A Mighty Wind

Wind power is no longer a quaint, modest cottage industry, and it’s not just some futuristic pipe dream, either. Wind energy is online and producing significant amounts of power right now. If you want to know just how much, visit the website of the American Wind Energy Association. Each time I view their U.S. wind map (www.awea.org/projects/index.html), the numbers grow significantly. The last time I looked it had grown to 6,374 megawatts, enough electricity to power 1.6 million American homes, and up 50 percent from U.S. installed capacity at the end of 2001.

© Jerry Russell

Around the world, wind energy has grown 500 percent since 1997. In 2003, some 8,000 megawatts of wind-generated capacity were added worldwide, bringing the world’s total wind power generating capacity to nearly 40,000 megawatts—enough to power 19 million households.

Since the average wind turbine can prevent the emission of 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide each year, with vast environmental benefits, I’m appalled at the NIMBY opposition to projects like Cape Wind in Massachusetts. If not in their backyards, whose? How do these graceful (I would even say beautiful) wind turbines destroy our "view"? Are they worse, say, than the endless power lines that stretch around the country, the coal plants and oil refineries, the offshore oil rigs and tankers (and their spills), and the ominous nuclear towers that have become symbols of another impending Chernobyl or Three Mile Island?

As environmentalists, we have to "walk the talk" (see page 38 for details about E’s own commitment to wind power). For my part, I drive a hybrid Toyota Prius. Recently I averaged 50.7 miles per gallon on a 150-mile trip from our Connecticut office up to Albany, New York, where I attended a press event announcing New York State’s partnership with Honda and Plug Power to test the viability of completely emission-free hydrogen-powered automobiles. New York Governor George Pataki said he was "very excited" about the state’s two Honda fuel-cell cars, pointing out they can help offset the hundreds of billions of oil dollars we currently send to the Middle East. Imagine if wind and solar power were providing the electricity to make the hydrogen to run these vehicles! We might never have to fight another control-the-pipelines war like the one in Iraq, which has already cost more than 2,000 American and 100,000 innocent Iraqi lives.

A mighty wind called perseverance has carried E to its 15th anniversary with this issue. We’re asking our subscribers to give generously to the appeal they will shortly receive, because E has its work cut out in this second Bush administration—and beyond. (Not a subscriber? You can read our letter and donate by going to: https://emagazine.com/view/?2134). At this exciting milestone I want to extend many thanks to all of our subscribers, individual donors, private foundation supporters, advertisers and—most of all—to our hard-working staff and interns, both past and present.