydro-electric generation or nuclear (that we are still too afraid of to develop seriously) it seems unlikely that our contribution to this change will diminish. I am sure the non-consequences of ‘fracking’ the water table will be every bit as benign as what we are doing with and to the air.
I keep telling my wife that she needs to change her reading material to improve the quality of her dreams. While I enjoy being able to fly in my dreams and do other things, I fear that this particular dream will be all too real. But like the old joke about boiling a frog, it is happening too slowly for anyone to really notice. And as long as the short term money interests are on telling us everything is wonderful and there are no problems, that makes it even more inevitable.