Sustainable Development?

I’ve mentioned Agenda 21 a few times, without ever explaining what it is. I’ve hoped that everyone reading is intellectually curious, and able to use a search engine without my help! Happy researching 🙂

Here’s a thesis:

Here’s its antithesis:

What’s your synthesis?

Let’s hear from the horses’s mouth. It’s only 350 pages long, so I’ll see you in five years when you’ve finished reading…

Got that? Great, now we can have a debate, although it won’t take long! In fact, there’s a “Scholar’s ‘mate” quick-win that should, in a logical world, take out the entire justification for the wind energy industry, in literally one killer sentence. The fact is Agenda 21 and wind turbines should come nowhere near each other, which I can prove in 30 seconds flat, because Agenda 21 is all about “sustainable development” (their own words). Sounds groovy! It really does, in fact:

“Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being. However, integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfilment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future. No nation can achieve this on its own; but together we can – in a global partnership for sustainable development.” (Paragraph 1 of Agenda 21)

Well there we go. It even refers to Maslow, with its talk of fulfilling needs. Better life for all, better protected ecosystems, working together to make the world safer and more prosperous. It comes across as more me than me, to be honest! Count me in. Yup, working towards sustainable development sounds like my dream come true.

I’m on the verge of an epiphany in fact, and I’m prepared for this to be my last ever blog post on the matter, now I realise that in fact Agenda 21 has been saying exactly the same thing I’ve been saying: we need sustainable development in order to protect our ecosystems and enable the people of the world to fulfil their needs. What a lot of words I’ve wasted, arguing against a document that officially sets out a plan to enact exactly the kind of world I want to live in.

Before signing up to get involved in this global partnership for sustainable development, I suppose I better just check I understand exactly what I’m signing up for. I better just check what “sustainable” actually means, before scrapping this blog and permanently dropping my Banana stance towards wind turbines: Build Absolutely None Anywhere Near Anyone.

Let’s Google “sustainable”…


Oh. Hold on. Cognitive Dissonance alert! Agenda 21 is all about the promotion of sustainable development, yet according to the dictionary, “sustainable” means: “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.”

When was the last time the wind was “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level”???

No further questions, Your Honour.

Well, maybe just one. How the hell has Agenda 21, an agenda for sustainable development, been used as justification for the worldwide rollout of energy projects that rely upon the fickle wind, a meteorological phenomenon singularly and spectacularly unable “to be maintained at a certain rate or level”???

Is there anything less equipped to fulfil our needs for both sustainable energy and the protection of our natural ecosystems than an industrial wind farm?

I realise that I’ve talked in great detail about Bananas and Watermelons, taking an extended look at the two different psychological archetypes behind the two opposing sides of the wind farm debate. You’re either for them or against them. (People who don’t give a hoot one way or the other won’t even be aware there’s a debate going on!)

I wonder if I should maybe delete some of the paragraphs and paragraphs of working I’ve done, as it might be difficult to read or even alienate people I’m trying to persuade, but as I have prefaced them, these are my workings, pencil scribblings feverishly jotted onto a dog-eared notepad (metaphorically speaking). The next step is to distill all these workings into one clear, concise kernel of pure, inarguable truth. I think I’ve got one:

People only like wind farms because someone else told them to.

There we go! What do you think? It sums up everything I’ve been saying. The only fans of wind farms are those with an external locus of control, who have been told that they’re “good for the environment”. Nobody with an internal locus of control likes wind farms.

Can I prove such a sweeping statement? Well, get in touch if you like wind farms, on an aesthetic, visceral, emotional and psychological level. If they elevate your mood and lift your spirits, then please, please, please get in touch and allow your positive feelings to shine through in an effusive paean to turbines. I actively want to hear from people who like wind turbines. I want to know which turbines it was that had such a positive impact on your health and well-being so I can go there and experience it for myself. As you will see if you read through my entries, I give specific locations for you to go and experience what I experience (eg Mortimer Road). If you know of a wind farm that will make me feel good, I’ll meet you there for a picnic!

What about people who only DISlike wind turbines because somebody else told them to? Well, where are these people? Anyone out there who used to like them, and maybe still does deep down (a guilty pleasure!), but due to peer-pressure or social norms, you feel you can’t speak up in public for wind farms? Really??? No, I didn’t think so. That’s because Wind Warriors don’t walk the streets in masks, smashing windows and pulling down statues, to force our views upon people. When was the last time anti-wind activists intruded on your reality while you were just going about your business? Opposing wind power is confined to intellectual debate, political discourse and planning policy.

