Wind, energy, landscape: Reconciling nature and technology

Philosophy and Geography 4 (2):169 – 184 (2001)
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Abstract

Despite the fact that they are in most respects environmentally benign, electricity-generating wind turbines frequently encounter a great deal of resistance. Much of this resistance is aesthetic in character; wind turbines somehow do not "fit" in the landscape. On one (classical) view, landscapes are beautiful to the extent that they are "scenic," well-balanced compositions. But wind turbines introduce a discordant note, they are out of "scale." On another (ecological) view, landscapes are beautiful if their various elements form a stable and integrated organic whole. But wind turbines are difficult to integrate into the biotic community; at least in certain respects, they are like "weeds." Moreover, there is a reason why the 100-meter, three bladed wind turbines now favored by the industry cannot very well be accommodated to any landscape view. They are, as Albert Borgmann would put it, characteristic of contemporary technology, distanced "devices" for the production of a commodity rather than "things" with which one can engage. It follows that the only way in which the aesthetic resistance to wind turbines can be overcome is to make them more "thing-like." One such "thing-like" turbine is discussed.

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