A Year Since Copenhagen, And No Great Lakes Wind

* Hello Mlive readers. Traffic has surged on this blog post today. I thought it was just the awesome writing. It turns out that it’s (also) because the link was featured on Mid-Michigan Afternoon Links. I don’t work for The Bay City Times anymore, but I’m still very much in the game. Check out jeffkart.com for links to my writing. Also consider the RSS for Mr. Great Lakes. Thanks.

photo offshore wind thames england

This month, October 2010, marks one year since I became an iPhone user … and one year since I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, on a whirlwind energy tour. One of the highlights was a trip to an offshore wind farm. And back then, it was just a matter of time before the Great Lakes would be sporting big blades.

A year later, there are no offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes. But I saw another offshore wind farm today. The world’s largest is now spinning on the Thames estuary in southern England. There are 100 windmills on the water there, and more are planned. A picture posted on MSNBC doesn’t even look real. But it is.

What’s also real is opposition to offshore wind. People have apparently grown used to ugly coal plants that belch toxics into our skies and our Great Lakes. Yet the thought of seeing 300-foot-tall, three-bladed wind turbines just makes people nervous. Will they be aesthetically pleasing? Will they make too much noise, or disrupt fishing or recreational boating?

Yes, no, no and no. What’s not easy on the eyes, ears or soul is greenhouse gas emissions and mercury, both of which come from those ugly old coal plants people seem to have grown used to.

Sure, wind isn’t the 100 percent answer. It won’t generate everything we need. Turbines aren’t as beautiful as a natural vista. But there’s wind here, and it beats shipping in coal from out of state.

I wonder what the case will be one year from now. Wind turbines on the Great Lakes? Or a new coal plant? Go Vikings.



  1. Preach it out Jeff. I am a practicing environmental attorney in Grand Blanc, MI. I still cannot believe that Michigan has not fully embraced renewable energy. Besides the environmental benefits, it also creates jobs and provides a perception to the outside world that Michigan can be progressive when it wants to be. It’s appears to be just another in a seemly endless parade of ships that are passing us by.

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