Many criticisms have been leveled against various forms of “alternative energy” in general, and wind power in particular. Some critics have called wind power “impractical,” while others have labeled it as “idealistic.” Some have noted that the turbines are simply “ugly.”
However, for ecologist John Etherington, the most apropos description of wind power can be summarized in one word — “scam” — and his book entitled The Wind Farm Scam — An Ecologist’s Evaluation is dedicated to revealing that “scam” to his readers. And although his book is written in the context of the battle in the United Kingdom over the future of alternative energy in that country, much of Etherington’s argument is applicable to the American context, as well.
Dr. John Etherington might seem, at first glance, an unlikely critic of wind farms. A retired "reader in ecology" at the University of Wales, he is also the former editor of The Ecologist. However, the root of Etherington’s objection to the wind farms is rooted in the simple physics of power generation: In short, the author maintains that the potential power generation that the burgeoning ranks of wind turbines could provide the U.K. is grossly disproportionate to the economic, environmental, and aesthetic cost of their construction and maintenance. As he notes in his Introduction, “Electricity generated by modern industrial wind turbines has many failings, all of which can be traced back to the physical laws which govern air movement and limit the energy that can be extracted from the wind. The huge size of the machines which make them so inappropriate in the countryside is also a consequence of those same physical laws.”
Etherington notes that an essentially irrational attachment to wind power has come to dominate the mindset of many advocates of “alternative energy”; in his words:
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