First global warming, now global calming?
Being pro-environment is good politics. And lessening man's "footprint" is a major policy objective.
Some companies are playing the angles to capitalize on environment-related business opportunities , some with subsidies, some hoping for help from highly-placed friends. Whether it's getting subsidies for ethanol or fuel efficient cars or producing "alternative" energy without generatating reviled carbon, the government seems to be, increasingly, at the nexus of picking winners in the marketplace. And that government role means that those with friends "inside" exercise more leverage.
I won't rehash the scientific controversy over global warming; it's certainly a lightning rod issue. But in the area of alternative energy, there's always been the presumption that the sun will shine, the tides will rise, the wind will blow and Earth's subterranean geo-furnace will go on forever -- even if moderate climates change. Today's New York Times carries a story about a labor union what I'd call "protection racket" regarding building new solar facilities in California.
Maybe continuation of the sun, moon, the Earth's molten core and, especially, the wind is not a safe assumption according to Eugene S. Takle, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University, and the director of the school’s “climate science initiative.” Takle told MarketWatch.com that his research, to be published soon in the Journal of Geophysical Research , has found that U.S. wind strength has declined by 15% to 30% over the past 30 years from the mid-1970s to 2005. Land use and better instrumentation (and climate change itself) account for the decline, he believes.
Ted Kennedy may have the clout to block construction of those windmills off his Nantucket estate, but the bigger threat to his lifestyle may prove to be that his yacht may be as becalmed as the windmills.