Neil Steinberg And Energy Policy -New Technologies bring new complaints

The internet can be such a frustrating place. I thought that because I had put up about 15 right wing pundits views about energy policy that I should put up some left wings views as well. So I searched for something like “10 most left wing journalists” in America and I came up with this site.

Now this piece listed number two and I had to futz around to find number 10 which he listed as Neil Steinberg who works for the Chicago Sun Times which is of course here.

I googled up Neil Steinberg for energy policy and found a great article by him but it was filed as a PDF file in a Wisconsin Utility hearing docket. I can’t copy a PDF file and I always like to give original citings but I could only find a weird copy of it in a weird place so here it is. It was originally titled:

Winds of change inevitably get the hot air stirring

and was dated April 10th. The text is not credited here:

Progress never comes without complaint. Everybody wants perfect cell phone service — there are more than 4 billion cell phones worldwide, two for every three people — but nobody wants a cell tower near them. Earlier this month in rural Maryland, neighbors turned out to protest the zoning variance needed to put a cell tower on farmland, even though most would barely see the top of the tower if it went up. “We will be fighting it every step of the way,” one said. Of course they will. People still fight cell towers, just as they fight skateboard parks, mosques, research centers, halfway houses — almost anything new and nearby. They no longer complain about streetlights — but they once did. More about that later. Not in my ocean. Naturally, the rich folk living on Cape Cod opposed the idea of a wind farm off Nantucket. When gazing out to sea, reflecting on the splendor of their lives, they might see the turbines and be vexed. So it is a minor miracle that the federal government decided to go ahead with Cape Wind anyway, after only nine years of study and discussion. “This is the final decision of the United States of America,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced this week. Needless to say, that was “Gentlemen, start your lawsuits,” to those aghast at the idea of seeing 130 giant white turbines on the horizon.Instead of discussing the nation’s overdependence on foreign oil, and the bad things that flow from it — from increased terrorism to global warming — I will tip my hand: I think wind turbines are beautiful. I first saw some, unexpectedly, out an airplane window while landing in Copenhagen a few years back — the Middelgrunden Wind Park, 20 turbines in the sound between Denmark and Sweden. It was a stunning sight, and even more stunning to learn that they provide 4 percent of the electricity consumed by Copenhagen. Denmark derives 20 percent of its electrical power from the wind. Meanwhile, the United States, once a world leader in technology and not without windy places, generates only about 0.8 percent of its electricity from wind power. Last summer, driving through Minnesota, the boys and I were surprised and delighted by the huge wind turbines flanking the highway. Yes, passing by something is not the same as living next to it. But if what people wanted next door were the deciding factor in history, we’d still be churning butter with a stick (you might think, “Yes, I’d love that!” but then you aren’t considering that half your children eating that butter would have died of whooping cough before age 2 — you can’t reject progress for its ills while thoughtlessly accepting all the good). Denmark, Minnesota and Cape Cod are windy places. Chicago is also a windy place, and to our credit, Mayor Daley at least says he is open to the idea of turbines in Lake Michigan. Evanston is considering them as well. Heck, why not — we already have to look at Gary on a clear day.’Cold, unlovely, blinding star’Once upon a time people believed in the future. Their lives were hard, and they accepted inconveniences if they thought things might improve in the long run. That didn’t mean they weren’t frightened or they didn’t complain.When opponents of Cape Wind worry that the wind turbines will kill migrating birds, destroy tourism, imperil navigation, whatever, we have to remember that every technological development in the history of the world has been met by a chorus of concern. Take the simplest advance — gas lamps on public streets — something we look upon now with only nostalgia and affection. Not so when new.” An attempt to interfere with the divine plan of the world, which has preordained darkness during the night-time,” a newspaper in Cologne fretted in 1816, after that city installed gaslight. Electric lighting brought even more revulsion.” Horrible, unearthly, obnoxious to the human eye,” Robert Louis Stevenson wrote of London’s new electric light. “A lamp for a nightmare!” . Casting illumination upon a city’s nighttime doings would be, he said, “a horror to heighten horror.”Arc lighting at Paddington Station moved the St. James Gazette to protest in verse: Twinkle, twinkly little arc,Sickly, blue uncertain spark; Up above my head you swing, Ugly, strange expensive thing! In America, we despaired at what the unleashing of all this electricity might mean. The constant electric light would cause blindness, or “photo-electric ophthalmia. ” The demon of electricity surging around helter-skelter would change the weather. “All the floods, hurricanes, cyclones and other atmospheric disturbances taking place in the heavens and upon earth are due to the work of electric lighting companies,” a Southern minister announced.¬† Incredibly, the telephone was even more ominous than electricity. The social order would crumble. The constant ringing would drive men insane. There was also the peril of disease being spread over telephone lines. “Well, I suppose I must risk it,” a “wealthy well-educated and fashionable” Chicago matron decided, telephoning a household where there was scarlet fever, first having a servant makes sure “the sick children aren’t in the room where the telephone is.” Although, looking over past dire predictions about technology, I have to admit: sometimes they’re accurate. One of the big fears about the telephone was that it would make our intimate details become public knowledge.”We shall soon be nothing but transparent heaps of jelly to each other,” a British writer speculated in 1897.It wasn’t “soon” — it took 110 years. But yeah, that sounds about right.


I do not normally put up the whole text of something but in this case I had no choice. More tomorrow.


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