Wind Warriors never impose our views on people against their will. Far from it, Wind Warriors actively encourage people to carry out their own research into environmental horror stories, and to find out for themselves the impact of official policy. Wind Warriors believe that our relationship with nature should be based upon Love, not Fear 🙂 

Let’s refine the Banana/Watermelon dialectic to take it away from personalities and more towards policy. I don’t want to define people’s spiritual essence by their locus of control, and as I have said before, in reality it’s a sliding scale with many anomalies and contradictions. So, rather than categorising people as either a Banana or a Watermelon, I want to refine my argument by saying every problem we face has a more internal-based solution and a more external-based solution, and people may align themselves with either, based on the specific situation.

Yet again, I can draw upon my IT experiences, with computer issues being logged to engineers who can either resolve them themselves, or reassign them should the resolution lie beyond their own locus of control. This is the essence of my Day Job: can I fix this one or do I need to pass it across to the Infrastructure guys?

Although I like to think I generally have a relatively internal locus of control, I can think of examples in life where I’ve actually gone externally to solve a problem. For example, I had an issue with a noisy neighbour. A true Banana would have dealt with it directly, without the need for outside help. I didn’t – I rushed straight to the agents and asked them to sort it on my behalf, which is pretty Watermelony, I confess!

Now, I didn’t want to get the neighbour into trouble, but looking back I DID have an ulterior motive. I wanted to move anyway so I used the noise complaint to make the case for an early end to the tenancy agreement. I didn’t lie, but I did have another agenda. If I’d wanted to stay at the property, I would have just dealt with the noise problem myself. What this tells me is that, although calling in the letting agents to resolve my noise issues gave me the outward appearance of having an external locus of control, in fact I retained an internal locus throughout, because I’d exploited the situation for my own benefit. Hardly even unethical – there was a genuine noise issue and I wanted to move anyway, so why not “kill two birds with one stone”?

That’s what we have to work out with wind turbines: is there a deeper reason, a hidden agenda, why a wind turbine backer might promote these horrible machines? Is there a chance that wind turbines “kill two birds with one blade”, as it were, only one of those birds being renewable energy? What other hidden reasons could people have for supporting wind turbines? Money is the obvious, but could there be others, such as the deliberate degradation (and maybe even depopulation) of our rural areas? Is that what “sustainable” really means?

Let me know your thoughts, Watermelons! Why DO you like wind turbines? Even the Green Party candidate I spoke to about Rooley Moor doesn’t LIKE them! Even he acknowledged how they “disfigure” the landscape, but unfortunately in his opinion the Earth needs them as an emergency measure to immediately start lowering CO2 emissions. This is possibly the opposing opinion I have most respect for, as I told him, the opinion that, yes, wind turbines are physically repulsive, and nobody wants them, but unfortunately we NEED them, like sticking a broken leg in plaster. Nobody is going to say the plaster enhances the natural beauty of your leg, but for a few months it might just make the difference to ever being able to walk again. Our debate rested on whether we trust the Doctor’s best intentions – the Green Party guy does; I don’t!

Never let it be said I don’t encourage people to express the opposite opinion to me, in order to factor in any valid points they make to my own thesis. Here, once again, is the Watermelon case for wind turbines, the antithesis to my thesis, this time expressed by the Green Party itself. What do you think?

Dear **Mr Peak Protection**

I am the general election agent and also a local election candidate for the Green Party in Rossendale and Darwen.

I know Rooley Moor well. The first time I turned up at the Rossendale Harriers and asked if I could go fell running with them, they took me up Whittle Pike, across to Top of Leach, and back down Rooley Moor Road. I got left behind of course, but one of them took pity and shepherded me home, or I’d probably be up there still. Since then I’ve run, walked and cycled there many times. I don’t like the idea of more wind turbines up there. They disfigure the landscape and destroy the peace up there.

I am a scientist. I studied chemistry and have spent the last 30 years working in research in various parts of manufacturing industry. I have followed the debate on climate change. There is a lot of nonsense from both sides of the argument, and objective data are hard to find, but the latest report (November 2014) of the IPCC gives a reasonable summary.

