Letter to the Editor: Connecting the dots on opposition to wind farms

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Opposition to offshore wind farm development off Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland, beaches has recently been ramping up. The idea is to argue against the farms or use lawsuits to block, delay or get all the projects restricted in some way.

In my essay here, I quote many titles of freely available internet articles. This is for two reasons. First, the title explains the point which I am trying to get across. And second, if you do an internet search on the title, the search will take you to the article that backs up what I say.

My point is that the opposition is based on vastly less important issues than the damage we will get from climate change.

The webpage most interesting to me had the title, “In Federal Lawsuit, Nantucket Residents Say Offshore Wind Will Harm Endangered Whales.” Within that long and very interesting article are several paragraphs of statements from and about David Stevenson and his reference to the American Coalition for Ocean Protection website (oceanlegaldefense.org). The coalition explains itself as a project of the Caesar Rodney Institute and gives a Lewes P.O. Box mailing address. It lists several filed lawsuits. It invites you to make donations, presumably to support more lawsuits. A related, interesting article is “Trump adviser involved in Vineyard Wind opposition,” which features Stevenson and a picture of him. Stevenson is affiliated with the Caesar Rodney Institute.

The plot thickens in another internet article titled, “Oil-backed group opposes offshore wind — for environmental reasons.” This article mentions CRI and connects CRI to the State Policy Network, the American Energy Alliance and Koch Industries. Finally, look up the detailed article titled, “Misinformation is derailing renewable projects across the United States,” on the National Public Radio website. It cites social media misinformation, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and waves of bills to block or even shut down existing renewable-energy projects. According to Wikipedia, that foundation and the Caesar Rodney Institute, along with over 60 other conservative, libertarian and right-wing think tanks, are members of the State Policy Network.

Another article, titled “Sources of opposition to renewable energy projects in the United States,” said that half of all proposed projects ended up being permanently canceled. Only 13% were completed. The rest were paused or ongoing.

The idea that offshore wind farms should be banned or required to be located much farther away to preserve the view or other qualities of life may be futile. Climate change has caused ocean surface temperatures to rise about 1-10 degrees, depending on location. This increases humidity, which increases haze and mist. Most of the time, visibility will go down anyway, and you will not even see the farms at the original closer distances.

Warmer ocean temperatures will cause increases in bacterial count, toxic algae, flesh-eating bacteria, brain-eating amoebas and stinging jellyfish. See the article, “Jellyfish are here early and staying longer, thanks to climate change.” Further internet searches showed me that, even if you don’t go into the water, climate change might cause you to pick up — in many ways — more beach infections from worm parasites, bacteria and other pathogens in the beach sand.

Climate change may cause your beach visit to become a negative experience no matter where the offshore wind projects are located or even if they are never built. If beach visits become hazardous because of infections, then that may make people not want to come just as much or more than views damaged by the farms. Save the whales? At higher water temperatures, water holds less dissolved oxygen. The fish will die anyway.

Beach erosion is another fact of life, but sea level rise will make it worse. Beach replenishment will become much more expensive. The scientific article, “Sandy coastlines under threat of erosion,” said that “almost half of the world’s sandy beaches” could become extinct from climate change by the end of the century. A sea level rise of 5-10 feet by the end of the century is predicted if we do nothing. Delaware elevation contours are easy to find on the internet, and they show coastal area as 5%-10% of all of Delaware land. All of it could end up underwater. “Save the beach” would be a project destined to fail.

Climate-change damage has already started. We got record high temperatures this year. Record continuing droughts, record wildfires, more extreme weather, flash extreme rainfalls, growing high-tide flooding and record storm damage. Florida now has a climate-change home insurance crisis. See the internet article, “How climate change affects your insurance.” Also, I see that the financial industry is starting to require climate-change risk analysis to get or keep financing. Scholarly studies of effects of high temperatures and drought on crop yields say we will soon be seeing less food and more expensive food in the grocery stores.

The elephant in the room is the carbon (greenhouse gas) footprint. But there is another elephant in the room that says you don’t have to worry about the first elephant (get my drift?).

Arthur E. Sowers

Harbeson

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