Blowin’ In the Wind

Copenhagen will become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. That means that Copenhagen will offset any greenhouse gas emissions through measures such as tree plantings and renewable energy production.

According to Newsweek,

Though considerably less charming than it was in its medieval incarnation, the humble windmill is enjoying a 21st-century renaissance. Last year, wind power capacity increased on every ­continent, according to industry association Global Wind Energy Council. In 2011 Port Rock, Missouri, with a population of 1,300 people, became the first American town to be powered by urban wind turbines, and other smaller urban installations have followed. Now, developers and home owners from Hamburg to New York have started adding rooftop wind turbines.

There was a slogan back in the Sixties: “The Whole World is Watching.” It meant something quite different back then, but today it seems an appropriate slogan for the changes being made by cities like Copenhagen as they embrace, rather than resist, the inevitable.

Copenhagen’s Mayor is proud of his city’s move into the 21st Century, and he is equally proud of the budgetary savings that accompany that move.  Doing right by the environment, it turns out, also saves money. (Here in Indianapolis, IPL has belatedly recognized that connection and decided to stop using coal to power its Harding Street plant.)

As long as we’re recycling, let’s revisit (and revise the meaning of) not just “the whole world is watching” but also “blowin’ in the wind.”


  1. The commonly recognized “Industrial Revolution”, from mid 18th century to mid 19th century, was seen as the foundation for the modern era. Mankind unleashed the energy of past suns through machinery to do useful work. It was the next logical step from agriculture to efficiently power human muscles and the domestication of animals to supplement scrawny human muscles with more robust animal muscles.

    Here’s what Wikipedia says about the Industrial Revolution:

    “The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists, such as Robert E. Lucas, Jr., argue that the real impact of the Industrial Revolution was that “for the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth … Nothing remotely like this economic behavior is mentioned by the classical economists, even as a theoretical possibility.”[3]”

    No wonder we don’t want to leave behind the gift of energy from past suns. We think that we might throw out the baby of prosperity with the bathwater of carbon based energy. But if we don’t throw out the bath water we will doom even more basic babies like the ability to feed and water 7B sets of human muscles.

    Technology created the problem of anthropogenic global warming, identified and quantified it while we have time to mitigate it, and will offer us the solutions to mitigate it or adapt to it, or recover from its consequences.

    But, technology can be and has been trumped by politics. We imagine scary and benign and beneficent futures.

    The truth however is that the best future will be all of scary, benign and beneficent but each to different groups of people. Those living off of the fossil fuel industry will face times as scary as their predecessors found beneficent. Those investing and working in sustainable energy will benefit. Those of us who will change the details of our lives, like electric or hybrid autos instead of gas guzzlers, will find that to be a pretty benign transition. And infinitely better than the future created by not changing.

    Politics represents the process by which decisions are made for the greater good often at the expense of some groups or individuals. Tough but necessary decisions.

    We’re in the process of fixing our political and business institutions so that they can facilitate finding and empowering the best future for the most people. But, those who must adapt to something different, will stand in our way.

    An old story of course. One that progress has powered through often before.

    When history writes of the Energy Revolution, people then will wonder what all of the fuss was about given such an obviously necessary adaptation.

  2. 1 small editorial. Prior to 2008 a small town in northwest Indiana went full wind power.

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