The impact of climate change is already under way, shown in extreme weather events. This is from a temperature increase of 0.8C. Future impacts include floods, crop failures, displacement of people and increased poverty. And it’s going to get much worse. If the world acted now to cut greenhouse gases, the temperature rise might be limited to 2C. But the world will not act because that would cut their scared cow – growth. Every nation will meet and decide that not they, but someone else, should cut their carbon emissions. So the temperature rise will be 2.5 or 3C, with consequences that are catastrophic. The next generation will inherit from us a planet that is dying.

I can’t go into great detail, but this wind farm will generate 40MW of electricity (when it’s running). An efficient gas fired power station would produce 20 tons/hour of CO2 in generating this power. Assuming the wind turbines operate at an average of 50%, they will save about 88,000 tons CO2 per year. The UK total carbon emissions in 2012 were 474,000,000 tons, which we have to reduce to about 150,000,000 tones by 2050.

Renewable energy is one of the ways to reach this target and mitigate the worst excesses of climate change. Rooley Moor wind farm is a step in that direction. I don’t like it there, but it is the lesser of two evils. We cannot behave like our governments and say that we want renewable energy, but on someone else’s doorstep, not ours.

I also regret the fact that renewable energy projects such as this one are dominated by large companies, and would like to see smaller schemes run by local communities. The Green Party emphatically does not support corporations, but believes in localism.

The true environmental position is to support this development, despite the visual impact, because it will help save the planet we live on.

**Mr Green**

Interesting. Very interesting to read that again, nearly three years after it was written. Glad to see there, in black and white, that the Green Party believes in localism. One might be surprised, given their support for the EU, but hey, that’s good! I sent the following reply:

Dear Mr **Green**

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you, and impressed with the quality of your email to me. This is a very good advertisement for the Green Party, because it directly deals with all my accusations, provides me with credible evidence and, to a certain extent, explains the Green Party’s position. In addition, your personal connection to the area really demonstrates that you “care”! I think the most disconcerting factor in the wind farm debate is the sheer disconnection many supporters of wind turbines have from their actual effects, It is to your great credit that you acknowledge these negatives but make the case that, on balance, you feel the wind farm is worth them for the greater good. Regardless of whether I agree with the position, it is certainly one I respect.

I totally accept your statistics about the effects of climate change, however I am less inclined to accept the energy production statistics you present at face value, though I am not saying you are wrong – simply I would need to investigate these myself, to ensure they are accurate, independent, and the predictions/forecasts are actually achieved in real life. In other words – these are not just manufacturers’ claims.

I also feel, even though the Green Party may support the principle of constructing a wind farm on Rooley Moor, it has a duty to do so with extreme diligence, it must remain totally detached from the operators of the wind farm and ensure they comply with the utmost of environmental and ethical standards at all times. There are credible allegations of deceipt and tax avoidance on the part of Coronation Power (I can provide evidence if necessary). Just because the product itself is one the Green Party supports, if individual manufacturers are found to be behaving in an inappropriate, or even unethical fashion, then the Green Party should come down doubly hard on those rogue traders for besmirching its noble aims.

Therefore, I still have concerns that the Green Party is not more vocal in qualifying its support for wind energy by insisting that those companies entrusted with the protection of the planet behave with the utmost of probity at all times. Support for wind farms should be conditional, not unconditional, support, given with heavy heart and stringently monitored at all times.

I would also like to say that not all locations are appropriate, and in the context of Rooley Moor I believe the moor itself is absolutely the wrong area. I do NOT see anything morally wrong about being a “NIMBY” (in fact it’s not even my backyard, as I live in Leeds). If people feel strongly and are prepared to protest passionately enough, then their wishes should be respected. I fail to see why wind energy developers are not winning hearts and minds, making a good strong positive case for why people SHOULD welcome these developments in their area. If Rooley Moor is a specific area that arouses such strong feeling enough to object, then on a purely moral level I believe it is unethical to force the wind farm on residents. Why not find an area where everyone WANTS a wind farm?

