The island of Vinalhaven has three new wind turbines. They have chosen as a community to be independent of the fossil driven power of the mainland. They have chosen the freedom of the plentiful wind that blows over their island from all directions. On a clear day we on the mainland fourteen miles away can see their turbines churning. Most nights we can see the three red lights that warn aviators of their presence and act as a new navigation guide to sailors. Some find these powerful turbines ugly, a blotch on the pristine horizon. I find them incomparably beautiful, for in them I see hope.
When I was a child television antennae were the new “blotch” on the horizon. Television was a relatively new technology and the antenna that permitted more channels and better reception were ugly to my parents’ eyes. Yet, with the passing of years, we see fewer and fewer antenna. Technology has grown to provide us with more and better reception. And, but for the fact that we provide it to twice the population, it is provided with less drain on the earth’s resources.
What vast technological frontiers have been discovered in these last few decades. For right or for wrong, these advances in engineering, medicine, physics, chemistry, have worked together to provide us and a growing segment of the world’s population with an increasingly comfortable lifestyle.
We sought to improve our standard of living. We succeeded, the greatest price being paid by our planet and those who share it, in diminishing resources, global warming, and growing threat of disease. The turbines provide the island with power to allow a comfortable life, yet they take nothing.
Decades from now the island will remove those turbines. They will do so because some bright young inventor will have discovered a way to harness the wind with a tiny cone or tube or something that attaches directly and inconspicuously to your home or factory. Every family and dwelling will be able to provide their own energy for pennies. And it will all seem as normal as cell phones do now.
This coming generation of young people is not necessarily smarter than we were. Or less greedy. But they do stand on the shoulders of those who have come before. They know that good planets are hard to find, and that we’re pretty much stuck with this one. They know that, for reasons either noble or greedy, they must find a way to make our energy renewable, our crops nourishing, our bodies and environments free of pollutants.
This is a time for young people who are smart and willing to work and unafraid to take risks, particularly unafraid to go against the comfortable tide of humanity. This generation will find look at the mistakes and triumphs of the past, and they will find a way into the future. They will find a way that will strengthen the planet and provide resources for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren. They will because they must.
I believe in this generation. I believe in the hope that they have for the future. I believe that they will discover ways to solve the problems that we have left behind. They will clean the air and water. They will find ways to feed and house and warm a growing population. And when they are old enough to wax philosophical they will look up one day and see the turbines on the horizon are gone. They will smile and remember when they were the latest clean energy technology. They will smile at how much better, cleaner, safer the world has become. Because of them.