Monday, July 28, 2008

Wind Power

T. Boone Pickens, Texas oilman extraordinaire, uber-booster of Oklahoma State University, and the seeming embodiment of voracious speculative capitalist has also become something else, something quite unexpected in recent years: a voice for, for lack of a better term, going green. One of his latest schemes is to harness something that Texas, and especially West Texas, has in abundance: wind.

Texas already does more with wind power than any state in the nation. Driving from Odessa to San Antonio we cover about 80 miles on state highways that take us through the small town of Crane and the tiny town of McCamey. Just South of McCamey, high up on mesas that jut up on both sides of the highway, are hundreds of enormous windmills. If Pickens sees the prospect for helping us wean ourselves from the very commodity that has made him rich, surely there is something to it.

I am at best a soft environmentalist. I've no doubt about global warming and that we as humans contribute to it. But I am not crusader on environmentalism, and although it is blasphemy to say as much among the true green crowd, the environment does not rank in my top five, meybe top ten political or policy concerns. But we are blind if we do not start thinking of other ways to heat our homes and run our cars and dispose of our junk. The wind, the sun, and water are powerful forces, and are elements that are as yet largely untapped for power. Yes, right now mosty of them are inefficient, but my belief in progress is such that I would imagine that we can fine ways better to harness them and in so doing to make a transition from oil dependency to a world in which oil is part of, but not the brunt of, the equation.

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