To be honest, I could debate this for weeks but I appreciate you have taken time out to write to me, and you have certainly set me on a path towards finding out more, which is always good. So I am still as strongly opposed to the construction of the Rooley Moor wind farm as I ever was, I still believe the Green Party needs to be more vocal about stamping out malpractice in the wind industry, and more understanding that it’s not inherently right-wing or NIMBY to be opposed to bulldozers and HGVs (my own inspiration derives from Dr Seuss and Joni Mitchell!), it’s a perfectly valid position for green-minded people to be opposed to the industrialisation of the countryside. What you have done though, is explain a bit deeper the reason why this is even an issue, and you have certainly restored my faith that there are knowledgeable, passionate people in the Green Party.

**Mr Peak Protection**

The above correspondence dates from the very beginning of 2015. By the end of the year, the Rooley Moor proposal had been unanimously rejected. I’ve not really told you much about this one yet. It’s a whole saga in itself. Maybe next time! If Gorpley was the first wind turbine application I got involved with, Rooley Moor was the second. It’s a long story that starts with Abraham Lincoln and the American slave trade, and ends up in a council office in Rochdale. It’s a fascinating and uplifting tale, which I’ll come onto shortly!

What I hope to have demonstrated is that almost all Watermelons are good, honest and well-intentioned people, who have simply made the decision to outsource the locus of control for “saving the planet” to the wind energy companies. I might disagree with the solution they are recommending, but at no time do I deny the rational, logical and ethical reasons that a Watermelon might have for supporting wind farms. In theory, anyway.

I just think all their reasons derive from somebody else, and it’s that somebody else that I really have the problem with. Because, ultimately that someone else is almost definitely a Banana-In-Disguise, someone who knows deep down exactly how unpleasant wind farms are, and therefore deliberately distorts the public’s perception of them in order to pursue some kind of hidden agenda – probably money, but not necessarily.

I’m talking about every single person who ever lied, misled, obfuscated or omitted vital information in their support for a wind energy proposal. That includes YOU, Planning Inspectors of the UK, you know precisely which individuals I’m referring to… These are the people I’m really angry with, not those like the Green Party guy above who openly acknowledge just how badly wind turbines disfigure our landscapes.

It might be true that wind power really is capable of generating a certain amount of carbon-free electricity, so in their own minds they’re not lying so much as playing down the known adverse side effects. The bit they’re missing out is the unfortunate side effect of destroying the countryside as we know and love it, and its negative impact on our health and well-being.

Rather than admit this catastrophic side effect upfront, like the Green Party guy above did, instead they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the harm wind turbines inflict upon the countryside, and worm their way past all conventional planning policies with slimy NLP and creepy promotional campaigns (yes, 10:10 Climate Action, I’m looking in your direction). You want to build a wind “farm”, you say??? Ooh that sounds nice! Will there be chickens and cows there as well, and a jolly, ruddy-cheeked man driving around on a tractor halfcut on scrumpy? Are there nuclear “farms” and fracking “farms” too, or do we only farm the wind?!

A few wind turbine supporters might go so far as to have some kind of twisted anti-nature psychopathy – these would be the same people who enjoy pulling the wings of butterflies for fun. Or, it might be that they are just anti-human. They might believe that it’s us humans who are causing all the problems on this planet, so let’s just have a mass cull of humanity. If there are millions too many people on the planet, why not start by making the countryside sterile and uninhabitable, forcing everyone into the cities, from where they can be controlled much more easily?

Finally, and following on eerily from my previous sentence, let’s have some more news from Brighton. Do I detect the very early, embryonic stages of Cognitive Dissonance forming in the mind of Caroline Lucas? Grab some popcorn. We’ve got years of this ahead. She’s a funny one is Caroline. What does she REALLY think about wind turbines? Is she a panic-stricken Watermelon who genuinely believes the solutions to the planet’s eco-problems can best be solved externally, or is she in fact a Dishonest Banana, who knows deep down wind farms aren’t the answer she claims them to be, but is too deeply involved in the scam to turn back? I really don’t know. Thoughts?

Outside the wind farm debate, Caroline Lucas has clearly done a lot of good stuff, in order to keep getting re-elected. I’d be a fool to criticise such an adept politician. I just get the feeling she never actually spends any time in nature. Maybe I’m doing her a grave injustice, but Caroline, if you’re reading, when was the last time you came up here to the Backbone of England and did some rambling? I think you should set aside some time every week to climb a new Pennine peak, if you really want me to take your views on the environment seriously.

Do you even know the name and spot-height of your nearest Marilyn, Caroline? Do you, dear reader? You really should know these things… Mine is Ilkley Moor, 402m above sea level 🙂

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